Traveling alone can be just as rewarding – if not more – than traveling with a friend or loved one.
“The biggest appeal is the freedom of it,” said Sarah Schlichter, editor of IndependentTraveler.com."You make your own itinerary, see what you want to see and don’t have to make allowances for anyone else.”
In fact, that’s the No. 1 reason travelers cited for why they like to go solo in a poll on IndependentTraveler.com: Fifty-six percent said freedom, followed by 45 percent who said it’s developing a sense of independence and confidence and 30 percent who said it was meeting new people along the way.
“Traveling with a partner or friend, you’re in your own little unit,” Schlichter said. When you’re on your own, “You’re more likely to strike up a conversation with a stranger instead of spending most of your time talking to each other.”
And guess what else? When you’re by yourself, there’s no one to fight with!
And the confidence boost people get from traveling alone can’t be underestimated, especially for people going through a life change like those who are recently divorced or widowed, said Tammy Weiler, the president of fun and adventure for Singles Travel International.
“It’s a super booster of self-esteem when you decide to take a trip,” Weiler said. “You aren’t going to wait for someone else to take a trip.”
And, thanks to the Internet, which can allow you to stay connected to your life back home even when you’re halfway around the world, traveling solo is becoming a lot more common.
When choosing a destination to travel alone, you should consider how much there is to do there, how easy it is to get around and how safe it is to travel alone there. Here are 10 of the best places to travel alone from the editors at Independent Traveler.
By Cindy PermanPosted 8 Feb 2011
The big appeal for solo travelers is how friendly the Irish are. It’s very easy to meet people and it’s also very safe.
“I’ve never been to a place where people were more likely to say hello or strike up a conversation with you,” Schlichter said. “That makes you feel like you’re not alone.”
The sights: Expedia recommends the Wicklow Mountains, Valleys and Lakes plus City Tour of Dublin ($50), which takes you through the countryside, including lakes and charming villages, plus the city and some of the big sights like Dublin Castle. Independent Traveler also recommends the Dublin Writers Museumand a literary tour of Ireland that celebrates authors including Frank McCourt, James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. You can take a walking literary touror multi-day trip.
The cost: Hotel rates are up 14 percent from last year, though only 3 to 6 percent for four-star hotels, Expedia reports. You can get a flight and three-night hotel combo for about $730.
Australians are super friendly and there’s a real culture of travel here, particularly traveling solo. It’s very easy to get around.
“They have a real sense of independence down there,” Schlichter said. “No one’s going to look at you funny if you’re traveling by yourself!”
The sights: Single Travels International recommends the Great Barrier Reef for diving, the Blue Mountains near Sydney for hiking and Banzai Beach for relaxing or surfing. Plus, you can actually climb the Sydney Bridge($120-$300) and the Sydney Opera House is “phenomenal,” Weiler said. You can also take a tour of the outback, Independent Traveler says, including one of these from Gray Line($60-$220). Expedia also recommends a combined tour of the Sydney Aquarium, where you can walk through an underwater walkway, Wildlife World, where you can see koalas and kangaroos, and Sydney Tower ($70).
The cost: Hotel and airfare are up 4.3 percent from last year, Expedia reports, but down 15 percent for long-weekend trips.
“When you think of really romantic travel, you don’t think of Iceland,” Schlichter said, which makes it perfect for traveling alone!
“It’s got cool culture, cool landscape with all the waterfalls and strange formations – it’s fascinating to explore,” she added. “And, it’s not so hard to do it alone!”
The sights: You can’t go to Iceland without going to the Blue Lagoon Spa,a massive 10,000-square foot outdoor geothermal bath surrounded by snow-capped lava rocks. The water, known for its healing properties, is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit! ($35) Nordic Visitoroffers packages to Iceland that include the Blue Lagoon, boiling mud pots and, depending on the season, the Northern Lights (winter) or the Midnight Sun (summer).
The cost: Prices for airfare and a three-night hotel stay are up a whopping 70 percent from last year, Expedia reports. Though, Maps of the World notes that fares are cheapest Tuesday through Thursday.
Costa Rica is a great place for the solo adventurer, with a variety of activities, including white-water rafting, hiking, relaxing in hot springs or “scaring yourself silly zip lining through the forest canopy,” Schlichter said.
Its lush landscape (the name literally means “rich coast”) includes beaches, rain forest, volcanoes and diverse wildlife, including white-faced monkeys, speckled owls and toucans, Expedia notes.
The sights: Independent Traveler suggests Manuel Antonio National Park, where you can hike through the rain forest, and La Posada Private Jungle Bungalows,a lodge right outside the rainforest where you can share tales with your fellow travelers and watch a sunset on the beach. Singles Travel International also recommends Tamarindo Beach, a great spot for surfers and for rainforest zip lining. Costa Rica is also a great place to do a volunteer vacation, such as helping with turtles or teaching English, Independent Traveler said.
The cost: Hotel and airfare are up just 1.6 percent from a year ago, Expedia reports. Rooms at La Posada start at $50 a night; a two bedroom, two bath guest house starts at $200 a night. Airfare and a three-night hotel combo starts around $840, Expedia reports. A day trip to the rain forest starts at $55.
Peru offers a great combo for single travelers: Rich history and culture, with great food and a diverse landscape – from desert to mountains and rainforest. And there’s something for everyone, Lonely Planet reports, from ancient ruins to neon-lit discos!
The sights: One of the top hiking trails in the world is the Inca Trail in the Andes Mountains from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Past visitors say the trek makes you feel like you are discovering these ancient ruins for the first time. You can do it in four days and camp or take the train up and do a half-day hike. When you get to the top, you look down on an ancient city. Independent Traveler also recommends rafting/canoeing/kayaking trips on nearby rivers like the Urabamba and Apurimac.
Singles Travel International recommends a stop in Cusco to chat with fellow travelers. “It’s hip in an Old World sense,” Weiler said of the town. “Everyone’s either just finishing the hike or starting it.”
The cost: Hotel and airfare costs are down 24 percent from a year ago, Expedia reports.
Amsterdam is a small, lively city with great history, culture and architecture. Plus, it’s very walkable and there’s a great biking culture, which makes it very easy to get around.
“I love Amsterdam! It’s one of those places I feel like I could live happily someday,” Schlichter said.
The sights: International Traveler recommends touring the city’s many canals and historic canal houses by foot or on a canal cruise. Plus, tons of cultural stops, including the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Rembrandt House. And, of course, lots of cafes for taking breaks in between. Singles Travel International recommends going for Queen’s Day, the celebration of the Queen’s birthday, where the city turns into one, big party.
The cost: Hotel and airfare costs are down 25 percent from a year ago, Expedia reports. A Holland Pass, which provides entry to five attractions and museums including a canal cruise, plus discounts for dozens more, is about $50. Airfare and three-night hotel combos start around $1,200.
Arizona offers gorgeous desert landscapes perfect for hiking and mountain biking, resorts for tennis and golf, and luxurious spas for the solo traveler looking to unwind and shake off their stress. Plus, there’s southwestern art and rich Native American culture to explore.
For those looking for a little more lively adventure, Singles Travel International notes that Scottsdale and Tempe are college towns and baseball spring training is a great time to go.
The sights: Sedona is a popular spot, with its stunning red-rock formations and of course, the Grand Canyon is a must on any bucket list. TripAdvisor members rave about the Enchantment Resort and Mii Amo Spa. For a cheaper trip, Independent Traveler recommends staying at the Sedona Motel and booking your own excursions.
The cost: Arizona and its luxe spas can be expensive, but there are accommodations for every budget. Airfare and hotel rates are down 21 percent from a year ago, Expedia reports. For example, airfare and three-night stay start around $1,000.
Travel in Asia can be daunting for western travelers, given how different the culture – and the language – can be. And that goes double for single travelers. That’s why the editors at Independent Traveler suggest Singapore, a safe, English-speaking and easy-to-navigate island nation off the southern tip of Malaysia.
“It’s a great place to experience the Far East for the first time,” Schlichter said.
Singapore encourages tourism, with the Singapore Food Festivalevery July and the Singapore Sun Festival,a celebration of music, art, literature, film, wine, food and wellness, in the fall.
The sights: Independent Traveler suggests visiting all the different ethnic quarters, including Malaysian, Indian, Peranakan and Chinese. They recommend hop-on, hop-off bus tours. To get started, check out www.yoursingapore.com and http://tours.yoursingapore.com. Expedia also notes the Fountain of Wealth, which at 216 feet wide is the Guinness-approved largest fountain in the world; It’s located in the Suntec City shopping mall.
The cost: Hotel and airfare are up 1.3 percent from a year ago, Expedia reports. The Singapore Morning City Tour, which takes half a day, is $32.
New York is such a great city for singles, much of its population is single!
“You couldn’t feel alone walking down Fifth Avenue!” Weiler quipped. She recommends checking in with a singles organization to find out what type of singles events are going on when you’re there. “You could probably find an event every single night you’re in the city!”
It’s highly walkable and the subway system and abundance of taxis make it easy to get around.
And, contrary to their surly reputation, New Yorkers are extremely helpful if you ask them for directions. Whether you’re lost or not, try asking for directions on the subway – see how many heads turn and offer their two cents!
The sights: There’s a ton to do, from the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building to Broadway shows, museums, restaurants, sporting events, shopping and parks, including the famous Central Park.
The cost: Hotel and airfare are up slightly, though four-star hotel rates are down about 6 percent, Expedia reports. A seven-day New York pass to some of the city’s top attractions costs about $125, and double-decker bus tour costs about $54. You can get half-price tickets to some Broadway shows at the TKTS booth in Times Square or the one downtown.
The Caribbean is a popular destination for couples but don’t count it out for singles – a singles cruise is a great way to experience the gorgeous blue Caribbean water, luxurious beaches and cool trade winds.
The sights: Of course, you’re going for the beach, but there are tons of other activities. Singles Travel suggests Turks and Caicos and Jamaica for diving, Aruba and Antilles for windsurfing and St. Maarten and San Juan for the casinos. She also recommends going for a festival: The Bahamas has a sailing regatta, Barbados and Puerto Rico are among the places that have jazz festivals and several have their own carnivals. There’s a celebration somewhere year round!
The cost: Let the buyer beware: Some cruise lines charge surtaxes on singles but NCLs’ Norwegian Epic is pioneering the idea of solo cabins, which are smaller but more affordable, Singles Traveler reports. Overall, airfare and hotel are up about 18 percent, Expedia reports. Three-star hotel rates, however, are actually down 7.5 percent.