“The very first time I picked up and traveled solo was to Cape Town, South Africa,” says Nastasia Yakoub, founder of women’s travel community Dame Traveler. “I remember feeling incredibly empowered and proud of myself, particularly on my flight back home. I still get that feeling 67 countries later—and it never gets old.”
From a sheltered upbringing, Yakoub burst into the travel realm in 2014, pushing herself to take more chances and documenting her experiences—many of them solo—as a way to encourage other women to do the same. “The idea of Dame Traveler was born out of my mission to be brave with my own life, despite the many barriers I faced growing up in a strict Middle Eastern community. That bravery is the foundation of the Dame Traveler community,” she says. “It’s a celebration of women who took a leap of faith and aren’t afraid to live their lives boldly.”
This year, the entrepreneur and photographer will debut her next great undertaking: launching her upcoming book, Dame Traveler: Live The Spirit of Adventure. The photo journal showcases beautiful destinations, provides recommendations for female travelers, and—above all else—celebrates the literal and figurative journeys that she, and all women, embark on when they set out to see the world.
“I believe traveling solo is vital for self-discovery,” Yakoub says. “Those moments looking out onto the ocean, climbing a mountain, or sitting at a cafe and just people-watching allow for moments of self-reflection—and that’s a very good thing for the soul.”
1. Lisbon, Portugal
Architecture-lovers like myself will feast on the beauty of Lisbon. If exploring hilly streets in between eating daily pastéis de nata and espresso, chatting with vibrant locals, and living a slower pace of life sounds like heaven, look no further than Lisbon.
2. Puglia, Italy
Italy seems to be a favorite destination for female travelers (for good reason!), but one of my favorite under-the-radar-places within Italy is Puglia, right on the “boot” of the southeastern end of the country. The not-yet-spoiled ancient towns, cobblestone streets, blue waters, warm local hospitality, and endless charm felt like a welcoming place for solo travelers.
4. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is super walkable, wonderfully colorful, and downright inspiring, especially for those looking to explore more of the United States. Its friendly Southern vibe and mouth-watering restaurants cannot be beat!
5. Merida, Mexico
Yucatán is considered the safest state in Mexico, but instead of choosing over-saturated resorts in Cancún, I’d highly recommend the cultural hubs of Izamal and Merida.