Solo travel means different adventures for different travelers. Experience foreign culture and tour historic sites. Explore local cuisine and befriend locals along the way. Or trek up a rugged mountain with the goal of self discovery. Regardless of what inspires you, most travelers agree that a solo trip leads to a rise in confidence and self awareness.
“I think traveling alone is a really great way of getting to know yourself and your strength. Whether you choose to travel with a group or travel solo, the important thing is getting out there, pushing yourself and having experiences,” says Kelly Lewis, long-time traveler, and the founder of Go! Girl Guides, Women’s Travel Fest, and Damesly (a boutique tour operator for women).
“Personally, my solo travels are an expression of my independence, and the feeling of traveling solo is empowering to me,” adds Alissa Murray, the founder of In Locamotion — a blog that explores the intersection of travel with social justice, sustainability, and human rights issues. “I encourage women to go after whatever it is that makes them feel independent and empowered, whether that is through travel, work, hobbies, or otherwise.”
While solo travel has risen in recent years across all demographics, it has skyrocketed among female travelers.
“Solo travel is not a new concept, but it is one that is becoming more acceptable,” says Kae Lani Palmisano, the Food and Travel Editor for USA Today 10Best and the host of WHYY’s Check, Please! Philly. As a woman, Palmisano says her first solo trip pushed her limitations and proved her capabilities. “For a lot of women, you are consistently battling with this impression of ‘can she or can’t she.’ From college to the workplace, you are always met with skepticism, and people will always question your abilities and your resistance,” she says.
For decades, many women have feared solo travel due to safety concerns. Murray reminds travelers to “take ‘women’s travel safety tips’ with a big grain of salt. I believe these ideas reinforce the false notion that the victim is the one responsible for avoiding danger, as opposed to promoting a culture of non-violence in general. “Furthermore, we are taught to believe that certain places are ‘safe’ and others are ‘unsafe’ — but these descriptors are typically written with biases in mind… The reality is that there is no one ‘safe place’ in the world.”
“Overall, I’ve encountered an incredible breadth of kindness and openness within the people I’ve met throughout my travels,” Murray adds. “Typically the vulnerable experience of traveling solo pushes me out of my comfort zone, and forces me to put in the work to meet people and make connections — which has led to many wonderful experiences.”
For those who want to experience all solo travel has to offer, here are a few ideal destinations — whether it’s lounging on the pink sandy shores of Bermuda, or exploring Buddist Temples in Thailand.
The capital of Denmark is full of dynamic culture, intriguing architecture and an extensive royal history. It’s size is relatively small, making it a perfect destination for first-time solo travelers. Hop on a boat and tour Copenhagen’s canals as you learn of the city’s history. Explore Nyhavn, a 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district full of Denmark’s iconic colorful homes. Wander the Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park that exudes both magic and nostalgia. Climb to the top of the Church of Our Saviour, and gaze down at the city below. Explore Rosenborg Castle and learn of Denmark’s Royal history. Bermuda Serving as both a hub for adventure and a sanctuary for relaxation, Bermuda is another ideal destination for first-time solo travelers. Admire the beauty of Horseshoe Bay Beach, which is nestled between two rugged boulders of volcanic rock. Relax on the pink sandy shores, which gets its hue from crushed corals. Explore underground wonders within Crystal Caves, which boast underground pools of azure blue water and unbelievable formations. For travelers looking to learn about Bermuda’s history, tour the Royal Naval Dockyard, wander the Unfinished Church, or stroll the historic town of St. George’s.
Home to some of the world’s most unique architecture and art, Barcelona beckons solo travelers seeking an art-inspired adventure. Tour the city’s many parks, museums and churches. Begin the adventure at Sagrada Família, an incredible creation from Antoni Gaudí that has been under construction for more than 140 years. Take the time to explore Gaudí’s other works of art: Casa Batlló and Park Güell. Visit Montjuïc, home to the National Museum of Catalan Art, the Museum of Archaeology, and the Ethnology Museum.
A popular destination in Southeast Asia, Thailand appeals to diverse travelers. Explore the historic country to discover Buddhist temples, vibrant markets, and national parks. Animal lovers may choose to visit the Elephant Nature Park, while those seeking relaxation may choose to rest on the tropical beach or indulge in a Thai massage. Tour the Grand Palace (located in the heart of Bangkok), explore The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, or take a trip to Koh Phi Phi (a stunning island). Finally, a trip to Thailand wouldn’t be complete without an exploration of its street food; try Pad Thai, Som Tam or Khao Pad.
Boasting more restaurants per capita than New York City, Montreal implores solo travelers to explore local cuisine — whether it’s enjoying poutine, smoked meats, or an iconic Montreal bagel. Explore charming cafes as you roam Old Montreal, a 17th-century city famed for its narrow cobblestone streets. Walk the historic streets of Saint-Jacques, Saint Paul, Notre-Dame, and Rue de la Commune, or hike to the top of Mount Royal to enjoy the city from a new vantage point. Meander the Montreal Botanical Garden, tour the Notre-Dame Basilica, or visit the 1976 Summer Olympic stadium.
Iceland is home to some of the world’s greatest natural wonders. Take a scenic helicopter ride over the city, embark on a volcanic landscape horse riding tour, or dive into cold waters at Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach. Stroll the city streets as you admire Hallgrímskirkja church, which can be seen from almost every angle. Appreciate unparalleled architecture from the Harpa Concert and Conference Hall, and wander the surrounding areas to discover outdoor sculptures and street art. History buffs can uncover the past of Iceland’s vikings at the National Museum of Iceland and the Saga museum. To further your adventure, head west to Seltjarnarnes to marvel at the Northern Lights, or experience the wonders of the geothermal Blue Lagoon spa.
Story by Alyssa Gautieri
Article originally appeared in Homes & Estates.