What are the best destinations for solo travelers? I am asked this question all the time – most recently this morning by a reporter for Smithsonian Magazine.
And, of course, there is no one right answer to this question. It depends on the individual’s interests, physical abilities, financial resources, time available and travel experience.
Here’s how I break it down for people.
First time solo travelers with no travel experience.
If you’re not only a first time solo traveler but also quite new to travel, I suggest that you stay close to home. Start by taking baby steps to build your confidence. Try a weekend getaway. Drive, take a bus or train to another town, city, province or state and explore. You will be doing so in a language and culture that is familiar which minimizes the challenges of solo travel.
As you travel, practice some of these basic solo travel techniques:
- Stay at a hostel or B&B and have breakfast with strangers.
- Join groups for a short period of time. Take a museum tour or a cooking class. Anything of that nature will deliver a really social experience.
- Research coffee shops and restaurants with communal tables, again, so that you can meet people in a casual setting.
- If you’re feeling really adventurous, go out and see some live music in the evening. Read Slip into the Scene Solo: Bars, restaurants, festivals…
Please refer to the Solo Travel Safety section of this blog, do a bit of research and head out. Don’t forget to give yourself some quiet time as well and take note of how it feels to be independent, strong and capable.
Best destinations for new solo travelers without travel experience: anywhere close to home. After you’re comfortable close to home you can stretch yourself to the next category.
First time solo travelers with travel experience
experienced solo travelers with little experience abroad.
Both of these categories of solo travelers have the same best destination in my mind so I’ve lumped them together.
If you’ve never traveled solo but are already a traveler, you need to develop the solo travel skills. You know how airports work and that tourism bureaus are typically near train stations. A lot of your travel knowledge has become instinctive so your challenge is being alone. Have a read of the bullet points in the section above.
If you’ve traveled solo but only close to home, your learning curve is on the other side of the coin. Your challenge will be to negotiate transportation and foreign currency but you will feel pretty comfortable with being alone.
In both cases, I suggest a destination with a familiar culture and language. For North Americans, Britain is a great destination but there are others such as Amsterdam where English is widely spoken.
Best destinations for first time solo travelers with travel experience and solo travelers who haven’t been out of the country: places that have a familiar culture and language.
Seasoned solo travelers wanting to broaden their experience.
Once you’ve traveled solo both home and abroad, you’re really ready to broaden your horizons and explore more challenging destinations. But where. This is my challenge. With limited time and money, where to go.
This year I have already gone to two countries which are slightly more challenging for solo travelers than Britain but certainly not too much so. Chile is a great destination in South America. Santiago is sophisticated with an excellent transit system, wonderful restaurants and great public spaces. From there I traveled by bus to Puerto Montt to take the Navimag Ferry to Patagonia. To learn how to travel to Patagonia read: How to Travel Solo to Patagonia: Top 10 Tips. Chile is an easy stretch for experienced solo travelers.
Jordan was my other destination and it, too, works very well for solo travelers. I was there thanks to the Jordan Tourism Board so I had a guide with me but I studied it with solo travel in mind. I also spoke with two solo travelers who went on their own. Jordan is very safe and a surprising number of people, especially in the hospitality industry, speak English.
It’s fascinating to stretch yourself as a solo traveler. Next January/February my destination is South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
What’s Your Best Destination?
There is truly a best destination for every level of solo travel experience and every interest. What’s your best destination?