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10 Perfect Destinations for the Frugal Solo Female Traveler

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Lisbon Portugal.jpg



Obviously, women can travel wherever they want to—and increasingly, they're doing just that.


But when you're hitting the road by yourself, affordability matters even more. (After all, no one's splitting your room fee or picking up the second round at the bar.)


And whether we like it or not, some cultures are further along than others in terms of respecting women's agency. Safety concerns aside, it's nice to vacation in a place where you don't have to worry about accidentally flouting a strict, but unspoken, dress code.

So we put together this list of ten destinations for women who like to fly solo, focusing on spots that couple amazing recreational opportunities with low costs and friendly faces.

Here's where we can't wait to go stag on our next vacation.


1. Budapest

As far as Eurotrips are concerned, generally, the further east you go, the more affordable. And if a riverside capital city piques your interest, you might consider trading your Prague plans for a trip to Budapest.


Actually comprised of two different cities, Buda and Pest, Hungary's capital has been named the world's second best city by Conde Nast Traveler and the 7th most idyllic city in Europe by Forbes. Filled with public baths and hip "ruin bars" in dilapidated buildings, it's got something for every traveler, whether you're into culture or cocktails. (Or, you know, both.)


For all its attractions, though, Budapest is a remarkably affordable place to vacation. Keep in mind, however, that the national currency is the Hungarian forint rather than the euro. And as per early August, 2018, the exchange rate is $1 USD to 274.90 Ft—just another reason to add it to your bucket list.


2. Cusco, Peru

There's more to Peru than Machu Picchu—though obviously that's got to be on your list. Along with ancient ruins and super-friendly natives, a trip to Peru is worth it for the food alone. The street fare is plentiful, spicy and cheap; yes, most of the ubiquitous anticuchosare made of beef heart, and yes, you must try them, even if the idea makes you squeamish. (Thank me later.)


Vegetarian? Go in for the choclo con queso: good old corn on the cob smothered in fresh cheese. Although it may look like the familiar American favorite, Peruvian corn is less sweet and more savory than what we grow here in the Great Plains; its large kernels feature a subtly nutty flavor. For dessert, try the picarones. To the uninitiated, they may seem like little more than glorified donuts—but one dip into the accompanying cane syrup, and you'll understand their popularity. The word you're looking for is transcendent, by the way.


3. Lisbon, Portugal

Lovely Lisboa was where I personally fell in love with solo travel, and if you take the trip, I'm convinced you will, too. With the velvet-sand beaches of Cascais and the castle-strewn wilderness of Sintra within an hour's travel, this city couples endless opportunities for exploration and relaxation with all the culture and charm of a European capital city.

Have I mentioned also that the prices are lower than the ones you'll find in those other European capital cities—or that the Portuguese people tend to be tall, tan, friendly and gorgeously cheekbone-y? Just saying.


4.Taos, New Mexico

More affordable than the spendy destination of nearby Santa Fe, Taos is arguably the better bet anyway—especially if you're outdoorsy. Whether it's a scenic hike ending with a relaxing soak in a natural hot spring or a paddling trip through the stunning Rio Grande Gorge, northern New Mexico is conclusive proof that deserts are anything but barren.


If you go in winter, you'll have access to some of the most famous skiing and snowboarding in the country; the slopes tend toward perfect powder thanks to their extreme altitude. The town itself is also adorable, and small enough to walk around in a matter of hours. Don't miss a cheap—but scrumptious—meal at Guadalajara Grill. What it lacks in atmosphere it more than makes up for in portion sizes. (By the way, the correct answer to the "red or green chile" question? Both, or as the locals say, "Christmas.")


5. Vancouver, Canada

Although Vancouver isn't exactly known for its affordability, the exchange rate is in Americans' favor—and depending on where you're starting from, your round-trip flight will likely only run you a couple hundred dollars.


Aside from the world-class cultural attractions in the urban center, Vancouver is a wonderland for the adventurous outdoorswoman. An easy drive brings you to the tri-peaked granite monolith known as Stawamus Chief. You could also opt for a three-day, women-only kayaking retreat complete with wilderness yoga and meditation classes.

Attorney and traveler Erin Smith took the tour back in 2012, and still remembers the family atmosphere of the experience fondly. "They even grow most of the veggies they eat on the trips in their own gardens," she says. "Their grandma bakes the bread and makes the jam. It's so awesome."


6. Kyoto, Japan

Cited by many solo female travelers for its quiet and respectful culture, Japan is high on many travel bucket lists already. But a sojourn to Kyoto may prove more affordable (and relaxing) than the more popular Tokyo trip.


What you sacrifice in nightlife and city excitement, you'll more than make up for in traditional attractions like temples, shrines, and gardens. You'll also get a better sense of authentic Japanese culture than you would in the mega-metropolis, whose construction is almost entirely modern thanks to its troubled World War II history.


Of course, if you do want to see the capital city, you can hop on the Shinkansen, or bullet train, and get there in a little over two hours. Osaka is even closer and offers a variety of tourist attractions, including a world-famous aquarium.


7. Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

With dazzling beaches, exotic wildlife, and tons of yoga studios, Sri Lanka is basically synonymous with relaxation—even before you add fresh-cut cinnamon to your cup of tea. And although the explorable national parks and surfable coastlines are calling, there's good reason to stay a while in the capital city of North Central Province, Anuradhapura.

The city is scattered with ruins dating as far back as the 10th century BC, not to mention immaculate temples, sanctuaries and shrines still in use today. Case in point: a fig tree grown from a cutting of the Buddha's own tree of enlightenment is the city's central landmark. Perhaps that's why the entirety of the town has been named a World Heritage Site by Unesco.


8. Savannah, Georgia

They don't talk about southern charm for nothing, and after one trip to Georgia's coastal oasis, you'll understand why.


Take a long traipse through the city's famous squares under the Spanish-moss-lined live oaks, or relax fountainside in Forsyth Park. Once you work up an appetite, head to Zunzi's for lunch; since their sandwiches are the size of a human head, your $15 will likely cover dinner, too.


The drive out to Tybee is only an hour, and totally worth it, as is a visit to the Light Station and Museum. And unlike most American cities, Savannah boasts a killer free walking tour. (Keep in mind, though, that your guides work for gratuities.)


9. Whitefish and Glacier National Park, Montana

Any further north, and you'll be in Canada—but this stunning alpine paradise is accessible even if you don't have an up-to-date passport. And yes, it really is as beautiful as the photographs would have you believe.


Given that it's grizzly bear territory, however, finding a hiking buddy is advisable. There are plenty of friendly folks at the breweries and coffee shops in town, but you could also post an invite at the Facebook group Outsciety, a Whitefish-based club devoted specifically to female adventure and friendship.


10. Sayulita, Mexico

One of those Goldilocks zones that's full of travelers and yet doesn't feel touristy, this village on the western coast of Mexico gives Cancun a run for its money. Sayulita is a mountain-ringed beach town filled with surfers, yoga studios, amazingly cheap street food—and yes, infinity pools, as pictured above. You know, just in case you want a break from the ocean. 


Where are your favorite places to travel solo—or with company? Let us know in the comments!


All content provided in this blog is supplied by Jamie Cattanach and is for informational purposes only. Barclays makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.


Image credit: Jamie Cattanach


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