There’s no shortage of great places to travel alone but some stand out more than others. From seasoned travelers to first timers, solo travel can accommodate anyone and offer a truly transformative and memorable experience. It will provide a trip unlike any other, often taking you out of your comfort zone and in the end providing some of the most lasting memories. Whether it's a study abroad, one week vacation, or extended backpacking trip; get the most out of your solo trip by choosing the right destination.
Not all destinations are made equal and there are certainly some that are better suited to traveling alone. Use this guide to evaluate destinations and then check out the 7 best places to travel alone in 2020 for inspiration to get started.
What Should I Consider When Picking a Place to Travel Alone?
When picking a place to travel alone you want to consider a location that is safe, offers a community of travelers, and provides transportation and infrastructure that is cost-effective and well suited to solo travelers.
Safety for Solo Travelers
Safety should always be a factor when traveling but it’s worth an extra consideration when choosing places to travel alone. You’ll always feel and likely be safer with others compared to by yourself and there are certain areas that can be less safe overall. This doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn’t be visited but might be worth considering for a group trip. Particularly if it’s your first solo trip, the knowledge that you're in a safe location will give you extra confidence to explore.
Safety applies to health risks too. If you’re in a country or region where there’s a higher chance of catching an infection that would require medical attention, it can be much more difficult to recover or get to a hospital on your own.
Check out your government's travel advisories for your proposed destination and make sure nothing looks too risky.
The best part about solo travel is the amazing interactions with other travelers and locals that traveling alone allows. Getting there and back home might be solo but in between you’ll get to meet new people, both travelers and locals, and make friends along the way. Often this will become the most memorable part of a solo trip! If you’re in a destination with other like minded solo travelers it can be extremely easy to make friends and find others to explore with. So consider a destination with a traveler community you can become a part of!
There are some destinations in the world that are known as solo traveler hotspots. If it's your first time travelling alone, consider countries like Thailand, Australia, or Spain. Other countries are just the opposite, a week alone in the Maldives might seem great on paper but you’ll struggle to find other solo travelers when you’re surrounded by honeymooning couples.
For many, a community and meeting other like minded travelers to explore with becomes the best part of a solo trip.
Solo Traveler Activities
You’ve found a place that will leave you feeling confident it’s safe and easy to meet new travel friends, so now you need to consider what you’re going to do there.
Think about your own travel style. What sites do you like seeing and what activities do you like doing? Then consider how it will be to experience them solo. Museums might be great for solo travelers, while a couples activity like salsa lessons could be tough. If your goal is to find some space away from others, maybe hiking would be great, but if you’re looking to meet new people then a cooking class would be perfect. It all depends on what you’re looking for and your comfort level meeting and interacting with new people.
Activities like free walking tours, cooking classes, and outdoor excursions are great ways to meet other travelers and get the most out of your trip!
Managing the Costs of Traveling Alone
One of the most important factors when considering the best places to travel alone is how much it will cost. When you travel with a group or partner, a large portion of your expenses automatically get cut down because you can split the cost. Splitting a hotel room, rental car, or appetizer all lower your individual expenses.
Some parts of the world, like Southeast Asia and South America, are known as budget traveler destinations and will suit solo budgets perfectly. Use a site like Numbeo to see the cost of living in your target destination if you’re unsure. Consider how much more you can see or do by going to a destination that costs less.
Transportation Infrastructure for Travelers
How easy and affordable is it to get around? When you’re traveling solo, a major consideration is the ease and cost of transportation once you’re actually in your destination. This might not be as significant a factor if you’re staying in one place, but it’s still worth thinking about. Having to take taxis everywhere compared to walking can make a big difference in cost, especially when you’re unable to split the taxi ride with other travelers.
If you’re visiting a country or a region, consider how easy it is to move between cities. Thailand has an extensive train network, buses that cross the country, and regional flights for as little as $12, making it extremely easy, quick, and affordable to get around. Cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, & Krabi are all some of the best places to travel in Thailand alone because they’re so easy to get to.
The United States, in contrast, can take much longer to get around by ground and domestic flights quickly inflate a travel budget. Cities are farther apart in the US so a road trip across states is considerably more bearable with a companion compared to alone. Travel days can be boring as it is, but long trips between cities solo get old really fast.
So before you commit to a destination, factor in how much you’ll be moving around and how easy it is to do. Regardless of your method of travel, if you’re moving far and frequently a travel buddy will go a long way to staving off boredom and helping with navigation, especially when everything is an unfamiliar language.
Language Barriers when Traveling Alone
This might not be the biggest factor for seasoned solo travelers but your ease and ability to converse with locals can make the difference between feeling like part of the community or feeling alone. This doesn't mean only going to countries where English is the main language! Consider that there will be times, inevitably, where you’re out alone. Maybe to grab lunch, or book a tour, and you’ll have to figure things out on your own and likely interact with locals. If you’re in a place where they speak English (partially or fluently) and are used to speaking with tourists, it's a lot easier to manage. In South Korea, although very welcoming to tourists, you’ll find many areas have limited English and limited signage in English so you’re often using your hands and basic words to converse. We often felt like we were treated just like any other local, which can often leave you feeling as though you’re expected to know how things work. Compare this to Spain where a basic level of English is common, signs and menus are in English and locals are much more likely to adjust and accommodate to you.
Is the Tourist Infrastructure Suited to Solo Travel?
A combination of the above points, the tourist infrastructure of a destination can make or break the ease and cost of a solo traveler destination. Accommodations is one of the largest expenses so many solo travelers opt for low cost hostels, but you’ll be hard pressed to find many hostels in destinations like Canada, which is a very tourist friendly country.
Your options to get around as stated in transportation as well as the types of activities and sites all contribute to whether the tourist infrastructure is well suited to traveling alone.
Picking Your Next Place to Travel Alone
A city or country can have fantastic tourism infrastructure but it doesn't necessarily mean it's well suited to traveling alone. Use this guide to narrow down your list of great places to travel alone and check out our recommendations for the 7 best places to travel alone in 2020. While it might feel daunting at first, by choosing a great destination, a solo trip can be one of the best travel experiences you’ll ever have!