A few months ago, someone asked me if I preferred solo travel to travel with others. My answer was no, I don’t prefer it, but if I never went off on my own I’d never see half of what I’ve seen. Sometimes we need to go off on our own and see the world, travel, and explore this beautiful planet we call home. I never imagined myself as someone who would travel solo, at least not beyond heading on a group tour alone. But, I found myself in London and Barcelona solo for New Year’s Eve to ring in 2014. It wound up being one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had.
There’s something special about female solo travel, and I truly believe every woman should do it at least once in her life. It doesn’t have to be to somewhere exotic or far away, it can be somewhere close to home. But, it is life-changing and empowering in a way traveling with others isn’t. To help get you inspired, I’ve put together a post of some of the best destinations for first-time female solo travelers. Since my solo travel experience is still a bit limited, I’ve asked a few of my fellow travel bloggers for their suggestions. Here’s what they have to say:
Erin of 10 Miles Behind Me
I can’t recommend Myanmar as a destination enough and for my first solo month-long trip, it couldn’t have been better. There’s such a variety of places and things to see. The largest city, Yangon, has a completely different feel from the second-largest city, Mandalay. Bagan’s fields of temples make you feel like you’re on another planet in another century. Inle Lake is one of the most relaxing places I’ve visited. Golden Rock is unreal.
People certainly were curious about me as an American and as a traveler, but in no way did I feel unsafe or that I was being hit on. I felt safe walking around by myself, even at night, but I did keep the flashlight on my phone on in some areas since there were limited street lights and power outages. The only time I felt unsafe was when I was driving my own motorbike as I didn’t have confidence in my own ability. And I was right for that, because I fell. A lot.
Karen of Wanderlustingk
The Netherlands is a very easy place for travelers, particular first time female travelers. It’s due to the fact that almost everyone speaks fluent English, which makes everything a breeze even for those who haven’t traveled abroad previously. Most signs are translated in English although you can always ask anyone around you for help if it’s not. For those seeking a more social experience, Amsterdam has many hostels, which makes it easy to link up with other solo female travelers. Getting around is easy with reliable public transit and signs to help you find major landmarks on foot.
Safety is a big factor in why the Netherlands is so safe for women. Compared to the U.S. and even other countries in Europe, crime is generally low besides bike theft. Most importantly, men respect women in the Netherlands. As an Amsterdam resident of over 1.5 years, I’ve never experienced street harassment.
In general, the Netherlands has some really beautiful architecture and landscapes that you can’t find elsewhere. Whether you’re in search of the most beautiful canal houses in the Jordaan (Amsterdam) or scenic windmills, the Netherlands is really a great place for solo female travelers looking to soak in some culture at its many museums or just party!
Yellowstone National Park
Amanda of A Life of Wander
Katie of Stories My Suitcase Could Tell
For first-time solo female travelers, I can’t recommend Scotland enough. Yes, I might be biased because I grew up there, but it really does have so much to offer! With no language barriers, you’ll be able to chat to locals without a problem (although you might see a Gaelic sign post or two!) and with a good public transport system, fun group tours leaving Edinburgh and Glasgow for the Highlands, or the chance to hire a car and head for the hills, it’s easy to make your way around the country.
And then of course there’s the history and landscape that have been drawing travelers for centuries, not to mention the burgeoning food and drink scene; Conde Nast Traveler recently said that the food scene in the capital is so contemporary, it makes Brooklyn look “behind the times.” My pro tip for a visit to Scotland? Start in Edinburgh, then head for the mountains and glens of the Highlands – and if you have time, don’t miss the chance to take a ferry to the islands of the Outer Hebrides. The beaches on the Isle of Harris will make you rethink everything you though you knew about Scotland!
Lauren of Where in the World is Lola?
One of the best places I found for female travelers traveling on their own for the first time is Cambodia. I had never been to Southeast Asia and was nervous about the adventure. My solution was to travel initially with a group then do some solo time. I signed up to do a Habitat for Humanity house build in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with a group of people I’d never met. I figured since Habitat is very well organized I would settle in and learn some things and then feel more comfortable to travel solo afterwards.
It was completely the trick! Not only did I get used to the way of life in Southeast Asia (like nothing I’d ever seen before), but I had a wonderful cultural immersion experience and made lifelong friends as well. After my week-long build, I traveled for another week and a half on my own and had a blast. So much so, I cannot wait to repeat the experience in a country I’ve never been too as soon as possible.
Back in 2013, I visited Santiago, Chile, as well as a few surrounding areas. I wasn’t alone on this trip, but I did spend the majority of my time solo. During the days, I would take little tours and make a few friends to hang out with. If I wasn’t taking tours, I would just walk around the city on my own, exploring each neighborhood.
I found Santiago especially easy to navigate and my experience was a very positive one. I used the metro, wandered the market, and found a few amazing restaurants. While I wish my Spanish was better for the trip, I used my phone to help translate and referred back to middle school Spanish. It worked and I got by just fine. It’s a great country full of amazing people and one I think female travelers would find easy to travel through.
While visiting Rockland last summer, I couldn’t help but think it was the perfect spot for a first time female solo traveler. It’s quiet, safe, and one doesn’t feel particularly lonely while in town. There are shops to wander around, art galleries and museums, and plenty of delicious restaurants. You can also visit the towns of Camden and Belfast or even take a drive up to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. I’d also suggest taking a Maine Windjammer trip for a few days. You won’t be alone, but since you’re by yourself, you’re sure to make some amazing new friends.
While it may not be the most exotic destination, if you find yourself hesitant about globetrotting on your own, don’t be afraid to start small. Sometimes those small adventures give us the courage we need to feel comfortable enough with traveling on our own. You’ll have some quality time to yourself in a beautiful place and you’ll be inspired to do it again!
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