Inspiring Work Exchange Destinations for Solo Female Travelers

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.  

solo female traveller posing while hiking

The Criteria

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.

  • Women's Rights and Gender Equality: A quick Google Search will show you the country's stance on women's rights and gender equality. Some countries may have different cultural norms and attitudes towards women that can affect your experience.
  • LGBTQ+ Rights: Even if you're not part of the LGBTQ+ community, I find that the level of acceptance in a destination can be a good indicator of its overall open-mindedness and inclusivity. Here are our top LGBTIQ+ friendly destinations for a little inspiration. 
  • Connectivity and Communication: While giving off grid living a chance will prove incredibly freeing, it’s important to choose a destination where you won’t be completely isolated the entire time. Ensure you have reliable access to the internet and a working mobile phone to contact friends and family back home at least every few days.
  • Local Culture and Religion: Research the local culture and religion. For example some countries may have strict gender segregation rules, dress codes and conservative societal norms. There may even be restrictions on social activities that women are allowed to participate in. 
older solo female traveller posing with fruit by the lake

Inspiring Work Exchange Destinations for Solo Female Travellers

Costa Rica

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

There are so many reasons to volunteer in Costa Rica! It is a country that’s easy to navigate (even more so if you learn a little Spanish first), it's affordable and they’re world leaders in sustainable tourism. 

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

solo female surfer on the beach in Costa Rica


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! 

We have Workaway hosts in all five of these countries, offering all kinds of exchanges and local experiences from social impact projects to homestays

solo female volunteer picking litter in Norway

New Zealand 

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. 

solo hiker jumping in new zealand


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

The Country’s capital city, Montevideo, is home to nearly half of the population (including over 20 Workaway hosts!) Most volunteer opportunities in the city and across Uruguay in general are focused on teaching, permaculture and sustainable projects.

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. 
solo female wearing poncho and riding horse in uruguay


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

We have nearly 200 Workaway hosts in Japan with many paid positions in tourism, particularly at ski resorts and hostels. There are also many Workaway opportunities for eco warriors, as Japan takes pride in its preservation and reforestation efforts. 

Rural areas also struggle with depopulation and economic challenges so there is a demand for volunteers to support agriculture, tourism, and local development projects.

solo female traveller in japan hitch hiking


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

Goa received the title of “safest state for women in India” on the Gender Vulnerability Index (GVI) and is also one of our favourite beach destinations on a budget but there are SO many places to share your skills. 

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! 
solo female learning from locals in india

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. 

solo female posing next to piglet
safetysolo female travelsolo female travellerfemale traveller

About Lauren

Growing up in a small coastal village in Scotland inspired Lauren to seek adventure and challenge the norm. Armed with just her backpack and trusty travel companion Darren, she quit her day job to liv... show more...

View all posts by Lauren

Visit Website

Share the Workaway idea


You might also like

15 Alternative Travel Goals That Go Beyond The Bucket List
Travelling in Tune: Bonding on the Road through Music