When you finally decide that the big moment has come for your solo adventure, the fun really begins in choosing where to go. Not all countries are created equal and if it’s your first time backpacking you’ll be better off visiting somewhere that’s well set up for a newbie like you, rather than trying to traverse no man’s land in some far off destination. Save that for backpacking trip number two.
Visiting one of the most popular destinations for solo travellers means eating, sleeping, travelling and making friends will be a whole lot easier. Just to be a little different, I’ve left out the old backpacker favourites of Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia to see where else your hard-earned money can take you on your adventure.
1. Bali, Indonesia
If you’re dreaming of those classic white, sandy beaches, fruity cocktails and friendly locals, Bali is the perfect destination for you. With the jungles of Ubud, beaches of the Gili islands and wonders of Lombok, there’s enough adventure and natural beauty to keep you hanging around for months.
If you fancy a little more action alongside finding your inner peace, Bali is also a popular place for yogis, divers, surfers and snorkelers.
Swap your usual crew for the jungle creatures of Kenya. Home to leopards, black rhinos, buffalos, elephants and lions, Kenya has amazing valleys, mountains and coastlines that allow you to see the animals in their natural habitats. Set yourself up somewhere like Milimani Backpackers & Safari Centre in Nairobi where you can easily access the nearby giraffe and elephant sanctuaries by day and go wild with fellow animal lovers at night.
Got a little more time? Consider spending a couple of weeks volunteering in a wildlife project like the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust or the Masai Mara Lion and Wildlife Conservation outside Nairobi.
3. New Zealand
It may be a long way from home, but true adventure awaits in New Zealand. Queenstown in particular is a great location for those who love a good heart pumping, nail-biting, selfie-inducing activity. Rafting, river surfing, jet boating, canyon swinging and bungee jumping – this city’s got it all.
Once you’ve got your feet back on somewhat steady ground, head over to Marlborough Sounds and Farewell Spit, also on the South Island, to relax and reflect with some of the world’s best wine.
Make Athens and its Acropolis your first stop. A quick-fire way to douse yourself in Greek legends, ruins and amazing taramasalata, it’ll set you up nicely for an island hopping adventure. Opt for a stay at somewhere like The Circus Hostel, which has enough friendly vibes and social activities you’ll soon forget you turned up solo.
From there, travel to Santorini or Mykonos for stunning views we’ve only seen in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. All rugged cliffs, whitewashed homes and twinkly bays, you can easily pass the time exploring the hidden coves and sailing the seas.
5. Paris, France
It may be the city of love, but who says you have to visit the most romantic city in the world with a beau? A love of good wine, cheese and le pain (bread) is more than enough to justify a visit. Paris is a great choice if you want to try out a little weekender on your lonesome before you go long haul with those gap year plans.
Start by taking a free walking tour of the city to get your bearings before wiling away the hours in museums like The Louvre and Musee d’Orsay, and window-shopping on BoulevardSaint Germain. Be sure to grab your own iconic snap at the Eiffel Tower, ride the Seine riverboats and order frogs legs for one.
As the birthplace of sushi, home of matcha tea and the place with possibly the prettiest cherry blossoms in the world, Japan is an awesome place to explore. Go in winter and head up to Hokkaido to check out the amazing skiing opportunities on offer, although this little activity might just empty your bank account more than you’d like.
Females can easily find women only places to crash, like Kyoto’s Centurion, and even female only transport options in cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Great for if you’re a little nervous about your first foray into solo female travel.
Eating alone is the norm here. Locals think nothing of stopping by for a solo sashimi, so you can feel free to munch as much as you like without any of the anticipated odd glances. And don’t leave without trying out the karaoke bars – fun till the sun comes up for sure.
7. Nashville, USA
It’s easy to travel America solo, especially with transport systems like the Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains. Putting Nashville on the map as one of the most popular locations for the lone traveller though is the love of country music. With rootin’ tootin’ tunes on the streets, in the hostels and in the bars, it’s pretty much inescapable and it provides a high-on-life atmosphere that makes it incredibly easy to meet other wannabe cowboys.
Stop by attractions like the Country Music Hall of Fame for an afternoon with the stars, visit Johnny Cash at his namesake museum and catch a concert at The Grand Ole Opry before crashing at the Nashville Downtown Hostel. Located right in the city centre, it has the perfect mix of organised activity and solo hangout space.