Travelling alone is a daunting prospect to most of us: even now, despite being a veteran of many such trips, I can still fret about being lonely, problem-solving, safety and costs. These elements are particularly daunting to a first-timer.
Some of these countries and cities make life much easier for the solo adventurer, however, as well as being places I’d highly recommend anyone to visit
AFRICAN SAFARIS: Guides and communal dinners minimise isolation
The entire safari experience is a good fit for a lone wolf: staying on an all-inclusive basis, you’ll either be paired up one-on-one with an affable guide, or get to join two small-group game drives each day. Meanwhile, most safari lodges stage communal dinners, so you can gently get to know fellow guests over complimentary drinks, and perhaps make plans for future days. Tanzania and Kenya have particularly good infrastructure, while Zimbabwe offers particularly good value at the moment.
JAPAN: Sushi counters and hotels set up for solo travellers
Many of the hotels and ryokans (traditional countryside inns) in Japan are designed with single visitors in mind, and costed accordingly. Then there’s that famous sushi culture, mostly eaten at counter bars where you won’t stand out for being alone. Travelling around is easy and safe, and there’s a pleasing balance between the neon-lit intensity of Tokyo – surely the world’s most interesting place to people-watch – and Kyoto’s Zen-like calm. Use Bullet trains to link the two.
NEW ZEALAND: Staying inside isn’t an option at this outdoor paradise
This is the ultimate single-travel destination: New Zealand’s English-speaking locals tend to be friendly and outgoing, while the vast activity list – zorbing, bungee jumping, skiing, skydiving, jet boating, hiking, horse-riding –is often available in group format. South Island is a particular hotspot for this kind of thing, with most people congregating in the tiny city of Christchurch.
BALI: A nexus for new-agers, beachcombers and co-workers
All of Southeast Asia, from beaches in Thailand to Cambodia’s temples, is well geared for single holidaymakers, with tolerant attitudes and extremely welcoming locals. But Indonesia’s island of Bali, and particularly its cultural hub, Ubud, is the stand-out. Serenity-seekers can practice yoga or mindfulness to their soothed heart’s content, while cheap street food reduces costs. Many hotels accommodate singles without charging hefty supplements, and bars like Laughing Buddha act as meeting points for westerners. There’s even a rapidly-expanding co-working scene.
ICELAND: Sociable hostels and group tours of the Golden Circle
The walkable capital Reykjavik has numerous hostels – from budget options to stylish haunts – which help reduce prices in an expensive land, and in which it’s common to be invited on day-trips or bar crawls by fellow residents. Most day-trip tours of the Golden Circle, a driving loop of Iceland’s best volcanic scenery, are for groups; sign up for one of these at your hostel, and you’re likely to make friends along the way. Failing that, you’ll still have astounding geysers and waterfalls to gawp at.
AUSTRIA: Be alone in the Alps, or scoff sachertorte in Vienna
Two of the best activities for solo travellers are hiking and train-rides: there’s no pressure in either to have company, and the solitude can actually be a meditative pleasure. Austria’s snowy, majestic Alps burst with well-marked walking trails and spellbinding views, while the scenic rail network is excellent. Better still, cities like Vienna and Salzburg abound with culture and coffee houses perfect for people-watching over a slice of sachertorte. Hire a bike to traverse each of them affordably.
For more information, head to Real Holidays