Top 5 Safest Cities for Solo Female Travel

Solo female travel. It is a delightful thing, isn’t it, ladies? You have all the freedom and adventure in the world. You can broaden your horizon just by taking a plane on your own and going on a solo adventure. You expand your limits by jumping into an unknown experience. Yes, most of us have been bitten by the travel bug. And that’s okay.

The taste of freedom while traveling solo is even sweeter when you travel to a safe environment. A place where you don’t have to worry about being harassed or robbed. A serene yet interesting travel destination, perfect for perhaps your first solo trip.

But where can I find these perfect destinations, you might wonder? Let’s see what are the top 5 of safest cities for solo female travel in my experience. I went to each of these cities alone and I am happy to share with you my honest and true review about solo travel to these destinations.

5. Uruguay, Colonia

Colonia is a small Uruguayan city close to the border with Argentina. Yet, even though it is close to Buenos Aires and the habitants have the same accent, the safety changes drastically when you’re at the other side of the pond. Colonia is a warm, cozy and beautiful city. You feel yourself at home while strolling through this city , smelling the fresh forests, the salty ocean and the sweet flowers. This is a place where you can find true and deep peace.

As you can already imagine, this Uruguayan pearl is super safe for anyone to visit. The locals are super friendly and relaxed, making you feel welcome in their tranquil city.

4. Belgium, Bruges

Being born in Belgium, it is easy to know which places to go to and which places to avoid. Bruges is definitely a must-see when you have to chance to visit the country of beer and chocolates (and let’s not forget the waffles). Besides the rustic architecture and the many cafés (and types of beer) you can find here, you can come to complete relaxation when in Bruges.

Belgium is overall a very safe country to stay at, and in Bruges, where tranquility meets history, you will find yourself in a safe environment. You can pass your time strolling through musea and visit old, big buildings and get to know their stories.

3. Italy, Venice

I don’t think Venice needs an introduction. With is romantic rivers running through the whole city and its small islands all sticking together to create what may be the most beautiful city in Italy, it is well known worldwide.

Venice may be a destination not so loved by solo female travelers because it is so popular and crowded. But if you are as much an Italian food and culture lover as me, then you will find a way to make this destination an amazing solo trip.

I recommend you to stay not in Venice itself, but on the mainland of Italy, close to the train station. A train will take you to Venice in no-time. It is totally safe to stroll around this authentic city, and since there are so many people, you will never be alone so you can always address somebody to ask for help if you – like me- are really, really, really bad in orientation (and the little Venetian roads don’t do no good, trust me).

2. Portugal, Lisbon

Lisbon is the central hub of Portugal. With its charming style and stunning architecture, this is perfect destination for solo female travel. Spend your golden hour at one of the many rooftops bars with gorgeous views – stretching all over city until the other side of the river – order some pastel de nata and drink a café meia-de-leite in peace without anyone bothering you. Lisboetas are in general really friendly and social, so you’ll make local friends in no time. Also, there are lots of international visitors and especially Brazilians who love to visit this Portuguese capital, which makes the atmosphere in the center so vivid.

I took a trip to Lisbon with a friend last year and a couple months later, I found myself living in the capital of tiles. I love a lot of things about Lisbon, and a big factor is that it is so safe. As a woman traveling alone, you will experience a city that is so popular and crowded, but peaceful at the same time. The only strangers that will address you are some guys in the popular streets asking if you want to buy something. But they even address the locals, and they will do no harm to you.

1. Malta, Valletta

Valletta, the capital of the small island Malta, was declared the European Capital of Culture in 2018. And does this marvelous, Italian-influenced city deserve this title. Not only historical and architectural lovers will adore this lovely city; I am talking to you, dear foodies, because Malta has an amazing gastronomy. That is why I chose this destination to spend my first solo trip. And after returning for a couple of times, I still do not regret discovering Malta- more precisely, Valletta.

Lose yourself in the interesting history and architecture of the ex-British colony and pay a visit to the many museums. Stroll around the dockside for a lookout to the Three Cities (Birgu, Senglea and Bormla) and grab some pastizzi for on the way.

But let’s not wander too far from the real subject here, which is: safety for solo female travelers. Valletta always made me feel comfortable and welcome, since the moment I set foot in this city. It is a completely safe and cozy city, where you can be sure to enjoy your travels the most.

Why Solo Travel Is Good for You

I was 19 years old when I set foot in an airplane, leaving for my first solo trip.

I was 20 years old when I went on my 6th solo trip, 6 times zones away from home.

We can conclude that the travel bug bit me – in a maybe slightly disturbing way. But that is not the subject here. Because what about you? What is stopping you?

Why should one go solo travel, you might wonder?

Let me sum up the most important reasons one needs to go solo travel at least once in a lifetime.

You gain independence

Let’s start by the beginning. You arrange everything yourself: you plan your trip, you saved up for tickets, you take leave at your job and you just go. Doing things on your own and taking care of your own requires independence. You are fully in control. You have to take care of your own. There is no family member or colleague or friend to assist you. You have to figure out things all by yourself. And that is where the fun begins. Because that is when you get to make mistakes and learn from it. That person you asked for instructions became your friend. The flight attendant whom you spoke to about your travels, gives you tips and invites you to a night out. The life begins. All because you gain confidence, courage and  independence to live your life.

You gain strength

Going through an adventure alone strengthens the mind and spirit of a person.

You miss your family, lover and friends, but that makes you realize what you really have in life. Because you are separated from your normal life and the persons in it, you start to appreciate it so much more. And you become more grateful for everything that life gives you.

Mentally, you become more reliant on yourself and stronger as a person. You learn more about yourself and you trust yourself more.

Another important factor is that you broaden your horizon. You gain more courage and the true adventurer inside you steps out to the front.

You overcome fears, because you are out of your comfort zone.

When I was in South-Africa, I was so afraid to go hiking on the huge Table Mountain. After I collected all my courage and I did the hike, I felt like I was standing on the top of a mountain. Literally and figuratively. It was an accomplishment that I was proud of. I had became more stronger and had overcome a big challenge.

And that feeling, standing on the top of the mountain, is something we all need to have at one point in our lives.

You gain knowledge

Cultures, stories, languages, food, people: they are all part of new discoveries in your travels.

The moment you set foot into another country, you can smell it’s air, observe the people, learn their ways of communicating, dancing, eating, etc.

You learn about so many wonderful places, events. Your eyes won’t believe what they see.

And again, because you are alone, you have to figure things out alone. Every time you do that, you learn something new. All the mistakes I made traveling solo, I immediately transformed into lessons and learned from them for the better.

You gain life experience

After you travel solo, you have been through a lot. You can be very proud of yourself for accomplishing this trip. You have witnessed beautiful moments, made a lots of friends from around the world, maybe learned more about a language, a culture, etc.

You can become a travel expert and knowing the world little by little.

You learn about stories of people and you will share memories with some you will never forget. And you can be proud of yourself, because this is your accomplishment, your independence, your life.

So I invite you to try solo traveling at least one time in your life. Be the best version of yourself. Experience your moment on the top of a mountain. Be bold. Go solo travel.

More moments. More world. More life.

Thalassophile’s paradise

The subtle wind brings you the smell of a salty ocean while your feet sink deeper and deeper in the soft sand. Every step brings you closer to the warm and beautiful Mediterranean ocean.

Palm trees cast a pleasant shadow over your body while you lay your feet in the burning sun. In the background, you hear relaxing music playing softly from the beach bar next to yours.

While resting your head on the soft pillow of your beach bed, your fingers slide through the warm sand while all your worries dissolve slowly.

The water surrounds your body and all the stress and worrying thoughts easily drift away from your mind. With every dive you take, the water becomes more and more pleasant.

There is a strong feeling arising, the urge of staying inside the refreshing and wavy ocean. You never want to leave again.

Thalassophile (n.) a lover of the sea, someone who loves the sea/ocean.

The Trip That Didn’t Go As Planned

Destination: Buenos Aires.

The plan: stay in the city. That’s it. One goal. One plan. One place. 

An excited, yet half asleep girl is strolling through the hallway in the airport while in the background there is a subtle smell of coffee and the metal spoons clinking against the coffee mugs of other awaiting passengers slowly waking up. Gate A30 is calm and quite so early in the morning. She holds her freshly printed out boarding pass strongly in her sweaty palms. With all her strength, courage and braveness she could gather, this 19- year old girl is on her way to her first solo trip, holding on tight to her over packed backpack and overweight suitcase. Her backpack is stuffed full of notes, preparations, tickets, plans, and itinerary’s. Also awaiting her: a trip that didn’t went a single second as it was planned.

Do you remember your first ever solo trip? Do you remember that feeling of being lost and being found at the same time? Of being in control of your life, but at the same time having no idea what you’re doing? That feeling like all the control you have in your life is slipping right out of your hands?

It all started mid-flight. Since I worked as a flight attendant when I was a student, I always make some small talk with the flight attendants. I told them about my plans, where I was staying – I booked 4 (!) accommodations – and basically everything about my trip.

When I got out of the plane, I cancelled all four accommodations and booked a centrally located hostel in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Needless to say that my inner planning freak was on the loose. I didn’t plan this.

I arrived in the hostel and started to pack out. I passed my first night quite panicked and stressed after I found out that it was impossible to open my suitcase with my code. My inner planning freak? At this point, she’s in a corner, crying.

Day 2 of my city trip to Buenos Aires. I booked two tours that will keep me occupied the entire day. Full of excitement and positivism, I am waiting at the meeting point. As groups of families and old couple are gathering and some people are approaching me asking me if I am the tour guide, I start to realize that maybe this wasn’t the best idea.

I think it was the moment when the group in front of me departed – I saw the tour guide guiding everybody holding a stick with a flag – and everybody with their headset on following the guide like a horde of sheep, that I realized that I wasn’t supposed to be there. I am like a bird, you cannot keep me in my cage. I have to be free in this world to fly wherever I want to. So I went to the leader of the group, told her I was sick – while everybody could follow our not-awkward conversation because her mic was still on – gave her back the headset, and just ran off. Literally.

We’re Thursday, day 4 of my first solo trip to Argentina, Buenos Aires. The plan? Staying in the city. The reality? I am currently in Uruguay, walking around in an unknown city, without any WiFi or internet or a map, with a friend I made one day ago. My inner planning freak? She’s already had a couple of breakdowns, I’m sure she could handle this one as well.

Saturday, day 6 of this unforgettable adventure at the other end of our dear world. Location: a gas station near the local airport of Buenos Aires. Time: 4 A.M. After an attempt of getting cash at three different ATM’s in sleepy Buenos Aires, I succeeded to get Argentinian pesos for my trip to the airport. Note to self: always get enough cash.

Day 7. I am currently attempting to survive a 6- hour hike at the waterfalls of Iguazu in Northern Argentina. As you see, my plan of staying in the capital has failed uttermost and I almost crossed the border to Brasil, which would be the third South-American country I would visit during this “city”trip. Note to self: know what you want. How’s my inner planning freak, you might wonder? She’s become an old lady, consumed by all the stress, quietly sitting in a corner in my head, drinking whisky and smoking cigarettes in her sofa, totally defeated and given up on her job.

Day 8. I am sitting in the courtyard of my hostel in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have never felt so grateful and strong. Grateful for this life and these adventures, strong because I did it. I did it. I finally understood that it is not about the plan, or the schedule, but about the journey. About what is happening in this very moment. Life is not about what is going to happen, but what is happening around you, here and now.

Destination: wherever life takes me to.

The plan: to enjoy the ride.

Make the Jump: Go Solo Female Travel!

Solo female travelers have seen a lot of revolutionary changes the past years. It is now more accessible and more acceptable to travel alone as a woman, even if it is at the other end of our dear world. Something that used to be not done, is now a must do in every woman’s life.

But what is so special and fulfilling about traveling by yourself as a woman?

Maybe it is the courage and strength you show yourself and others in your close environment. Maybe it is the connections you make, the unforgettable experiences you go through, or the realization how much this world has to offer. I find this Spanish saying summarizing solo female travel perfectly: “Todo lo bueno en la vida nace de un salto al vácio.” All the good things in life are born out of a jump in the unknown.

Going on a solo trip is the most terrifying, liberating and eye-opening experience anybody can ever have. Why? Because the best, wildest and most beautiful version of you comes out during this time. You have that “je m’en fou” attitude and you take more risks than you normally would. You can do what you want, not what your friend of family member wants to do. This is time for yourself. Time to ignite your soul and make the jump.

The most used reason to not go on a solo trip as a woman probably is the following: because it is not safe.

Of course, a very important aspect of a solo female trip is to do research. What country do you want to go to? What city? Which neighborhood will you stay in? Be careful and always be safe. Also: respect the local rules and norms. Make connections, talk to people and hear what they have to say about where not to go (alone) or how to act/ dress in certain areas.

If you did proper research and you don’t go looking up danger, or entering a church wearing just a bikini, you should be totally fine.

So go on. Make that jump, accept that frightening challenge, take your salto al vácio. Because I, together with all other solo female travelers, promise you: it is worth it.

The Best Way to Book Your Budget Holiday

That deep state of relaxation, that immense thrill of expanding your boundaries, that exciting feeling of strolling around in unknown streets and that spontaneous, wild version of you being outside your comfort zone and away from the daily life; going on a holiday is something we all cherish. It has become an essential part of our lives. But how do you book your dream holiday while being on a budget?

Personally, 2018 and 2019 – so far – were two years full of traveling and adventures. Some were unplanned, some were solo, some were in another continent, some ended in me celebrating my seventh month of being an expat in a foreign on this day.

One question I frequently hear is: “Where do you get all the money from for your travels?”

Prioritise your dream holiday

Let me make one thing clear. If you want something, really want something, you make it a priority. This is applicable on all things in life. With traveling, it’s the same. There is no magical, hidden treasure for people who want to go on holiday – unfortunately. You make money for it, like you make time for it.

However, I have one golden rule when it comes to planning and booking a holiday, and that is the following:

Set up a budget.

Wherever you want to go on holiday to, whenever you want to go, with whomever you want to go; you will need to set a budget for all your costs and keep some “emergency money” extra. Because while you’re traveling, anything can happen – don’t be scared, I’m not talking about medical emergencies, I’m talking about ordering too many of those delicious cocktails, planning another trip in your trip,… life happens, you know?

A for Effort

Next up is the planning part. My best experience is putting a trip together by yourself. That means you have to do all the work, like: checking multiple websites, OTA’s, apps, and online searching tools. It sounds exhausting and you probably want to click away this tab and look for package deals, but trust me, it is worth the effort.

Here are some tools I recommend: Skyscanner and Google Flights helped me out a lot during my quests to the best flights with my preferred airlines and dates. Google Flights even lets you choose your stop (which airport, how many hours, etc). Booking.com has a Genius reward program which allows you to get extra benefits out of your booking. And lastly, websites of hostels always guarantee you the lowest price.

Here’s a tip for when you have no clue where in this beautiful world you want to go to: on Skyscanner, you can put as destination ‘anywhere’ and they will provide you the cheapest flights for periods of whole months. That rule applies as well for known destinations: just click on ‘entire month’ when selecting the date.

When you have set your budget, you can start filtering on this, the date you had in mind for your ideal holiday, and/or the destination. The more information you possess, the merrier; it will be a lot easier to find your perfect holiday combination.

Sidenote: are you still doubting about certain flights? Create a price alarm so you get a notification you when there has been a price change in your selected flights. On some websites you can also reserve your flights: KLM lets you reserve your flight prices for €15.

So you already have your flights reserved or booked. Now it is time to book your accommodation before the prices go up – the disadvantage of checking everything by yourself (make sure to always clean up your cookies too).

Another important detail to remember is your included luggage when booking a light. For example, Lufthansa included my checked-in luggage in the flight prices, while Turkish Airlines didn’t, and my flight prices went up with €140. It may seen unimportant and just a small detail you can ‘arrange later’, but it is an essential part to not get caught in the flight deals. Always read the conditions of the flight fares.

Booking your stay on a certain location is more a question of personal preferences. Some would prefer the budget hotel, others see themselves being in a surf hostel, you may prefer an Airbnb: the cost may be the same, but of course, you aren’t the same as your fellow travellers.

If it is the first time you are using Booking.com, Airbnb, or another OTA, make sure to use your leverage as being part of the late majority and get extra discounts on your very first booking.

Livin’ la vida loca

Finally, you got your flights and accommodation all set up. Next up is planning your activities and discovering the city or country you will visit. My personal favourite guide is Lonely Planet’s “Guides”. They have offline city guides for a collection of cities worldwide. You can filter on different categories like food, attractions, etc. and within those categories you can filter on degree of popularity, price, etc. Culture Trip offers you a wide variation of blogs about different fields of interests for your next destination.

To summarise my collection of tips: always set up a budget, use the right sources to check your flights and accommodation options, use those online advantages such as discounts and never forget to read the small letters. Hopefully, these tips will facilitate the booking of your next holiday so you can enjoy it even more. I wish you happy travels and lots of eye-opening adventures.

The Journey of Traveling

To me, traveling is not about getting to new countries as much or soon as possible.

It’s about the entire journey. Traveling is about the smell of that sweet coffee of the place around the corner you never planned on going to, but is now your favourite place to have breakfast and plan your day.

It’s about that bar two blocks from your residence, where you see all the people you’ve met so far on the trip gathered together, all on one spot, and you are the glue connecting them all together.

It’s about long waiting periods at the airport, but enjoying them and making the best out of it. In the end, you did want to meet new people and be in an international surrounding, so why should an airport be less than your destination?

It’s about that boat ride you took because you wanted to visit another island. That ride that you secretly regret, because all you have been is nauseous. But it doesn’t matter, because you are on a boat. You have the entire ocean ahead of you. Feel the freedom. Watch the boat hitting the waves and creating that endless, bright white foam. Watch out for some sea creatured you might see passing by. Look at the sparkling water and the shining sun and just take it all in.

That’s what traveling is about for me. The small moments, as we call them. The moments you didn’t plan on having or seeing as “big” moments. That fraction of time where you have absolutely no worry in the entire world. That moment where you enjoy. Your journey. That sweet coffee. The vibrant atmosphere in the bar. The waiting at the airport. The boat ride. Enjoy it, every second of it.