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Best Trips for First-Time Solo Travelers

November 6th, 2019

Whether they’re traveling alone because they want to or they’re doing it due to circumstance, there is no doubt about it — the number of solo travelers is on the rise. Even if they have partners or children, some people still leave home on their own without the intention of meeting up with a companion down the line.

There are many reasons why people make the decision to venture out on their own. One reason solo travel is on the rise is that technology now allows people in many professions to work from any location that has an internet connection. While technology gives a lot of people the freedom to travel without forcing them to interrupt their workflow, it’s not one of the top reasons travelers choose to go it alone.

Some of the leading motivators for people to travel alone include having time to relax and unwind, getting a break from the daily routine and exploring new cultures.

Top 15 Destinations for First-Time Solo Travelers

The prospect of traveling alone can be intimidating even for people who’ve gone off on their own before. The idea can be even more worrisome for individuals considering traveling alone for the first time. There are some things you can do to reduce or eliminate your stress, however. And you can start by researching some trip ideas for first-time solo travelers.

1. New York City

Some people might be surprised to see the Big Apple sitting atop a list of the best destinations for first-time solo travelers. When you consider everything New York City has to offer, you’ll quickly see why it’s a great idea to make your first solo trip a short vacation in NYC.

New York has many of the things you’ll encounter in foreign destinations, such as an extensive public transportation system. You need to learn how to get around without a car and NYC is where you can get used to riding on a bus, navigating the subway and hailing cabs without getting into an altercation with someone else who’s anxiously waiting for a ride.

Like many other popular locations, NYC also has an array of attractions to visit. Unless you’re planning to stay for weeks or months, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see them all. Having to choose the attractions you’re going to visit will help you develop prioritization skills and will force you to decide between being a true tourist and visiting the touristy sites exclusively or diving underground and hitting the lesser known hotspots that appeal more to locals.

How much a solo trip to New York will cost depends on a variety of things, such as the length of your stay and where you’re planning to sleep. With that said, it’s not unreasonable to expect to spend several thousand dollars to get the most out of your experience in NYC. To jumpstart your solo adventure and wrap things up on the right foot, consider booking flights to and from JFK Airport.

2. Ireland

If you don’t speak a foreign language, Ireland is another destination you may want to visit as a solo traveler because the locals speak English. However, the locals’ accents may take some getting used to so it’s vital to be patient and thoughtful in your communications.

Ireland is home to some incredible historic sites, lush greenery and beautiful beaches. It’s also where you can crawl pubs and enjoy beers you might not have access to at home. No matter what pub you visit, you’ll be greeted warmly by locals who’ll be happy to tell you about all the haunts you should make it a point to visit during your stay.

If you’re going to spend six or seven nights in Ireland, you can expect to spend about $200 per night for a hotel. If you plan to visit the east coast, you should book a flight that lands at Dublin Airport. Otherwise, you may want to fly into Shannon Airport.

3. Vietnam

Although images of a war-torn country may spring to mind when you think of Vietnam, they shouldn’t. Vietnam is a breathtaking country populated by locals who welcome visitors warmly. If you’re a foodie at heart or you have a tight budget, you should consider making your first solo adventure a trip to Vietnam. No matter what part of the country you visit, you’ll enjoy delicious food, a lot of which might be entirely new to you. If you backpack your way through the country, you can spend less than $30 per day, including accommodations and food.

Here are Vietnam’s three international airports and their locations:

  • Noi Bai Airport, Hanoi
  • Tan Son Nhat Airport, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Da Nang Airport, Da Nang

4. The Grand Circle

Whether you’re traveling on the budget or you have an endless amount of money to spend on your first solo adventure, the Grand Circle deserves a spot on any list of destination ideas for first-time solo travelers. That’s especially the case if you want to experience Americana at its finest while taking in dazzling natural landscapes.

The Grand Circle stretches across Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. The expanse encompasses a number of sought-after sites, such as the Grand Canyon and Bryce National Park, to name just a few. No matter what part of the Grand Circle you choose to visit, you’ll enjoy amazing scenery and have time to explore your inner thoughts in a beautiful natural setting.

The cost of a trip to the Grand Circle can vary greatly depending on your accommodations and the sites you plan to see. Camping is a great way to keep your costs low. If you’re going to visit several national parks, you can lower your overall expenses by purchasing an annual pass instead of paying individual entrance fees.

Similarly, you have several airports to choose from if you’re going to visit the Grand Circle. To choose the appropriate one, identify the sites you want to visit and pick the airports that are closest to your starting and ending points.

5. Belize

Sandy beaches that glisten in the sun and warm, clear ocean water are two of the more popular reasons people choose Belize as the destination for their first solo trip. While Belize is a true tropical paradise, it’s also home to many cultural and historic sites, which make it a great destination for history buffs and people who want an immersive cultural experience.

While it’s possible to spend hundreds of dollars per night if you stay in one of Belize’s five-star hotels, there’s no reason to break the bank for a place to lay your head. You can stay in a hostel or book a campsite for much less.

Flights originating from the United States land at Philip S.W. Goldston International Airport, which is only about 10 miles outside of Belize City.

6. Thailand

Thailand is one of the best trip ideas for first-time solo travelers because you can have any kind of vacation experience you want to have within its borders. You can explore the jungle, relax on a gorgeous beach or live it up in Bangkok. You can backpack, or you can book a room in a five-star hotel that has all the amenities you could possibly want.

The amount you’ll spend to visit Thailand will vary greatly depending on things like the current exchange rate and your accommodations. A midrange hotel will cost about $100 per night, but budget travelers may be able to get by on as little as $25 a day.

Thailand has a number of airports that make getting into and around the country a breeze. If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, consider booking a flight that lands at the country’s busiest airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport.

7. Malaysia

Because many locals speak at least two languages which often include English, Malaysia is a great destination for solo travelers who only speak English. As you can in Thailand, you can have just about any kind of vacation experience you want in Malaysia. You can visit large, sprawling cities, small, closely-knit towns, mountains or beaches. You can stick with mainstream activities or dive into the local culture.

The experience you want to have in Malaysia will greatly influence your costs. If you want to live like a local, you can book accommodations in Malaysia for less than $30 per night.

Malaysia has several international airports. The area’s main international airport is Kuala Lumpur International Airport so you may want to book flights that land and depart from that airport.

8. Japan

Hands down — Japan is one of the best destinations for first-time solo travelers. No matter what part of the country you decide to visit, you’ll be greeted warmly by friendly locals who’ll be eager to accommodate you even if you don’t speak Japanese. Getting around Japan is a breeze thanks to the country’s state-of-the-art, extensive transportation system. Whether you’re visiting a museum or simply using the restroom, you’ll be amazed at the extensive use of technology at many locations.

During your stay, you won’t feel awkward when you dine alone. Eating solo is the norm in Japan so you’ll fit right in when you grab a seat in a restaurant by yourself.

If there’s a downside to a vacation in Japan, it’s that it can be expensive. While it can cost a lot to visit Japan, you can do a few things to keep your expenses in line with your budget. Buying a pass for transportation is one thing you can do. Another thing you can do is avoid making special requests at your hotel. Tipping isn't expected in Japan unless you're staying at a high-end ryokan and you ask a lot of your room attendant or you dine in your room. Even if you do those things, you still don't have to leave a tip but it's courteous to do so.

The international airport you’ll land at will largely depend on where your flight originates from. About half of Japan’s incoming international flights land at Narita Airport although some flights from Hawaii, Los Angeles and San Francisco now land at Haneda Airport.

9. Iceland

If you want to visit a country that feels like one extended small town, Iceland should be your destination. The Golden Circle and the country’s public transportation system make navigating your way through Iceland a breeze even for inexperienced travelers. Iceland offers breathtaking views and wondrous experiences for people who love the outdoors. The locals are friendly and most speak English quite well.

While Iceland is well-known for being a safe vacation destination, it’s also known for being an expensive place to visit. You can lower the cost of your stay by sleeping in a hostel and preparing your own meals, however.

Iceland has several airports, with the busiest being Keflavik International Airport. This airport serves eight airlines and 32 destinations.

10. Germany

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, a foodie or someone who craves a multi-cultural vacation experience, Germany should be your destination. Germany’s topography is beautiful beyond measure and its inhabitants represent an array of cultures. From castles in Stuttgart to a thriving art scene in Berlin and great food in between, Germany has something every first-time solo traveler will enjoy.

The cost of a trip to Germany will vary in accordance with several factors, including the currency exchange rate, how much you travel within the country and where you choose to stay. Planning your activities and making reservations in advance can help you stay within your budget.

Germany is home to around 60 international airports. Frankfurt Airport, Munich Airport and Düsseldorf Airport are a few of the ones you may want to consider when you’re booking your flights.

11. New Zealand

Anyone who loves the outdoors will love the time they spend in New Zealand. Islands, glaciers and lakes are just a few of the things you’ll want to check out in New Zealand. The country has plenty of hiking trails that are fun to explore. If you’re not that adventurous, you should consider renting a car to make your way through New Zealand. While the country does have a public transportation system, you’ll need a car to visit New Zealand’s hidden treasures.

If you don’t want to stay at a hostel or miss out on any of the fantastic wine New Zealand is known for, you can book a campsite for under $40 per night.

Here are the international airports you’ll have to choose from in New Zealand:

  • Auckland Airport
  • Wellington Airport
  • Christchurch Airport
  • Queenstown Airport
  • Dunedin Airport

12. California

California is a state that truly has something for everyone. Wine lovers will want to check out Napa Valley. If you enjoy the beach, you’ll have an endless number of gorgeous beaches to choose from. People who enjoy an active nightlife will want to visit Los Angeles or San Francisco. If you want a vacation that consists of engaging road trips, you’ll have plenty of options available to you, including southwest routes and routes along the Pacific Coast.

A trip to California can be as busy or laid back as you want it to be. If you want to shun the nightlife in favor of the outdoors, you'll be happy to learn that California is home to close to 300 state parks. Tent, RV and remote camping are allowed at parks like Donner Memorial State Park. Some parks have cabins and accommodations for group camping. Camping fees vary depending on whether it's peak season and how you want to camp, but you can often reserve space at a park that permits camping for less than $100 per night.

Here are some of the airports located in California that handle both domestic and international flights:

  • San Francisco International Airport
  • Lost Angeles International Airport
  • Sacramento International Airport

13. South Korea

Whether you want to visit historic sites, learn about religion, try new food, explore a vibrant culture, enjoy time in gorgeous countryside or all of the above, South Korea should be at the top of your must-visit list. South Korea is a popular destination for music lovers thanks to the K-pop music genre. When you visit, you can check out your favorite artist’s music label and you can even undergo a K-pop makeover that’ll make you look cooler than you already do.

To make the most of a vacation in South Korea, consider staying in a Hanok guesthouse, which costs about $60 per night. High-end hotels can cost well over $200 per night.

South Korea is home to several international airports that serve millions of passengers every year, including:

  • Incheon International Airport
  • Jeju International Airport
  • Gimpo International Airport
  • Gimhae International Airport
  • Daegu International Airport
  • Cheongju International Airport

14. Peru

If you want your first solo trip to land you in South America, Peru should be your final destination. Peru enables visitors to experience an array of cultures, historic sites and varying climates. Here are some of the places that should be on your bucket list when you visit Peru:

  • Inca Trail
  • Peruvian Amazon
  • Huacachina
  • Rainbow Mountain
  • Machu Picchu
  • Plaza de Armas
  • Church of Santo Domingo

Even though Peru has so much for you to do and see, traveling to and through the country is affordable for most first-time solo travelers. Low-budget travel generally costs between $25 and $30 per day while high-end travel will cost $50 or more daily.

Peru has numerous airports that cater to international travelers, such as the Jorge Chávez International Airport and the Coronel FAP Francisco Secada Vignetta International Airport.

15. Amsterdam

Eye-catching architecture, unbelievable scenery and gripping history are just a few of the reasons people flock to Amsterdam. The city’s museums and galleries draw a countless number of visitors every year. The Anne Frank House is a moving museum where you can see the location where Frank hid from the Nazis along with her actual diary. If you’ve always wanted to stay in an art hotel, Amsterdam is where you can make your dream a reality. People who love festivals won’t be disappointed with what Amsterdam has to offer no matter what time of year they visit.

While Amsterdam has plenty to do and see, it’s far from the most expensive destination you can pick. Nearly every visitor to Amsterdam flies into Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Hotel accomodations in Amsterdam range from about $150 to $300.

Tips for First-Time Solo Travelers

Now that you’re familiar with some destination ideas for first-time solo travelers, it’s time for you to pick up some actionable tips that can make your upcoming trip even more stress-free and enjoyable. Here are some tips you can use as early as today:

  • Book flights through comparison sites: The easiest way to book flights at the best prices currently available is to use a comparison website. Kiwi is one site you may want to consider, with Skyscanner and Momondo being equally user-friendly alternatives.

  • Make a plan and a backup plan: The best way to ensure your first solo travel experience is stress-free is to plan your trip and have a backup plan in case your original plans fall through.
  • Book hotels in advance: When you’re traveling alone, it’s a good idea to book your accommodations in advance and to double check your reservations before you leave home. Just like you can save on flights by using a comparison website, you can often do the same when you use a similar site like Booking.com to reserve a hotel room.
  • Let someone know your travel plans: Before you leave home, give your travel itinerary to your partner or a close friend so they won’t worry about you. Keep your point of contact informed of your activities throughout your time away.
  • Book group tours: A group tour is a great way to meet people who share at least one of your interests—whatever you’re going to see.
  • Blend in with the locals: When you travel, you should avoid drawing attention to yourself for the wrong reasons. Familiarize yourself with local customs and do your best to blend in.
  • Carry copies of important documents: While you may think saving your important documents in your email account is enough, what will you do if you’re at a location that doesn’t have an internet connection or your mobile phone falls into the pool? Play it safe and always travel with physical copies of any documents you might need if you lose the originals.

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