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The idea of travelling alone for the first time c
I love travelling alone. I travelled alone when I was single, and I’ve flatly refused to give up since I became married. Travelling alone gives you
Choosing the ideal destination for your first solo travels
For this list, I’ve picked out the best places to travel alone for the first time. This is based on criteria such as the ease of getting around particularly without a car, the variety of attractions that are interesting to visit on your own, and the overall safety. I’ve had female travellers in mind since that’s the experience I can personally draw on. However, I’m certain dudes can enjoy these places, too.
That said, I’m the first person to advocate that anywhere in the world can be the “best place to travel alone for the first time”. The key is that you pick where you want to go. The first place I personally travelled alone was Egypt. That may not be the first “female solo
Particularly if you watch or read too many tabloid news sources.
Luckily, I haven’t believed what I read in the tabloids since Jennifer Aniston’s 57th pregnancy-that-wasn’t. Unsurprisingly, I had a wow of a time in beautiful Egypt. It remains one of my
Consider your own interests
Choosing the ideal destination for your first solo trip also depends a lot on what you’re personally interested in. I love history and culture, so I tend to love visiting countries where there are lots of historical sights and opportunities to learn more about different cultures and customs. If you’re a diver or a twitcher (that’s a bird watcher, and my new favourite word), you might want to factor that into your decision.
A note on budget
Finally, it’s worth noting that generally, destinations that are particularly affordable are often that way because their economies are still developing. Hence the level of infrastructure is quite different, and sometimes more of a challenge, than in countries that top the OECD development index. Personally, this isn’t something that factors into my choice of travel destinations, but it may be important to you.
Now – onto the best first-time solo destinations, which I’m going to divvy up according to budget.
Looking for an ideal solo destination that won’t break the budget? Fabulous! I always love budget-friendly destinations (no one likes crying into their ATM receipts…) however I think it’s especially great when you’re a first-time solo traveller.
Budget-friendly countries mean even if you’re not planning to splash the cash, you can still do and see a lot. There’s a lot more flexibility that comes with affordable restaurants, accommodation and transport. Here are my favourite budget-friendly first-time solo travel destinations.
In news that will surprise absolutely no-one who knows me in real life or reads my blog, I highly recommend Cambodia to first-time solo travellers. Like every country on earth, Cambodia has its complexities (mainly to do with its political situation), but as a travel destination, it’s truly brilliant.
I hear a lot of people say “Oh, I love Cambodia, it’s so cheap!” which, honestly, makes me cringe. Cambodia may be shaky economically, but it’s a country that is extremely rich in history and culture. Reducing it only to ‘it doesn’t cost much’ really does not do this place justice. Most famously, there’s the magical Angkor Wat temple, still in use today by Cambodia’s devout Buddhist community. Other temples are just as beautiful, and the more hidden gems are, arguably, even more delightful to visit.
Then there’s the more unexpected attractions like spotting the rare Irrawaddy dolphin in Kratie, eating spiders in Skuon, or relaxing on the beach in Koh Rong. Best of all, getting around to these places is easy and affordable.
Cambodia is also a country that makes you think. I, personally, am nowhere near as interested in all-inclusive beach holidays in luxury resorts. I want travel to challenge me to see things differently, to know more, and to feel more. Cambodia, still very much recovering from the devastating Khmer Rouge era where more than a quarter of its population perished, very much does this.
Despite the historic and recent adversity they have faced, most Cambodian people are extremely warm and welcoming to
I have a very strong suspicion that if you were to gather most travel lovers together and ask them what the best affordable first-time solo destination is, Thailand would feature very heavily in the answers. It would be well deserved.
There’s this old saying that you can’t keep everyone happy. Tell that to Thailand. This is a place where shopaholics can shop ’til they drop at sprawling markets and cosmopolitan malls, foodies can eat their weight in freaking delicious food, outdoorsy types can hike through jaw-dropping landscapes and then there’s the beaches to laze on.
Due to the popularity of Koh Samui and Phuket, many people immediately think Thailand = beaches. No doubt, Thailand’s beaches are beautiful, but there’s much more to it than that. The stunning landscape is dotted with a seemingly endless number of Wats and Pagodas, while it’s hard to go for a hike without finding a beautiful waterfall.
Then there’s the food. I gave it a cursory mention before, but it’s worthy of its own paragraph. The food in Thailand is amazing. Honestly, you will have some of the best meals of your life in Thailand, with each region offering its own unique dishes.
Thailand is a popular tourist destination, so the infrastructure is well set up for tourists of all budgets. Thai culture is warm and respectful, so you can expect to feel welcome and comfortable. You can feel very safe there, plus getting around independently is easy and affordable. Undoubtedly, Thailand is a great choice to travel alone for the first time.
It was my first solo travel destination, so I feel it would be remiss not to put it on this list. There are many things that I believe make Egypt a great first time solo destination, although “no-one will bat an eye when I tell them” is not one of them.
Ancient Egypt was one of my absolute fascinations as a child, along with the Titanic and, briefly, African Wild Dogs (what can I say, I was a weird child.) So, the draw of visiting the Pyramids and other Ancient Egyptian sites was almost magnetic once I reached my teens. Even after a good decade of poring over books and pictures on sites like the Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Valley of the Kings, it still blew my mind.
Egypt is not a country
Travel to Egypt is likely to push you a little further beyond your comfort zone than some other destinations, but that’s part of the appeal. I found it to be very safe, and the experience of visiting a place that, in reality, was so different than parts of the media suggested, was a very significant life lesson for me.
I chose to go on a group tour of Egypt, which was extremely affordable and also still gave us a lot of independence. This is a great way to make Egypt a little more accessible as a first-time solo traveller, although you could also do it independently. However you visit, it’s a place that’s sure to leave a huge mark on you, as it did for me.
The goldilocks of travel budgets – these first-time solo traveller-friendly destinations are “just right” in terms of budget!
Obvious bias aside, Australia is a great destination for solo travellers. Every year, thousands of people visit Australia on their own to experience all it has to offer. That’s certainly a lot – think great beaches, friendly people and cuddly and unique wildlife.
Australia is a very safe country with legendary friendly people (if I do say so myself) so it is easy to make friends if you’re travelling on your own. If you are ever stuck or in need of assistance as a solo traveller in Australia, you are sure to find plenty of people who are around to help.
I’ll never forget a work colleague who literally offered to drive me to Darwin from Kununurra ( a lazy 16-hour round trip) when I missed my flight. I can’t promise you that level of kindness, but I’m sure you’ll be well looked after.
The mammoth size of Australia means there’s a huge variety of things to do and see. Whether it’s exploring the metropolises like Sydney or
Although activities can get expensive in Australia, there are many, many great free things to do which can keep your budget in check – like visiting the beach! Plus, internal flights within Australia can be cheap and allow you to see a lot more of the land down under.
In terms of its ability to unite travellers, Spain is a bit like Thailand. Everyone from your heavy-drinking cousin to your art-appreciating great-Aunt can find something to love there. That’s what makes it such a great all-around travel destination, and my pick as one of the best first-time solo travel destinations.
I absolutely fell in love with Spain, and I still find myself daydreaming about moving there semi-regularly. The cosmopolitan cities are absolutely
There are also plenty of festivals in Spain which add some culture and pizazz to your solo trip. Particularly in Barcelona, it’s hard to be alone for too long before you get pulled into a fiesta.
Spain has a great train and bus system which makes getting around to a lot of the smaller towns and cities a breeze. Cities like Toledo, Segovia and Salamanca are all easily accessible and add a lot to your itinerary.
Plus, Spain sees a lot of tourism so there’s a fairly well-trodden tourist path. Also, the Spanish seem much too busy enjoying the good life, with all its great food, wine and festivities, to worry about committing violent crime. Even the pickpockets (notorious on Las Ramblas) rob you with a smile!
But seriously – go visit Spain.
It was about the second day after I’d landed in Vanuatu that I was looking around thinking, why is this place not crawling with Australians? I mean, I didn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth (sorry, Aussies, I love you, but damn we are loud when there is a gaggle of us abroad).
Vanuatu is paradise. Yes, it’s an overused word on travel blogs but I’m not sorry because it’s an apt descriptor. If you’re looking for a stunningly beautiful place with exceptionally friendly and welcoming people, then Vanuatu is an ideal first time solo travel destination.
The only downside to Vanuatu’s extreme friendliness is that it takes ages to go anywhere in a
It’s not just the friendly locals that make Vanuatu an ideal first time solo travel destination. There are many great hikes and so much natural beauty, like the Blue Lagoon in Port Vila. Then there’s the interesting culture, which varies significantly around the 80+ different islands.
One thing I love about solo travel is “scheduling” plenty of time for relaxing. Vanuatu has so many gorgeous, almost deserted beaches where you can also go for a paddle or snorkel if you get bored. As a solo traveller, Vanuatu’s biggest upside and downside is the lack of tourists – but if you’re on the introverted side, like me, you’re bound to love it!
Like Egypt, I’d recommend considering seeing Peru as part of a tour. It’s not that you can’t do it independently (you absolutely can), but it’s just that there is so much history that having a guide really helps. Plus, it is quite affordable, especially if you factor in transport costs.
However you see it, Peru is a fabulous travel location for the adventurous solo visitor. Let’s get the biggest ticket item out of the way – it’s home to Machu Picchu, which deserves all the praise it gets. I cried looking at it and am now that annoying person who declares ‘it’s so much better in real life‘ whenever I see a photo.
Like many countries with world wonders, Peru has many other attractions that, while dwarfed by a “world wonder”, offer so much more. There’s the amazing floating islands on Lake
One of the best things about Peru is all the tempting food and drink. It’s easier to tackle eating alone when there’s such delicious and interesting cuisine to tempt you.
Overall, Peru is very safe, although you might find the odd scam (I got my card skimmed). If you do prefer to go at it alone, then it is easy to get around by bus. Buses in Peru are affordable, and there’s a huge range of routes. Plus, they are super luxurious. Seriously, I had steak and red wine on my bus. Take that, Emirates!
“What! Jordan! But that’s in the *gasp* Middle East!?” – you can almost hear that family friend that’s constantly re-sharing racist crap already. Yes, Jordan is in the Middle East, and yes, I 100% recommend it as one of the best places to travel alone for the first time.
I wrote a whole post on solo female travel to Jordan because I really want to encourage people to visit this part of the world. As I’ve said before, I don’t think that travel should be about going from resort to resort, coming back with only a sun tan and memories of the swim-up bar. I think travel should challenge our ideas and open our minds.
This is what travelling to Jordan does. Travel long taught me the stupidity of most stereotypes, but they’re particularly wrong in Jordan. Thanks in part to a brilliant tour guide, I had the most eye-opening and informative discussions of my life in Jordan.
Don’t believe the news or your racist schoolmate on Facebook, Jordan is incredibly safe. My tour guide laughed at me when I asked if I should cover up my bag which was resting on the front seat of our car. “Noooo! This is Jordan. You could leave the doors open, and no-one would steal it.”
Ahhh, the budget breaking countries. You gotta hate to love ’em. Yes, they might steal your hard earned money and give your debit card a work out, but they are so charming that you can’t be too mad. Here are my faves to round out this list.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that Switzerland is eye-wateringly expensive, since it stops its beauty from being spoiled. Something tells me the Alps would be totally overrun if it wasn’t for the fact a soup sets you back about 20 euro.
If you like natural beauty, cheese or wine (I, personally, like all of those things), then you’ll love Switzerland. In fact, its hard to compete with the dramatic views of the alps towering over the lakes such as Lake Geneva. Switzerland truly is a spectacular place.
While much of Switzerland is ultra modern, there are also many gorgeous small villages and beautiful castles. For example, there’s Gruyeres, famous mainly for its delicious cheese (“the Cheese Capital of the World”, apparently) but also offering a stunning hilltop castle.
One of the reasons for Switzerland’s eyewatering prices is that it is highly developed. Everything just works in Switzerland. The roads are great, the train is luxurious and comfortable, and the airport is miraculously pleasant to go through. If you’re looking for a place that will present pretty much no challenges in terms of infrastructure, Switzerland is a great pick.
That’s in no way to say Switzerland doesn’t have an adventurous side. Since it’s the UN headquarters, Switzerland is a melting pot of cultures. They have all added their own mark to the country and its cuisine, shops and traditions. Switzerland very much has
If you’ve listened to the news or read travel blogs lately, you probably think Iceland is some kind of paradise. You may have heard about the magic landscapes, lack of crime, gender equality, accountability for merchant bankers…
And yeah, it’s pretty much all true. In fact, I’m kind of worried that the 300,000 Icelanders might soon get a deluge of applications for people to go and live there. It really is the kind of place you think “this is the kind of life my dog deserves!”
Iceland’s natural beauty is truly astonishing. With huge geysirs, glacier lagoons and dramatic waterfalls, it is incredibly beautiful. If you like hiking, it’s a playground — if you’re lazy like me, there’s plenty of bus tours.
Travelling around Iceland is also exceptionally easy, which is also why it’s a great
Oh and Iceland is probably the safest country on earth. Really. The tourist information booklet I got on arrival, in response to the FAQ ‘What do I do if someone stole my wallet?’ said: ‘Don’t be silly. This is Iceland. You must have dropped it, so go to the Police Station where someone will have handed it in.’
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So there you go, here are ten of my suggestions for the best places to travel alone for the first time. What do you think of these suggestions? Are there any others you’d add to the list?