Summer’s here and while traveling with your partner or taking a family vacation may be the traditional thing to do, maybe you’re thinking about traveling solo or going on a girls-only weekend getaway. Traveling alone can be a liberating experience and the girls getaway, of course, presents the opportunity for you to leave all your work and family cares behind.
The staff writers of SmarterTravel.com have actually identified a few countries that are women-friendly and several regions of the world that are particularly unfriendly—or dangerous—for women to be traveling alone. Here’s a summary, with supporting opinions:
Best countries for women travelers:
Amsterdam has safe public transportation and English is widely spoken. Dutch women are pragmatic, independent, and friendly.
Ireland is a welcoming destination for everyone, pubs are inclusive of men, women, and families. Bed and breakfast inns make it easy to experience local flavor.
Costa Rica is by far the safest of Latin American tourist destinations, friendly and easy-going locals. Costa Rican landscape is picturesque, and comfortable, safe hotels are available for under $40/night. Many hotels also offer shuttle vans to transport tourists from hotels to attractions around the country.
Although India’s crowded, dirty, and poor areas can be intimidating, women largely feel safe in India. Local Indians are friendly and appreciative, women are generally respected and hold upper-level jobs. India’s tourism industry has become luxurious in the past few years.
The tourism industry in Vietnam has become more developed in recent years. The country offers plenty of services for tourists ranging from rustic to luxury, and dining and hotels are low-cost.
Worst countries for women travelers:
Religion in the Middle East and North Africa plays a big role in daily life, so be sure to educate yourself about the modesty that comes with this. Women will often be dressed in full hijab, including veils, long shirts, and floor length skirts or wide pants. If you’re planning on entering a religious site, dress conservatively (no bare shoulders or short skirts or shorts). Also be prepared to not have equal rights: some Middle Eastern countries require women to have her husband’s permission to leave the country. Once in a country, you are required to abide by their laws.
If you travel on the Mediterranean Coast, remember to always have your guard up. It’s not uncommon for women traveling in this regions to report unwanted sexual—or attempted sexual—encounters with male strangers.
It may or may not come as a surprise that areas of the United States can be unfriendly towards women. Sexual harassment, as most of us know, is common and sexual violence is an issue in big cities and rural areas alike. Culture varies across our large country, so even though we might speak the same language, always be alert and ask locals which areas are safe for women traveling alone. When using public transportation or walking alone, don’t talk on your cell phone or send text messages: be aware of your surroundings all the time.
Latin America and the Carribbean have always been a place where women have potential to feel uncomfortable. Besides the usually harmless staring and whistling, drug dealers and more aggressive men can be extremely harmful. If you travel to these areas, travel in groups and stay in tourist areas. Don’t put yourself in vulnerable situations, such as walking alone at night or getting drunk.