International Women’s Day (8th March 2017) has been observed for more than 100 years. It is a day of celebration to mark the economic, social, political and cultural achievements of women across the globe and aims to help to achieve a more inclusive, gender-equal world.
Some female travellers can sometimes be put off solo travel due to misconceptions about the challenges they may face, and an uncertainty about how females are treated in other countries. However, this should not be a barrier from allowing women everywhere to venture out on their own and have fab travel experiences!
Although some destinations are no doubt safer than others for females, with a positive attitude and a little bit of research you can feel confident and safe wherever you travel.
Travelling as a solo female is an amazing experience and there is no better time to do it than while on your year abroad!
Be inspired by these 5 great places for solo female travel, #BeBoldForChange and create some amazing new solo travel experiences.
The gardens in the Royal Palace of Madrid
Spain is an amazing country and the fab food, chilled out lifestyle and sheer amount of things to see keep drawing me back again and again.
Spring is the best time to visit as the weather is perfect without the sweltering temperatures that you see in summer season – visiting during La Semana Santa holiday may be slightly more expensive but definitely worth it for the experience!
Andalucía is my fav place to visit, with so much to see in one compact area. Some highlights include: Seville during La Semana Santa, an amazing week long festival in Holy Week; the Mesquita in Cordoba; and the Alhambra in Granada.
Salamanca is also a highlight – a small city west of Madrid that not many people visit but it has one of the prettiest Plazas in all of Spain and is one of the top places to learn Spanish!
However, there are so many places to visit: the Prado and Reina Sofia art museums in Madrid, the Ramblas in Barcelona, and the Acueducto in Segovia. There is tons to see and travelling alone is a great way to see it. There are plenty of traveller-friendly hostels everywhere, you will make lots of new friends very easily!
The impressive view of the Grand Canyon!
America is a great starter destination for solo female travel if you can afford it – there’s no language barrier, there are great travel connections and plenty of places to see.
The West Coast offers a great itinerary and you can fit a lot of things in one short trip. Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon have great places to camp, which can be a fun way to meet new people. Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco are unmissable cities, with lots of hostels to meet other travellers or treat yourself to a nice hotel after a few days of camping.
However, make sure you budget your money as it is quite an expensive place compared to other destinations and, although it’s essential to pack lightly, you have to be prepared for all types of conditions – Death Valley is one of the hottest places on earth but places like San Francisco can also get a bit chilly with fog sometimes.
Make sure you double check the entry requirements before going: you may be eligible for the Visa Waiver Programme or may have to get a visa prior to arrival, but its essential to plan before you leave.
The beautiful campus of East China Normal University – the ‘garden university’ – while I was on a study programme in China
Although slightly harder to visit than other places as a visa is needed prior to arrival, China is the perfect place for a gal looking for an amazing travel experience and is not afraid of a few challenges.
There are fewer travellers here so you will have to be comfortable with spending some time by yourself. However, you will no doubt also meet others along the way.
You should be prepared as English is not spoken widely – you may get by in the large cities of Beijing and Shanghai, but a few words of Mandarin (or at least a phrasebook or access to Google Translate) is necessary for using public transport and for chatting with the locals!
Highlights include: learning about Chinese history at the Forbidden City in Beijing; the amazing skyline of The Bund in Shanghai; trekking along The Great Wall of China. However, there are many other places worth a visit, including the lovely city of Hangzhou with beautiful countryside views and the ancient Buddhist Yungang Caves in Datong.
This is an amazing country to travel solo. However, if you’re still a bit apprehensive and would like to ensure you meet new people, then you can apply for some of the British Council’s English teaching placements, internships or study placements in China.
The stunning view from my hostel in Halong Bay.
A beautiful country with very friendly people – this is a fantastic place to travel as a solo female, with perfect sunshine every day!
It is quite established on the traveller circuit so meeting new friends is very easy and, as most people are traveling North to South (or vice versa), everyone seems to follow the same route and make new friends along the way.
Currently British citizens can enter for up to 15 days without a visa, however, ensure you double check the entry requirements before going. If you do need a visa, it’s very easy to get one on arrival in South East Asia, either in Bangkok or Cambodia.
With very easy flight connections from Bangkok and other places in South East Asia (I would recommend AirAsia), it is best to fly in to either Hanoi in the North, or Ho Chi Minh City in the South, then continue your trip up or down the length of Vietnam.
Highlights in the North include: trekking in Sapa near the Chinese border, and a boat trip in Halong Bay – one of the natural wonders of the world. Although you can book trips to both of these places on arrival in Hanoi, I would definitely recommend staying in Central Backpackers Hostel in Hanoi as they organise cheap trips to Sapa and Halong Bay. Plus it’s a great place to meet new people!
Also make sure you don’t miss out on the ancient town of Hoi An, the famous Hai Van Pas, canyoning in Dalat. Do ensure that your travel insurance covers you if you’re participating in adventure activities.
Renting motorbikes to see the Hai Van Pass is a very popular activity but, make sure you have the correct insurance and wear a helmet if you decide to do this. Alternatively, you can hire a professional to take you on a motorbike tour – much safer and you get a local insight!
All the amazing people I met while volunteering at Angloville – a mix of professionals wanting to learn English and travellers volunteering as English mentors.
Poland is a great country to visit and the first country I ever visited travelling alone. There is so much to see and Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw and Gdansk are all worth a visit. You can also visit Auschwitz, which is an easy day trip from Krakow.
If you have a few weeks to spare then why not check out Angloville – teach English in the Polish countryside, in exchange for a week’s free board and the opportunity to make many new friends! It’s a great way to see more of Poland than just the main cities and was the highlight of my trip!
Warsaw is the perfect place to start your trip with very cheap flights from the UK with WizzAir and Norwegian Air.
Getting around is also very easy! There are very cheap coaches – I managed to travel from Krakow to Wroclaw for approximately £3 with PolskiBus. Or alternatively, Bla Bla Car is a great way to travel cheaply while also meeting locals, without the safety concerns of hitchhiking.
Most visitors experience no problems but be wary as Poland ranks highly among EU countries for road fatalities.
Travelling alone as a solo female is one of the best experiences you can have while on your year abroad! Check out the FCO’s guidance on solo female travel and also the specific country advice for wherever you are going, to ensure you have are safe and feeling confident about your solo trip!
Written by Fern Davidson-Averill