Solo travel can be intimidating, especially if you’re female. Be inspired by these destination countries that are recognized as some of the safest in the world for women, and take note of some top travel tips
Why travel solo? The trend of 21st-century individualism has led many of us to want to see the world on our own terms — to go exactly to the places we want to, when we want to, without compromise for the sake of a companion’s preferences. Solo travel also encourages independence, confidence, introspectiveness, among other qualities that all contribute to personal development.
But for women, as is the case for other more vulnerable members of society, exploring new places alone comes with additional considerations for the sake of personal safety. We’ve come up with a concise but varied list of some of the safest solo-travel destinations for women in 2023, as well as some general tips on how to stay secure and savvy on your adventures.
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Remember that wherever you pick, no trip is 100% risk-free, and this is especially true if you’re a solo woman. But with just an ounce of courage and awareness, take your first step out into the world, have yourself those new experiences, and your confidence will shine through to illuminate the self-assured sister you are. You got this!
The city-state of Singapore holds the best ranking in the Women’s Danger Index of any other country in Asia. Among other metrics, the Women’s Danger Index measures the rates of street safety, sexual violence, and intentional homicide in 50 countries around the world. It’s also the most peaceful country in Asia, according to the Global Peace Index 2022.
Personal safety in Singapore is a testament, certainly in part, to its strict laws and zero-tolerance, uncorrupted police. You best be aware of the specifics of the local regulations before you go, but as a destination, this multicultural concrete (and literal) jungle has a lot to offer — including outdoor activities, colonial versus ultra-modern architecture, and some of the best and most diverse cuisine of anywhere in the world.
On balance, Europe is the safest continent for female travelers, and this is our first European recommendation. With very low levels of positive attitudes towards violence, legal discrimination and intentional homicide, this sunny favorite leads the Women’s Danger Index by quite a stretch. Street safety in Spanish cities and resorts is renowned not just generally, but also concerning solo women. For more reassurance and inspiration, read the tales of our very own Dorota Žigová, who hiked the Camino de Santiago on her own in 2021.
Otherwise, Spain is always a great choice of destination due to its year-round pleasant weather, the often cheap flights (particularly off-season), and the fact that from north to south, the country is a master at catering to visitors of an array of nationalities.
Canada has a longstanding reputation for being the safest country in North America. Indeed, it beats the next safest — the US — in the Women’s Danger Index by a staggering 24 places. Toronto especially is a popular destination with black solo travelers, because of its prominent pockets of Caribbean culture. And unsurprisingly, Canada is also the most peaceful country on the continent, and has been for over 10 years.
Canada might be daunting in another way, though, in that it’s absolutely huge. But whether you’re actually looking to do the whole road-trip thing, or you’ve just got time for a short, relaxing city break — maybe in Vancouver, Edmonton or Montreal — rest assured that you can throw yourself into this beautiful country and come out unviolated.
Sweden continues to hold the number one spot in the Europen Union’s Gender Equality Index, which measures domains of opportunity such as work, wealth, and power. Moreover, research conducted by Pew in 2019 found that 96% of people in Sweden deem gender equality to be “very important” — the highest percentage of all the countries surveyed around the world.
Like Canada, Sweden is an apt place for traveling off-grid through landscapes dominated by dense forests and idyllic lakes. Yet, it’s also a good destination if you’re a first-time solo traveler — particularly if you stick to the cities. They’re all highly-developed places, English aptitude among the population is one of the very highest in Europe, and Scandinavian efficiency just seems to make everything go like clockwork.
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The Global Peace Index has once again ranked Iceland as the most peaceful country in the world. With its low crime rate and pretty unanimous public opinion on the importance of gender equality, as well as its relatively new and flourishing tourism industry, Iceland is the ideal getaway for any solo woman.
Lovers of the outdoors are drawn to Iceland because it’s a place of high tectonic activity, making for some unique natural landscapes conveniently located between Europe and North America. In fact, it’s for this reason that Iceland sees its fair share of solo travelers — people who are into walking or biking and who want to be at one with the elements. If you choose to travel alone to Iceland, don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with other adventurers. You might have more in common than meets the eye.
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Aside from the universally-applicable advice: pack light, keep your documents safe, take out insurance, et cetera, there are a few travel pointers that are particularly useful to solo women.
No matter how spontaneous you are or want to be, do some research and plan ahead for where you’re going to rest — somewhere that seems safe. Avoid telling people that you’ve just met where you’re staying; if they ask, be vague in your response. Conversely, share your itinerary with friends or family so that someone you trust knows where you are (or where you’re supposed to be) at any given time, in case you ever need urgent assistance.
Download these practical apps in preparation for your trip. Some of them are worth having even if you’re not planning a vacation:
- Tourlina — a dating app-style interface that allows you to connect with other female travelers in your area
- Mayday — lets you alert loved ones if you’re in danger, making them aware of your exact location, with just three taps
- TripWhistle — available on iOS only, provides phone numbers for emergency services in nearly every country
- GeoSure — assesses the relative safety of cities and neighborhoods around the globe, while factoring in women’s safety
- Meetup — finds groups and events in your area that cater to specific interests
- Haven — available on Android only, measures surrounding motion, light, sound and vibration to be able to alert you of anything potentially untoward
Solo travel, with all its benefits to one’s self-development, can get lonely. Don’t be shy — smile, embrace your confidence when you feel it, act confident when you don’t, and talk to people, especially (and even ideally) other women. If you go out to bars and clubs, though, be aware that sadly, drink spiking remains a common way to take advantage of a woman. Make sure you never leave your drink unattended, and if someone offers to buy you one, keep an eye on them as they take it from the bartender and bring it to you.
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