Brief Guide to Solo Female Travel in Armenia (I)
You won’t find Armenia on the lists of the top destinations for solo female travelers. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a trip on your own. As a seasoned solo female traveler who has been travelling and living in the Caucasus for over two years, I’m sure and certain Armenia makes for a great destination for women travellers.
While in Europe, I keep hearing globe trotting girls saying that they would love to visit the Caucasus, but they are concerned about their safety. Some believe that the political situation in the region is unstable. Some aren’t sure if a girl who set on the road without a male companion would be welcome in the Caucasus. Others are frightened of potential language barrier.
I’m here to convince you that Armenia is a perfect plan for your next solo adventure. Here is a brief guide to solo female travel in Armenia. Are you ready to take notes?
Photo by Zofia Bałdyga
It’s safe. It’s probably safer than your home country. Research the statistics. They will only confirm what I say. Criminal rate here is incredibly low. Armenia is still much less touristy than neighboring Georgia, which means that you won’t encounter too many tourist traps here, even at the most famous historical sites like for instance Tatev Monastery. Armenia is still relatively scam free. Safety advice? Don’t forget common sense on your travels, and you will be perfectly fine.
You might encounter language barrier, but it won’t be as overwhelming as you might think. Youth in bigger cities speaks passable English. Many twenty-somethings have perfect command of it. Nearly everyone in Armenia is fluent in Russian. Be prepared that locals usually speak Russian to anyone whom they find foreign-looking. Especially if this someone is light-haired.
You will get by just fine if you learn a few basic expressions in either Russian or Armenian. I’d strongly recommend the latter though. Very few foreigners try it. I understand why, it’s a language only spoken in one country, rich in killer grammar structures. Sounds scary, I know. But I still beg you to try. Local people will be truly amazed if you make an attempt to communicate with them in their native tongue. It brings you closer to the culture, too. How does it go? When in Yerevan, do as Yerevantsis do?
Armenians are extremely hospitable. If you make any connections with locals, you can be sure that your new friends will do anything to take good care of you, especially if you are on the road by yourself. The hospitality here is sincere the kindness is pure.
Not everything is roses though. You need to be aware of certain things. Most of local girls don’t travel by themselves. Travel is often considered an unnecessary luxury, a privilege of the highest classes. The concept of budget travel still doesn’t seem to be widespread in the country. What does that mean for a girl with a backpack who will suddenly show up in a provincial town somewhere in Armenia? She might get curious looks. And yes, her taxi driver might try to marry her to his cousin from a remote village you never heard of. Don’t count how many times a day people ask if you are married. It’s just something people around these parts love to rabbit on. They are nosey and that’s okay. Keep calm and do your own thing.
Armenia has a lot to offer. Hiking trails, UNESCO heritage sites, scenic monasteries, mountainous lakes, all of this waits to be discovered. Even if you go solo, you don’t have to explore the place alone. There are numerous travel operators that run daily tours from Yerevan. The tour season starts in April and lasts till late October. If you miss having someone to show you around, you can always book an excursion. It’s a great way to meet other travellers, too. If you aren’t a fan of organized activities, but you’d love some social life, engage with the local Couchsurfing community in the capital. It’s a very active one!
This is just an introduction. Next week we will get back to you with more country specific practical tips for girls going global.
Would you come to Armenia by yourself? What would you like to know?