Seven Solo Trips Every Woman Must Go For
By Sandra Layton
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a fellow (male) exchange student about our upcoming traveling plans. He enthusiastically told me that he’s planning a solo backpacking trip through Eastern Europe in the summer. But when I told him that I was going on a solo trip through Croatia, his brow furrowed and he said: “Why would you do that?” He went on to talk about how dangerous it was for a young woman to travel alone, “especially in a place like Eastern Europe, you’re not going to make it out alive.”
For some reason, the idea of a woman traveling solo is met by reactions similar to the above. Many cite danger as the biggest concern because apparently women are so easily taken advantage of and are sitting targets for scams or lecherous men. Another reaction I often get is: “How does your boyfriend allow that? Why doesn’t he just go with you?” My travel plans have nothing to do with my boyfriend. Being in a monogamous romantic relationship doesn’t mean I have to do everything with him. Yes, a couple’s trip is lovely, but sometimes you just want to experience the world by yourself. It’s a lot easier to plan an itinerary without having to consider someone else.
Of course, I’m not ignoring the fact that solo traveling as a woman can be dangerous. It can be, but if you choose the right places, do enough research and have a degree of common sense, you will be fine. In fact, solo travel can make you more confident and responsible, and you’ll learn a lot about yourself and your own capabilities when out in an unfamiliar situation.
With that said, here are 7 of the best destinations for all women who want to travel solo, whether you are in a relationship or not, whether you are looking for romance or whether you just want to go out and enjoy the world.
Home of Tex-Mex and country music, it’s very solo-traveller-friendly due to the wide range of things to do. If you’re a mega foodie, you’ll love being right in the culinary heart of the South. The Heights is a great neighborhood to kick off an eating tour, with fried chicken and gumbo at Harold’s or happy hour tacos and beer at Eight Row Flint. Chinatown is also full of exotic delights like spicy Sichuan mala and the fusion Vietnamese-Cajun Crawfish & Noodles. If you’re a music lover, festivals like Day for Night and For the Community will spark your interest. Accommodation wise, the sleek Hotel Alessandra is right in the middle of the city near all the attractions, while the Hotel Zaza in the museum district has a fantastic restaurant, spa, and bar.
On first thought, Miami might be a throwback to the wild days of college spring break. Cue a flashback to four days spent getting drunk on margaritas by the pool, throwing up, sleeping the day away and coming alive again in the evening to repeat it all. But Miami isn’t all wild parties, there’s a softer side that’s not explored by many. Spend a day by South Beach, just taking in the sights and people-watching while getting a good tan on (we can’t promise that pesky college boys won’t try to hit on you, but you can always just pay them no attention if they should). And no beach-day is complete without a pool float, so make sure to bring one there! Check out The Floatys for many eye-catching pool floats that you can bring along on your trip. There are also many art galleries like the Instagram-famous Wynwood Walls and a modern art museum, The Bass. Little Havana is a lovely place to spend the day for good, authentic Cuban food, mojitos and fun, old-fashioned stores. If you’re up for a bit of nightlife, you’ll definitely find a club or bar that has music of your taste. The Gates Hotel in South Beach is near all the main attractions, so you’ll be right in the fold of it all.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s eclectic, full of life, and extremely progressive in terms of gender equality. People love to harp on its’ slightly less-savory aspects like the weed and infamous Red-Light District, but Amsterdam is so much more than that. This picturesque, walkable city is full of canals, bicycles and waterway, and some of the world’s friendliest people. There are tons of museums, from the Anne Frank Museum to the Van Gogh Museum, for you to spend a day soaking up the culture. The Rijksmuseum is more of impressionist art, while the Stedelijk is more contemporary. A ferry ride will take you to NDSM, a hip area full of warehouses and quirky art where the cool locals spend their time. P.S. There’s a great beachside restaurant called Pllek there, made of used shipping containers. It doesn’t get much more hipster than that. Accommodation-wise, The Lloyd Hotel is catered for female solo travellers. The floors are brightened even at night so there is no worry about walking through dark halls. How considerate!
Berlin is a city of individualism, and you’ll be able to tell right from the street art that adorns the walls. English is very widely spoken too so you won't run into language barriers here. If you’re worried about awkwardly eating alone, not to worry! Kadawe Food Hall is a fantastic communal dining experience that serves up many different cuisines, from Japanese ramen to traditional German sausages and fine pastries. Mogg & Meltzer is an iconic deli that is known for pastrami, but I find their beluga lentil and avocado sandwich to be the star of the show there. Save space for their cheesecake too, it’s phenomenal. If you’re an avid clubbing fan, you’re in the right place. Berlin is home to some of Europe’s most exciting venues like Suicide Circus, Watergate, and Berghain. Stay at the uber-hip Nhow Hotel, located right by the Berlin Wall.
New York City, New York
New York City is a city that just bustles with life. The uniqueness of New York City is a result of the diversity of culture here. It’s also one of the most iconic cities in the world, from its’ yellow cabs to the Empire State Building and the Lady Liberty, it’s a city that has inspired many songs and movies. And there’s something for everyone here. Art lovers can spend their days at the Museum of Metropolitan Art (MoMa), check out the galleries in Chelsea or have a Gossip Girl-moment and sit on the steps of the Met as you eat a Caesar salad. Of course, theatre-fans should pay a visit to Broadway, and hopefully, your favorite musical is running. Food of all cuisines is far and plenty. Italian fare is especially good due to the strong heritage of American-Italian immigrants. You can grab the quintessential New York slice from Joe’s, or treat yourself to the best calzone at the Jay Z-approved Lucali (be warned, put your name down early, at 4 p.m. or you’ll never get a seat). Thanks to the health nuts who run this city, you’ll also find juice bars, vegan food and acai bowls everywhere. Stay at the Yotel near Times Square, you’ll thank us when it lights up at night. Don’t forget to do lots of shopping, you’re in one of the world’s fashion capitals!
Sweden is known for being extremely clean, organized and safe. The city is walkable and the people are friendly, everything Scandinavia is known for. While you may have heard that it is expensive, it doesn’t have to be! If you’re on a budget, there are great hostels like City Backpackers. It even has a sauna and you get unlimited free dry pasta, perfect for lazier nights in. If you’d rather a hotel, the Haymarket Hotel is in a central location with decent prices. Coffee is a big thing here, so make a list of all the cafes to visit. My recommendations are Johan & Nystrom Konceptbutik or Coffice for more artisanal, high-end brews. Food-wise, you must try laxpudding, a traditional Swedish dish of salmon and potato. Of course, you can’t come and not have some Swedish meatballs! Head to Cafe Sten Sture in the Old Town for some of the best ones. Sodermalm is the hipster neighborhood with lots of reasonably-priced food.
Italy is one of my favorite countries in the world but the city that truly has my heart is Rome. Firstly, the Romans are just so friendly and willing to help you out. Secondly, how often do you get to casually walk among ruins from legendary civilizations that we only see on television? The Colosseum and Pantheon are not to be missed for sure. Vatican City is another marvel to behold, with the St. Peter’s Basilica and Sistine Chapel. If you’re lucky, you might see the Pope! Accommodation in Rome can be tricky, but I’ve found that the best neighborhood is Travestere, it’s much quieter and some of the best restaurants are here. Speaking of food, if you love pizza more than your dog, cat, boyfriend, girlfriend, everything… please come to Rome. Seriously. While Neapolitans might get upset with this, I truly believe the best pizza in Italy comes from Rome. Grab a slice from Dar Poeta, the locals’ choice, and sit by the Trevi Fountain or Spanish Steps for an afternoon lunch break. In the evening, do as Italians do and enjoy aperitivo, a pre-dinner drink with sides of snacks.
And that’s my guide to solo traveling as a female! Just remember that this is your trip, so do what you want to do. And above all, stay safe!