Few life experiences are as daunting yet adventurous, empowering, and downright liberating as traveling alone, especially if you’re a woman. And research shows that more and more women are now setting their nerves aside and seeking out their passport stamps solo – no friend, family member, nor partner in tow. And why wouldn’t they?
The freedom of tailoring an itinerary to your own liking is undeniable. You could while away an entire day in a contemporary art museum, dine at a restaurant entirely devoid of vegetarian options, take multiple rounds of the same weekend market, and watch back-to-back theater productions without having to apologize for it. Personally, I’ve been guilty of all of the above and loved every single minute of it.
The boost of confidence and sense of accomplishment from stepping outside your comfort zone is also a given, while the break from everything and everyone is the perfect way to reset. The opportunity for self-discovery is also part and parcel of traveling alone, as is meeting fellow female solo travelers along the way. And then there’s the sheer joy that comes with it. What you would, however, have to do is plan your destination wisely, pack lightly, and err to the side of caution – but that’s sensible in just about any travel scenario.
Now, with the UAE bracing itself for a five-day Eid Al Adha weekend, ideal for a quick getaway, the experts at Little Voyage are weighing in. “A memorable solo adventure has the power to benefit you for years to come. To fear the unknown is human, but it is something you should do at least once in your life! The good news is that there are many places across the globe that can make you feel safe and welcome.” Here, the experiential travel company shares its picks of the ten best travel destinations for your first – or umpteenth – solo adventure.
New York, USA
Explore the Big Apple with its array of cutting-edge galleries, world-famous museums, and gourmet food markets. Manhattan really is heaven for the culture lover – start with the modern art housed at the MoMA, stroll down the High Line after taking in some American art at the Whitney, or head over to Bowery Street for the New Museum.
For a different type of artistry, pick up some cake at the Lady M cake boutique next to Bryant Park and watch the world go by on a sunny afternoon, and don’t forget to visit the historic New York Public Library while you’re around.
Stay: The Standard
See: As many museums as you can
Do: Visit Aria, a lovely little Italian eatery in the West Village
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
In and Around
Amsterdam is very safe, and therefore another ideal spot to discover on a solo trip. Wander around De Pijp, Amsterdam’s colourful Latin quarter, visit the Rijksmuseum with its world-class art collection, get lost along the canals, and spend an afternoon at the Waterlooplein Flea Market.
The Netherlands has a great public transport system, so it’s easy to venture out of the city to the seaside on the West coast by train or rent a bike to cycle along the coast and stop for brunch at one of the many beachside cafés in the little town of Zandvoort.
Stay: The Dylan
See: Grachtenfestival, a classical music festival along the city’s canals of Amsterdam
Do: Go for dinner at Bridges restaurant for some of Amsterdam’s best seafood
Queenstown, New Zealand
The Great Escape
New Zealand is one of the most visited countries by solo travelers, and one of the best ways to get around is to hire a car. The roads are safe, with many scenic views along the spectacular Southern Lakes route. Queenstown has a lovely little botanic garden that is worth a visit, and you can stop along the way for coffee at The Bathhouse café on the lake shore.
Warm up next to the open log fire at Barmuda in the evening, and take a trip out to the far corners of the lake on the iconic TSS Earnslaw steamship. In winter, there are several great ski fields reachable from Queenstown.
Stay: The Dairy
See: Fly over to Milford Sound (but check the weather forecast beforehand)
Do: Take a day trip to Arrowtown, an old gold-mining town by a beautiful river
It's Only Natural
With its natural beauty, far from the crowds, Iceland is a great destination for some “me time”. The Icelandic people are very friendly and will happily give you recommendations on how to spend your time – all you need to do is ask.
The scenery here is really unique, so make sure you visit its black-sand beaches, icy fjords, geysers, incredible land formations, and countless waterfalls. If you fancy stepping back in time, head to the Árbær Open Air Museum, where you can visit over 30 houses that visualize the former Icelandic way of life.
Stay: 101 Hotel
See: The Blue Lagoon and Northern Lights (depending on the season)
Do: Look for puffins in Iceland!
Italy is always a good idea, and Rome is a truly fabulous destination that will captivate you and indulge all your senses. Rome, the “Eternal City”, is famed for its rich culture and history, palazzi, museums, galleries filled with stunning art, fashion around every corner, delicious food and gelato, awe-inspiring ancient sites, famous piazzas, and cobbled laneways. The city is and has always been one of the world’s greatest cities – you’ll understand why when you’re there!
Stay: Crossing Condotti
See: Everything! Piazza di Spagna, Piazza Navona, the Colosseum, and Vatican City
Do: Mangiare! Go for lunch at Aroma Restaurant, which boasts stunning views of the Colosseum
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Located in the north, Chiang Mai is one of the best and most picturesque places to travel alone in Asia. Surrounded by lush countryside and mountains, the city is much safer, quieter, and greener than Bangkok. It also has a significant expatriate population as well as a cosmopolitan feel. This is a great destination in which to explore national parks and temples.
No matter where you are in Thailand, you’ll have an exquisite time with food, from street stands to cooking classes – all thanks to those incredibly rich flavors. Thai food experiences in Chiang Mai are often the highlight of a trip, with its rich cultural heritage and influences from both Burma and China.
Stay: 137 Pillars House
See: Take a day trip to Elephant Nature Park
Do: Go for lunch or dinner at The River Market; you’ll find it by the Ping River overlooking the Iron Bridge
The Golden Door experience has been designed to empower people to reposition themselves at the center of their own lives by tending to their bodies, minds, and spirits. Going for a hike is as much a rigorous morning exercise as it is a chance to reflect on the day ahead. A meal is the means by which to learn to satisfy, rather than simply feed hunger.
This is a serene and calming destination in which to experience the luxury of indulging yourself through fitness training and refined nourishment programs complemented by spa treatments. If you’re looking to take some time out for yourself, this is the perfect place to do it.
Stay: Golden Door
See: A whole new side of yourself
Do: Take care of yourself – mindfulness and relaxation are the common denominators here
Arenal, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is said to be the safest place in South America. It is a beautiful spot to escape the daily grind and enjoy those famous candy-colored sunsets. The Arenal area is full of unspoilt tropical rainforests, and its Arenal Volcano National Park has an actual active volcano. Don’t miss Proyecto Asis, a wildlife rescue center where injured animals are nursed back to health before being released back into the wild.
You can spend half a day there, volunteering, before heading to the scenic La Fortuna Waterfall, which is also in the La Fortuna de San Carlos area. For something a little different, visit scenic nature preserve Mistico, where the Hanging Bridges (a maze of bridges high up in the trees) await.
See: The stunning Costa Rican sunset
Do: Volunteer at the wildlife rescue center
A Classic Sailing Voyage
The wonderfully restored Sea Cloud sailing cruise ship was originally designed as a private yacht by a New York socialite in the 1930s. It is furnished to an extremely high standard, so you will find your sea legs quickly. We recommend a special eight-night voyage, sailing from Spain to Morocco. This voyage will take you from Valencia to Ibiza, Granada, Malaga, Cadiz, and Jerez de la Frontera, ending your voyage in Casablanca.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, great for a solo traveler. The ship accommodates only 64 passengers on board, so a spot of privacy is guaranteed. You’ll love its friendly vibe and the chance to sit back and relax on the sun deck, replenishing in the fresh sea breeze as it fills in the sails moving forward.
Stay: Eight nights on board the world’s oldest ocean-going passenger ship
See: Exclusive evening visit to the Alhambra, Granada, and Nasrid Palaces
Do: Pack an elegant summer wardrobe for this trip
Around the World with National Geographic
Sand and Sea
Delve into the worlds of emperors and exiles, Arctic explorers and fossil-finders, nomads of the desert, and ice aplenty as you circumnavigate the Northern Hemisphere by private jet. Explore Japan’s exquisite spiritual architecture amidst the gardens and shrines of Kyoto and Nara. Experience nomadic life in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert and trace Russian history in St. Petersburg and Irkutsk.
Next, head further north to encounter Norway’s fjords, Iceland’s wondrous geology, and the glittering glaciers and icebergs of Greenland. This is an epic adventure to do on your own – you’ll be with a group of no more than 75 people, travel across six countries in 22 days, visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites, and have one very busy Instagram feed!
Stay: In luxurious five-star hotels around the world
See: Japan, Mongolia, Russia, Norway, Iceland, and Greenland – all by private jet
Do: Explore the world like never before
Little Voyage provides tailor-made travel experiences to anywhere in the world, with local guides, hand-picked boutique hotels, transfers, and flexible itineraries to suit your solo travel status. For more information or to contact a travel advisor at Little Voyage, click here.