Before I took my first big trip away, I had been putting it off, waiting for someone to do it with me. I’d bug my friends about it, trying to talk them into going with me so I wouldn’t have to do it alone. Days, weeks and months went by and then someone close to me passed away and I realised I was done waiting. I could wait forever and not travel, so I booked myself the biggest trip I could with
little no money and just went. It changed my life!
Fear can hold us back from travel in so many ways and while you may not be able to overcome every single fear you have before you hit the road, you can minimise a few of them by visiting places you feel safe. Feeling safe when you travel solo makes your life easier and will, hopefully, give you a wonderful travel experience that you want to repeat over and over again. To help you plan your solo adventures, here are my tips on five of the safest countries to go solo!
If you think I’ve missed a few off this list, let me know about it in the comments below.
As an Aussie, I found New Zealand similar to home and a great starting point for solo travellers looking for an adventure that isn’t too overwhelming. I think if you were coming from Canada, America or the UK you’d probably feel the same way. Don’t worry, you won’t be missing out on anything, the natural beauty of New Zealand is second to none. You’ll be treated to snow-capped glaciers and huge mountains that will take your breath away. The sunsets and sunrises are unforgettable, especially if you make your way to Queenstown and Wanaka.
With so many travellers flocking to these areas and the locals being so friendly, it’s really easy to meet people and make friends quickly. You’ll love the nightlife, amazing food and wine and, of course, the scenery of it all. There are few great ways to travel here, you can jump on a group tour, do a self-guided adventure in a hired camper van or hire a car and splash out on hotels (or hostels, if ya broke).
Norway and Denmark
These two Scandinavian countries make the list for the abundance of wonderfully friendly locals. The same can be said for the fine people of Iceland! They’re just a lovely bunch. You’ll find the major cities of Oslo and Copenhagen to be beautiful, bright destinations with gorgeous architecture and rich histories. You’ll be snapping your camera away like a mad-person, trying to capture every pretty detail.
Norway is a great place to jump on a guided tour through the Fjordlands, which can even lead you to a visit to see the Northern Lights. You’ll love the beauty of the natural sights in the area and the calm, welcoming vibe of the locals. While neither is really budget friendly, they’re both great destinations to splash out on yourself and have the adventure of a lifetime.
In South-East Asia, one of the coolest countries for solo travellers has to be Vietnam. The locals are really peaceful and very welcoming of tourists. Not only that, but it’s an incredibly budget-friendly destination, especially if you’re travelling on a shoestring. Food, drinks and accommodation are available at bargain prices and you’ll find it easy to meet other travellers on day-tours or group tours, think Halong Bay.
While cities like Ho Chi Minh can be quite busy, you’ll find little towns like Hoi An to be absolutely delightful. You’ll live riding around town on a bicycle, stopping in at gorgeous cafes and having clothes tailor-made. It’s a place that’s very photogenic and bursting at the seams with really beautiful, genuinely lovely locals. I recommend spending some time working your way up the coastline, from bottom to top, while visiting the major cities and sites.
Another destination in Asia that has you feeling safer than a baby in a bonnet (???) is Japan! The sheer number of people in Tokyo can be a bit overwhelming at times, but there’s never a moment where you feel like something might happen to you. Of course getting morbidly drunk and picking a fight in Golden Gai at 2am won’t do you any favours, but for the sensible solo traveller, Japan is an ideal destination.
It may stretch your pocket at times, but you’ll find the Japanese locals to be incredibly respectful and welcoming. I felt really safe walking around town at all hours of the night and day, with my camera equipment and assorted diamond-encrusted chains hanging off me (joke). The best way to see Japan is to choose a spot and immerse yourself in it for as long as you can afford, then move to the next spot. I guarantee you, you’ll want to go back again.
Pack your stretchy-pants kids, because you’re about to carb-load. All the major cities in Italy are more than used to seeing tourists pass through on the regular. Of course, this does mean a few street-wise trouble-makers have cooked up a scam or two, but that doesn’t make the city unsafe. Rome, Venice and Florence are all perfectly safe cities to lose yourself for a few days or weeks, wandering the streets and stopping for pizza, pasta and gelato whenever you please.
I’d recommend finding your way onto a tour, if your budget allows, to help you see as much of Italy as you possibly can. If you’ve got more time to spare, a hop-on-hop-off bus option would be amazing, allowing you to spend more time in the places you love most. The best way to see Italy is to take things slowly, base each day around your next meal and stop every now and then to let it all soak in. Also, Limoncello.
Bonus spot: The Netherlands
I can imagine you might get yourself into a world of trouble if you found yourself rip-roaring drunk, yelling obscenities in the middle of the red-light district in Amsterdam, but this was not my experience. Used to a lot of tourists and trouble-makers passing through, Amsterdam is a sure bet destination for solo travellers. But, after you’re done there, I’d recommend catching a train to Eindhoven to see a different side of The Netherlands. It’s ridiculously cool! So many great art galleries, street-art murals, cool cafes and shops, locals buzzing around bikes and awesome live music venues. A great place to visit that’s safe and feels a bit off the beaten track.
5 Quick tips for solo travellers
- Be alert, not alarmed. Always be switched on and aware of where you are, who’s around you and how to move away quickly if you need. It’s not about being paranoid, it’s just about being aware, present and prepared.
- Talk to your hotel or hostel reception staff and casually let them know where you’re going and what you’re up to day-to-day. It’s also a good idea to let a friend or family member know too, by giving them an itinerary or keeping them updated.
- Don’t be too polite to do what you need to feel comfortable. If someone’s making you feel weird, don’t let your politeness stop you from moving away. If you have a bad vibe and want someone to walk you back to your hotel, don’t be afraid to ask.
- Take out travel insurance. Just in case something gets stolen, you get sick or something else goes down, something like Southern Cross Travel Insurance can be a life-saver.
- Read my guide on 17 Essential travel safety tips everyone should know.
Need some New Zealand inspiration? Watch this…
Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.