So, you’ve decided that you want to take a trip on your own. Not only do you need to think about what kind of holiday you want to go on, you need to choose your destination.
Most people will, on their first solo trip, want to visit somewhere that’s safe and relatively easy to navigate. You’ll probably think about whether people in your chosen country can speak English. Or, you might wonder how likely are you to meet other travellers while you’re there. It will most likely be important to you that your destination has a good track record with visitor safety, too.
If you’re super confident (or a little naive like me – I went to Russia on my first lone holiday, which wasn’t the easiest destination), you can choose a more challenging first solo trip. But, if you want a slightly safer bet, the following places are all destinations that I’ve visited myself, and are brilliant options for first timers.
The Emerald Isle is safe, English speaking, and super friendly, so it’s no wonder that many solo travellers say that Ireland is one of their favourite destinations.
Meeting the locals is easy, and they have a really great attitude towards visitors. A failsafe method of striking up conversation is simply to pull up a stool at the bar, order a Guinness and say hi to your new favourite drinking buddies.
Outside of Ireland’s cities, you’ll find so many incredible sights to see. Connemara is brilliant for horse riding and hiking, you can check out the spectacular Giant’s Causeway, or spend time exploring Killarney National Park.
Time your trip over 17th March and you’ll witness the entire country celebrating St Patrick’s Day. Or, if you happen to find yourself in Dublin for New Year’s Eve like I once did, trust me: you’ll have the time of your life!
New York City
If you’re travelling solo, you’ll want plenty of activities to keep you occupied, and where else in the world offers as much to do as the Big Apple?
Whether you’re a culture vulture, a shop-til-you-dropper, or a hardcore sightseer, you’ll be too busy to ever feel alone. Plus, if you go solo there’ll be no arguing with travel companion about how you’re going to spend your days, so you’ll get loads more packed in to you trip.
New York is famous for its cuisine, and food markets are good options if you’re a little nervous about dining alone. But, if you decide to pitch up in a café, bar or restaurant, grab a window seat and take in the hustle and bustle of this incredible city. You’ll soon help you forget all about your table for one status.
A little tip from me to you: make sure you take your comfiest walking shoes. Everyone I know that’s visited NYC (myself included) covered some serious distance whilst taking in this awesome place. Gotta work off all that pizza, right?
Central and Eastern Europe is packed full of brilliant destinations for solo travellers; you’ll meet lots of other people travelling alone, and if you’re backpacking for a couple of weeks it’s very likely that you’ll meet people doing a similar route to you.
A favourite Euro destination of mine is Vienna. The place is huge, but the metro is so super simple to navigate that you can zip from area to area with minimal hassle. There’s so much to do and see in Vienna; you could easily fill a week exploring the city and its surrounding areas. Go on a walking tour, visit museums, or just take advantage of Viennese café culture and watch the world go by.
Due to the proximity of many of Europe’s capital cities, you can quite easily cover a few countries in one trip. Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital, is only an hour away by train, making it a perfect daytrip (I actually got greedy and ended up staying for three nights in this beautiful city).
Something that surprised me about Vienna is how progressive its vegan and vegetarian culture is, so don’t let concerns of being forced to survive on wiener schnitzel alone put you off.
Africa might not be at the top of most people’s lists for first time solo travel, but I really think it should be. East Africa is becoming more and more popular with solo travellers, and rightly so: it has a lot to offer. Despite some people’s concerns about safety and ease of travel, Tanzania is a brilliant destination if you’re adventuring alone.
An African safari is on many a bucket list, and it really should be. If you’re travelling solo there are plenty of group trips on offer, which tend to include communal dinners and shared game drives (all the more eyes to be spotting the Big Five with). Climbing Kilimanjaro, Africa’s biggest mountain, is also a brilliant activity for lone adventurers. Join a group climb and make friends for life whilst conquering the highest point on the continent.
Zanzibar is also well worth a visit; it’s extremely safe and you can spend hours wandering the streets of Stone Town. Literally – you will probably get lost just like I did and spend hours discovering friendly locals and fascinating back-streets that you weren’t even looking for.
And if you miss your home comforts while you’re away, most restaurants in Tanzania will be happy to knock you up a portion of ‘chipsi mayai’, or egg and chips in English. What more could you possible need!?
Any place nicknamed Land of Smiles has to be a safe bet for solo travel, right? Thailand is super cheap, English is generally well spoken, and locals are hospitable towards visitors, which makes independent travel nice and easy. It’s also an extremely well-established destination for backpackers and holiday-goers, so you can be sure that you’ll be in good company.
Thailand’s draw is that there’s something on offer for everyone. Whether you want to soak up the sun and/or the culture, gorge yourself on incredible food, party on beautiful beaches, or all of the above; you can!
Travelling around the country is straight-forward and stress free (if, unlike me, you don’t get stressed out by things not being on time, that is). Foodies will fall in love with the cuisine, and plentiful roadside stalls selling Pad Thai and other local dishes mean that you can avoid solo dining in restaurants if that’s not your thing.
Much of the South East Asian region is well-suited to solo travel, and bordering countries are easily accessible from Thailand. If you have the time it’s definitely worth checking out Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, too.
Are there any other destinations that you think are brilliant for first timers? Leave a comment or get in touch here.