I'm a girl. I'd always wanted to try traveling solo.
And yes, now that I've tried it, I actually enjoy it.
Come to think of it, I love it. (traveling with the Bald Guy can be annoying at times)
I'm sure the idea of traveling alone at least once has crossed the mind of most girls. (except those whose idea of life is clinging on to their boyfriend like sticky glue) Even some of my married girl friends confessed they actually regretted not trying out solo traveling. Now that their kid is here, well, let's just say it isn't getting easier. (possible, with an open minded husband)
If you run a quick search in google, you'll find a lot of posts on where "the best" countries for females to travel solo "supposedly" are. After a quick read, I found myself with more questions than answers; "are these destinations seriously recommended for solo traveling?
Here are some typical solo travel destinations i've come across in my brief 10 minute scan of google.
The USA? Seriously? Not the country i'd like to find myself alone with nothing but my backpack. A road trip might be a cooler (more efficient) way to experience the wonders America can offer.
New Zealand? Yeah, it's beautiful, safe, and relatively cheap. But exploring it by camper-van with the "Bald Guy" and friends might be a little less boring than it should be.
Canada? Good luck to you trying to make your way across the worlds 2nd largest country alone.
Scandinavia? (Norway, Iceland, Sweden, etc....) Beautiful yes. But for traveling alone? Pure financial suicide. Friends, rather than solo, would be a better choice for exploring one of the most expensive regions in the world.
So there. Here's my (The Girl) very own list of Fun (yet safe) destinations BEST suited for the typical shy, anti social Singaporean female hoping to step out of her comfort-zone. The methodology for this post is as follows: (recommended destinations have at least 2-3 of the below characteristics)
- Basic English should be enough to get by (no need to learn Russian)
- Getting around the country needs to be straightforward enough while remaining relatively cheap and WITHOUT hitchhiking (not an acceptable choice of travel for all females. Especially 1st timers)
- Have at least ONE girly or adventurous activities befitting of a 1st solo trip experience (sky diving, beautiful beach to laze on, good looking men maybe, and of course shopping!)
- Country should be welcoming of tourists and more importantly, not too difficult for a shy Singaporean girl to make friends
- And of course, Safe.
With that, it's time to take that Solo Trip.
Have you read: Here's Why Most Singaporeans Should Travel Alone At Least Once
Great wine, delicious egg tarts, good looking Portuguese men, and what an "ab-so-lutely beautiful" country. If you thought Spain was cheap (for a non Eastern European country), you really need to visit Portugal.
Portugal is perfect for a shy Singaporean girl on her virgin solo trip. The backpacking culture is prevalent enough for even the most shy girl to have enough opportunities to make friends. Free city walking tours, common rooms in hostels with loads of friendly backpackers, and to top it off? It's safe. (the main concern for Singaporeans)
Singaporeans tend to fancy themselves as different from the rest; (i'm not like other girls, they'll say) yet not daring to venture enough into the great unknown. Portugal is a nice balance. Touristy enough for a Singaporean girl to feel comfortable, without being as common as the Italy's and France's of the world.
For more on Portugal, checkout; What? You Enjoy "Touristy Travel Destinations" But Skipped Portugal? You're Missing Out!
It's shopping time! Ferragamo! Givechy! Loewe!
Andorra is the "Cheapest European Destination for Luxury Goods Shopping". (brand new only. It's used luxury products aren't that cheap) For the typical materialistic Singaporeans girl who's life revolves around brand name luxury items, you can't give this a miss!
Oh, and you'll want to travel to Andorra without your boyfriend/husband. They aren't going to be too pleased carrying your shopping bags as you go on shopping for hours. Just make sure they hand you their credit card first. (or you could buy them yourself) Did I also mention Andorra is home to Europe's Largest Spa?
Shopping aside, Andorra is home to one of Europe's premier skiing destinations. Costs in Andorra are slightly higher than its Spanish neighbor, and there is a lack of a backpacking culture here. You might have a couple of lonely nights, but the shopping should make up for it.
Cheap luxury shopping, Spa's, Skiing, Beautiful scenery to "discover the meaning of life"
Few solo travellers/hostels/backpackers (pretty lonely), you'll hate solo traveling after visiting Andorra if you don't at least enjoy shopping enough to offset the loneliness.
For more on Andorra, checkout; Andorra. The Cheapest Country To Shop For Luxury Brands In Europe?
I know, you haven't really heard of Montenegro. It probably sounds "unsafe" to the typical Singaporean mind. If you're actually seriously planning (and not just talking, "like how everyone always says they want to get a tattoo sometime") your first solo trip, i'll presume you are somewhat adventurous enough to accept that just because you haven't heard of a certain country doesn't necessarily make it unsafe.
In fact, Montenegro is safe. (even for Singaporeans) English will get you by easily, almost everything you can think of is cheap, the people (locals/backpackers) are really friendly, and the country is small enough to travel without too much hassle.
For more on our trip which included Montenegro, check out; 27 Days In Europe "COMFORTABLY" Under 2.8k SGD or 1.8k Euros! (Including Airtickets)
Australia! Probably the backpacking capital of the world!
Without doubt, Australia is the easiest country for females (or anyone) to attempt their virgin solo travel experience. The country is littered with hostels. You'll probably come across a hostel every few blocks! This speaks volumes about the countries backpacking culture; there's never a lonely day in an Australian hostel. (yes, even if you are as anti social as a Singaporean can be, someone will still strike a conversation with you and ask you out for dinner or to hangout at the beach!)
I will always have fond memories of Australia because I had my virgin skydive experience here. (birthday present from the Bald Guy) If safety is the main reason why you haven't tried a skydive, it's time to head here. The words Australia and skydive go together; safety is top notch with the clearest instructions. You can also be sure the instructors go out of their way to ensure a fun yet safe experience which you'll remember for years.
On the way up to 15,000 feet. A truly exhilarating experience!
Getting around is usually a concern for us girls; especially when it's our first time alone overseas. Despite Australia being such a huge country, it's surprisingly easy to get around even if you're alone. Greyhound buses bring you from state to state with easy booking available at most bus stations or hostels.
Long distance travel doesn't have to be boring. It's highly likely you'll meet someone at your hostel going to the exact destination your planning to. An instant travel buddy! Oh don't worry, Australia is generally safe. You'll have a higher chance of being killed by spiders than a crazy Aussie guy.
There's just so much to do in this country. (The Bald Guy traveled to Australia 14 times!) Head to Darwin for crocodile spotting or exploring gorges and waterholes. Cairns is the State of Adventure; White Water Rafting, rain forest trekking or sky diving. The coast is littered with magnificent beaches, and of course, the Great Barrier Reef! (and it's many islands like the Whitsundays)
Today, the Aussie dollar is almost at parity with our Singapore dollar, what are you waiting for?
What! Africa? For a first time female traveling alone? You gotta be kidding!
Fortunately, you don't have to worry. When I came out with this post, I actually gave this topic some thought. (no surprise there) Morocco is safe enough, (as long is you stick to the touristy parts) cheap enough, popular enough, (among backpackers) and offers an experience so amazing, you'll truly feel "alive" and proud of yourself that you visited an African country without your boyfriend by your side.
Note: The main issue you might face as a female traveler are "catcalls" and possibly men trying to flirt with you. But as long as you are firm and able to laugh it off, the Moroccan experience is fantastic enough to make you overlook this "treatment" the local men have toward females.
Morocco offers a "taste of Africa" while maintaining a balance of some sort with an injection of European influence and "comfort". Let's just say you'd feel way safer in Morocco than say Mali. (another country in Africa near Morocco)
For more on Morocco, check out:
-Singaporeans Abroad - African Adventure Series (1.1) Marrkech, Morocco - Dizzying souks, smelly tanneries, and Jemaa el-Fnaa
-Singaporeans Abroad - African Adventure Series (1.2) Morocco - Atlas Mountains, Ouarzazarte, The Sahara & Fez
-Singaporeans Abroad - African Adventure Series (1.3) Chefchaouen - Africa's Answer To Santorini
A key reason why us females might even contemplate solo travel might the "feeling of independence or adventure". Or perhaps to feel "alive". When are you going to step out from your boyfriend/husband's shadow? Aren't you even in the least bit curious to know if you're more than what you think you are?
You really should read: A Girl's Solo Trip. 10 Days in Kyoto, Osaka & Tokyo @$1.2k Nett! (Including AirTickets)
If you're one of those girls "permanently glued" to your boyfriend, Korean dramas, and pretty much being a "lamb", maybe a dose of "solo travel" is what you need. (nothing wrong with being that type of girl though. To each her own)
So here's what I learnt by traveling alone:
I discovered I could say yes to things I usually would have said no to.
I enjoyed determining my own schedule.
I learnt To make friends with strangers