More and more women are taking the plunge and deciding to travel solo, ditching their friends, boyfriends, families you name it, and instead opting for a holiday decided specifically with them in mind. And why not? Travelling alone can be amazingly liberating: it can help improve your confidence, you’ll have amazing dinner party stories to tell, you’ll meet new people, and you get to explore the destinations you want to explore, without having to sacrifice your experience for anyone else.
Nearly two thirds of today’s travellers are women, and in 2017 Google searches for the phrase “solo female travel” hit an all-time peak of 100 million searches. Pinterest have also noted a 350% increase in women pinning solo travel ideas since 2014.
But knowing where to start can be daunting, especially given that there a lot of factors to consider when travelling alone that might not be at the forefront of your mind so much when travelling with others.
That’s where Ampersand’s newly launched Wander Women Index comes in. We have ranked countries from all over the world on a variety of factors in order to assess where in the world is best for solo travel for women. We look at factors that included safety, women’s rights, culture, scenery, adventure, and ‘Instagrammability’ – all factors that women claimed were important to them when they were considering travelling alone.
Coming out on top was Japan, which we were thrilled to see take the top spot, thanks to its low crime levels, its extensive collection of natural assets including Mount Fuji, the Takachiho Gorge, and Jigokudani (Hell Valley).
Our other popular destinations of Indonesia, Thailand and China also all ranked highly, taking the 5th, 13th and 19th spots respectively.
The number one spot for the Wander Women Index was awarded to Japan.
Japan has over 30 national parks across its relatively small surface area, spanning various environments such as volcanoes, forests, beaches, and underwater marine habitats.
Japan also scored highly thanks to incredibly low crime rate, which is always an important factor when travelling solo.
France came second due to its high score for women’s rights, and the fact that it has closed almost 80% of its gender gap, placing it in the top 20 in the world. France also placed top 20 in the world for adventure, thanks to its pleasant climate, the natural beauty of the landscape, and how friendly the locals are.
We were delighted to see Indonesia place in 5th position, thanks to its large selection of scenic wonders, its high adventure score, as well as its Instagrammability. You only have to look at the Gunung Bromo to see why this makes sense.
Thailand and China also ranked highly, in the top 20, for a number of reasons: China ranks as one of the highest for safety and culture (due to the Great Wall of China, as well as the festive Chinese New Year that is celebrated all over the world, but obviously nowhere better than China itself). Thailand, on the other hand, comes in top for adventure and scenery; the country includes the beauty of the Phi Phi islands, the incredible architecture of Bangkok, and Khao Sok and Khao Yai National Parks, so this really isn’t surprising.
In order to create our Wander Women Index, we used the following methodology. We analysed a variety of studies and surveys of solo female travellers, in order to find out what they deemed most important about a destination when travelling alone. The aspects we found to be important were:
- Women’s Rights
- Culinary Opportunities
To identify what each destination had to offer we took the 2018 ranking of best destinations for solo travel and scored these against the above factors, utilising a variety of sources, including the official crime stats for each country, the gender gap report for 2017, the number of Instagram hashtags for each destination, and the culinary acclaim of each country. We also looked at the opportunities for volunteering in the country, as well as the number of oral and intangible heritage practises and expressions in order to gauge the cultural elements of the destination. To assess the adventure element of each destination we used rankings from the 2018 Best Countries Ranking by US News.
You can view the data for each element in our table above. This data included our table relates to the following:
- Safety (Crime rate)
- Women’s Rights (2017 Gender Gap Rate)
- Culture (Number of UNESCO intangible cultural heritage practices)
- Scenery (Travel and Tourism Competitiveness rating)
- Adventure (2018 Best Countries Ranking for Adventure)
- Instagrammability (Number of hashtags for country on Instagram)
- Culinary Opportunities (Number of cities included on 2017’s Best Cities for Food ranking)
- Volunteering (World Giving Index Volunteering Score)
For each of the above categories we used the above data to score each country from 1-5 (with 5 being the highest) and added these scores together in order to get our final Wander Women Index score, with a total of 40 being the highest available. We then ranked the countries based on their scores.