6 Epic Solo Travel Destinations
When I ask people why they don’t travel solo, the most common answer I receive is because they are afraid. Such fears can be being kidnapped, robbed, lost, etc. Sometimes I look back and laugh at myself for being afraid to travel solo. Ironically, every life threatening situation I’ve ever been in was at home in New York City and not in a foreign country.
Altogether I’ve been on 10 solo trips and loved them in different ways. In order for me to name a country a “top solo destination” I consider the following categories: Safety, treatment by locals, ease of navigation, budget friendliness and language barriers. Language barriers do not take away from how good a solo trip can be. However it’s easier to communicate with locals verbally as opposed to typing vigorously into Google Translate which I’ve had to do on more than one occasion. Budget friendliness isn’t a deal breaker but it is vital with solo traveling. From an expense perspective, things are easier when you’re with another person or two because you are sharing expenses. However when you’re solo, every thing is on you. The way I’m treated is major factor in my overall experience because negative interactions can surely leave a negative impact on your mind about a particular country. Given this criteria, here are my top solo travel destinations:
With countless free and very cheap things to do, you cannot go wrong with a trip to Malaysia. The capital city Kuala Lumpur is loaded with not one, but three ethnic identities: Chinese, Malaysian and Indian. I roamed the streets of Bukit Bintang which is similar to Times Square in New York City up until 2am. Whether you want to grab some food, a cool souvenir or a great foot/body massage, there is something for you here in this area. I wandered the city using Uber (now known as ‘Grab’) and walking. I also recommend a visit to the infamous Petronas Towers and Batu Caves. This extremely budget friendly country is great for any first time or experienced solo traveler. For more details, please see my blog on Malaysia here.
2. The Philippines:
If we’re talking landscaping and natural beauty, this place is arguably number one on my list. The most efficient way to move around in the Philippines in my opinion is flying. Domestic flights are affordable and can range from $30-$60USD. Because the islands are relatively far apart, I prefer this option as opposed to ferries (I get seasick) that can be six or eight hours long. I wandered the islands of El Nido and Coron in the middle of the night alone and found many cute restaurants and bars full of locals and tourists alike. During the day, you can take a boat tour to see the gorgeous lagoons and stunning beaches the country has to offer. Day tours can be as cheap as $25USD and food can be as low as $5 USD. I found the people in the Philippines to be very respectful and welcoming. My Airbnb hosts in Cebu treated me like family and my tour guides in El Nido and Coron checked on me consistently because they knew I was traveling solo. Please see my blogs on my epic island hopping trip in the Philippines from Cebu, to Coron and finishing in El Nido.
Of all the countries I’ve visited, this might be the place that had the nicest people. The people of India gave me such a warm welcome at every corner and I always felt safe. I roamed the streets by foot, hopped in Uber’s, and jumped in a few Tuk tuk’s. All of which are extremely affordable. Most of the locals speak English so I had no problem getting around and mingling. Between the beautiful architecture, extensive history, and amazing food, India was a magical (and very affordable) experience. I visited the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra and then flew to Jaipur aka “The Pink City” for just $30USD. From Jaipur I flew to Udaipur for just $45USD. There are tours that offer these routes but the flights were less than one hour so I opted for this option. Checkout my blogs on India: The Taj Mahal, Jaipur the ‘Pink City’ and Udaipur.
I’ve been to quite a few countries in Europe. I must say Switzerland was the only European country where I didn’t experience any personal discrimination as a black woman. It was quite the pleasant surprise as I was prepared for negative treatment given my experiences in other European countries. Switzerland has the most efficient rail system I’ve ever experienced. Although it is in the pricey side, I found it to be the most practical and easiest way to get around instead of having to worry about renting a car and driving alone at night. The Swiss Rail App works for iPhone and Androids to track your rides real time so you can never get lost and you can also purchase train tickets and store your information for future use. An important thing to note is that Switzerland is not very budget friendly so please be prepared if you plan to travel here. I recommend taking the train outside of the main city and bask in the beautiful views of the Swiss Alps. Although I did spend a lot of money, I still felt the experience was worth including in my favorite places for solo travel. The highlight of this trip was The “Thrill Walk” where you are suspended 8,000ft up on a walkway that’s built on a mountain. Not exactly for the faint hearted. Checkout my blog on all things Switzerland here.
This country will always have a special place in my heart because it was my very first solo trip and also my very first blog post. I saw a great flight sale to Lima ($400 USD round trip) and none of my friends could jump on it. I had two choices: miss out on a potential great experience because of others, or swallow my fears and go for it. Luckily when I got there, those fears were put to rest and I had an amazing time. Peru has an efficient train line with beautiful panoramic views and buses that go all over so it’s almost impossible to get lost. There is a bit of a language barrier as many locals don’t speak English. But not to worry, they are extremely helpful and you can always walk into a restaurant or hotel and find someone who speaks English. A must-do is taking one of the panoramic trains to the World Wonder of Machu Picchu (checkout Peru Rail or Inca Rail). As someone who was lucky enough to visit all seven world wonders, this one is the most breathtaking by far. If you’re adventurous like myself, look into taking the intense four hour hike up rainbow mountain from Cusco. You can find these tours all in the main square. Check out my blog post on Peru for more.
I believe the Middle East as a whole gets a bad reputation because of the media. Jordan was the first country I visited in the Middle East. Most people would think a woman traveling alone to the Middle East is a triple “no”. Contrary to popular belief, Jordanians are extremely hospitable people. They also speak English well so no language barrier there. It was easy to get around via Uber which is how I arrived to the Dead Sea from Amman or by taking the bus to the iconic Lost City of Petra from Amman. Like Switzerland, Jordan is also not a budget-friendly country so I advise you to be prepared as it has a very strong currency compared to the US dollar. For more details on my solo trip to Jordan, check out my blog here.
Solo travel can be terrifying at first because it’s typically not in one’s comfort zone. I’ve learned over time that stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to learning so much about yourself. Don’t let fear or doubt get in the way of you having an amazing experience. Drop a comment and let me know if you’ve traveled solo and where you’ve been. If you haven’t, tell me what’s stopping you!