We got great tips on traveling solo a few years ago from my friend Auntie M, and we’ve rounded up the best specialty vacation packages for busy women, but we haven’t talked about the issue for a few years, so let’s discuss. Have you ever taken a vacation alone, and if so, where did you go? Do you have any safety tips, itineraries you’d definitely do again, or other tips to share?
For my $.02, I wish I’d taken more vacations by myself when I was younger, but I was always too concerned with safety. Even when I went to Paris during my bar trip, I mostly stuck around the hotel after dark. (Admittedly it was August, so a) it stayed light pretty late into the evening, and b) August is a weird time in Paris because so many shops, restaurants, and other places are closed for holidays, so the whole city has a kind of desolate feel to it.)
When I’ve traveled occasionally for work by myself, especially after having kids, it’s kind of like, WOOHOO TIME ALONE! — and while dining, sightseeing, or shopping alone doesn’t bug me at all, I still try to be aware of my surroundings when I’m coming back to the hotel. I would definitely put myself on the cautious side of things, though!
(For those of you with kids, today at CorporetteMoms we’re talking about whether you’ve ever taken a vacation without your kids…)
Readers, how about you — have you ever taken a vacation alone? Where did you go first to dip your toes into the waters of traveling alone — and where was the best place you went? Have you done any vacation packages, retreats, or tours designed for solo women travelers that were amazing?
- 33 Tips and Tricks for Solo Female Travel [Forbes]
- 11 Yoga Retreats That Are Totally Worth It [Self]
- 15 Best Places for Female Solo Travelers [Conde Nast Traveler]
Stock photo via Stencil.
I did the Camino de Santiago by myself, only meeting up with a friend for the final portion. That trip was a blast, and well suited to a solo traveler.
Yes, multiple trips outside of work – Prague, Paris, Cape Cod, Chicago, Lisbon are the notable ones.
Yep, went to Peru by myself. I was fantastic, it did help that I spoke the language, I think about it all the time.
Any fun ideas for small hair ties or clips for work. I wear my hair half up half down all the time and it’s a pretty casual office
France Luxe barrettes. I think I learned of them here.
All the time, I love it. I also love going out to eat by myself.
I pretty much only travel by myself. I’m single and my friends don’t have the same interests/disposable income/time off that I do. And I don’t want these things to prevent me from doing what I want to do. I find that I get more out of a trip by going with an active group such as Earthwatch or Backroads than going completely by myself. The first time I went on a major trip by myself (to South Africa) I was a little nervous but never again after that.
Many times – mostly to European cities (Paris, Cologne) although occasionally to domestic locales (DC, etc). I LOVED it. I find it more immersive to travel solo – I’m able to lollygag and be more attuned to my surroundings than when I’m traveling with someone else. Also, no compromising on what to do each day!
Yes! I studied abroad and went on two solo vacations during that year – to a nearby town and to Riga, Latvia. I’ve also done a handful of solo road trips, though always with someone I knew at both ends, and I loved those, if partially for the feeling of stopping at a gas station in the depths of Montana for a coke and pretending I’m in a Lana del Rey video.
Before my husband, I took runcations alone to various parts of the country – everywhere from Newport RI to Vegas.
I’ve traveled on many trips by myself.
Longest was China, Tibet, Thailand and Japan while on secondment.
This is a huge goal of mine! I have been on tons of domestic business trips alone, sometimes with one day on either side, but I’ve never traveled alone internationally. I recently sat down to make some goals while budgeting, and opened a savings account for a solo trip next year. I think I want to go to southeast Asia, but am very open to other places.
Also– I’m wondering if a lot of women take big trips alone after they’re partnered? My ex husband would have been so upset if I’d done that while we were married. I can understand why– I’d be having a great time while he was at home. He was very dependent on me for his happiness and fun, so that dynamic probably played into it, but I’m wondering how other couples navigate this.
I think it is pretty uncommon. I only know one married person who takes vacations (as opposed to work trips) alone, and that is largely because their spouse doesn’t really like to travel
I do not like to go to places I have NOT been by myself, as I find the local men gravitate toward me and want to be my friend, which has translated into trying to get me to have $ex with them the same day. I think I look very available to men, so they figure they have nothing to loose by trying. They do not realize I am an attorney at law, who is duly admitted and smart enough to smell them out, but it NEVER stops them from trying to have me do stuff for them that I am never comfortable doing even with a boyfreind. FOOEY on these men! I am not a street walker, so why do they treat me like one?
Inspired By Hermione
My mom and my aunt went to India together for two weeks and my grandma used to travel with her best friend all over, even after she was married to my grandpa but I don’t think any of them travel alone alone.
I took lots of big trips alone before I was partnered, but don’t right now because my husband and I both work long hours and have limited time off, so for the vacation time we do have, we prioritize spending time together when we can. I still really like solo travel so this would probably be different if we had more vacation time – it’s just not the case right now. I do take shorter trips alone and/or with friends.
I married young and I have never vacationed by myself. I actually love my solo business trips because it feels like a vacation in many ways, to be by myself and making all the decisions and doing what I want to do vs. worrying about everyone else’s needs. Family vacations are actually pretty stressful for me, especially as our son has gotten older and now is less flexible about doing things he doesn’t want to do. He’s too young to stay home by himself while we travel and too old to be cajoled into participating in things he doesn’t like; I’ll be glad when we’re through this phase. I am planning on vacationing alone once our son is grown and the pressure to have “family vacations” (and save money and vacation time for those) is off.
I have a married friend who does solo trips (she does a lot of solo meditation and yoga retreats, specifically). She married later in life and traveled solo before she got married, so it’s more a continuation of something she was already doing. I don’t have any other married women friends who vacation alone.
I can say this hasn’t been the case for me. All big trips are either with my partner, family, or closest friends. If I wanted to take a solo trip on purpose (ie not a work trip or one that ended up solo because partner or friend had to back out for work or other obligation) there would be a big “to-do” about “don’t you want to spend time with me” and “I feel hurt you’re trying to escape quality time with me” etc. He understands trips with other significant people in my life just not alone – which is unfortunate because I traveled alone before we met and while dating and it was fantastic. Some of the best trips I’ve ever taken.
Gail the Goldfish
No, but it’s more for practical reasons than I think my husband would object to it. We both have pretty limited time off and only take one real vacation a year, so we want to take it together. We do split up for holidays (I to my family, he to his), which people find weird but works for us.
My husband regularly takes big trips without me – generally fishing, camping, for weeks at a time, often in a completely different part of the country. His job provides lots more time off than mine, and I can’t really say that I want to go without a shower for 10 days. He was also very upfront when we started dating that he needs solo outdoor recharging time – I can tell when he needs it now, too.
I had a very, very lonely childhood (only child of parents who traveled for work every week, and no family in the same time zone), so being alone isn’t fun for me at all.
All the time and all over the world. South Africa, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Paris, Ecuador, Argentina, London, etc. I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to let being single stop me from doing the things I wanted to do, and I am so thankful for that given that I have basically been single for 10+ years now.
Inspired By Hermione
I’m going on my first big trip alone in a few weeks- Europe for two weeks! I’ll have a few days with a friend in Brussels but otherwise on my own. Reykjavik, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris. So excited.
I also have taken a couple of long weekend trips to the Washington Coast to spend time at my cousin’s beach house but those were 3-4 days at the most. Also took a few days alone in DC after a conference a few years ago.
Love what I’ve done so far and am so excited for the next trip!
Have fun! I can highly recommend the Icelandic Street Food restaurant – they offer free refills of several Icelandic stews, and free dessert bites. Food in Reykjavik is expensive, so this is a great way to get a good bang for your buck.
I’ve been struggling with this one. I’ve been divorced about 8 years and the first part of that I was broke and my kids were babies and the second half I was dating someone. This was the first year where I have really had the means to consider it and even though I want to something is holding me back. I’m not nervous that something will happen to me or anything, it just makes me feel lonely. Like I go to the movies and restaurants alone like a champ at home but something about lollygagging alone in another place makes me feel sad. Was toying with doing something close to home and with a lot of structure– like a few days at tennis camp or Canyon Ranch. Would love feed back!
Went to Canyon Ranch years ago with a friend. There were lots of solo travelers there. Went to Kripalu a few years ago — more relaxed than Canyon Ranch, and again lots of solo travelers there. I think I would like Kripalu better as a solo traveler as there seemed to be more areas to hang out and read in the common areas.
I had never heard of Kripalu before. Did a bit of research based on these posts! Sounds a little more new age than Canyon Ranch but is SO much less expensive. I think I might try even if i have to pay for my own coffee ;)
Structure is great – especially because it often throws you together with ready-made pals. I’ve done a lot of residential writing course holidays and really enjoyed them as a solo holiday
My first long trip alone was a weeklong swimming trek (5 kilometers a day) in Greece. I met the most wonderful people from all over the world, and we bonded over a shared interest. I opted to share a room with a stranger and it worked out a million times better than I anticipated. I’ve also been to Kripalu, where I think singles are very common. I always stay in the dorm rooms and feel completely at ease because there’s so much to do. Go!
Try going by yourself with a tour group. You are on your own but not totally alone and you get to meet interesting people. I have used Caravan and Overseas Adventure Travel, to name two.
i’ll look into both thanks.
Rancho La Puerta is fantastic for a solo retreat/hiking/yoga vacation. It’s in Tecate, Mexico, an hour from San Diego (and their charter buses pick you up and drop you off at the San Diego airport) and much less expensive than Canyon Ranch. I’ve been both with my mom and solo and loved it both ways.
Yes. Vegas and NYC (2x). So fun. I have friends in NYC but I stayed in hotels, explored solo, and then met up with a friend or two at various times. In Vegas I knew no one. Can’t wait to go again. TBH I’m kicking myself that I didn’t start traveling solo until age 37. I was raised in one of those families/cultures where it was always — you’ll go to Paris/Dubai/wherever when you have a husband. And in the times I casually mentioned a solo trip – like maybe I’ll go to Miami for a few days – my parents who are vocal would put down the idea as in – what are you going to do in Miami?? So I just wouldn’t go. Then I got to my mid late 30s, a husband isn’t coming and I’m miserable because I NEVER get any time off — I don’t take time off to sit home and apparently I “can’t” vacation without a husband.
So at 37 (just 2 yrs ago) I started going. I go under the guise of a business trip (I do a decent amount of business travel), but honestly I think my parents get it — what kind of business trip is happening on Dec 22 in NYC (so I can do NYC at Christmas) or involves going on the high roller in Vegas?? Now when I’m miserable they (mildly) encourage travel — along the lines of you need a vacation, no we don’t mean you should come sit at our house?!?
I have travelled solo in Austria (Vienna and Salzburg), and I also took a solo trip to London about 10 years ago. Since marriage and kids, I haven’t gone abroad by myself but my husband will keep the kids while I take a 3-4 day trip solo just to recharge. Often I’ll take the train to New York and once I took myself exploring in Charleston and had a fantastic time just wandering the historic sites and eating amazing food.
Only if tacked on to a work trip (I try to add in a day of site seeing at new cities) because I have limited vacation time and husband wants to travel too, but if I ever have more vacation time, I want to try one of those yoga/riding retreats mentioned in the linked Self article. Or I’ve always wanted to do a riding trip to Ireland, which practically speaking I’d have to do by myself because I don’t know who I’d go with (husband is scared of horses… or as he puts it, “I respect them.”)
I won’t ride horses either because I do respect them… no desire to abuse an animal for entertainment. I’d be horrified if someone twisted my moral stance into a fear.
Seriously, animal abuse? Have you ever actually been around horses or horse people? I’m guessing not. Certainly there are some forms of riding I’m not a fan of (racing), but I assure you my horse is perfectly happy to go for a ride, which I know because she happily trots up to greet me in the pasture and practically drags me inside to get ready, instead of running away or refusing to move. Husband says that because they’re 1200 pounds and dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
I actually used to ride as a misguided youth, then I realized that when you’re ‘breaking’ a horse you are truly crushing it’s spine and spirit then I noped out of that.
I see our resident militant vegan/animal right activist has made an appearance! Hey girl! How are you? It’s always a joy to see you randomly show up and throw in a completely out-of-context, inappropriately aggressive comment into a discussion.
Me on a horse is very Podrick when Pod / Brienne are travelling on horseback. I don’t know how to put one into reverse or how to put the brake on. I stick to cars or walking :)
You can definitely do a horse riding trip as a solo traveller. I have been doing one or two of those per year for ten years, both alone, with good friends, or now even with my boyfriend who started riding lessons three years ago.
A number of agencies focus on those trips, and will give you a lot of advice and information at what destinations you will find people of your age group. And they will all be like-minded and friendly due to your shared hobby.
I would definitely suggest to book through an agency for the first times until you can assess quality of the trip. And a good agency makes sure that the horses are treated well (as they would lose return customers otherwise).
As an example, Iceland riding tours are full of solo travellers and larger groups, so everyone will find nice people to talk to. In the evening, there will be a nice dinner together, so no one ends up alone.
I travel alone tons – more than I travel with other people. I backpacked in Chile for a month, spent a weekend in Cartagena, went to a polo ranch in Argentina, ate Thanksgiving dinner in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Porto, took golf lessons at St. Andrews, celebrated Christmas in a tumbledown Anglican chapel in Venice…all solo. Honestly, it’s one of my very favorite things and giving up that freedom is one of the hardest things about getting into a relationships.
Yes. Jamaica, New Mexico, London, Dublin, Rome
Lots! In the last year, Vienna twice (booked to go back in December), Wales, and Amsterdam. Wales is for writing retreats – I’m back in a couple of weeks for another one. I don’t have anyone to travel with but I don’t want to let that stop me doing what I want.
I will admit that it changes the nature of my trips. I’d love to do an all-inclusive sun-soaking holiday but they tend to be very expensive for solo travelling, so I tend towards structured activity trips or to a city break with a single hotel/hostel room.
I think it’s a fabulous idea, but not for me, at least not at this point in my life. I might have done this had I had more disposable income when I was single, but I guess I just don’t have any interest in traveling alone now that I’m married. I don’t mind exploring a city alone if I’m on a business trip, but if I’m taking a vacation, I want to spend time with my husband and explore a new place (or an old favorite) together. If there was somewhere I desperately wanted to go that he wouldn’t agree to or couldn’t go (a real possibility in the future), I’d find a friend who wanted to go. I’d only go alone as a last resort, and it would need to be because the opportunity to go at exactly that time couldn’t be missed. I’d almost always rather go with someone than go solo (unless we’re talking about my mother).
Yes! I’m married with two teens and I have recently started tacking a few days into business travel once or twice per year to really see a place I’m visiting. I got tired of traveling to all of these cool places and only really seeing the inside of an office building and a restaurant or two. My most recent excursion was 5 days between two business trips, so rather than fly all the way home and back, I just flew to another country to be a tourist for a few days. Traveling alone is the best! I only have to make myself happy.
Those of you who mentioned writing retreats, are they self-planned or through an organization? Would love any recommendations or tips! I’ve always wanted to do one, but I don’t know where to start.
I plan to travel alone for my first time this year! My husband gets less vacation time and went on a ski trip without me this year. My friends do not have the time, disposable income, and/or the same interests as me. My preference would be to meet up with a small tour group that caters to solo travelers. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Following to see if there are any recommendations for small tour groups for solo travelers
I have used Overseas Adventure Travel, which is limited to about 15 people. I have also used Caravan, but it is not a small group. Neither are specifically for solo travels but solo travelers do go on them. I have gone by myself and always make friends with people on the tour. Cruises are also good for solo travelers. I recommend Princess.
I do take trips by myself and I also take trips with my partner. They’re different experiences but I thoroughly enjoy both. The worst is taking a trip with someone you think you get along well with and then find out during the trip that’s not the case. I once went on a road trip with who I thought was a good friend. We were ready to punch each other out by the end of the trip.
Travelling alone is great! You get to do exactly what you want the entire time.
Want to race through a museum seeing only the highlights? Want to park yourself in front of one piece or art for an hour? No need to compromise! European cities are the best for solo trips, I think – generally safe, easy public transit, good tourist infrastructure, and obviously great culture. I’ve travelled solo in Ireland, Belgium, Norway, Spain, and Germany and am hoping to squeeze in another solo trip this winter.
I am married, 34, and enjoy traveling alone once in a while. Although most of my trips are with my husband, I’ve done solo trips to Prague, London, Aruba, Barcelona, and Miami in the past 2-3 years or so. I have such a busy work schedule that these mini-breaks are amazing moments of reflection for me. I am not a “night life” person so my splurge is a glass of wine or two at dinner. I have not felt unsafe on any of my solo trips.