I’d recommend travelling solo to anyone; I’ve done it for two years. But just because you’re travelling by yourself doesn’t mean you’ll always be on your own.
You’re sure to meet people in hostels and on excursions, and if you don’t, just join a tour group and you’ll have instant friends. That said, I’ve found that some places are better than others for meeting fellow travellers, for feeling safe and for feeling confident in your ability to travel solo.
I’ve been to many countries by myself, but these are the seven I’d recommend as the best to visit for solo travel, to feel safe and make a friend or two along the way.
If I was travelling solo to Spain I’d book onto a two-week minimum Spanish language course, to pick up a few sentences and mates, and then take it from there. Spanish people are known for being super friendly and chatty, and if you can speak the local language you’ll make friends more easily.
There are so many things to do for solo travellers in Spain, the terrain and cities are diverse throughout the country. Just watch out for your wallet and phone in the big cities.
Spain is often overlooked by adventurous Brits, but trust me, there’s a lot of fun to be had here, especially when you can do it your way, on your time.
My favourite thing about visiting Tanzania solo was the opportunity to really get to know other people away from the pressures of the city or the internet. I started in Zanzibar and got to know the locals, going out with the guys from my hostel. A few days later I joined a safari tour, a chance to make friends with like-minded travellers.
Bouncing across the plains of the Ngorongoro Crater on the back seat of a Land Rover, camera in hand, in search of an animal bound us as friends from the first day. At night we slept in tents and only had each other for comfort and for entertainment, meaning that we got to know each other in the old way: talking.
The excitement and anticipation of a safari is a great way to get to know your fellow passengers – you won’t feel like a solo traveller for long.
The Philippines is probably the friendliest country I’ve ever been to – English is one of the official languages there, making it easier to make friends with locals. It’s a brilliant place to travel solo.
With 7,107 islands the Philippines isn’t the easiest place to get around, but navigating the boats and planes is all part of the fun. Another great way to make friends is to look out for someone else in a transport queue who looks a bit lost and lonely. Chances are they’d like someone to talk to.
Certain destinations in the Philippines are known for the party scene. Siargao and Boracay are great for meeting other backpackers, while the quieter towns like Bohol and Coron offer the perfect opportunity to get to know the Filipinos.
4. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos
Yep, that’s four countries I know. The Indochina route is so well set up for solo travellers that if you’re going to go, you might as well see all the countries on it. This is one of the best routes for first time backpackers as the locals are so used to travellers, and there will be plenty of other solo travellers to befriend.
It’s so easy to travel Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laosalone. If you’re anxious about solo travel, this welcoming quad of great food, religious sites, cool things to do and easy travels is a great introduction to the incredible world beyond university and school.
If anyone ever asks what my favourite country is I always reply ‘Japan’.
The country is so diverse. I went to both the Sapporo and Otaru Ice Festival, spent two weeks exploring as much of Tokyo as I could, saw Geisha girls in Kyoto, saw robots, spaceships, visited a few lesser known towns on the way up north to the incredible ski and bathed (naked, as is traditional) in the onsens.
I didn’t meet many people when I was travelling Japan, but then I wasn’t exactly the friendliest person at that point in my life either. I was perfectly happy travelling alone and just experiencing as much of Japan as I liked every day, how I wanted to. And I felt totally safe the whole time.
6. The USA
At the start of this year I spent three months travelling alone up the centre of the USA, from Texas, to Louisiana, to Alabama, Tennessee, Illinois and finishing in Minnesota. It was so easy to do with the Greyhound buses, Megabuses and Amtrak.
The US has a small but impressive hostel scene. I stayed at some of the best hostels I’ve ever experienced, and met some really cool people. There’s also so much to do in the USA, with every state being like it’s own country. Once you’re in the US, you’re in, which means it’s easy to change plans and direction without needing new visas. Makes it easy to do a bit of spontaneous travel!
7. New Zealand
It’s an oft-quoted stat that there are actually more sheep than people in New Zealand, which could be one of the reasons why life there is so chill.
I joined the Kiwi Experience bus from Auckland to Taupo and had a great time. From visiting Hobbiton to boiling on hot water beaches and skydiving in Taupo, there’s so much to do.
Otherwise there are plenty of ways to travel New Zealand solo. The country is well set up for travellers with plenty of hostels, transport options and other backpackers, although you might find it a little more expensive – especially if you’re hot off the plane from South East Asia. Make sure to climb a glacier if you go south, and if you want to try a bungee jump, this is the country!