A vacay is a great way to escape the day-to-day. But when organizing a cross-country road trip or Euro excursion with your BFFs can itself feels like yet another chore, solo travel could be your best bet for a hassle-free getaway. While it may seem intimidating up front (Who will I talk to? Who will I do stuff with?), there are plenty of reasons why you need to nail this once-in-a-lifetime adventure on your own. Sarah Reid, the author of Lonely Planet‘s recently released The Solo Travel Handbook, shares her tips on how to master the art of exploring new countries and cultures — companionless. Scroll down below to get Reid’s expert advice for top regions to consider based on her own travel experiences, then pack your bags and go!
1. South America: Reid has a special place in her heart for our neighboring continent to the south. “Some of my best friends today are travelers I met during a backpacking trip through South America more than six years ago,” she says. Many of those companions stemmed from the impressive group of hostels across the continent: “South America has one of the best hostel networks in the world, and with most travelers sticking to the ‘Gringo Trail,’ you’ll see plenty of familiar faces — and potential travel buddies — along the way.”
2. Vietnam: For any foodie who enjoys a little pampering on the side, this is the place to be. “I love wandering produce markets on my own with my camera before submitting to an afternoon of pampering at a spa,” shares Reid. Of course, having a friend to enjoy it with can make the experience more fun, and the travel pro reassures us that this country is filled with opportunities to meet people. “When you feel like company, there’s always a cooking class, cycling tour, or backpacker bar to be found,” she encourages.
3. Berlin, Germany: Up for a big night out? Curious to see what Europe after dark is all about? Berlin has got you covered. “With one of the world’s most diverse and friendliest nightlife scenes, Berlin is one of the world’s best destinations for a big night out,” Reid asserts. “If you pick the right hostel, you’ll have ready-made friends to go out with too.” But even if falling asleep by 9pm is more your thing, don’t worry: There are still ample experiences for you to enjoy. “During the day, there are some fantastic walking tours offered in Berlin, which offer another great opportunity to meet other travelers,” reassures Reid.
4. Ubud, Bali: While the Lonely Planet author notes that parts of Bali can be more attractive to couples or partygoers, “it’s a different story in the island’s cultural heart.” According to Reid, Ubud has “long attracted soul-searching solo travelers with its temples, wellness culture, and friendly, welcoming vibe.” Consider booking a yoga retreat for a more structured Bali experience.
5. East Africa: If a safari has been on your bucket list for some time, an overland tour across the region of East Africa is a seamless way for solo travels to mark it off their lists. “The last tour I did with Intrepid Travel (Gorillas and Game Parks) was full of single travelers,” Reid informs us, “and opting for an organized tour takes the stress out of visiting regions that you may not feel comfortable navigating on your own.”
6. Singapore: If you make your way to Asia, be sure to pay a visit to this solo-friendly stopover city-state. “Thanks to its super-efficient metro system, Singapore is such an easy city to get around, and I never feel ‘alone’ eating in its fantastic hawker centers,” affirms Reid. “From cool new cafes to cutting-edge exhibitions, there’s always something new to see — and most locals speak English.”
7. Rome, Italy: The pizza, the pasta, the views — there’s so much to fall in love with in this culture-packed destination. “It’s impossible to get bored with your own company,” Reid agrees. Plus, all the foot traffic keeps the area pretty safe: “The streets are typically packed with locals and tourists by night too, so solo travelers should feel pretty comfortable wandering around on their own at dinnertime.”
8. Portland, OR: If you’re thinking about keeping things local, Portland offers a plethora of things to explore without overwhelming you with options. “Portland is one of those big cities that feel more like small towns, which helps to make for more comfortable solo exploration,” Reid tells us. In terms of when to go, the author recommends waiting for the warmer months to pay this west coast city a visit: “Summer is the best time of the year to soak up its many festivals and cultural offerings, as well as sample over 500 food carts. And don’t forget your hiking boots!”
9. Caye Caulker, Belize: Warning: You may never want to leave this sun-soaked island behind. “I planned to visit for a couple of days and ended up staying for a week!” admits Reid. “Travelers converge to sunbathe and swim at ‘The Split’ during the day, before filtering into seafood restaurants and reggae bars.”
10. Australia’s East Coast: Why not hop in a car and take a scenic road trip far away from domestic America? “Australia’s dazzling east coast is a safe, easy option for solos. Whether you drive on your own, take up rideshare opportunities, or opt for buses, you’ll find excellent hostels and guesthouses along the way,” says Reid. As you prepare to get camera-happy taking photos of the gorgeous coastline, be sure to make note of her tip: “Don’t miss the beautiful surf town of Byron Bay, which has more than a thousand backpacker beds!”
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(Feature image via Mark Read/Lonely Planet; all other images via Getty)