Despite the increased popularity of solo travel, women still face hurdles while travelling overseas alone. Nonetheless, other places score first in terms of safety and equality. People aren’t waiting for a partner to commence packing after a long epidemic hiatus. Solo travel is becoming increasingly popular, particularly among women.
According to Norwegian Cruise Line research, one in every three travellers likes to travel alone, and older women in particular are driving the trend. According to internal Virtuoso research, women aged 65 and older will experience the biggest growth in solo travel in 2022. While they make up only 4% of solo travellers in 2019, they will account for 18% of solo travellers by 2022.
Despite the increased popularity of solo travel, women face specific hurdles when venturing overseas on their own. While it should be safe for women to travel anywhere in the world, the fact is that women continue to encounter prejudice and safety issues in every corner of the world. Having said that, several countries have made a deliberate effort to improve women’s safety as well as measure female citizens’ perceptions toward safety in their country.
We looked at Georgetown University’s Women’s Peace And Security Index (WPS), the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report, and the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index to determine the places that are making the most progress in terms of safety and equality for women travellers (PGP). We then spoke with women who have travelled alone to the top-ranking nations to learn what made them feel comfortable, get their travel ideas, and learn about the greatest things to see and do as a solo explorer.
Slovenia, which is ranked first in the WPS ranking for Central and Eastern Europe, has made significant improvements in the perception of women’s safety in recent years, with 85% of women feeling safe here, according to the index.
Claire Ramsdell spent her first night in Slovenia’s capital and largest city, Ljubljana, photographing the city’s streets.
“This could have been a risky experience elsewhere,” said Ramsdell, who works as an adventure consultant for Wildland Trekking and publishes the travel blog The Detour Effect. “No one harassed me at all during my time in the nation, and I had no problems with navigation, a language barrier, or anything else that can be scary to figure out when you’re alone.”
“I didn’t have trouble with navigation, a language barrier or anything else that might sometimes seem intimidating to figure out when you’re solo”
She also found the city to be relatively walkable, and the country’s public transportation to be both reliable and comprehensive. She recommends Ljubljanayum Food Tours and Food Tour Ljubljana for individuals wishing to meet other travellers.
Whether travelling in a company or alone, she recommends ordering a buckwheat walnut truklji, a stuffed dough delight, from Moji truklji, which she describes as “one of the best desserts ever,” and sampling the world-renowned gelato at Cacao.
Ramsdell moved to Slovenia expressly to explore the broad outdoors and alpine mountains, which he discovered offered an ideal balance of seclusion and safety. “Although I frequently felt like I was in the woods, I was also aware that a town was nearby in case of an emergency,” Ramsdell explained. “I didn’t feel completely alone, which gives me peace of mind.”
She recommends that people stop by the turquoise Soa River, which is located on the western side of the country near the Italian border and was used in the production of The Chronicles of Narnia. While hikers can enjoy calm walks by the water, even drivers can stop to explore the high-hanging pedestrian suspension bridges above the river.
Rwanda ranks first in the world for gender equality in parliament, with 55% of its parliament made up of women legislators, according to the WPS. It also ranks high in the index’s perception of community safety and is placed sixth in the world in the Global Gender Gap index, which assesses a country’s equity in economics, education, healthcare, and political participation.
When Rebecca Hansen relocated to Rwanda from Denmark in 2019, she discovered it to be highly safe for solo travel. “There are police, security, and military in nearly every site and at all times of day and night,” she explained. “At first, it may appear scary, but you will quickly realize that all of these uniforms are pleasant people who are always prepared to help.”
People, she claims, don’t bother you in general but may practice their English with an odd “How are you?” or “Good morning,” particularly from schoolchildren. English and French, together with Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili, are two of Rwanda’s official languages, decreasing the language barrier here.
Even those who don’t understand English are willing to assist and point you in the right place if you get lost, she says. Since the 1994 Tutsi genocide, Rwanda has long been seen as a leader in peace and reconciliation efforts.
The country contains numerous memorials, but Hansen recommends that travellers visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial in the capital, which not only depicts the history of genocide in Rwanda, but also other cases from throughout the world and the threats that the world today confronts from this threat.
While visiting the country’s mountain gorillas is pricey, Hansen advises Nyungwe National Park in the south-west and Volcanoes National Park in the north to observe monkeys, or Akagera National Park in the east for wildlife drives.
United Arab Emirates
Having the highest WPS scores in the Middle East and North Africa for women’s education and financial inclusion, the UAE remains a regional leader in gender equality, having just achieved gender parity in its parliament.
It also ranks first in the index for community safety, with 98.5% of women aged 15 and older indicating that they “feel comfortable strolling alone at night in the city or neighbourhood where [they] live.”
According to an index compiled by the travel insurance business Insure My Trip, Dubai is the safest location for solitary female travellers. Sandy Aouad, an influencer who shares her time between Paris and Dubai, says she has always felt comfortable in the city, even on the outskirts. “When I had a flat tyre, I left my car open with the keys inside in the midst of the desert,” she explained. “I knew I could rely on the cab to arrive and pick me up, and I knew the car would be safe.”
She recommends arranging a desert safari for single travellers because it’s a simple way to meet a range of intriguing folks. If you’re feeling more daring, she recommends skydiving over the Palm Dropzone.
The Global Peace Index ranks Japan as one of the top ten safest countries in the world due to its extremely low rates of violent crime and low number of external or internal conflicts. Japan also has a culture of women-only subway cars (during certain times and routes) and women-only accommodations, which can make it feel extra safe for women travelling alone.
Alone dining and activities are likewise more common in this area than elsewhere. “There are so many things surrounding’solo’ travel because of depopulation, individuals not wanting to get married, and cherishing as a culture our’solo time,'” said Mika White, the founder of tourism agency Chapter White and a Japanese native. “The best solo karaoke, solo ramen establishments, and solo onsen are always featured in magazines.”
Lulu Assagaf, who migrated here from Indonesia 20 years ago, immediately felt protected. “The people make you feel at home and are happy to serve foreigners,” said Assagaf, who is now an Intrepid Travel tour leader. If you’re going to more remote locations, she recommends hiring a guide because English is less likely to be spoken.
Assagaf recommends checking out the cuisine scene, particularly in Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo, because dining alone is the norm here. Her favourite neighbourhood in Tokyo is Shinjuku San-Chome, which boasts a variety of eateries, nightlife, and local izakayas (a Japanese version of a pub).
She advises the coastal city of Kanazawa, known for being the birthplace of the samurai, and Takayama in the Japanese Mountains to travellers who want to venture outside of the conventional tourist attractions.
“Takayama has lovely traditional architecture as well as sake breweries,” she explained. She also suggests visiting the Takayama Showa-kan Museum, which displays pop culture artifacts from Emperor Hirohito’s reign from 1926 to 1989.
Norway has proven to be an inclusive place for travellers of all types, including LGBTQ+ and solo visitors, by ranking first in the WPS for its top scores in women’s financial inclusion, absence of legal discrimination, and women’s community safety – and consistently ranking in the top 10 of the most gender equitable and happiest countries in the world.
Torunn Tronsvang, creator of Up Norway and an Oslo native, adds that the culture is socially accepting and trusting, making it a perfect setting for single women. “You can ask someone at a nearby café table to look after your belongings while you use the restroom,” she explained.
She’s particularly proud of the fact that many of the businesses here are operated by women, who have established famous places to eat and stay in rural locations around the country.
Tronsvang invites guests to embrace the Norwegian concept of “friluftsliv,” a philosophy of spending life in the great outdoors, to get the most out of their visit. With Nasa projecting an increase in solar activity until 2025, it may be a perfect time to see the Northern Lights with an Arctic tour that includes dog sledding and snowshoeing by day and overnight stays in family-run igloos and ice lodges.
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