The idea of traveling alone is received like a dirty word in some circles. But to those of us that do it? Well, we tend to think it’s worth the questions, sideways glances and concerned expressions we typically elicit when announcing a solo trip.
If you haven’t ever traveled alone, it’s an adventure worth embarking upon. There’s a lot to be said for what it provides: time to think, time to pause from speaking and instead watch and listen, time to do precisely what your heart and soul tell you – without worrying about ruining someone else’s plans or expectations, time to acknowledge your deepest truths, reprioritize your goals, make big decisions, make no plans at all, time to simply be.
So go. At all costs, go. And if you’re lucky enough to get to pick a route that takes you outside of your local area, state or country, we highly recommend the following five destinations when traveling alone:
It may be known as the city for lovers, but there is plenty to be explored by the solo traveler. Endless cafes provide perfect quiet time and peaceful meals. Some of the world’s greatest museums (including the Louvre, the d’Orsay Museum, and the Paris Museum of Modern Art to name a few) could keep you meandering through room after room of stunning paintings, sculptures and artifacts for days. Tack on the architecture, galleries, gardens, and gourmet food, and it’s no wonder it’s one of the most visited cities in the world.
If you’re a fan of the Lost Generation, don’t miss the chance to explore Saint Germain and the Latin Quarter where the Hemingway-Pound-Fitzgerald-Eliot crowd spent much of their time in the 1920s. If you’re looking for a night out you might not be able to find near home, there’s no shortage of cozy jazz clubs and colorful cabarets.
Travel Tip: French restaurant service is relaxed. You might wonder why it’s taking a few extra minutes to get your food and your check. Enjoy eating slowly. Linger. Don’t order at all once. Stay for an extra drink or dessert. Slow and enjoyable dining is a staple of the Parisian experience.
San Diego, California
There’s nothing wrong with sitting alone on a beautiful beach with an umbrella and a book. And San Diego has plenty of rest-worthy spots to spread out and sink in along its 70-mile coastline. When you’re ready to take a break from sun-soaking, downtown San Diego offers an intriguing mix of local restaurants, trendy watering holes, and cozy bookstores – all worthy of a solo visit.
If you’re looking for a more exciting experience and don’t mind big crowds, a slew of festivals, street fairs, and events are both frequent and unique in the Gaslamp Quarter.
There is no shortage of culture, history or architecture in Beantown. From the North End to the South End are tree-lined streets, 17th-century buildings (including the home of Paul Revere), gorgeous parks and gardens, and quiet neighborhoods that make small town people want to make their stay permanent.
The city is also flooding with an incredible mix of people from every background. Harvard, MIT, Boston University, UMASS, Boston College and the like supply a vast student population that blends well with lifetime locals and relocated professionals.
Travel Tip: If you’re one that likes to avoid crowds, especially when traveling alone, it can be easy to talk yourself out of visiting well-known spots like the South End Buttery, the Freedom Trail, the Public Garden, the Paul Revere House, or Fenway Park. But those that let their feet and ears lead them to a few busy usually find magic in each and every one.
It’s surprisingly easy to find peace and quiet in the largest city in Austria. Nestled on the Danube River and packed with museums, palaces, a glowing music scene, and an endless number of streets to get lost on, Vienna offers the best of many worlds without a lot of extra expense.
Zions National Park, Utah
Zions is a highly visited National Park that draws global attention with its red rock formations, incredible overlooks, and endless miles of trails. Remote landscapes may not be what comes to mind when dreaming of your next personal escape. But for those that don’t mind trading fewer amenities for endless natural wonders, Zions is the way to go.
Among the many once-in-a-lifetime experiences that Zions can provide, there are several that don’t involve a lot of risk or rough trails. Canyon Overlook Trail, in particular, is worth a visit. It’s a short 1.1-mile hike and only takes about an hour and a half to do, offering those that embark an incredible lookout point as the destination. As one of our very own describes it, “It’s like standing on the shoulder of giants.”
Travel Tip: As with most national parks, summer is particularly crowded while winter offers the same beautiful landscapes without all the tourists. And there’s something just a little extra magical about red rock showing through a dusting of fresh snow.
These 5 destinations are some of our favorites for traveling alone. But there are a million more worth exploring if you’re toying with the idea of making your next trip a solo excursion. Check out our Ultimate Travel Bucket List for more destination recommendations, both at home and abroad.