Despite the growing trend of solo travel, women still face challenges when traveling abroad alone. But some places top the rankings when it comes to safety and equality.
After a long pandemic travel hiatus, people don't wait for a partner to pack their bags. Interest in solo travel continues to rise around the world, especially among women.
research ofNorwegian cruise linefound that one in three travelers prefer to travel alone, and older women in particular are driving the trend. According to an internal investigation by Travel NetworkVirtuoso, the largest increase in solo travelers in 2022 came from women aged 65 and over. While they made up just 4% of solo travelers in 2019, they accounted for 18% of solo travelers in 2022.
Despite the growing trend for solo travel, women still face unique challenges when venturing abroad alone. while all over the worldshouldWith travel safe for women, the reality is that women still face discrimination and safety concerns in all parts of the world. That being said, many countries have made concerted efforts both to improve women's safety and to measure the attitudes of female residents towards safety in their country.
To find the places that are making the biggest strides in terms of safety and equality for female travelers, we consulted Georgetown University.Peace and Security Index for Women(WPS), the World Economic ForumGlobal Report on Gender Differencesand the Institute of Economics andGlobal Peace Peace Index(PGP). We then spoke to women who have traveled solo to the top rated countries to understand why they felt safe hearing their own travel tips and discovering the best things to see and do as a solo adventurer .
Slovenia's easy access to cities and nature makes it an ideal combination of solitude and safety (Credit: DavorLovincic/Getty Images)
At the top of the WPS indexFor Central and Eastern Europe, Slovenia has made great strides in women's perceptions of safety in recent years, with 85% of women feeling safe here, according to the Index.
When Claire Ramsdell first arrived in Ljubljana, the capital and largest city of Slovenia, she wandered the streets at night taking pictures.
I had no problems with navigation, language barriers or anything else that can be intimidating at times when you're alone.
"This might have been a risky experience elsewhere, but in this case it was a treat," said Ramsdell, the Adventure Advisor forHiking in natureand runs the travel blogthe distraction effect. "During my time in the country, nobody bothered me at all and I had no problems with navigation, language barriers or anything else that can sometimes feel intimidating when you're alone."
He also found the city very walkable and public transport across the country reliable and well developed. For those looking to join like-minded travelers, she recommendsCulinary tours in LjubljanayumjFood Tour of Ljubljana. Whether in a group or alone, he says travelers should ask for a buckwheat nutmore, a delicious filled dough,Wir Štruklji, which they say is "one of the best desserts ever" and try the world-famous ice creamCocoa.
An avid hiker, Ramsdell came to Slovenia to explorethe vast nature and the alpine mountainsacross the country and found them to offer an ideal combination of solitude and security. "Although I often felt like I was in nature, I also always knew there was a town nearby if any emergency should arise," Ramsdell said. "I didn't feel completely alone, which gives me peace of mind."
She recommends visitors stop at the turquoise Soča River, which is on the western side of the country near the Italian border and was the filming location for The Chronicles of Narnia. While hikers can enjoy leisurely strolls along the waterfront, motorists can also stop to explore the pedestrian-friendly suspension bridges over the river.
Rwanda ranks sixth globally in the Global Gender Gap Index (Credit: Michael Cook - Altai World Photography/Getty Images)
With 55% of Parliament composed of women MPs, Rwanda ranks first in the world for gender equality in Parliament.WPS sea. It also ranks high in the Perception of Community Safety Index, ranking sixth globallyGlobal Gender Gap Index, which measures how fair a country is in terms of economy, education, health and political participation.
Rebecca Hansen experienced this first hand when she moved to Rwanda from Denmark in 2019 and found it extremely safe to travel alone. "Police, security forces and the military are on duty almost everywhere and at all times of the day and night," he said. "It might seem intimidating at first, but you'll soon realize that all of these uniformed men are friendly people who are always willing to help."
She said people don't usually bother you, but she could improve her English with the occasional "How are you?" or "Good morning", especially from school children. English and French are two of the official languages of Rwanda, along with Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili, lowering the language barrier here. Even non-English speakers are happy to help and point the way if you get lost, he said.
Rwanda has long been considereda leader in your peace and reconciliation workafter1994 Genocide of the Tutsi. The country has several monuments, but Hansen suggests visitors experience themKigali Genocide Memorialin the capital showing not only the history of genocide here but also other examples around the world and the dangers the world still faces because of this threat.
While expensive, visiting the country's mountain gorillas is a must-do for any traveler. but Hansen also recommendsNyungwe-Nationalparkin the southwest and theVolcanoes National Parkto see monkeys in the north, or thevisited the national parkin the east for safaris.
Women traveling alone generally find a safe environment in the United Arab Emirates (Image credit: Jorg Greuel/Getty Images)
United Arab Emirates
With thehighest scores on the WPSWithin the Middle East and North Africa for women's schooling and financial inclusion, the UAE remains a leader in gender equality in the region and recently achieved gender equality in its parliament. It also ranks highest of all countries for safety in the community, with 98.5% of women aged 15 and over reporting that they “feel safe being alone in the city or area where they live at night, to go for a walk".
Dubai in particular was ranked as thatthe safest city for solo female travelersbased on an index by travel insurance company Insure My Trip. man of influenceSandy Auad, who splits her time between Paris and Dubai, says she's always felt safe in the city, even on the outskirts. "Once I had a flat tire, I left my car in the middle of the desert, unlocked with the keys in it," he said. "I knew very well that I could trust that the taxi would pick me up and that I would be sure that the car was safe."
For solo travelers, he recommends booking a desert safari, as it's an easy way to meet a variety of interesting people. But if you're feeling more adventurous, she personally loved itSkydiving in the Palm Dropzone.
Eating alone is a cultural norm in Japan, and many restaurants offer seating for people (Image credit: D3sign/Getty Images)
Ranked as one of the 10 safest countries in the worldGlobal Peace IndexBecause of its extremely low violent crime rate and low rate of internal or external conflict, Japan has a culture ofSubway cars for women only(at certain times and routes) andAccommodations for women onlythat can make it safer for solo female travelers.
Due to population decline, people who don't want to get married and appreciate our "solo time" as a culture, a lot is happening around solo travel.
Solo eating and activities are also more of a cultural norm here than elsewhere. "There's so much going on with 'solo' travel because of depopulation, people who don't want to get married and who appreciate our 'solo time' as a culture," said Mika White, who was born in Japan and is the founder of tourism. companywhite chapter. "Magazines always feature the best solo karaoke, solo ramen places, and solo onsen."
Lulu Assagaf, who moved here from Indonesia 20 years ago, immediately felt safe here. "The locals make you feel at home and are happy to help strangers," says Assagaf, who is now a tour guide forintrepid journey. However, if you're traveling to more rural areas, he recommends traveling with a guide, as English is less commonly spoken.
With eating alone being the norm here, Assagaf recommends checking out the food scene, particularly in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. His favorite place in Tokyo is the Shinjuku San-Chome area with lots of restaurants, nightlife and entertainment venues.izakayas(a Japanese version of a pub).
For visitors wanting to venture off the beaten path, he recommends the coastal town of Kanazawa, known as the home of the samurai; and Takayama in the Japanese Alps. "Takayama has beautiful traditional architecture and sake breweries," he said. She also recommends thatMuseo Takayama Showa-kan, which displays pop culture artifacts from the reign of Emperor Hirohito from 1926 to 1989.
Consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, Norway is an inclusive place for travelers of all kinds (Source: Johner Images/Getty Images)
Number one in the WPSfor its highest scores for women's financial inclusion, lack of legal discrimination and community safety for women, and for its consistent ranking in the top 10 mostgender samejhappiest countries in the world– Norway has proven to be an inclusive place for travelers of all types, including LGBTQ+ and solo travellers.
Resident of Oslo and founder ofabove norwayTorunn Tronsvang points out that the culture is socially tolerant and trusting, making it an ideal place for single women. "You can conveniently ask someone at a neighboring cafe table to watch your stuff while you go to the bathroom," she said. She's also proud of how many businesses here are run by women, who have created iconic places to eat and hang out in rural areas across the country.
To get the most out of a visit, Tronsvang encourages visitors to explore the Norwegian concept of “outdoor life", a philosophy of outdoor living. WithNASA reports an increase in solar activityBy 2025, it may be an ideal time to see the Northern Lights, with arctic excursions, dog sledding and snowshoeing by day and staying in family igloos and ice hotels by night.
Living inIt's a BBC seriesJourneys that discover what it's like to live in some of the world's most important destinations.
Join over three million BBC Travel fans by liking usFacebook, or follow usbloodjInstagram.
If you liked this story,Sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletterentitled "The Essential List". A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.