03 Jan 9 solo travel tips – plus the best destinations for travelling alone
Travelling solo is an enriching experience, but finding the best places to travel solo can be more of a challenge. Going it alone certainly doesn’t mean you have to be alone. This selection of best places to travel solo, along with my top tips on how to do it, will kickstart your wanderlust for that trip you have long dreamt about.
There are so many benefits to these destinations – and you don’t have to be a widow, empty-nester, single or overly extrovert to do it. The chance to explore to the beat of your own drum, to be alone with your thoughts or meet new people on your own terms, they all add up to a fulfilling experience.
But as well as being fulfilling, they need to be the safest places to travel alone. Here are the best and safest places to travel solo whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned explorer, along with some solo trip tips.
Planning your own adventure for one? Let’s talk so I can plan your next unforgettable solo travel holiday. Because it all starts with you.
Best places to travel solo for first-timers
If you’re completely new to solo travel, start small and plan a weekend away closer to home, just a short plane journey away or where language is not going to be a barrier.
Here are my three top picks for you to consider for your 2018 travel plans.
Hike at the Callanish Stones in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Resting on Scotland’s west coast, the Outer Hebrides is a set of islands brimming with ancient history, white sand beaches and phenomenal natural sights.
Lewis – the most northerly – is home to a spectacular arrangement of standing stones. And it’s easy to comprehend how the sunrise vistas of the Callanish Stones could easily rival Stonehenge.
The backdrops here include the waters of Loch Roag and the hills of Great Bernera, it’s a place you won’t mind losing yourself in and will top your list of best solo travel destinations.
It’s also really easy to get to the Outer Hebrides. Five mainland UK airports fly out to Stornoway (Lewis), Benbecula and Barra. Plus, there won’t be many tourists so you won’t feel overwhelmed on your first venture out.
Take in the urban scene around London, England
London has a unique character, and unless you have explored the city alone, you may not have consciously taken time to consume the sights, sounds, smells and atmosphere of the edgy metropolis.
With an eclectic cuisine scene, multicultural communities andattractions covering everything from architecture to history, your horizons will soon be broadened. Plus free museums and art galleries are perfect for first-time solo wanders as you won’t feel self-conscious about travelling on your own, and it won’t punish your purse.
Revel in the food and art scene in Sydney, Australia
If you are really looking to put some distance between home and your first destination for travelling alone, Sydney sounds like a safe bet.
The locals are super-friendly and helpful and it’s an easy city to get around. It also has a vibrant food, art and sports calendar, so there is always something going on to whet your appetite as you tour.
To get your bearings, my top tip is to book a walking tour starting at Harbour Bridge and heading south. Highlights include Sydney Opera House and The Royal Botanic Gardens. Meanwhile The Rocks is great for shopping, dining, entertainment and more. But most of all it’s a prime spot for relaxing in a café or bistro, and watching the world go by.
Plus with Sydney you have so many options to go as luxurious or affordable as you wish for your first foray into solo travel.
Best places to travel solo for ‘dip your toes in’ travellers
If you’ve racked up enough miles on your staycation adventures and are ready to venture further afield, here are my favourite places to travel alone with opportunities to make new lifelong friends along the way.
Learn to cook in Rome, Italy
Where better to brush up on your cooking skills than Italy – the land of love and pasta!
Viator offers a range of cooking tours and options across Italy, but we especially love the pasta making experience in Rome.
A local chef will take your small group through its paces in preparing different varieties of the good stuff with a 3.5-hour experience, culminating in a rooftop dinner for the whole group. As you dine and toast an afternoon well spent, you also have the chance to question your chef on Italian cuisine.
Plus it is the ideal informal setting to socialise and make new friends – bellissimo!
Cruise the Mediterranean
Norwegian Cruise Line was one of the first cruise brands to launch studio cabins and an exclusive lounge for solo travellers.
It’s also targeted with a solo price tag, so single supplements are a thing of the past. At the dip your toes in level, a cruise is a great way to experience a range of destinations in as little as one week. With tailored activity programmes, dedicated cocktail parties for mingling, classes and other social events, the needs of the solo traveller are well taken care of.
Check out the Norwegian Epic which sets sail from Barcelona, calling at Naples, Rome (Civitavecchia), Florence & Pisa (Livorno), Cannes, and Palma.
Find variety in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s residents are very welcoming to tourists and it’s reported to be an extremely safe destination for female solo travellers.
With quiet resorts and sandy beaches, as well as the serene scenes of the island’s tea plantations and sacred mountains, Sri Lanka offers a signature blend of relaxation and adventure.
Dress conservatively for your travels and plan your itinerary carefully as there are so many things you won’t want to miss out on here.
My highlights are Galla for picking up some handicrafts, and if you’re visiting between June and September add Minneriya National Park to your plans. It is where hundreds of elephants congregate every year – so cameras at the ready.
Not forgetting Kandy of course. Home to lush vistas, eight UNESCO world heritage sites, 3,000 years of history, a bounty of beaches… the list literally goes on.
Best places to travel solo for seasoned adventurers
Go wild in the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
If you love encounters with nature, one of the best places to travel alone and do just that is the Galápagos Islands.
Book an organised tour and you’ll find it one of the safest places to travel alone and the best – as your personalised adventure will be with fellow travellers who have similar interests to you.
EcoVentura is a popular option, not just for being a great service for those travelling alone, but because of their commitment to conservation and education. Each day you take part in a half day activity from hiking to kayaking, or you can just enjoy nature at its best on deck.
Add on a week to your solo adventure to explore the architecture and colourful culture around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Quito for your own unique blend of adventure and culture.
Find solitude in Jordan, Middle East
While it might be considered a softer introduction to the Middle East, Jordan still tops it as a place to travel alone for the seasoned traveller.
Be prepared to accept offers to drink tea or even enjoy a meal in people’s homes – just part of the region’s famous hospitality.
You will struggle to run out of things to do in Jordan. Step into the movie scenes of Lawrence of Arabia, and you will soon be amazed by the evocative ruins and ancient cities such as Petra. There is excellent stargazing to be had in the desert, and you should also make time for a sunset experience floating on the Dead Sea.
So if you are looking for solitude and enrichment on your travels, Jordan will fit the bill.
Hit the road on a US Road Trip
This is at the top of my wanderlust list. The idea of the undiscovered as you drive the open road, visiting a few towns, cities or states has always carried appeal with me.
Of course the iconic Route 66 springs to mind, but for regular solo adventurers, going off the beaten track is even more rewarding.
It will take lots of planning, but the time invested will make it all the more worth it. You will require an International Driving Permit, and will need to obtain a check code for your driving record before you travel. Read this guide to driving abroad for more information.
Kickstart your research, starting with these four of the best US destinations I would recommend for going solo.
Seattle, Washington – the vibrant city with trendy neighbourhoods is a haven for foodies. Visit the bustling Pike Place Market to throw yourself in amidst the locals and tourists, and of course, a Seattle coffee and pastry is essential. Or book a food and drink tour to experience the city at its best from chocolate themed tours to boardwalk treats on the waterfront.
Portland, Oregon – for somewhere eclectic, Portland certainly lives up to it. Oddities include the World’s Smallest Largest Park at 452 square inches and at the International Rose Test Garden, you can inhale over 550 varieties of the iconic flower.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia to North Carolina – take note, this stretch of road is considered the USA’s most beautiful with 469 miles of mountains, valleys and other encounters with nature.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts – I adore Cape Cod! It is so charming with pretty coastlines to relax with a good book, whale watching tours, historic houses with interesting stories to unearth and sumptuous seafood offerings.
Drop me a line today to discuss your perfect break.
Nine Solo Travel Tips
- If you’re looking to engage with locals but can’t speak their language, carry a game with you like backgammon or cards, it’s a great way to make friends and language barriers won’t be too much of an issue.
- Join free walking tours to familiarise yourself with a city.
- Plan ahead to make the most of your solo experience and research places to stay, eat and visit, as well as the customs to avoid unwittingly offending the locals.
- Try to arrive at your destination during daylight as it’s easier to get your bearings or ask for directions if you need to.
- If you’re visiting a place where you don’t speak the language, observe locals going about their day. You will soon grasp culture, customs and etiquette.
- Pack light for convenience
- Plan to get lost but lose yourself in the experience and not the panic. In new destinations, you are likely to lose your way a little bit, but it could lead to discovering hidden gems and sights – being sensible and safe too of course!
- Be observant of your surroundings and leave valuables at home. Always exercise the same caution as you would back home.
- If it’s your first time travelling on your own, book an organised or escorted tour. It’s the perfect introduction and allows you to make new friends and build your confidence.