Traveling alone has many more pros than it does cons. You don’t have to work around anyone’s schedule but your own, you get to choose your every meal, and you get all the glory of your travel triumphs (and the hilarity of your mistakes) all to yourself. Of course the cons are not paltry ones — safety is a paramount issue when traveling alone as is the ever lingering feeling of loneliness that can turn a fabulous, delicious dinner into a slow form of torture.
But to let those totally surmountable problems stop you from lounging in Iceland’s thermal baths, tucking into a heaping helping of poutine, or pensively staring out on stunning fjords seems ill-advised. The trick is to plan ahead — make sure you choose a safe destination, plan great activities that will keep you busy, and suck up any insecurity about talking to strangers; your mother was only kind of right when she told you not to.
Ask your hotel’s concierge for a restaurant recommendation, for example, and when you get there, sit at the bar. That way you can chat with the bartender about what you shouldn’t miss and what you should skip. Standing in line at a bakery or to buy tickets for an event is another perfect place to strike up conversation — you have a topic built in! Getting a local's take on where to go and what to eat makes for great adventures (and stories).
Certain destinations are better for solo travelers than others, depending on language barriers, easy-to-understand currency, built-in activities, or food so good you’ll forget you’re sitting there on your own. Australia has these qualities in spades and was ranked the 18th safest country on the Global Peace Index. Likewise, traveling alone in Costa Rica is among the easiest and most fun trips you can plan from zip lining and chilling on the beach to snacking on plantains.
Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer or a culinary explorer, there are amazing trips just waiting for you (and you alone).
Photo Credit: Flickr/omegaforest
With the friendliest of countrymen and a culture of adventure, Australia is a great destination for solo travelers. Dive the Great Barrier Reef, take in a concert at Sydney Opera House, relax on the beach, or explore the ‘food capital’ of Melbourne (munching on the likes of prawns, Bluefin tuna, and lobster). It is one of the top 20 safest countries in the world and, with no language barrier, is among the easiest to navigate. No traveler to Australia can exhaust the enormous list of activities, so boredom and loneliness prove near impossible here. Don’t forget to try toast with Vegemite for breakfast — a national treasure.
Photo Credit: Flickr/jcoterhals
Scandinavians love Scandinavia — particularly when they’re showing you around and lauding the delicious food and fascinating cultural scene. Ranked ninth on the Global Peace Index, Norway is a must on any solo traveler’s to-do list. The country boasts 21 national parks, legendary fjords, and the National Museum of Art, Architecture, and Design, and food-loving travelers should be sure to taste their distinctive cuisine from pinnekjøtt to Norwegian salmon and from rømmegrøt to reker.
Photo Credit: Flickr/milesfrommonterey
The butt of jokes for years on end, our northern neighbor is a friendly, safe, scenic, and delicious one. No long-haul flights needed, solo travelers from the U.S. could use Canada as even just a weekend away. Vancouver’s outdoor markets and fresh seafood is but one part of the culinary landscape with Quebec’s poutine (pictured) rounding out more easterly offerings. It is the eighth safest country in the world and boasts a calendar chock-full of food, wine, and art festivals (not to mention an extensive list of outdoor activities) like the British Columbia Shellfish Festival, Mondial de la Bierre in August, the Niagara Ice Wine Festival, maple festivals, and a wild blueberry festival on Prince Edward Island.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Trig's
Iceland is known well for a few things, particularly as of late — you fly over it to get to continental Europe, they eat shark, and apparently they have very active volcanoes. What makes it so ideal for the solo adventurer, though, is their cool and welcoming culture, their unparalleled safety (ranked #1 on the GPI), raw and wild natural elements, unique activities (from thermal baths to the glaciers) and their outstanding cuisine. Dine on smoked lamb, one of over 80 cheeses made locally, tuck into one of a range of sausages, or sip on Icelandic akvavit.
Photo Credit: Flickr/bluetravie
It’s easy to assume that an island of spectacular beauty like Fiji would be expensive, lonely for solo travelers, or both. Not so. Fiji is great for backpackers and travelers on their own for its inexpensive lodgings, welcoming locals, peaceful beaches, and mouth-watering tropical food. Great for diving, horseback riding on the beach, surfing, and learning to fire walk, Fiji has no lack of exploratory adventures. Island hopping also affords the opportunity to taste spicy island-style Indian food, fresh grilled seafood, and Fiji-style barbecue.
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With so many cultures and cuisines represented in Singapore, no solo traveler would be bored. Dinner in the Malaysian district one night could be followed by a sampling of food in the Chinese or Indian districts. Ranked the 24th safest country in the world, Singapore is an English-speaking country off the southern tip of Malaysia that has a wealth of food and culture to discover. The Singapore Food Festival is equaled only by the Singapore Sun Festival, and both celebrate food, wine, wellness, and culture of the nation. It’s also home to the Fountain of Wealth — a 216-foot wide fountain — named the largest fountain in the world.
Photo Credit: Flickr/nertog - Walk With Me
Adventurers of all kinds should experience Costa Rica, even if (or especially if) they’re on their own. The outdoor and water activities on offer in Costa Rica are too many to name (think zip lining, hot springs, hiking, white-water rafting) and its lush landscape is filled with beaches, rain forests, and volcanoes. Dining on simple Costa Rican cuisine of rice, beans, plantains, cheese, ceviche, and fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies will make you never want to come home. Animal lovers will particularly love this destination with opportunities everywhere to interact and support their natural environments.
Photo Credit: Flickr/herbrm
Ranked the 11th safest country, Ireland offers something for every kind of traveler from charming inns and castles to rugged mountains and from delicious fare to strong drinks. From Dublin to Limerick, there’s not only plenty to see, but plenty to eat and Irish locals are quick to dispel any preconceived stereotypes about shamrocks and such. Catch a rugby or football game with a pint in hand, snap photos of Kilkenny, or kiss the stone of Blarney Castle before tucking into some hearty cuisine like Irish stew, seafood pie, black pudding, or the classic soda bread.