Packing up the fam or gathering your best friends for a trip together can be overrated. Scheduling conflicts, diverse itineraries, and good old-fashioned bickering might translate to a trip that isn’t exactly your dream come true. Saddle up and ride solo into the sunset, however, and you can craft a vacation worth writing home about. Yes, traveling alone continues to trend up for a reason. Here are just a few of the best things to do on your next solo trip.
Viewfinder Tip: The best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is between September and April.
Enjoy nature, uninterrupted
Nothing kills the natural high of standing before a misting waterfall like your travel companion saying “I’m hungry, can we go grab lunch?” On your next solo travel adventure, your itinerary is your own. You can gaze upon that beach sunrise or mountain panorama for as long as you’d like. Some of our favorite ways to soak up Mother Nature include hiking to The Wave, a vibrant rock formation in Arizona, and visiting the awe-inspiring fjords near Reykjavik. Join a guided tour of the Northern Lights while you’re in Iceland, and you’re in for a technicolor display in the atmosphere like you’ve never witnessed.
You know those things you secretly wish you could do on vacation? While your travel companions are all eat, pray, loving—you’d rather be visiting the world’s biggest something-or-other or eating a fried cricket even if it means gagging. Now that you’re on your own, you’re free to embarrass yourself trying a myriad of things that travel companions may either try to talk you out of or document for Facebook. Sing karaoke in Tokyo, and sing it loud. Drop into a comedy improv meet-up group in Chicago with nothing but an open mind and a shot of tequila in your tummy. Display your subpar golf skills at The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers in New York. The possibilities are endless.
New York Public Library via Flickr/JULIAN MASON
Get lost in library stacks
Whether you’re a book worm or an architecture aficionado, one of the best things to do while traveling by yourself is visit beautiful libraries. Take your time meandering through the fiction section, or snap pictures of intricately painted ceilings. You’ll love standing in the legendary five-tier atrium of the George Peabody Library in Baltimore, or reading beneath the stunning chandeliers in the Rose Reading Room of the New York Public Library. Get yourself a ticket for the hop-on hop-off NYC bus tour, and one of the stops is the Brooklyn Public Library, where the art deco front door features bronze literature-inspired sculptures.
Eat all the things
Say goodbye to bargaining with your travel mates about where to eat. No more giving in to a Greek dinner if your friend agrees to a pricey brunch in the morning. One of the best things to do while traveling alone is tasting from the city’s best menus and making no apologies about wanting Thai food three nights in a row. In places like San Francisco, New York, and Sydney, there is perhaps no better way to get to know your new surroundings than by finding a seat at the bar and people watching while you chow down. If you want to make the culinary rounds with some new friends, go on a local culinary walking tour in Hawaii, or take an epicurean excursion through Little Ethiopia in D.C.
Sign up for a specialty retreat
Are you the only one in your inner circle who thinks three days of yoga sounds like a good idea? Does your spouse roll their eyes when you throw out the idea of an artistic retreat? Forget those guys, and sign up for a weekend of your favorite activity, and meet some kindred souls. The Ireland Writing Retreat in Donegal offers a week of lectures, immersion trips, and workshops. At Spirit Rock in California, meditation retreats are better without company, so they’re perfect for your solo trip. There is bound to be a retreat with your name on it, adventurer.
What is your favorite part of solo travel?