Traveling solo is one of the most exciting AND scariest types of travel. The excitement comes from exploring a new area, answering only to one person, having a whole big bed to yourself, being able to change your plans in a heartbeat…you get the picture.
Yet it is scary at the same time. Who will I talk to? Will I get bored being alone? What if something happens? Will people only talk to me because they feel sorry for that “poor traveler who is all alone”.
I have found my soul needs solo travel time. It makes me a better wife, mother, and at the end of it all, a better version of myself that I like and appreciate a whole lot more. Traveling solo gives me time to be alone, to truly respect myself, and assess where I am in life. Do not get me wrong. I love traveling with friends and family, but having this time alone is invaluable.
Besides, you do not have to be all alone or all of the time, because there are different types of solo travel. You can travel by yourself to a new destination and explore on your own. You can hire local guides to show you around or maybe join a tour group. And, of course, you can always book that resort or spa for a little personal TLC.
Which brings me to what I consider the most important part of solo travel…finding the perfect destination. If it is your first solo trip, think about booking someplace you have been before so there’s a certain built-in comfort level. Resorts are also good choices, because you can choose to either be alone or be around people. And if you want to explore a destination, but are a little uncomfortable being truly solo, book a single occupancy spot on a group trip. Any way you choose, traveling solo needs to be on your “to do” list.
Here are a few favorite destinations and ways to travel solo.
SMALL SHIP CRUISES
I know what you are thinking…being on a cruise is not being alone. Oh, but it is. A cruise is a perfect way to see many places and have adventures in many ports of call. You can fully enjoy both your time alone and being with others if you choose. And don’t worry if there is a single traveler up charge. The value comes from the cruise and is well worth the extra cost.
I love the Regent Seven Sea Cruises and UnCruise due to the smaller ships and more personal touches. Plus, you are traveling with many like-minded individuals who are all doing their own thing. The smaller ships tend to attract people who are not looking for Vegas-type cruises, but are more wander-minded and true travelers.
Small ship cruises also allow you to not have to deal with large crowds, but provide a protected environment to discover new areas. During the days, you can choose to explore with others, by yourself, or with a private guide. During the night, you can eat alone, order room service, or decide to join a group table. I highly suggest you do a good mixture of it all.
Meeting new people only enhances your travel and overall self. Traveling on a cruise solo also provides you a floating hotel so you do not have to drag your luggage from place to place in case you want to see more than one area.
When picking a cruise as a solo adventure be sure to take advantage of all the destination options. Pick someplace you have never been and someplace you might not feel as safe discovering truly alone. BUT be sure to get a nice room where you can just hang out on your balcony and enjoy yourself and the scenery.
Greece was my first truly solo trip and most loved destination to travel solo. There are really two ways to do Greece solo. The first is to pick an island and enjoy and the second is to travel between the mainland and a few select islands. I suggest the second. Travel between the islands is not only easy, but beautiful and fun and you get to see so much more.
Fly into Athens and plan on spending a couple of nights to eat and explore. The city is very doable by foot for most must-see attractions, but I also suggest hiring a local tour guide and driver to see some special places and hear the history and story from a local. There are plenty of hotel options that are comfortable for solo travelers, but for those quick overnights I do enjoy the New Hotel.
From Athens, plan a couple of island hops. If it is your first solo visit to Greece, I highly suggest Crete and Santorini. Again, both islands offer wonderful options for small boutique hotels perfect for the solo traveler. I use True Greece to help me pick just the right places to stay, because your accommodations can make or break it for solo travel.
In Crete, I prefer to stay right downtown to have access to all the shops, restaurants, beaches, and activities. In Santorini, I prefer to stay in Oia, but towards the end where it is a bit quieter. Plus the walk back is nice after a delicious dinner. Getting between the islands is fun on the ferry. Just be sure to always buy an upgraded and confirmed seat so you have space to spread out and relax. Take it all in and do it all, but stay away from the larger tours. I actually have True Greece book all of mine with private boats and guides.
You are never truly alone in Greece as the people are wonderful and so hospitable. While in Crete, the owner of the inn and restaurant invited me to have dinner with her in the restaurant’s kitchen. My driver took me to his aunt’s farm for lunch on our way back from the pottery studios in the mountains.
SMALL GROUP TOURS
Sometimes I want to visit a destination that no one else in my family or friends want to, but the destination is not ideal for solo travelers. So, I will turn to a tour company that offers very specific small group tours such as Intrepid Travel. There are destinations in places like Western China, Morocco, and Africa that can be overwhelming to see and do if all alone. Like cruises, these destinations may be the challenge of your solo travel, but small group tours solve that.
Intrepid Travel not only considers the destination when planning small group travel, but also travel style preferences and real life experience. They also believe in responsible travel, which is a priority for me. Intrepid uses local guides, who are a must. They know the ins, outs, local history, and can be invaluable in navigating the landscape.
Also, I have found that as a solo traveler on small group tours, the local guides are a great resource for other places to hang out when the group is not all together. On small group tours, I have chosen to separate from the group for a bit and as long as you give the guide a heads up, they are happy.
Traveling with Intrepid has other benefits that meet my ethical travel standards. While they promote carbon neutral travel and limiting the environmental impact, they take this one step further. The company has taken a strong stance to protect the wildlife that includes no elephant rides, no selfies with sea turtles, or anything of the sort. There are so many options with Intrepid, but I would love my next small group adventure to be in Morocco with lots of food!
I have spent a lot of time in Jamaica and much of it alone. I love the resorts that I can arrive at and just do nothing. I can sit on the beach, eat, spa, and repeat or stay in a smaller resort and do it all. From rafting to hiking to sailing and more, Jamaica is a vibrant destination that has something for every type of solo traveler. My favorite trips have been spa, digital detox, adventure, and culinary.
There are two not-to-miss activities when you venture solo to Jamaica. The first is to go bamboo river river rafting on the Martha Brae where you get to see the waterways of Jamaica. They will pick you up at your hotel or rental and return you after your day of exploring. The other must do is the Rastafari Indigenous Village. Of all my time spent in Jamaica, this is on the top of my list. The people are amazing and it is a true history of the culture that makes Jamaica so special.
If you travel to Ocho Rios, I highly suggest Yaaman Adventure Park. You can join in on one of the small group tours for the day and enjoy the Flavours of Jamaica Culinary Tour. In two hours, you will even learn to prepare a traditional Jamaican meal and learn some new techniques.
One of the more adventurous, yet easy enough for all, is the Blue Mountain Bicycle Tour. You get to start at the top of the mountain, ride downhill, and on the way, see all of the different types of terrain. You can even stop for some famous Blue Mountain Coffee.
I do truly appreciate a digital and world detox and there are many locations across Jamaica to enjoy. But the number one location is the Rockhouse Hotel in Negril. The individual cliff-top cottages are located directly over the water and there are no TVs or clocks. I personally am excited to get back and check out the new spa! You are truly with yourself here and have all the amenities of world-class food and activities if you want to indulge.
I could go on and on about Jamaica and why I try to get there as much as possible. There is always something I have not done before and more amazing food to savor.
Monte Carlo is perfect for a short solo trip or as home base while exploring Nice and western Italy. Book yourself a room at a great hotel with a view, enjoy high tea, and head out for a late dinner in one of the many food halls or local restaurants. Just be sure to get a table outside.
Walk to the Prince’s Palace and lunch at one of the many restaurants along the small streets. Wander all of the gardens and sit at night by the water watching the lights on all of the boats. If you do journey to Nice for a day and explore the city and beautiful farmer’s market, be sure to spend a day in Eze shopping and eat at Chateau Eze.
Monte Carlo is one of those destinations you do not think about going to and staying a while, but it is perfect for solo travelers, I find the entire city well lit, easy to get around, and perfect to wander alone. It is also made for the luxury lover. You can enjoy high tea everyday at a different specular hotel, have spa treatments in some of the finest spas in the world, and then enjoy a delicious fresh-from-the-sea dinner. The art scene is rich in history and you can enjoy some of the finest in music or theatre. Plus, the casino is well worth a visit just to people watch even if you are not a gambler.
Solo travel is a must for me personally. I have time to spend with myself and am able to explore new areas or revisit places I love. Whether I am on a boat, with a small group, or wandering all alone, it does not matter. Being alone gives me time to recharge, see the world only through my eyes, and not have to stick to anyone else’s agenda. I highly suggest you try it, too. Be bold. Let travel expand your horizons. Once you do it, chances are you will do it over and over again.