Planning an international trip, but not really sure if it’s safe to go abroad these days? A recent poll* indicates that 63 of Americans think travel-related risks have increased during the past year. We thought we’d put together a list of the safest places on earth – some hot spots to travel to in 2018 that were cherry picked for you!
For years, Iceland’s remote location coupled with exorbitant airfares rendered visits off limits for most Americans. But recently, IcelandAir and the extremely low cost air carrier WOW Air have made Iceland a much more affordable option. And there’s so much to recommend it – the geothermal wonders of the Blue Lagoon, the staggering views of the Aurora Borealis, the more than 4,500 square miles of glacier to explore, along with the tongue twisting Eyjafjallajokull volcano – all of which are accessible from the cosmopolitan city of Reykjavik.
Why it Makes the List: Iceland is one of the safest countries on the planet. It essentially has zero violent crime and some of the best medical care in the world. Of course, you should exercise caution when you’re out in nature – weather conditions can change at a moment’s notice.
Chile is a great destination if your bucket list includes travels to the end of the world. Cape Horn is the southern point of South America and is the furthest south you can go short of Antarctica! Speaking of bucket lists – your best point of departure for reaching Easter Island and those amazing statues is from Chile. You can also walk in the footsteps of Charles Darwin when you climb Cerro Santa Lucia in Santiago. For unforgettable landscapes you’ll want to visit the Atacama Desert, the driest non-polar place on earth.
Why it Makes the List: The Global Peace Index counts Chile among the safest countries in South America, with petty thievery about the only crime you have to gird yourself against.
Most Americans know little about Tasmania, but if you’ve gone all the way to Australia you shouldn’t leave without a visit to this island paradise. 3.4 million acres of the island (which is the size of Nova Scotia) is protected wildlife and it includes rainforests, mountains and rivers. Qantas offers regular flights to Tazzie from both Melbourne and Sydney these days, so go to visit the British colonial town of Hobart, hike the beautiful Cradle Mountain and Wineglass Bay, explore the prison ruins of Port Arthur (where they sent particularly egregious offenders from the mainland), and visit a Tasmanian devil sanctuary!
Why it Makes the List: Tasmania has little crime whatsoever, which is why it made the list. You will want to steer clear of the venomous snake populations in the island. Don’t worry though – there’s been no recorded human deaths by snake.
This tiny country in the Middle East has the breathtaking natural beauty of sweeping deserts and secluded beaches along with gigantic caves to explore. Scuba fans will love the diving opportunities, and everyone loves to swim in the local “wadi” culture. A wadi is a normally dry valley that fills with water during the monsoons and becomes a swimming hole for everyone to enjoy. Exploring the architecture in Muscat is an adventure unto itself and the many souks provide ample shopping opportunities.
Why it Makes the List: The crime rate in Oman is very low compared to that in most places in the west and is extremely low compared to just about anywhere in the Middle East. The Omani people are a very relaxed and polite people, which makes things quite comfortable for visitors.
Visitors to Norway come for the fjords. If we can choose one not to miss, it’s gotta be Sognefjord – the country’s longest (120 miles) and deepest (more than a mile) fjord of all fjords. Asdie from the stunning natural beauty, Norway was named Happiest Country in the World for 2017 (based on life expectancy, GDP and social programs for the less fortunate). You can ski year round in Norway and there are more than a few life-changing hikes to partake in (we like Trolltunga – literally “the troll’s tongue”). Much like Iceland, you can now get crazy inexpensive flights – for the best fares try Norway’s shoulder season (from September to November).
Why it Makes the List: An extremely low crime rate and overall trustworthiness/neighborliness of the citizens put Norway on our radar.
If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to go to places that most people haven’t been, you’d have a hard time finding a more remote place than Greenland. Same goes if inhabiting strange, alien landscapes is your jam. You’ll want to experience the town of Ilulissat, but the real excitement has to be just basking in the beauty and otherworldliness of the scenery.
Why it Makes the List: There is no crime in Greenland and even in towns, you’ll be hard-pressed to finding anything like a tough neighborhood.
Morocco is on track to seeing 18 million tourists a year by 2020 so you should get there now while it’s still a reasonably priced place to go. Marrakech gets the most numbers of visitors but you should venture out to the Berber villages in the High Atlas and the blue-colored town of Chefchaouen as a base for exploring the Rif mountains. Fez cannot be beat for the mazelike medina, and you can round off your trip with a genuine camel trek through the Erg Chebbi desert. Morocco is a photographer and foodie’s dream – with an embarrassment of photo- and dining- ops.
Why it Makes the List: Africa is a relatively volatile place to travel, but Morocco is a very safe place to start your explorations of the continent. Petty crime is a problem, as it is in most tourist destinations, but beyond that you’ll find Morocco very safe and hospitable to tourists.
Our giant neighbor to the north is a revelation when you start to explore. There’s no shortage of beautiful scenery and cosmopolitan cities, depending on your travel style. Montreal is the most “European” city in the country, and Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world. There are world-class winter sports in the colder months and world-class hiking in the summer. Canadians are welcoming and generous to Americans. Just keep in mind you do need your passport these days.
Why it Makes the List: Canada has a very low violent crime rate, though you’ve got to keep your eyes open for pickpockets in tourist areas.
Malaysia is one of just a few countries that are considered mega-diverse, which means that it harbors 20% of the world’s animal species. Wild elephants, tigers and orangutans still roam free, but you’ll have to get out of Kuala Lumpur to see this kind of wildlife. Luckily, AsiaAir has made reasonable flights the norm all around southeast Asia so getting to Borneo rainforests is an easy and cheap hop.
Why it Makes the List: Malaysia is the 29th most peaceful country in the world, as stated in this year’s Global Peace Index. There’s a special note for single women traveling alone, as Malaysia is a particularly safe harbor for solo women travelers.
Don’t overlook South Korea for the more glamorous destinations of Japan and China like a lot of folks do. South Korea is an amazing destination in its own right and we love it for many reasons: Seoul’s countless palaces to wander through, Namdaemun and Dongdaemun markets, the Grand Park, and many festivals (our favorite is the Jinju Lantern Festival every October).
Why it Makes the List: Despite recent media coverage that might give you other ideas, South Korea is actually a great place to travel. South Korea is seeing a record number of tourists this year and ranks at or very near the top on countries safest to travel to year over year.
We hope we’ve sparked your interest in some international travel. If you’re a little more adventurous, check out our list of Up and Coming International Destinations for 2018.
* Ipsos Mori Business Resilience Trends Watch 2018