No travel partner? No problem. Traveling with a companion is fantastic for so many reasons (that hotel bill is looking quite nice cut in half!), but going on your own adventure is something truly special. Traveling alone makes your experience the most raw and personal it could be. You have time to clear your head, absorb new cultures in a personal way, and you can really get to know yourself. So get out of your comfort zone, push the boundaries, and come out a better you – here are some of our favorite starter trips for people traveling alone for the first time.
1. New York City
While it’s not an exotic getaway to a new country, visiting New York on your own helps you build some critical skills that are necessary for world travel, namely learning how to navigate vast public transit systems, getting around a city on a budget with no car, and learning to accept (or ignore!) all the crazy weirdness that can go down in a city so large and diverse as New York. To those who have never been there, New York is wholly unfamiliar, but not different enough to be too intimidating to visit – the perfect place to get your feet wet. If you need some ideas, check out our list of 10 fun things to do in New York City.
As far as international travel goes, Ireland has long been lauded as one of the top destinations for solo travelers. Beside the fact that it’s breathtaking beautiful and lush, Ireland is a perfect choice for five main reasons: Culture (You get to learn some incredible history while you’re there – plus, they speak English, which is less daunting than for first-timers going to a place where another language is spoken), People (They’ve been voted the friendliest people in the world!), Public Transportation (It’s easy to navigate, clean, efficient, and cheap), Accommodations (Ireland is the land of the Bed & Breakfast – they’re local, nicer than a hostel, but far cheaper than a hotel), and Fun (One word: Pubs)!
Some people may look at this choice and dismiss it entirely because of the idea of traveling to a such an unfamiliar country on their own, but hear us out. If you take the time and effort to learn a few important phrases in Vietnamese, you will get a long way. This southeast Asian country is welcoming to tourists, with a wealth of resources, sights, activities, and incredible food to help keep you busy. The best parts? The natural beauty and the price. One can easily backpack through Vietnam on less than $30 a day (that’s including a place to sleep, activities, and food and drink). It’s so beautiful, you may find yourself never wanting to leave. In that case, extend your trip and explore some of the neighboring countries – Southeast Asia is a backpacker’s paradise and an incredible first trip.
4. The Grand Circle
The Grand Circle is the concentration of amazing natural landscapes in the American Southwest. It spans across Arizona, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Nevada and includes landmarks like the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Arches National Park, Zion National Park, Canyon de Chelly, Bryce National Park, and a ton more. This trip offers solo travelers stunning sights of towering red rocks and intricately carved canyons with a healthy dose of outdoor recreation, while providing them with solitude and peace of mind. This trip will not be fast-paced and busy; rather, it’s a time to reflect, take your time, explore, and find yourself.
Who doesn’t want to go to Belize? White sand beaches, clear and warm water, good food, good fishing… It’s the definition of a tropical paradise. On top of that, many people speak both English and Spanish, currency conversion is super easy, and the locals are friendly and always willing to help you get around if you ask. A short bus or taxi ride can take you to a bunch of important cultural and historical sites in the area as well, including the impeccable Tikal in Guatemala. Latin America is gorgeous, warm, and filled with hole-in-the-wall spots that you’ll never find elsewhere. We say go for it.
Be sure to do some research on the city or country you’ll be traveling to, and pick up a few key phrases in the local language. Even if your pronunciation isn’t perfect, the locals will be warmed by your effort to learn their culture. Before you head off, check online for tips and recommendations by other solo travelers who have made the same trip – Lonely Planet always has great advice. Traveling alone doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it might just be the best trip of your life.