One of the biggest excuses I hear from people as to why they don’t travel is that they don’t have anyone to travel with. Know what I say? No travel partner, no problem!
Of course, it’s nice to share the joy of discovering a new destination with someone you know, but that should not be a showstopper. There are lots of places around the world where you can travel safely and enjoy yourself thoroughly, even if you’re traveling solo.
1. Spain. Leave Italy and France behind and head to Spain instead. Sure, plenty of travelers have already discovered this destination is rich in history, art, and food (and, oh, the food is yummy), but Spain is just off the beaten tourist path enough that it feels like a secret only you have discovered. Barcelona, in particular, is a favorite of mine!
In Spain, you’ll find a tremendous number of activities you can do on your own without feeling like you must have a travel partner in tow. Hit the museums in the big cities, hike the trails in the Pyrenees, or lounge on a beach on the Costa Brava.
2. Costa Rica. Tourism has been booming in Costa Rica since the ’90s. That’s a great thing, because it means there’s a good infrastructure in place to accommodate travelers. Known for its beaches, mountains, and jungles, Costa Rica is an excellent destination for eco adventures and yoga retreats.
It’s pretty easy to fly into San José from the United States or Canada. From San José, you can go forth either by renting a car and driving around on your own (get out of San José as quickly as you can in that case) or by joining an activity like a rainforest tour, surfing classes, or a volcano hike.
Beth Whitman, the author, in Bangkok
3. Thailand. Of all the countries in Asia, I’d venture to say Thailand is one of—if not the—most tourist-friendly country. It’s been Southeast Asia’s tourism hub for decades. The transportation system, trains, buses, and flights will take you to all parts of the country (and will do so very cheaply). And the friendly, welcoming, and gentle locals will make those travels easy.
Attempt to speak a little Thai and the locals will love you. But it’s just as easy to get around with learning a few of the basic words and phrases out of respect.
4. Bali. Long popular with Australians because of its proximity, Bali has seen a rise in tourism from other parts of the world due to Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love. There are areas on this island that are indeed overrun with tourists (the beaches at Kuta and the town of Ubud, I’m looking at you), but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting.
The Balinese have managed to hold on to their culture despite the recent onslaught of tourists and heavy commercialization. Offerings to deities are provided multiple times a day by every household. Traditional gamelan music can be heard night and day. And men and women dress in their traditional outfits for festivals (which happen often) as well as for work.
It’s an inexpensive-enough destination that you could easily get sucked into staying far longer than you ever anticipated. And that is not a bad thing at all.
5. New Zealand. Though it could be argued that Kiwis don’t actually speak English (ha-ha), for the most part, New Zealand will have little to no language barrier for Americans, making it easy to travel there on your own.
New Zealand, an island nation with two landmasses (appropriately called the North Island and the South Island), has a wide variety of climates. Given that it’s in the southern hemisphere, it’s an excellent destination to visit December through February, just the time you might want to take off on your own to avoid the holiday hustle and bustle.
Viewfinder Tip: If you’re a nervous newbie, choose a destination where you know someone so you have a safety net to fall back on.
New Zealand, while easy and safe for solo travelers, is going to be more expensive than Asia and Europe because of its relative isolation. In other words, you may not want to rent a vehicle on your own (gas prices are high), but those who travel to New Zealand tend to be easygoing, and you might be able to link up with other travelers with whom you can traverse the islands.
6. Ireland. You won’t have any issues getting to know the Irish during a solo trip, as they’re known as some of the friendliest people on the planet. As a matter of fact, this might just be a great country in which to kick off your solo adventures.
Plus, there are always plenty of day or multiday tours that will give you a chance to befriend fellow travelers.
Where do you like to travel solo?