The joys of solo travel are boundless, from setting your own agenda to finding yourself warmly welcomed by locals who are eager to make you feel at home. Unfortunately, many women are intimidated by the thought of adventuring without a companion, worried above all else for their personal safety. While there are several places in the world that should probably be avoided, there are a great many more that are safe, comfortable and accessible for those who prefer to travel alone.
The precautions you need to take are the same ones you are mindful of in your own city. Walking alone at night in an unfamiliar neighborhood isn’t recommended, nor is drinking too much when you’re on your own. If you follow the basic ground rules and respect any cultural differences, these destinations are perfectly safe for anyone who wants to experience a solitary adventure.
It’s the US’s polite northern neighbor, where the people are friendly and you’ll feel safe in all ten of its diverse provinces. Big cities like Montreal and Toronto require the same precautions as you would take anywhere else, but are far less dangerous than most American urban areas. Wherever you wander, you are likely to be invited home by a new friend or plied with questions by folk genuinely interested in hearing about your travels. The east coast is legendary for its warm hospitality, and you haven’t lived until you’ve been “screeched in” at a Newfoundland kitchen party.
Of all the countries in Central America, Costa Rica is probably the safest and most comfortable place to travel alone. There’s a peace-loving vibe in this country that has no standing army and consistently holds the top spot on the Happy Planet Index. Not only are its citizens the happiest in the world, they are also among the friendliest, helpful and welcoming. Costa Rica is full of eco lodges and well on the way to becoming carbon neutral by 2021, so enjoy this environmental paradise on your own without any nagging safety concerns.
This one is cheating a bit because the reason Nepal is such a safe place to travel is that you’re never really alone. If you’re going to visit, its likely to take an eco-tour and you’ll be with a Sherpa or guide if you’re venturing into the Himalayas or going on a wilderness adventure. It’s a great way to become immersed in the Nepalese culture and meet incredibly warm and friendly locals. A word of warning: You need a good fitness level to enjoy hiking in Nepal, and the safety rating only applies to threats from other humans. When it comes to the tigers, sloths, poisonous insects and rhinos, you’re very much on your own.
Amsterdam is an easy city to navigate and a very welcoming destination for solo travelers. You won’t feel out of place in the bars and coffee houses, and can wander the streets and canals in complete safety. You’ll likely meet a host of other backpackers and fellow adventurers who are drawn to the architecture, history and fabulous museums of the Dutch capital. The most dangerous thing you’ll likely encounter is an impatient cyclist, so make sure you stay off the bike paths and pay attention to the signage as you explore.
Considered to be one of the safest cities in the world, Hong Kong has much to offer people adventuring alone. The public transportation system is second to none and you’ll get around easily on the many buses, trams and boats. Join a Tai Chi class in the local park, find inner peace in one of the city’s many Zen gardens, or take a boat ride to the outer islands. You’ll find the locals to be approachable, friendly and very helpful.
Whether you’re traveling alone, with a friend, or in a group, always be aware of your surroundings and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you’re lost or have a problem. A woman traveling alone has a right to expect the same level of courtesy, privacy and respect as any other tourist, and if you do a little research before setting off, you’ll find that most places will treat you well. traveling alone is a truly empowering and liberating experience that all women should try at least once, so don’t wait for someone else to make a plan – get out there and start adventuring!