Solo Friendly Destinations


Some places are more welcoming to women traveling alone than are others.  A few are down-right hostile.  For example, the last I heard Saudi Arabia does not let women travel there without their husband or father.  Even in generally benign or pleasant places, singles can find themselves shunted to the least desirable tables and tiny, single-bedded hotel rooms.  While most places generally treat single travelers well, here are a few I’ve found that are exceptionally welcoming.

New Orleans

Combine true southern hospitality with gratitude for the return of tourist dollars and you get one of the most welcoming cities in the US.  All travelers are treated well, but those who are alone are truly cared for. I once arrive to find that my luggage had been lost.  People kept wanting to take me home and feed me!  The city also has one of the best Convention and Tourism Bureaus anywhere.

Famous for it’s “Laissez les bons temp rouler” (let the good times roll) spirit, New Orleans has much more to recommend itself than congeniality.  The French Quarter is filled with great shops, jazz clubs, bars and restaurants.  The National Park Service has a great visitor’s center that in addition to having lots of information offers free walking tours of the waterfront.  A visit to the Garden District, easily accessible by the St. Charles Streetcar, will show you the more gentile side of New Orleans life.

New Orleans does have more than its share of poverty and this results in a fairly high crime rate.  Watch your belongings at all times.  Use extreme caution when out at night.

Enjoy all the city offers and come home knowing how to correctly say its name.

Toronto

All Canadian cities are very civilized, but Toronto is one of the friendliest cities I’ve ever visited.  Once a shopping mecca for US tourists when the conversion rate was favorable, it’s still a fun city where a single woman is more than merely accepted.

Toronto is foodie heaven.  Great food can be had both in fine dining restaurants and a variety of little ethnic eateries.  Don’t expect to be stuck in a corner near the restrooms here.  A woman traveling alone is more likely to find herself sitting by the window with an attentive, but not pushy, waiter.

Public transportation is exceptionally good in Toronto.  You won’t need to rent a car or pay for taxis.  The subway and buses can get you anywhere you want to go.

Australia

The land down under is truly a land of wonders.  You’ll soon find a full post on the country in the Destinations category.  My fondness of the country is too great, though, for just one post.

I went to Australia for the critters and fell in love with the people.  They are warm, welcoming, and proud of their country while admitting its faults.  They have a quirky sense of humor and you may find yourself part of the joke.  Go along for the ride and you’re sure to make friends.

One interesting thing about Australia is that your fellow travelers are as likely to be Aussies as any other nationality.  Since it is such a large continent and far from others, many Australians travel within their own country.  This has a double benefit.  First, you are get to meet more of the wonderful people of Oz, but you also get to pick their brains about their own travel experiences.  Many of those you meet can help you make the most of your visit.

Other than the risks involved with driving on the left side of the road, Australia is about as safe as it gets.  As anywhere, one needs to use caution when out alone at night.  Even then, though, it’s much safer than in most destinations.

Restaurant staff are generally very friendly, especially to single travelers.  In several restaurants, waiters sat down to chat with me.  This wasn’t the kind of flirtation one might experience elsewhere.  This was just friendly talk and hospitality.  The one form of discrimination a woman traveling alone might experience is being denied a choice outdoor table by being told they are for larger parties only.  Depending on your mood and personality, you may or may not choose to challenge this.  If you do decide to, just the mention of discrimination should be enough to get you seated.

Fiji

There is no more welcoming culture than Fijian.  It is built into the country’s DNA.  Everyone is treated well, singles, couples, kids, and groups.  Whereas staff at fine resorts can be expected to know your name, those at any resort in Fiji also expect you to know theirs so you can ask for help.

Much tourism in Fiji is based on resorts, from tiny establishments on outer islands to large ones on the main island of Viti Levu and everything in between.  One never needs to leave the resort or its care to enjoy all that Fiji has to offer.  Even visits to local villages are likely to be led by one of the family.  Most offer diving (scuba and/or snorkeling) and hiking.  Most resorts include meals and many activities, so you don’t even need to worry about where to eat or spending extra money to have fun.

One activity you’re likely to be invited to join in on is drinking kava.  Kava is a drink common in the south Pacific under many names.  It is slightly intoxicating.  Small doses are rather relaxing.  Higher consumption levels can make you rather drunk and leave you with a bit of a hangover.  Drinking kava is part of sharing with the people of Fiji and comes with a bit of a ritual.  Although the drink is somewhat bitter, it is a sweet experience not to be missed.  Don’t worry about having a chance to try it.  You will be offered kava in many places, including some gift shops.

Fijians are just beginning to learn about tipping and that can lead to some clumsiness.  Resort staff, who are not supposed to be individually tipped may hint at how welcome a gift would be.  Store personnel who would not be tipped elsewhere may ask for a few dollars for their help.  Never allow yourself to feel pressured by these requests, but do feel free to tip for exceptional service.

This list is far from comprehensive.  I’d love to hear where you’ve been that you think would be a great place for women on the road alone.

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