“All my travel friends are married and I want to take a solo trip out of the country. Doesn’t have to be Europe. Where are the best places in the world to travel solo?”, wrote a Trippy member.
If you love to explore the world, but don’t have anyone with the vision, money or time to accompany you, what will you do?
Shelf your dreams?
Or will you venture out solo?
In my own experience, a friend backed out right when it came time to buy our air tickets to travel long term to New Zealand. She remained at home, and I stayed in New Zealand for over three years. That solo trip changed the direction of my life. My friend is still working in the same profession at a place she hates.
The last time we crossed paths, several years after the trip she backed out of, we were able to chat briefly. “Lucky you!” she exclaimed, referring to my current job freedom and independence. Really? What’s the difference between us? The fear of the unknown haunted the both of us, but I took the leap.
Most people don’t travel solo because of fear: the fear of terrorist attacks, fear of loneliness, fear of being robbed, fear of the unknown (like my friend and I), fear of what others think – the list goes on.
Charles Stanley famously stated:
Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.
Are you letting fear stifle you from taking that solo trip?
I’ve sorted through the best answers from Trippy users and gleaned from my personal travel experience to come up with this list of top destinations for solo travelers.
Friendly reminder: Do your research, practice caution and never venture out in deserted places alone. Heed the advice of trusted sources. Just as there are risks at home, there are certainly risks while traveling abroad, even in the so-called safe destinations. Always use common sense.
1. New Zealand
I would recommend New Zealand as one of the best destinations for solo travelers because it was the first country I traveled to alone right after college. It’s not quite crime-free, but New Zealand is a safe country.
New Zealand is not cheap, but if you are between the ages of 18 and 30, you may qualify for a one-year working holiday visa. While I was in Queenstown with my family last year, we met a driver from Slovenia, a waitress from Chile, and a hotel housekeeper from Wales. With the program, you can explore New Zealand while working – an ideal option for those who want to travel without breaking the bank.
Read more on the criteria and eligibility on New Zealand’s Immigration website.
Trippy member, Arlene Gunter from Atlanta recommended Ireland:
I traveled truly alone just this past September. As in, not meeting up with a group, or a tour. I planned out the whole trip knowing that I did not want to try and drive in Ireland. Things are pretty spread out there, so I flew into Dublin and got a bus at the airport to Galway City, then to Inishmaan. I felt safe and the outings and day trips I reserved were really nice. I spent a couple weeks doing this. Irish folks are great! It was lonely at times for me – not being a part of a couple and not having anyone to share the good times with. But if you are solo, and that’s the bottom line – you have to be at peace with solo travel or it will just be sad 🙂 I am 60 and live in Atlanta, GA
Arlene took day trips with a tour company. It’s a great way to travel solo – combining some activities with a group of strangers by joining a guided tour at a destination. It may be a way to meet like-minded people.
Australia is easy for all types of travelers. If you’re from the US, there’s no language barrier, and the public transportation systems are reliable and frequent within the cities and between cities. I’ve traveled solo for two weeks in Australia, covering Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs and Brisbane.
For tours, I joined guided group tours in each city. To save money on accommodation I stayed in shared dorms in youth hostels, except in Alice Springs when I decided to splurge and stayed at the Sheraton. I was in my twenties and staying at the Sheraton was a big deal for me at that time.
Trippy members, Stef Poessel and John Baillie also recommended Australia because it is “friendly, safe, well set up for solo travelers.”
Pamela Peterson from New Canaan, CT recommended:
Anywhere in Europe! I say, go to Italy: fly to Rome, and take the train to Florence, then Venice, and fly out of Milan…so you’ll get to see different parts of the country. I would avoid tourist-heavy summer, though, and go in fall or spring.
Staci Nicole from Cleveland wrote:
Italy is a great place for a woman traveling solo. The transport system is easy and English is generally spoken across the country. You’ll get cat calls from guys, but I think that happens pretty much everywhere.
I took a three week trip and visited Palermo, Lipari, Napoli, Capri, Italy, Amalfi Coast, Rome, Radda in Chianti, Florence, Venice and Milan (in that order). I was with two other girls, but feel that I would have been good solo.
I recommend going in the beginning of summer, like end of May beginning of June. We went end of June through mid-July and it was super hot in July. The waters are calmer in the summer, so the Blue Grotto is normally open unless there is a storm. I highly recommend visiting this country if you can. 🙂 Good luck!
Isabel Matos suggests Portugal for solo travelers:
Portugal is a great destination to visit any time of the year. We have regions with snow during the winter, we have world class recognized beaches during the summer, balloon tours around Alentejo, cruise sail boats and yachts where you can do wine tasting and enjoy the amazing cuisine by renowned chefs. During all year you can visit famous cities that are known by their architecture, beauty and history, like Lisbon, Porto, Alcobaça, Cascais, Sintra, Tomar or if you prefer tours based on your preference or historical choice, that could make you travel in periods that date from 3.000 B.C.
As long as accommodations go, there is a range of choices that you could choose, from palaces to hostels, I need you to be more specific so I could help you plan your trip if you wish.
Come to Portugal and enjoy this magical country.
English is widely spoken in touristic areas of Portugal.
My family of four joined a guided tour in Peru for a month with a group of eight travelers from England, Australia, and Canada. We traveled in a truck and slept in campsites, hostels, and hotels. Among us was a solo traveler. She went alone because her friends weren’t interested in visiting South America. She said traveling with a tour group gave her the comfort of knowing all her transportation, tours, and most meals were taken care of. During free nights she tagged along with members of the tour group to pubs or restaurants, so it was never lonely or boring.
Not all travelers exploring Peru join tour groups. Christine O’Donnell, a solo female traveler from Auckland New Zealand has lots of nuggets to share regarding traveling solo in Peru and other parts of South America:
I have travelled solo all over the world including weeks in South America and Central America. In 8 weeks I probably only had a couple of evenings on my own.
My tips include: stay in backpacker or budget hotels, you are much more likely to meet people than in up market hotels. I always get a private room and ensuite as I’m way to old for dorms, but enjoy the relaxed, info-sharing atmosphere.
Personally I’m really happy doing my own thing during the day, but like to have someone to have dinner with in the evening and so just ask people I meet during the day, (often more than one person so can end up with 3-4 new friends at dinner) to share stories and recommendations, swap notes. Just talk to them find out where they are going, where they have been…. The don’t have to be your new BFF, everyone has enough conversation for one night out.
We met many solo travelers in the Chilean side of Patagonia staying in hostels and joining the W trek in Torres del Paine. Hostels are the best places to meet up with other travelers and like-minded folks. The hostel atmosphere makes it conducive to get to know people from all over the world.
We stayed at Hostal la Estancia in Punta Arenas where there were plenty of solo travelers sharing information about their experiences and recommendations on places to visit, and buses to take to various points in Patagonia. Their first-hand recommendations were much better than the tips found in guidebooks. Because of tips from other travelers, I learned where to take the bus from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia Argentina (a city in my bucket list). Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take the trip to Urushuia because we had already booked our flight to Puerto Montt.
Chile is a safe country. A little knowledge in the Spanish language will make traveling in Chile much easier.
I just got back from 2 months in Thailand and it was the perfect place as a solo traveller! Inexpensive, safe, warm climate, amazing food, a variety of travel experiences and TONS of other solo travellers to meet and talk to so you’re never lonely.
Relaxing and sun can be found in the islands in the south. I stayed in Phuket but many travellers I met raved endlessly about Ko Tao Thailand and Koh Samui. I loved all the areas around Phang Nga Bay and Krabi.
Bangkok is huge and takes a long time to explore as well as the surrounding areas of Ayutthaya Ratchaburi you’ll never find yourself bored.
Great advice from Yah Dez from New York City:
I spent 7 months traveling through Thailand and felt pretty safe. I usually don’t go out to clubs at night. If I do I usually meet with other travelers first.
Claus Andersen shared:
I am traveling a lot in Vietnam both for work and pleasure and I meet a lot of single women traveling there and they generally tell me that it’s a very pleasant and safe country to travel as a single female.
Before traveling solo to Vietnam, Trippy member Rella Suskin from Johannesburg asked:
I am traveling alone to Vietnam for 3 weeks. Does anyone have any must see places – beaches, walks, sights, restaurants?
She received five informative answers, one of which was from Adrienne Mielke:
If you go to the Mekong Delta I highly recommend Green Village Homestay in Can Tho. They are located out of town but there’s enough to do for a few days (we rode their bicycles through the small villages to the sounds of children shouting hello! and took a tour to the floating market with Phoenix). It is a very unspoiled place.
10. South Africa
Richard Van Wyk from Cape Town South Africa offered this advice:
Visit Cape Town for the most amazing trip you will have in your life…
The most important suggestion for travelling alone is, go to places where your language barrier isn’t too great. In all of the above mentioned places, English is widely spoken. It is easier to meet people and interact. You never feel lonely, you make great friends, the culture shock isn’t harsh and you don’t have to learn how to ask for a beer in an entirely new language. (Though in Scotland it might as well be)
Did you know English is one of the official languages in South Africa? I would recommend going on guided tours when visiting South AfricaS.
Spain! Especially for solo female travelers as it is very safe and very friendly. Right now with the Euro down, it’s really cheap and great travel. It has the perfect mix of big cities in Barcelona and Madrid, beautiful country, and very different local flavor in different regions of the country. Go to Andalucía and travel throught Granada, Seville, Cordoba (Spain) and the white villages and enjoy the Moorish influences on the food and architecture. Do San Sebastian and País Vasco to the French border. Beautiful and great food and wine. When visiting Madrid, do central Spain and see Toledo, Segovia, Salamanca, Ávilaand Cuenca. From Barcelona, make sure to visit the lovely coastal towns of Sitges and Cadaqués. Spain is whatever you want it to be. It’s a party, it’s for foodies, for religious pilgrims, history buffs,and people who want to experience a culture of friendly warm people.
Although there are hardly any violent crimes committed against travelers in Spain, certain touristy parts are rife with pickpocketing and other petty crime.
Jaleh Najafali from Baltimore offered this advice:
As long as your safe and not running around flashing diamonds in people’s faces, there are so many safe places to travel alone as a woman! Some places that immediately come to mind are Italy, France, Czech Republic, and Germany. All are great places where you can see a lot, get by on your own, and can usually communicate without knowing the language.
Of course, London and Ireland are great places to start out too – in London, you can get around pretty easily and you’ll never have to leave the city if you don’t want to.
In my twenties, I did my solo travel in England. My daughter did the same last year. Transportation in London is hassle-free. Taxis are readily available, long distance trains run frequently from London to other parts of England, and all taxi drivers in London are licensed and highly qualified. You can read more about the test London taxi drivers have to take on the New York Times.
Julie Sykes from York, United Kingdom said:
If it’s your first solo trip, I’d recommend Europe or SE Asia. As a previous answer said, Italy is a brilliant destination. If (the non-threatening) cat calls bother you, then the north is a “better” option than the south 🙂 I had zero cat calling in Bologna
Slovenia is super-safe, and I’ve also travelled solo in the Balkans and Spain without any problems.
I suggest Singapore if you have never been to Asia but want to try a solo trip there. This tiny island has an efficient transportation system and thousands of eateries offering delicious Asian food for all budgets. English is spoken everywhere and road signs are even in English.
Why? According to Trippy members:
1. Anywhere really if you’re adventurous! But I think generally anywhere that you don’t have much of a language barrier, convenient public transportation, and walkable cities are good choices. (JJD from New York)
2. Anywhere! Try some travel companies like Gate 1 or Friendly Planet and meet other people who like to travel. They have great prices and lots of fabulous destinations. (Anne Thompson from Durham, North Carolina)
3. I spent 14 months in South America and Central America and it was great for solo traveling. I didn’t actually end up travelling alone for much of it…. Plenty of other solo travellers to meet if you are staying in hostels. And the whole continent is totally amazing!! (Brooke Curlewis from Fitzroy Falls, Australia)
4. I have traveled alone for business and pleasure. All the answers are good here so I would add only take advantage of being alone to meet people all over the world in the strangest places. Go anywhere and stay in a good area well researched when alone. Be open to meeting people in restaurants, go to a top end restaurant and sit at the bar and order food. I have met great couples from around the world and they are happy to talk with someone new as well. I just finished months in Australia, Turkey, Amsterdam and more. Made many friends everywhere. And I’m over 50 so ok for any age. Just go with it and have a blast! (June Bradham from Charleston)
Finally, Rachel Neasham from Boston exclaimed:
The world is your oyster! How exciting!
Get out there and explore. If you need information from a local, ask a question at trippy.com.
See you there!
Article by Claudia Looi