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The Travel Safety Index for Solo Travellers
Travelling solo means freedom and independence, making new connections and never having to compromise.
With the Travel Safety Index for Solo Travellers from the Post Office, you can head out on your next adventure knowing where to go. We’ve researched the world’s safest destinations for solo travellers, from Washington to Singapore.
Solo travelling can be exciting, fascinating and fun. But before you get set to jet set there’s a few things to research. And while the best beaches or top 10 things to do are good to know, it’s also a good idea to be informed on being safe. That’s why we’ve collated and created the Post Office Travel Insurance Safety Index.
This comprehensive list of data from respected sources can help you plan your dream trip to different destinations around the globe. Find out how your dream location stacks up against the others. Then, once you have the lowdown, you can sort your travel insurance and look forward to a great solo travelling experience.
Going it alone
Travelling on your own broadens the horizon. There’s so much potential for adventures and so many places to visit. Embracing solo travel can bring a host of new and life-changing adventures. But while being out of your element and in the throes of a new culture is exhilarating, it can also be daunting.
One way to put your mind at ease is to do your research and see which places are safe. And the good news is – from a road trip along the American West Coast to a city break in Lisbon, to time spent nestled amongst the Greek islands – there are plenty of exploits you can have in safe destinations. And, there’s a travel insurance policy to cover whatever kind of trip you have in mind – a single trip, multiple trips within the year, or a backpacking adventure.
What makes a place safe?
When judging what makes a place safe for our Travel Safety Index, there was a lot to consider. We looked at:
Crime rate – does a country suffer lots of reported crime?
Total number of police officers – are there enough officers to tackle crime?
Internet connectivity – an important consideration for reporting incidents and staying safe
Medical institutions – if an incident happens and you’re injured, is it easy to get help?
UHC (Universal Healthcare Coverage) – will you be covered for healthcare?
Road traffic mortality rate – are there lots of accidents on the road?
World Health Organization food safety ratings – how safe is the food at your intended destination?
These numbers were then compared alongside country and city populations.
The top 10 safest locations for solo travellers
Based on the in-depth criteria, we’ve scored each country and location out of 180 points. Here are the top 10 safest locations for solo travellers based on our research:
1. Seattle, Washington – USA Pacific Northwest
2. Tokyo – Japan
3. Portland, Oregon – USA Pacific Northwest
4. Vancouver, British Columbia – Canada
5. Copenhagen – Denmark
6. Oslo – Norway
7. Cairo – Egypt
8. Dublin – Ireland
9. Zurich – Switzerland
10. Singapore – Singapore
As we can see, US cities in the Pacific Northwest rank twice in the top three, which makes the states of Washington and Oregon highly desirable if you’re travelling alone and wanting to feel safe. But there are destinations around the world that are also ranking highly.
So, whether you want to climb Seattle’s Space Needle, gaze at the Great Pyramid in Giza, experience everything Europe has to offer or find what make the Far East tick, there’s a dream destination for you.
If you already had a place in mind and it’s not in that list, that doesn’t mean you have to forget about your plans. If you take precautions, check out our tips, and book travel insurance, you could still have a brilliant time. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice is a useful port of call to search for information about your chosen destination.
While it’s true some countries are safer than others, there’s always risk – and that’s why preparation is so important. But feeling comfortable and confident in another country isn’t just about statistics. These handy tips for travelling alone will help you feel more confident on your next solo trip.
Choosing the right accommodation
Take plenty of time in deciding where to stay and consider the area in which you’ll be staying when you’re travelling alone. There are the obvious safety concerns of being in an isolated location, for instance. Staying in a busy area may help with any feelings of boredom or loneliness. You’ll also be around more people should you require any support. Hostels can be a great way to find other travellers and form a little network while you’re away.
If you want to keep in touch with friends and family back home by FaceTime or Skype, or if you want some familiar TV shows or films to watch, look for accommodation that offers free Wi-Fi.
If a location has poor coverage, there may still be options, such as local networks, pay phones or internet cafes if you need to contact someone.
Making new friends
Unless you really need an entire holiday of me-time, it’s likely you’ll want to make a few new friends. But in a busy city this can be difficult, so try and find local events and activities that offer an opportunity for natural conversation. Guided walks or tours are usually good for chatting in a relaxed environment. And if you’re going to a foreign country, knowing the local language is an obvious help, so take a bit of time before you go to at least learn the basics of the dialect.
If you’re travelling alone, you may not want to spend your nights in packed bars and nightclubs, so take the opportunity to get up early and visit the popular attractions before everyone else. Not only will you avoid the crowds but there may be off-peak rates available. Beyond that having some local support can be handy if you’re ever unsure what to do.
Evenings can be tricky for people going on holiday alone, but with a bit of research you can have as good a time as anyone. Look on websites such as Tripadvisor or the local press for plays, concerts, sports matches and other events you can enjoy on your own, and take the opportunity to chat to people at the interval or half-time. The shared experience will give you immediate common ground.
When travelling alone, personal safety becomes more of an issue, but follow a few simple guidelines and your holiday should pass without incident. In general, follow the same rules as you would do anywhere else: stick to public, well-lit areas, know where you are going and how to get there, and walk with purpose. When meeting new people, it’s best not to tell them you’re alone and you should keep your accommodation address to yourself. Finally, watch how much you are drinking and never leave your drink unattended.
Stay in touch with home
You may be comfortable travelling alone, but your friends and family back home may be nervous for you, so help them relax by sending them regular emails and posting updates and pictures on social media. As well as reassuring them that you’re safe and having a good time, it will curiously bring them closer and help you feel less alone. Plus ensuring you always have a lifeline could be handy should you run into any issues abroad.
It can be tempting to remain inconspicuous by eating at fast food joints throughout your holiday, but this would mean missing out on one of the main pleasures of travelling. So choose small, friendly restaurants or cafes (search on Tripadvisor) that attract other single people or groups, and take the chance to try dishes that you may not normally go for. Eating by yourself is also a great time to catch up on emails or your favourite book.
A unique opportunity
Travelling solo is a fantastic way to try out new experiences you may not consider if you were with someone else. Whether it’s fear of failure or the opinion of others, we often shy away from doing things that may seem out of character. But remember that this is your time, and you don’t have to explain your decisions to anyone, so take advantage and try those things you’ve always wanted to do.
The only thing that matters is that you feel confident and safe – and hopefully these tips will help you seize the holiday you’ve been dreaming of.
They say, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and if you’re ready to take the plunge and embark on your first-ever solo travel journey, here are some top tips to keep in mind and help you on your way to an incredible and successful trip.
1. Stay in hostels - Hostels are the hub of all solo travellers. Staying in dorm rooms maximises your chances of meeting other like-minded travellers and having great company along your adventures. Not only that but hostels also tend to put on events and activities where you can explore the surrounding area on a budget and give more opportunities to meet new friends. There is something really comforting to know that you will never be alone even when travelling by yourself.
2. Take good care of your valuables -Keep your most valuable items in a bag which you can securely close and that doesn’t look too obvious for having valuable things inside! Never let this bag out of your sight unless it is securely locked away. Good hostels will have lockers where you can secure your most valuable belongings but most of them don’t come with a padlock so make sure you have brought at least one with you. My favourite kind of padlocks are the thin, flexible ones as often, the hostel lockers will only have a small gap for you to feed your lock through. Also padlocks with number codes are preferable over key locks as there is no risk of you losing the key!
3. Get a local SIM card - Before you leave on your trip, make sure your phone is unlocked from your network so that you can purchase a local SIM card at your destination. Having access to the internet as you travel is not only a lifesaver in emergency situations but is also just going to make your life so much easier as you travel. For example, being able to call an Uber, book your next hostel stay, look up the history and facts of the town you’re in. A local SIM card will also of course allow you to make local phone calls should you need to contact any local businesses or people.
4. Have travel insurance - No matter where you are going or what you’re going to be doing, it’s essential to have travel insurance and it’s important to pick a policy that will cover you for all the activities you intend on undertaking. The Post Office has options for both Single Trip Travel Insurance if you are just going on one big adventure from home or their Annual Multi-Trip Travel Insurance for the adventurers who intend to go on several trips throughout the year and want the comfort of knowing that you will be covered for every single trip, saving you time, stress and money! Just make sure to check if any trip and cover limits apply. With the Post Office Travel App, you can have access to your policy on the go and includes the 24/7 emergency medical assistance number should you need it.
5. Read the reviews and ratings - And finally, the biggest easy advantage that you can give yourself when travelling solo is to look at ratings and read the reviews of establishments before you make a decision. This is particularly helpful for hostel reviews because normally backpackers are pretty honest about the vibe of a place. They will tell you if it’s easy to make friends, if it’s a party place where you won’t get any sleep, if the showers are any good. You will likely get more important information you need to know about a place by the reviews rather than the official hostel description! Google Maps reviews are also one of the handiest on-the-go features; if you are looking for somewhere to eat for example and you’re standing outside an establishment that looks potential, you can have a quick look on Google Maps and click on that establishment to see what people who have been there have said! And you may even be able to get sneak peek images of the food too!
When it comes to solo travelling, no matter how brave you’re feeling, it’s a good idea to be prepared and well-informed. Hopefully our safety index has helped you see that you can feel safe all around the world. But before you go off on your travels, look further into your destination, using the tips we’ve given as a springboard. And don’t forget to get travel insurance that suits you.
The length of your travel insurance policy varies. For example, if you’re planning on taking multiple trips within the space of a year, an annual multi-trip policy could cover you for up to 12 months. There may be limits on the length of individual trips you take within this time, so check what different insurers and level of covers provide.
Some activities may be covered on standard travel insurance policies but it’s important to check before you buy. Generally, sports travel insurance cover is available as an optional extra. This is handy if you’re travelling alone or with others and plan on taking part in sporting activities. Often the activities you’ll need extra cover for include:
Other activities not covered as standard
While the number of consecutive days travel insurance covers you for can vary, most single-trip policies should cover you visiting multiple countries during one trip. However, you may need to advise your insurer on which countries you intend to visit. If you’re taking multiple trips at different points throughout the year, then you may need a multi-trip policy.
Our safety index is backed with data from a range of highly respected sources such as: