Do you have a bucket list full of travel destinations you would like to visit this year, but your friends are bogged down with work? Why not just set out solo to cross those items off your list! It’s easy to think that you need to travel with a friend or a group when taking a trip, but more and more people are making solo travel a part of their life. Keep reading to find out more about the best destinations for solo travelers.
Solo travel isn’t a new trend. In fact, many companies are capitalizing on the fact that solo travelers are a specific niche demographic of the travel industry. For example, Flash Pack is a company that caters to 30- and 40-somethings who have the means to travel solo. They plan epic trips around the world and pair together solo jet-setters into a travel group.
Other companies like Outsite specialize in providing amazing co-living properties in the US and abroad that cater to those traveling solo, especially digital nomads. All of their accommodations have fast WiFi and a community of other like-minded individuals to make the solo travel life a bit easier. Staying in an Outsite house is a great way to connect with other solo travelers while exploring a new city.
Read More on Travel:
- 10 Bucket List Travel Destinations for 2020
- 25 Must-Read Travel Hacks for Saving Money, Time, and Space
- 11 Best Digital Nomad Jobs (And Advice on How to Get Started!)
- 13 Best Things to Do in Antigua Guatemala
- 19 Best Things to Do in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Why Travel Solo
I stumbled across one of the best solo travel quotes in a Huffington Post article entitled, 6 Reasons Every Woman Needs to Travel Alone. Suzy Strutner, Associate Lifestyle Editor for HuffPost Travel, wrote about some of the things people have to gain from traveling solo, including increased confidence, adaptability and creativity, broadening your social circle, and stepping out of the confines of your work.
Strutner wrote that “Solo travel not only pushes you out of your comfort zone, it also pushes you out of the zone of others’ expectations.” My solo travels began in 2019 where I set out to Puerto Rico for weeks (which turned into months) of a solo adventure. I didn’t feel the need to stick to a friend’s agenda; I got lost walking along streets in Old San Juan just exploring; and I gained more confidence that I can travel alone.
You also grow more personally when you decide to travel solo. Strutner explains in her article that people can gain a lot from traveling on their own, including increased confidence, adaptability, a broadened social circle, and the ability to step out of the confines of one’s own work.
Is It Safe to Travel Solo?
One of the first questions anyone will ask you when traveling solo is about safety. I mean the world is a big scary place waiting to snatch your wallet, right?
While it’s true you need to take precautions when you travel solo, I think you’ll find that more often than not, the world is actually very inviting and friendly. General safety rules apply, like being careful walking along at night; keep your belongings close; don’t flash jewelry or money; and if you have bad vibes about someone, walk away.
However, don’t let the idea of the world being a scary place to stop you from traveling solo. When I was traveling through Guatemala, I sat my $800 phone down in a store not once…but TWICE…and walked mindlessly away. Both times, a local Guatemalan ran down the street to bring it back to me. This was just evidence to me that the world is actually a good place.
How to Avoid Getting Lonely
Do you worry that you might get lonely while traveling solo? OK, this does actually happen. If you hop into any forums or Facebook groups with digital nomads, most of them will say that loneliness can be a problem, but it doesn’t have to be.
You might get a bit homesick for the friends and comforts at home, but there are many ways to break out of your comfort zone and meet new people while traveling. I recommend booking a group tour as soon as you land in a new city. Google local tour companies or hop onto the Airbnb Experiences app to see what’s available. You might find a city walking tour, paddle boarding tour, group surf lessons, or cooking class. It’s a great way to connect with new people, many of whom are also solo travelers just like you.
Another way to connect with other solo travelers is to stay at a hostel or co-living space. Upscale hostels like Selina are a great way to meet people who are backpacking their way through a country. Most Selina hostels offer a co-working space if you need to get some work done, and you can book tours and excursions through the hostel’s front desk or their website.
Finally, if you’re feeling lonely, just talk to people! Strike up a conversation with someone in the coffee shop, in a restaurant, or on a city tour. Most people are actually pretty friendly. Starting up conversations helps break down that loneliness vibe, and you might meet a new friend to head out along with you on your adventure.
Solo Travel Companies
There are many established companies that specialize in planning trips or providing accommodations for solo travelers. You choose your travel destination, hop on a plane, and they handle the rest by planning your itinerary, hotels, and excursions with a group of like-minded solo travelers. Or, they offer a unique accommodation experience where you can sleep, eating, work, and play with other digital nomads or those who choose to travel solo.
WiFi Tribe is a group of like-minded creatives, entrepreneurs, and solo travelers. The group have over 350+ members who join together to travel on “chapters” which are month-long trips to a new travel destination. Popular trips include Medellin, Bali, and Mexico. Everyone on WiFi Tribe is a digital nomad and works remotely.
Similar to WiFi Tribe, those who travel with Hacker Paradise work remotely either for a company, as a freelancer, or own their company. Travelers will participate in “skill shares” where others on the group teach and train on their unique skill. It’s a great way to explore the world as a solo traveler while joining in with a group community.
Flash Pack is a company that specializes in organizing global excursions for solo travelers in their 30’s and 40’s. When many people think of solo travelers, they imagine a 20-something backpacker setting out to “find himself” while exploring the world. Flash Pack caters to those who have the means to set out for a few weeks of travel, but they perhaps don’t have the friends to join them. Popular places that Flash Pack travels include Morocco, Belize, Bali, and Peru.
Tips for Traveling Solo
-Be sure to plan the basics of your trip ahead of time. It will help if you have a plan in place for how to get to your hotel from the airport, where you will be staying, and even a general idea of where to visit. This will help you save time and also feel more comfortable navigating a new city on your own.
-Join a group tour to connect with other solo travelers. Heading out into a new city on a group tour will help you get an idea of the city’s layout, and you might meet some new friends for your trip!
-Consider staying at a hostel like Selina or a co-living house like Outsite. Most of those staying in these types of places are also solo travelers. You will be staying in an accommodation with like-minded travelers and can join up to explore the city together.
-Be sure to take basic safety precautions when you travel. Don’t walk in dark places at night in a city you don’t know; take an Uber. Don’t wear flashy jewelry or watches unnecessarily. Stay at hotels or hostels with positive online reviews (this is a big one!). Just use common sense!
Best Destinations for Solo Travelers – #1 New York City, NY
With over 8M+ residents living in New York City, the Big Apple is a city that never sleeps full of constant hustle and bustle. It’s recorded that 65M people visit New York City every year to experience its vibrancy, diverse culture, and every type of food you could ever imagine.
After moving to New York City, Adventurous Kate says she gets this question on a regular basis, “Is New York City safe to visit alone for a woman?” She explains that with the right planning, almost anywhere can be safe to visit as a female. And that goes for New York City, too.
Kate also says that New York is built for the solitary person. With so many people jam-packed into the city, the residents seek solitude outside their homes, not inside them. It’s not uncommon to find a restaurant full of people dining alone, catching a movie alone, relaxing in Central Park, and simply going about their daily activities solo.
So, head to New York if you’re looking for a solo adventure and don’t feel weird about it. Go to a Broadway show, have some dim sum in China Town alone, and go shopping in Little Italy. Once you visit New York solo, you’ll find a new appreciation for the city by seeing it with new eyes.
Best Travel Destinations for Solo Travelers – #2 Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Santa Teresa is a small beach village located on the western edge of the Nicoya Peninsula. It’s slowly becoming a big travel destination for backpackers, surfers, yogis, and especially solo travelers. Some have even called it the “next Tulum Mexico” as it’s still relatively unknown by most travelers.
Santa Teresa makes for a great solo trip based on its consistent traffic of other travelers looking to enjoy the laid back beach life at a slow pace. Selina hostel has setup a great spot in Santa Teresa, along with Outsite with a brand-new constructed house just steps from the beach.
It’s also a bit secluded, which adds to its appeal. If you fly into the country’s main airport in San Jose, you will still need to catch a ride southwest to a ferry and then take a car/bus ride about 45 more minutes down the coast to Santa Teresa. If you head to this sleepy village town, relax, link up with some other solo travelers, and grab a yoga class to recoup and refresh.
Best Destinations for Solo Travelers – #3 Medellin, Colombia
The second largest city in Colombia with around 2.7M citizens, Medellin was once known as the capital of the country’s drug war. It’s since made a radical change and transformation into becoming one of the safest and innovative cities in South America. To top it all off, Medellin is nicknamed as the “City of Eternal Spring” based on its year-round, perfect spring-like weather.
As a result of Medellin’s revitalization, it’s become a big digital nomad city and hub for solo travelers. The city has a plethora of incredible restaurants, busy nightlife, and reliable amenities that digital nomads and solo travelers depend on. There are countless co-working spots that have popped up around the city as well.
Check out Selina if you are looking for a modern hostel to connect with other solo travelers and hop on a city tour or two.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is the largest and cultural capital of Northern Thailand with a metro population of 1M. It’s long been known as a digital nomad hub and perfect spot for backpackers and solo travelers in Southeast Asia. The city has plenty of great bargains for shopping eating, and lodging, attracting over 5M visitors per year (including 2M foreign tourists).
Chiang Mai has a little bit of something for everyone, including established restaurants, markets, local temples (known as Wats), and hotels/hostels. The Old Chiang Mai square can feel like a city in its own with beautiful hotels and plenty of coffee shops and eateries to explore.
While Chiang Mai is distinctly Thai, you’ll end up meeting plenty of people from all around the world on your travels. It’s also quite easy to get around in Chiang Mai with most areas being walkable or accessible by “tuk tuks.”
One of the greatest benefits of visiting Thailand is the exchange rate for most travelers. This alone makes it well-worth the visit and affordable for solo travelers.
Holbox is known as Mexico’s best kept secret. Just a few hours away from the busy Cancun tourist destination, Holbox is an “off the grid” island location on the Yucatan Peninsula that feels like an unspoiled paradise. With limited cell service and WiFi, this is the type of place you come to completely unplug from everything digital.
While Holbox is great for families, it’s most popular with backpackers and solo travelers with that “hippie island vibe.” Most evenings are spent hanging out on the beach with a cerveza in hand watching the sunset. You can spend your day bike-riding around the island from one beach club to the next. If you are more adventurous and ready for a bit of a beach hike, head to Punta Mosquito where you can walk out into the shallow water to catch a glimpse of the local flamingos.
Read More on Holbox: 13 Amazing Things to Do in Holbox, Mexico
It’s no secret that Bali has become a popular travel destination for all type of travelers, from those looking for a romantic honeymoon getaway to adventurous types seeking out a thrill.
Bali is excellent for solo travelers based on the fact that so many other solo travelers and digital nomads look to Bali as a hub or jumping off point for their Southeast Asia adventures. You can travel across the island from the beaches in the south around Seminyak and Cangu to the rice fields in Ubud. There are plenty of solo travel co-living spaces and accommodations to check out from Outsite to Outpost, where you can easily connect with others who choose to set out alone.
Where will you travel solo this year?
Solo travel has become more and more popular as it becomes easier for us to connect with other travelers choosing to go it alone. When you travel solo, you don’t have to worry about sticking to anyone else’s travel itinerary or agenda. Plus, you learn that the world actually isn’t a scary place and most locals are willing to help you navigate a new place.
What tips do you have for solo travelers? Are you heading out on a solo trip somewhere this year? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!