As a fiercely independent female, I truly believe that gender shouldn’t dictate which countries you can and cannot visit. However, there is no hiding from the fact that not all countries are created equal when it comes to safety.
While the world is generally a welcoming place, it's essential to do your research and choose destinations that align with your comfort level. That’s why we’ve created this post. In an ideal world these sorts of guides wouldn’t need to exist, but the reality is we still need recommendations on the safest and most inspiring countries with solo female travellers in mind.
Now, I get it – the idea of travelling solo might seem a tad intimidating at first. Afterall, the media tells us the world is a big, bad, scary place for us gals every single day. But here's the thing: the advantages of solo female travel far outweigh the risks.
The freedom to create your own itinerary, make new friends from all walks of life, and discover your inner strength are just a few of the countless benefits that await you. Plus, there's something undeniably empowering about exploring the world on your own terms.
If you’re debating whether to set off solo or not, check out our guide to solo female travel
. It covers everything you need to know from safety tips to inspiring stories from other Workaway women.
There are a lot of opinions about what qualifies a country as “safe” or not. However, in order to create this list (and when choosing a destination in general) there are a few points to consider that might help to decide if it's worth hopping on a plane or not.
Inspiring Work Exchange Destinations for Solo Female Travellers
Unfortunately, Central America
has a complicated reputation when it comes to safety. However, Costa Rica is often considered the safest country in Central America for solo female travellers, perhaps even all of Latin America
According to the Happy Planet Index (HPI)
, Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world, four years in a row! By comparison, the U.S. is #122! It was also named the happiest country in Latin America for the second year running in the UN-sponsored World Happiness Report.
The country’s emphasis on nature and community-based volunteering projects makes it a safe and enriching destination that welcomes women from all walks of life. From rainforests to coral reefs, volcanoes to golden beaches you will instantly feel part of the “Pura Vida!” spirit.
Volunteering in Costa Rica
Not to mention sloths, sea turtles and surfing! If they haven’t sold you on Costa Rica already, you may be interested to know it is one of the best destinations for digital nomads
. With political stability, strong healthcare and adventure on your doorstep it's easy to see why many remote workers choose Costa Rica for work and play.
From conservation efforts to coffee plantations, we have over 200 hosts in Costa Rica
that need your skills and enthusiasm, so what are you waiting for
Scandinavia usually refers to a group of countries in Northern Europe that includes Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Sometimes this also includes Finland and Iceland
. As a female who has visited all five of these countries (my sister even loved Finland so much, she moved there by herself!) I feel they all deserve a mention on this list.
However, it isn’t just me who wants to sing their praises. There are several statistics to back me up! Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland are not only among Europe's safest countries, they are among the top 25 safest countries in the world.
According to the Global Peace Index, Iceland is the safest country in the world for the 14th year running! I should also add that all five of these Nordic countries also happen to be in the top 10 happiest countries on earth too.
All five place strong emphasis on gender equality. This has created a culture of respect and inclusivity regardless of nationality, gender or religion. Violent crimes are rare and the risk of theft or harassment is significantly lower than many other destinations.
So whether seeing the Northern lights
is top of your bucket list or you fancy house sitting
to save on accommodation, it’s time to turn those dreams into reality with Workaway!
Workaway in Scandinavia
For many people these destinations are expensive and out with the usual backpacking budget. However, there are so many ways you can travel Europe on a budget
with utilising Workaway being one of the best!
New Zealand is one of the most visited destinations in the world for women travelling alone. Not only is it visually stunning and easily accessible, but the locals are so friendly and welcoming even if you did end up lost, it wouldn’t be for long! New Zealanders are generally open-minded and there are even laws in place to prevent the violation of anyone's freedom of speech or expression.
As well as open minded locals, their politics deserves a mention. New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
Former female prime minister Jacinda Ardern also did wonders for the people of New Zealand and in inspiring women of the world in general. At only 37 she was the country’s youngest prime minister in over 150 years. Following a mass shooting in Christchurch in 2019, she immediately overhauled the country’s firearm law all within 72 hours after the attacks!
Statistically, it is considered the second safest country in the world (after Iceland) and although it's often compared to neighbouring Australia a definite bonus is that there are no deadly animals! This makes solo hiking, swimming and camping even safer.
Volunteering in New Zealand
Alongside those listed above, there are three stand out reasons I feel New Zealand is a dream destination for solo female travellers. The first is that it is one of the best places to combine van life and volunteering
. There are photo opportunities, free campsites and friendly locals everywhere you go making road trips here an epic way to see the country.
My second reason is that you will meet SO many other solo female travellers. This not only makes it easy to find a travel buddy
to continue the adventure, but find your girl tribe to share stories, exchange travel tips and make memories with.
Finally, the third reason is that we have nearly 1000 hosts in New Zealand
showcasing just how welcoming and accepting this little country is. It could not be easier to live like a local and experience this epic destination for yourself.
When it comes to solo female travel, often South America is unfairly overlooked. If you have dreams of visiting this corner of the world, don’t let your gender (and the media!) put you off. If you’re searching for the safest countries in South America, Uruguay consistently comes out top. According to the 2022 Global Peace Index, it ranks 46th out of the world’s 163 nations.
Despite this, it's still relatively undiscovered by mass tourism thanks to being overshadowed by its neighbours (Argentina and Brazil.) For me, this fuels even more reasons to visit. The country has a progressive and inclusive culture, with a strong emphasis on gender equality. As a result, female travellers can feel comfortable and respected while exploring and volunteering.
If you’re seeking sun, sea and nightlife most visitors head for Punta del Este so for a quieter alternative we’d recommend Jose Ignacio – a former fisherman’s village that’s now the perfect peaceful beach getaway.
Another unmissable destination is the cobbled streets and culture of Colonia del Sacramento, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s also home to some of the finest vineyards in the country. As a tip, foodies will also love Uruguay as locals are particularly passionate about barbecue, or "asado". With constant sunshine and barbecues it's no wonder it ranks high in the Global Peace Index!
Volunteering in Uruguay
Uruguay is also a haven for surfers who want to share their skills and make waves with Workaway
. If searching for surf communities in particular, Punta del Diablo boasts some of the best waves in the country as well as La Paloma which offers experiences for all levels.
If you prefer heading in land instead of out to sea, Uruguay is home to 10 national parks, which is particularly impressive for a country of its size. This means there is a huge demand for volunteers passionate about environmental projects,
animal welfare and conservation.
From the historic temples of Kyoto to the futuristic cityscape of Tokyo, the serene beauty of Mount Fuji to the bustling markets of Osaka there are so many reasons solo female travellers will fall in love with Japan. The fact it has ranked in the top ten countries in the Global Peace Index for 15 years running is just a bonus!
Thanks to low crime rates and virtually nonexistent political unrest, it’s an incredible destination for first time female travellers or adventure veterans. The polite and respectful nature of locals make travelling alone here safe and easy. With a vast array of spiritual sites and serene nature, Japan is also the perfect place to reflect as a solo female traveller.
One thing I found particularly interesting when travelling here is that being alone is actually celebrated.They even have a phrase “ohitorisama” which roughly translates to “party for one” and refers to people living and doing things alone. Many restaurants are set up for solo diners, going for drinks alone is considered part of the norm and the women-only spaces in spas or train carriages creates additional peace of mind.
Workaway Project in Japan
Rural areas also struggle with depopulation and economic challenges so there is a demand for volunteers to support agriculture, tourism, and local development projects.
It’s no secret that both Indian women and foreign visitors face threats such as staring, groping and stalking so you may question why is it on this list? Why not skip it in favour of more popular and less questionable destinations? One reason: it will prove to be one of the most inspiring countries you have ever been to.
From the yoga capital of Rishikesh, to the chaotic capital of Delhi there’s no question India is a captivating destination. With a massive 1.38 billion people who call this country home, it would be unfair to stereotype an entire nation. Especially when there are so many rewarding reasons to visit.
Instead, it’s important to focus on the good and refuse to accept any outdated attitudes towards women. By visiting and volunteering here not only are we helping to transform the country’s negative reputation, but you’ll discover India offers more kindness, compassion (and chaos!) than anywhere else on earth.
While some women dive straight into the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur) the intense crowds may be overwhelming, so choose destinations that give you space to adjust. Living with a local through Workaway is one of the best ways to do this.
Volunteering in India
Firstly, it is particularly popular with yoga and wellness retreats.
As the birthplace of yoga, it is undoubtedly one of the best destinations in the world to improve your practice or share your passion with others.
It is also a dream destination for foodies.
Thanks to the country’s immense size, you can expect diverse traditions in each region, making it the perfect place for food fans to volunteer, share their culinary skills or learn about all things spice. With over 500 hosts in India
we hope you’re hungry for one big adventure!
Finally, as a solo female traveller, why not share your inspiring stories from the road to help empower local women? By volunteering with NGOs and schools that focus on girls' education, you can help to organise workshops and empower young girls with knowledge and skills. There are also endless ways to support women’s economic independence by supporting projects that target female entrepreneurs.
Hopefully this little list has made you realise travelling solo as a woman is not about safe or unsafe destinations – anything can happen anywhere. Instead, it's about choosing a destination that aligns with your purpose and personality.
Travelling solo as a woman will unfortunately always be a battle between staying on guard and keeping an open heart. With the right research and resources, we hope you’ll feel safe and confident exploring any destination regardless of what the media may tell you.
Volunteering along the way will only heighten your purpose-driven journey. It will boost your self-confidence, cultural immersion and meaningful connections. Not only will you leave feeling empowered and enriched by your travels, but those you meet along the way in these destinations will too.