A guest-post from the fabulous Girl About the Globe…
It’s that time again! The beginning of a brand new year when we start dreaming of far flung places and making plans to escape the winter. But what do you do when others don’t share your same passion for travel or can’t afford to accompany you on a trip?
Travel solo of course!
Solo travel is on the rise and you’ll be surprised by the amount of men and women who are wandering the globe alone. There’s no compromise and not only does it give you the freedom to do what you want, but your trip becomes yours, and yours alone. Meeting random strangers can be the best moments you ever had, and you wonder how you ever managed to travel with others before.
Travelling solo allows you to get back in touch with who you are no matter what stage of life you are in. It puts everything into perspective and makes you appreciate the smaller things in life (like hot water), and you’ll soon realise what you can live without, and how many pairs of shoes you really need. It’ll teach you to be self-sufficient and to look after number one. You’ll become so resourceful that you will even amaze yourself. You’ll soon realise what is important and what isn’t and you’ll come back with a new perspective on the world with more meaningful relationships and possibly even a few romantic ones.
But with there being so many countries in the world to choose from, which places are the best for solos?
If you’ve never travelled alone before, America is a great starting point. The United States may not be as exotic as Asia but what it lacks in ancient culture, it makes up for in world-renowned buildings and vibrant cities…and they love the British accent! For sunshine, visit Florida or California (Miami has a vibrant party scene and is a great place to meet others) or try New York for a wide range of hostels and guaranteed company. North America is great for road trips, so hire a car, or jump on the Greyhound and explore the United States.
Related trip: Deep South USA and Texas
Cuba is a country that has been stuck in time with American classic cars, horse and carts, and cowboys smoking Cuban cigars. Known for its music, Cuba even has its own style of salsa which echoes from street corners everywhere. Simply put, this country in the Caribbean is like no other and has a cultivated culture which should be seen before it changes. Visit Trinidad for colourful houses and mingling with locals, visit Holguin for turquoise waters and white powder beaches and Havana for a derelict chic old town. Bus transport here is good and can take you from city to city.
Bhutan is one of the most cultural countries in the world and entering the kingdom is only possible on a pre-booked tour. Not only are you escorted around, put up in four-star accommodation and treated to amazing cuisine, you have your very own personal guide to teach you about this country and its Buddhist roots. Although Bhutan is very peaceful, Thimpu is the best place to meet others and has surprisingly good nightlife. Taking a tour here is the only way to see the country.
Africa may not seem like a continent suitable for solos but there is one country which welcomes internationals with open arms. The Kingdom of Swaziland is untouched by mass tourism and with Swazis believing that greeting foreign guests is a way of gaining wisdom, you can be sure of an enlightening and cultural stay. Swaziland is mainly for game parks and culture and the best way to see the country is to join an organised tour.
Thailand’s hospitality is known as one of the friendliest in the world. If you choose to travel solo here you are guaranteed royal treatment and service fit for a king or queen. Well-preserved culture with tropical hideaways make this a destination to kick off your shoes, remove your watch and just let time slip by…plus it won’t break the bank. Completely geared up for the tourist industry, Thailand is incredibly easy to visit, with great transport links, stunning accommodation and the guarantee of meeting many other like-minded solos. Choose northern Thailand for culture and hill tribes or visit Ko Samui or Ko Phangan if you prefer beaches and nightlife. Travelling around is by bus, boat or on rustic overland pickup trucks.
Related: Are you a Flashpacker?
6. South Korea
South Korea is no ordinary Asian country. With mountainous regions, ski resorts, national parks and seaside cities, the country has a lot to offer a solo. The capital Seoul is a blend of traditions and modern life, and you’ll find free cultural events across the city, with old Korean villages to explore and Taekwondo displays to watch. The Demilitarised Zone is a poignant history lesson and an eyeopener to bordering North Korea. With over 30 islands to explore, South Korea will surprise you. South Koreans love to party so visit Hongdae for meeting others. Trains and buses will get you around the country.
7. New Zealand
An abundance of gorgeous scenery and easy-going folk create a winning destination and if it’s adventure and the great outdoors that you’re searching for, New Zealand could be for you. There is a large choice of hostels, campsites, hotels and wooden lodges and getting around the country couldn’t be simpler. Jump aboard an organised tour, hire a car or rent a motorhome to travel around the two islands; perfect for those who prefer solitude. Visit the North Island for whale and dolphin watching or the South Island for glaciers, waterfalls and Queenstown – the adventure capital of New Zealand and a mecca for travellers.
Albania is a place for those who love adventure and is a country full of surprises. It has its own Alps, Riviera, World Heritage Sites and a colourful, modern capital with surprisingly good nightlife, and it’s just a short hop away from the Greek island of Corfu. Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe and still remains relatively undiscovered but it’s not going to stay like that for long. Travel here quick to see the authentic Albania in its prime. Albania is known for hitchhiking but if you don’t feel comfortable grabbing a lift with strangers, stick to the rustic buses which are rarely on time.
Australia is one of the easiest places to travel to alone and because of its ease, many younger travellers choose to visit here to experience life Down Under before entering the job market. Australians are incredibly friendly and you’ll never be short of company. With an outdoors culture and a more relaxed vibe, Australia will feel just like home only much further away. Jump onboard a hop-on, hop-off bus or take an iconic train journey across the outback. The east coast is popular for backpackers or visit Melbourne for chic boutiques and a maturer crowd.
Don’t think that solo travel means that you’ll be alone either. In fact, you’ll meet so many people in hostels, buses and on tours that you’ll be spoilt for choice for travelling partners.
So the big question is – where is 2015 going to take you?
Lisa Eldridge (aka Girl About the Globe) has been solo travelling for the last seventeen years. Her book, A Female Guide to Solo Travel is a comprehensive how to guide for any woman looking to travel solo. Sign up here to get more tips on solo travel and the release date for the book.