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10 Solo Travel Tips & Destination Ideas to Plan Your Vacation

Posted on Posted in My Thoughts and Musings, Travel Tips
Amsterdam Bike
Amsterdam Pedal Power

Not everyone will have a baptism by fire to solo travel like I did.  I was abandoned in Paris by my (former) friend at Valentine’s Day and chose to explore the city on my own until my flight home.  This was in the time before the internet and smart phones. My passion for independent travel has grown since then and now, over forty countries later, I can’t imagine my life without travel. Having the freedom to experience the world my way has definitely created amazing memories, stories and helped me learn about my strengths and weaknesses.  Solo travel also allows you to reset your mind, body and spirit and escape the daily drama of your home/work bubble.  With the flexibility to sleep in, stay up late and eat cake for dinner,  solo travel is all about what you need and what you want at a point in time to make you happy with yourself and the world.  You need to stop the inner voice from saying negative things so you can enjoy your life.

If you want to get started on your first solo travels either local or abroad (good for you!) here are my 10 Solo Travel tips and a few destination ideas to get you moving toward planning your trip sooner rather than later.

  1. Start at Home – go to the movies, dinner, theatre, etc. on your own. See the Solo Travel 7 steps.
    • If you are ok with that, then you’ve passed the first hurdle. Many people don’t travel solo because they are afraid what other people will think of them. This isn’t about them – it’s about you!
      • What do you want?
      • Want to eat? Sit at the bar or reserve a table (note some OpenTable restaurants won’t take reservation for 1 so you may need to put 2 in the search box)
      • Want to see a Broadway show? Just go! I’ve had great luck finding one seat last-minute like my coveted Hamilton ticket I can’t wait to use.
      • Local theatre often have a rehearsal night – pay what you want which is good way to save money and see theatre.
      • Movies are easier solo most times especially now with venues like Movie Tavern where you can eat, drink and watch the movie by reserving your seat in advance. No more asking “is that seat taken”?
Parc Philadelphia bread basket 10 Solo Travel Tips Dining Solo
The worth every minute in the gym bread basket at Parc Philadelphia – solo dining

  1. Talk to yourself (we all do this) and understand what you like and/or need. Be honest.
    • Do you need to be around people?
      • If yes, a cruise (studio cabin on NCL is an option) or group tour may be best (note: single supplements are generally 150%-200% of advertised price).
      • If no, you are ok to be alone, then consider planning a trip that fits your style best.
        • Talk to a travel agent to help match you with the right destination. Virtuoso travel advisors have access to added hotel bonuses (upgraded rooms, breakfast included, free wifi, added food/beverage/spa credits vary by property) that are great for solo travelers (full disclosure: I’m a Virtuoso travel advisor)
    • Do you need to be a budget, mid-range or luxury traveler?
    • Do you want to treat yourself?  No one needs to know how much you spent so enjoy your hard-earned money.  If you want to splurge on travel, go ahead.
    • Research travel blogs of solo travelers (there are so many to choose from – backpacker, budget, luxury, points, single parents, traveling aunts/uncles, foodies, adventure, etc.) to spark interest in a destination.
Moet and Chandon Rose Mini Champange 10 Solo Travel Tips
Celebrating my Solo Traveler Anniversary on Valentine’s Day with Champagne
Hotel Therese welcome gift
Welcome note and Angelina chocolate was nice personal touch
  1. Day Tours are a great way to experience the city and meet other people. Free walking tours, pay what you want tours, street art tours (Paris, Melbourne, London), bike tours to explore the city and countryside, feed your inner foodie (Barcelona, Florence, London, Philadelphia), drink up at Guinness or Jameson, jump on an adventure tour or just get on the bus and go!  There is a tour for most interests and if you can’t find it, then consider hiring a local private guide to put together a bespoke itinerary for you to do exactly what you want.
Amalfi Coast view Italy 10 Solo Travel Tips
Gorgeous view of the Amalfi Coast that seduced me in my 20’s and continues to call me back
Pasta trio sampler lunch Amalfi Coast tour
A trio of pasta to sample at lunch on the Amalfi Coast tour
  1. Airport transfers can be solo budget busters so plan ahead and be realistic. Can you carry your luggage up and down flights of stairs (in London for example) of the public subway/bus?  If not, reserve an airport shuttle or private car transport. Safety first – you don’t need to be distracted by too many bags, unfamiliar directions or looking down at your phone to figure out where to go.
King's Cross Night view 10 Solo Travel TIps
The view inside King’s Cross at night is pretty and less crowded
  1. Safety costs are ok to bust your budget – if you feel safer in a tax or hire car instead of public transit then ask the hotel to arrange transit. Do you know the local language?  Do you know where to direct the taxi you flagged down?  Having a travel agent or hotel concierge arrange transit to lessen the stress of a new city is worth the additional cost in my opinion
London icons 10 Solo Travel Tips
Four London icons in one photo – Kings Cross and St. Pancras train stations, the London black cab and the Great Northern Hotel
  1. Research, Research, Research
    • Do it yourself (the average person views more than twenty websites to plan their vacation)
    • Outsource this to a trusted travel agent like me!  The more you know the better you can make informed decisions and plan a realistic budget
Sydney Bridge Climb in rain 10 Solo Travel Tips
Climbing in all weather – the Bridge Climb in the rain
  1. Stay Centrally located

It might cost a little more but it will save you time in the long run and might be safer. The worst thing you can do is save money on that budget hotel, hostel or AirBnb only to find out it is so far away from the destination and there are no restaurants or neighborhood to enjoy in the area.  I’ve read many stories online about solo travelers stranded in suburbs as they don’t have a rental car or the public transit hours are not good or they feel unsafe.

Hotel Ampersand London 10 Solo Travel Tips
Luxury Hotel Ampersand in South Kensington, part of SLH collection, across from the tube station
  1. Look at your interests to help you find a good vacation fit
    Venice Italy
    Start a cruise in Venice and enjoy getting lost in the city as I do – one of my favorite cities in Europe
    • Do you like Yoga? There are many yoga focused trips – one resource is Book Retreats
    • Prefer to Spa? Then you need to decide – calorie restrictive or do you want a spa getaway that has a bar (or at least lets you drink alcohol).  Miraval has both a bar and they serve cookies!  There are many others in the U.S. and Caribbean to melt away stress (some with solo rooms)
    • Want to sail with Oprah?  or like Oprah?  Then join her on the July 15th Holland America cruise from Seattle to Alaska or sail other Oprah wellness focused cruises
    • Like to Hike, Rock Climb or Kayak? There are so, so many adventure tour groups to join.
      • To get an idea look at the local REI near you for their day tours and adventure tours.
      • Want to add a spa to your adventure? Consider Red Mountain in Utah, just a few hours drive from Las Vegas with stunning landscapes to adventure by day and spa by night
    • Miraval Rock Wall Climb 10 Solo Travel Tips
      Overcoming my fears and climbing the rock wall at Miraval Tucson
    • Love film like me? Go to a film festival
      • Most film festivals are super friendly and easy to access whereas Cannes and Sundance are exclusive and super expensive (although I do have connections)
        • Tribeca film festival in New York City
        • Toronto International Film Festival is fan friendly. I’ve attended many years and love the Q&A with the directors, producers and actors after some screenings. Only caveat is the process to buy passes and enter the ticket lottery – it’s a bit cumbersome and expensive but do it once and you get the hang of it.
        • Your local hometown film festival or a variety of others throughout the world. You can go general or niche (Japanese anime in San Francisco, French/American films in Avignon)
    • Music fan?
      • There are theme cruises
        • 80’s music
        • Country music
        • Latin music
        • Your favorite band
    • Sports fan?
      • Join your local team at their away games (baseball, football, etc.)
      • Join a sports cruise to golf the greens in Scotland, watch the Grand Prix in Monaco from the stands or meet your favorite Nascar driver
      • Want a more exclusive sporting experience? Contact me for ticket access around the globe
    • LGBTQ?
      • There’s a tour for you if you want to meet other LGBTQ folks – single and families
    • Photography Workshops around the world – one day with NatGeo or a week with a famous photographer
Flower at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in South Africa
Flower at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in South Africa
  1. Don’t be limited to destinations that your friends and family have done
Easter Island Sunset 10 Solo Travel Tips
The colors of the Easter Island Sunset – LAN often has South America Airfare Sales from the US
  1. Have Fun, Take Photos, Relax, Enjoy! This is your vacation, do it your way!
Mokoro view of Okavango Delta 10 Solo Travel Tips
My solo view from the mokoro boat on the water in Okavango Delta

So these are my 10 Solo Travel Tips and Destination Ideas so I hope they help you get out there and travel!  Have tips to add, leave them in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “10 Solo Travel Tips & Destination Ideas to Plan Your Vacation

  1. Some really great tips. My first solo trip didn’t go very well but I learnt a lot about myself while I was away. The shy country girl had to speak up and say hello to people, otherwise it can be a very lonely existence!

  2. I absolutely loved this post and agree with many of your tips!

    It’s also important to not put too much pressure or high expectations the first few times around. I’ve heard of people who solo traveled while it didn’t go well they jumped shipped and never did it again. Keep at it!

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