What are the safest cities for solo female travellers?

Women travelling solo is an increasingly popular trend across the world.

Travel organisations catering to women-only travel have sprung up around the world and, according to Condor Ferries, 64 per cent of travellers worldwide are female, which means only 36 per cent are male.

And even when women are not travelling alone, women still make 80 per cent of all travel decisions and the number of women-only tour operators has increased 230 per cent in the past six years, according to data from Gutsy travel.

So it makes sense to ensure you are safe while travelling. What are the most secure destinations?

A study by InsureMyTrip reveals that the best destinations for female solo travellers are:

  1. Munich, Germany
  2. Madrid, Spain
  3. London, United Kingdom
  4. Lisbon, Portugal
  5. Barcelona, Spain.

On the flipside, these are the worst destinations for female solo travellers:

  1. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  2. Johor Bahru, Malaysia
  3. Delhi, India
  4. Singapore, Singapore
  5. Johannesburg, South Africa.

 InsureMyTrip ranked 62 cities based on data points relating to cost, safety, gender equality (based on gender gap reports from WEForum and Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security), and tourism for a definitive list of the best places for female solo travel.

The group also crunched the numbers for value for money and the top five cities with the lowest per day travel costs are:

  1. Jaipur, India,
  2. Chennai, India,
  3. Delhi, India,
  4. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  5. Hanoi, Vietnam.

The most expensive are:

  1. Orlando, US
  2. New York City, US
  3. Las Vegas, US
  4. Sydney, Australia.

So, apart from travelling to Munich over and over again, how can women – and men – stay safe while travelling?

The Australian government travel advisory website Smartraveller recommends that if you feel unsafe, remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible.

It also recommends:

  • Always act confidently. If you behave like you know where you’re going and what you’re doing, you’re less likely to appear vulnerable.
  • Avoid shopping in isolated areas – the fewer people around (especially foreign women), the more you’ll stand out.
  • Avoid trying on items in back rooms at bazaars and markets.
  • If you ever feel uncomfortable or in danger, attract attention by shouting or making a scene. Use your judgement if you suspect someone has weapons.
  • Have a photo of your partner (real or imagined) to avoid unwanted romantic attention.

Smartraveller also recommended dressing appropriately to the culture. Bikinis on the beach are acceptable in Australia, but would mark you for unwelcome attention in other countries.

And don’t think just because the locals aren’t saying anything directly to you, they don’t disapprove. It could be part of their culture to remain polite.

I’m reminded of some Australians I saw wearing bikini tops and sarongs to breakfast at an upmarket Fijian resort. Despite all the beautiful tropical society, Fijians are a very conservative culture when it comes to dress. You almost never see a Fijian in an bikini, and certainly not in a public place. It was cringeworthy and inappropriate, but of course the ultra-polite Fijians would never have pointed it out.

The best way to navigate this minefield is to look how the local women dress and try to match that as much as possible.

You should also avoid letting it be known you are travelling alone, and never leave your drink alone or in the company of any new friends.

Do you travel alone? What safety tips would you add? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Also read: Step up to some of the world’s most walkable cities

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


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