Data, Statistics, Excel Grids and Travel

I have an analytic mind. And I'm a bad decision-maker.

And by that I mean I'm bad at choosing, not that I continually make bad decisions.

Since I've been banking up my vacation days for my big trip abroad, I've been imagining spending two weeks navigating the cultural highlands of the Thai mountain jungles and bathing elephants in the murky rivers. I've imagined swimming in the turquoise blue waters that flow between tall, jagged, moss-covered craigs and watching the long-tail boats bob while tethered to the shore. I imagined eating Thai basil chicken hot from a street vendor's wok instead of the plastic take-out containers that I'm used to.

And while that all sounds so, so incredible, I couldn't help but think - what if there's a better option? What if there's a better choice for me?

So I looked at the three things that matter most to me in terms of travel:

  1. Safety of solo female travel
  2. Value of the dollar after monetary exchange
  3. Cost of the plane ticket to get there

And because I have an analytical mind (and maybe because I work in PR), I made an Excel grid to lay out and color-code my options. So here it is!

I'll try my best to explain. All countries in purple pertain to safety for female travel, all countries in green pertain to worth of the dollar, and all countries in blue pertain to relative cost of a round-trip plane ticket (from Los Angeles - this will differ based on departure city). The safest and cheapest countries are at 1, moving downwards towards less safe and more expensive towards 10. The countries in the bolder colors are top ten worldwide; and the lighter colors are rated by region (or continent).

After I populated all this information (sources included below), I cross-checked sections to see which countries appeared in multiple sections - in short, the safest and cheapest countries - to find the "triple threat" winners of my data search. The winners?

  1. Denmark
  2. Norway
  3. Singapore
  4. Malaysia

So now that I've seen the data, how do I feel about Thailand? I can't seem to shake it. But now I'm starting to think that a Denmark-Norway-Sweden trip could be pretty incredible, too...

Decisions, decisions.

[Sources: Women solo travel safety: The International Women's Travel Center; dollar value:; cost of ticket: Kayak Explore]