Traveling alone is a liberating experience that promotes self-discovery, stretches your comfort zone and feeds your passions. You have the freedom to create your own schedule, be social when you want and relax when you want. Traveling alone also opens you up to meeting people and forming stronger connections than you would if you were with a travel mate.
Whether it’s by choice or because your schedule doesn’t line up with someone else, solo travel is an experience every woman should experience at least once in her life.
As a woman who has traveled to dozens of cities and countries alone, I often get asked if I feel safe. Not a surprising question considering 47% of travel agents noted the greatest concern of their solo women travel clients is encountering a dangerous situation.
I believe whether you are at home, traveling with others, or traveling alone you need to be aware of your surroundings. Applying a balance of caution and trust, being sensible, and using your gut instinct to make decisions goes a long way wherever you are and whomever you are with. Check out some tips for solo women travelers to stay safe on WholesomeTravel.
Here is a list of destinations that are my personal favorite to travel to alone. In each of these scenically beautiful places I felt safe, made friends easy, and found a lot of fulfilling activities to do.
1. Rome, Italy
The capital of a country known for romance, delicious food, beautiful people and inspiring fashion, Rome is an experience that indulges all five senses. Walking around this vibrant city as a woman alone allows you to feel fully present and empowered, plus you may even get a marriage proposal.
When you aren’t taste-testing each gelato flavor and wondering how pasta made so simple can taste so good, explore Rome on a guided bike tour. Visualize the Roman Empire in its full glory while visiting the ancient Roman sites of the Coliseum, Roman Forum and Pantheon. See the home of the pope at St Peter’s Basilica and The Vatican City. Put on some comfortable shoes and explore the cobble laneways and piazzas while drinking clean water from the fountains.
2. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Nestled in the foothills of northern Thailand just a one-hour flight from Bangkok, Chiang Mai showcases traditional Thai culture while also allowing you to find your zen. With its abundance of vegetarian dishes, array of yoga styles, and over 300 Buddhist temples sprinkled throughout the city, Chiang Mai is the perfect destination for both the seeker and health-conscious traveler.
Chiang Mai is a safe city to walk around the back streets discovering hidden temples and healthy restaurants. When you feel like meeting others hop on a single or multi-day trek for some bamboo rafting, elephant riding and a visit to long neck villages. To get your shopping fix don’t miss the Sunday night market showcasing local artisan wares and exquisite Northern Thai food.
3. Goa, India
Warm all year, with palm trees dotting its 30 beaches, Goa receives over two million visitors annually. This beach state provides a more western and relaxed atmosphere where the usual modest clothing rule that applies to the rest of India can be dropped. It’s also the place women feel safe and can travel around more freely.
Arambol and Mandrem beaches in the north, and Palolem and Patnem beaches in the south are great places to chill on sun beds listening to tunes, while sipping mango lassies. Meditate, take yoga classes and enjoy international cuisines while watching the sun set over the ocean.
When in the north don’t miss the weekly Anjuna Flea Market on Wednesdays, and while visiting the more laid back south, enjoy dancing at Palolem Beach’s Silent Noise headphone party held every Saturday night.
4. Melbourne, Australia
Known for it’s artistic culture, award-winning food, live music and the best shopping in Australia, Melbourne is a safe, interesting, and lively city for women traveling alone.
Take advantage of the city’s efficient public transport system and hop on a tram to the hipster St. Kilda neighborhood where you can cozy up in a cafe with a good book or jump on a ride at Luna Park. Get your shopping fix at Chapel Street in Prahran or the funky Brunswick Street in Collingwood and Fitzroy. Check out one of the many free festivals, or if visiting in January watch the tennis live at the Australian Open.
5. Tulum, Mexico
Set on the Caribbean Sea, just a few hours south of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, Tulum’s white sandy beaches and aquamarine waters are enough to relax anyone into a state of bliss. Beautiful, safe and quieter than surrounding tourist areas, Tulum is a tropical hideaway that gives solo travelers the choice to have a relaxing beach or yoga vacation, or mingle with other travelers and friendly locals.
Explore the Tulum Ruins and swim in local cenotes (water holes). Hang by your beach bungalow during the day and head into town at night for cheap eats and live music. Rent a car and go meditate at the Chichen Itza Mayan ruins or swim with the turtles at Akumal beach.
6. Maui, Hawaii
Bring the spirit of Aloha into your life and let Maui capture your heart with its beautiful coastline and abundance of colorful flowers. As a safe and laid back island, Maui has a lot of adventures women can embark on alone. Wrap a sarong around your waist and pin a frangipani in your hair to embrace your full femininity.
Load up on healthy food at Mana Foods groceries in Maui’s surfing suburb of Paia and don’t miss the nearby town of Makawao’s free street party on every third Friday of the month. Drive the scenic road to Hana and indulge in the waterfalls and swimming pools on the way. Set your alarm clock and get up early to watch the sunrise from Haleakala Crater. Boost your fitness by renting a road bike from Maui Cyclery and explore the sights in a more intimate way.
7. Ubud, Bali
Surrounded by rice paddies and lush forest just a stone’s throw away from the ocean, Ubud is a solo traveler’s paradise. Easy to walk everywhere safely and meet others, the town of Ubud boasts some of the most delicious and healthy meals for under five dollars. Shop at high quality local designer fashion stores, and load up on yoga clothes and mala beads on Hanuman street.
Say hello to the local monkeys at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, explore luscious rice paddies on the Camphuan Ridge Walk and glimpse into local village life on a downhill bike tour. Don’t miss taking a yoga class and getting a luxury massage for a fraction of the price at home.
8. Santa Monica, U.S
Set on the Pacific West Coast of Southern California, Santa Monica has a beach culture and vibe unique to its own. Neighboring the hipster suburb of Venice, Santa Monica offers an abundance of activities and sites for all types of travelers, including women traveling alone.
When you’re not tanning on the beach enjoying the year-round warm temperatures, hit the 26-mile bike path going from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach for some biking, jogging or roller-skating. You may even see a celebrity. Grab an organic juice on Main Street from one of the many juice bars before hitting a yoga class and grabbing a vegan lunch at the famous Cafe Gratitude. For some fresh local food and entertainment, check out the local farmers market every Sunday.
9. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Surrounded by beautiful architecture, world-famous museums and canals, Amsterdam is a safe, friendly, and vibrant city with so much to explore on your own, you’ll never feel bored.
If you aren’t on a city walking tour, do as locals do and hop on a bike while you explore some history at the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank House. Explore the city by water on a canal cruise, smell some beautiful tulips at the Amsterdam Tulip museum, and hit the city center shops of Kalverstraat and the Leidsestraat for some retail therapy.
10. Cusco, Peru
Sitting at 11,200 feet (3,400 meters) above sea level, Cusco is the cosmopolitan Inca capital of Peru and gateway to Machu Picchu. As a city booming with tourism and home to many expats, Cusco is a safe destination for solo female travelers and offers a throng of fun activities to do before you embark on the epic Inca Trail.
Admire the Andean baroque architecture as you walk through the cobblestone streets on a free walking tour. Indulge in delicious local cuisine in the colorful Plaza de Armas and pick up a llama wool scarf and local handicraft in the Mercado central market. Explore nature on a mystical horseback riding trip and visit the astrologically fascinating Incan ruins at nearby Sacsayhuaman (pronounced like “sexy woman”). Observe local culture and buy gifts from local women handicraft cooperatives during a day tour of the Sacred Valley.
Photo Credits: Rome Coliseum, Chiang Mai Buddha, Goa Cow, Melbourne Tram, Tulum Beach, Road to Hana in Maui, Ubud Sculpture, Santa Monica Lifeguard Tower, Amsterdam Bike, Cusco Woman via Creative Commons