More and more travelers today are choosing to go it alone, and women are leading the trend.
According to YouGov, 66% of Americans either have or would consider traveling solo, and for a variety of reasons. The freedom to choose your own schedule, meet new people, and relax undisturbed are attracting vacationers of all ages, beach bums and thrill seekers alike. Booking.com found that 72% of women specifically have traveled alone, and a majority of them said that it boosted their self-confidence. What was once seen as a dangerous, unnecessary risk for women is now being embraced as a liberating and eye-opening experience.
In the last year alone, saves for “solo travel ideas” on Pinterest spiked 593%! That includes over 4 billion travel-related pins to fuel your unaccompanied wanderlust. Before you jump in, here’s a Swift Passport-vetted list of the best destinations for solo female travelers. There’s an entire world to explore, but these are the best spots to get you started.
Eclectic, laid-back and geographically breathtaking, this Nordic island capital is a safe haven for women seeking adventure and wholesome hospitality. Iceland is known for its low crime rate and holds the title of “safest country in the world” (for 11 years running, too), according to the Global Peace Index. Plus, the World Economic Forum ranks Iceland as the global leader in gender equality. Spend some time in Reykjavik for its art scene, famous museums, and lively nightlife before venturing out to its surrounding natural wonders, like the Blue Lagoon and Northern Lights.
Botswana is the best introduction to Africa if you want to experience it on your own. Thanks to its longstanding democracy and adoption of the English language, the country is one of the safest and most welcoming to solo female visitors. Ecotourism is well-established, and there is a large array of safari tours and group expeditions to join. Try to visit the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park during the off-season (November through April), when many companies waive the solo supplement fee. That way, you can also witness the zebra migration in the Makgadikgadi Pans.
A close yet transformative getaway for solo female travelers can still be found within the United States. Maui is the second-largest and most popular island of Hawaii, with more than 48 miles of both urban and natural attractions. Solo visitors can connect with locals and immerse themselves in the traditions of the Pacific Islands, such as learning a hula, stringing a lei, and feasting at a luau. The Road to Hana, one of the most popular attractions, will take you on a winding drive along waterfalls, golden beaches, and a bamboo forest. There’ll be no backseat drivers to spoil your trip.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
While Bangkok typically steals the spotlight, the northern city of Chiang Mai is a much better alternative for solo travelers in Thailand. It’s much smaller in size, making it safer, quieter, and easier to navigate without the fear of tourist scams and violence. This “Rose of the North” combines centuries of history, countryside beauty, and cosmopolitan flair. Visitors can hop between its 300+ Buddhist temples, lush sanctuaries, handicraft markets, yoga studios, hole-in-the-wall cafes, and nightlife venues to truly experience this Asian gem.
Prominently featured in Crazy Rich Asians, Singapore is a dazzling tapestry of modern arts, culture, and industry for women to explore. Don’t let the often high price tags scare you from this island city-state off of southern Malaysia. While it may take some planning, budget travel is still possible with the city’s efficient public transportation, world-famous street food, and nearly non-existent haggling that’s otherwise common in other Asian destinations. Singapore’s crime rates are some of the lowest in the world, due to its harsh punishment policies. Unaccompanied females can feel safe while touring its artisan boutiques, colorful dance clubs, Michelin-star restaurants, and urban greenery.
“The Venice of the North” is perhaps the most ideal place to travel solo in Europe. It’s long been a welcoming and walkable hotspot for those seeking its Golden Age canals, globally renowned museums, vintage shops, and hyper-creative design. Some of the Dutch capital’s top attractions are arguably better experienced alone. Take the free ferry to NDSM wharf, stay in one of its many popular hostels, check out the tourist-filled Red Light District, people-watch in Dam Square, or try the Heineken Experience — the options are seemingly endless.
If you want a taste of Europe without the long plane ride, Canada should be at the top of your list. This North American neighbor is home to a famously charming population, putting it in the top 10 of the Global Peace Index. Women should beeline to Montréal, a large and exhilarating city in Québec with a heavy French influence. Take a guided walking tour through Old Montréal to witness its cobblestone streets, 17th-century buildings, the Notre-Dame Basilica, Old Port, and Place Jacques-Cartier. Just beyond, you can find more of it rich culture and history within its dining, gardens, markets, and other major sites.
Bali breaks away from the conservative standard of other Indonesian islands to embrace interculturalism and inclusivity. More than 80% of its economy is based in tourism, so visitors of all kinds are warmly welcomed. Female solo travelers can escape to paradise in its many resort towns, black-sand beaches, and luxury spas, plus yoga, meditation, and wellness retreats galore. Looking for more excitement? Opportunities to scuba dive, snorkel, surf, zipline, hike volcanoes, see wildlife, and more are everywhere.
Wellington, New Zealand
You may recognize Wellington as the backdrop for The Lord of the Rings, but this harbor capital offers much more than tours for film fanatics. Female travelers can enjoy the world-class vineyards, coffeeshops, beaches, seafood, natural beauty, and amiable locals. Experience the indigenous Māori culture and traditions through local tours and lodging options. From Lambton Quay, take the famous red Wellington Cable Car to the Wellington Botanic Gardens. Trust us, there are countless reasons why the long and pricey flight is well worth it.
It’s easy to understand why this is one of the safest and happiest places in the world. At the center of Europe, this mountainous country is every nature lover’s dream. You can traverse its famous ski runs, alpine hiking trails, and hip streets of Zürich all in one day with ease. We recommend getting the Swiss Travel pass — which covers all public trains, buses, and boats — to see the country’s many cantons and their unique cultures. Be sure to visit the the region of Ticino for its Italian-influenced architecture, cuisine, and medieval castles.
Female jetsetters don’t need to rely on companionship to see the world. Traveling solo can be a worthwhile adventure of its own, especially at these locations. Whether it’s your first or 100th trip by yourself, Swift Passport Services can help make sure you arrive prepared.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.