The Best Solo Travel Destinations

by wheretheroadforks

You can solo travel to any country in the world. Having said that, some destinations are better suited than others for traveling alone. In this guide, I break the world up into 10 regions and countries and explain the pros and cons of each in terms of solo travel friendliness. I’ll discuss activities, accommodation options, food, safety, and transportation. I’ll also talk about the types of travelers that you’re likely to meet in each region. These are the best solo travel destinations.

This guide is designed to help you choose the perfect solo travel destination for your interests and personality. Even though every country is unique, there are a lot of regional similarities. For example, one region may attract outdoorsy types while another region attracts hippies while yet another region attracts adventure tourists. Hopefully, this guide helps you decide which solo travel region is right for you.

Table of Contents: Solo Travel Destinations

Africa Solo Travel

I’ll start off by talking about one of my favorite solo travel destinations, Africa. This beautiful continent offers incredible wildlife, some of the best beaches in the world, and breathtaking natural landscapes. The locals are also very friendly and welcoming. Africa is a rewarding place to travel. Having said that, solo travel in Africa does have a few drawbacks.

Activities for Solo Travelers in Africa

As far as activities go, Africa’s offerings are more spread out and limited than other regions. Most focus on nature and the outdoors. You don’t travel to Africa for resorts, theme parks, architecture, or museums. It’s more of a place you experience. Africa’s major attractions include:

  • Safari- Let’s be honest. The main reason you came to Africa was to see wildlife. Two of the most popular safari parks are the Serengeti and Maasai Mara. A safari doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out my guide: How to Safari in Massai Mara in Kenya for less than $200.
  • The Great Lakes- The Great Lakes of the Rift Valley are excellent for wildlife viewing and just relaxing. I particularly enjoyed Lake Malawi, Lake Bunyonyi, and Lake Kivu.
  • Victoria Falls- One of the earth’s largest waterfalls lies on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Make sure you take a swim in Angel’s or Devil’s pool on the top of the falls
  • Visit tribes- Visit them before they’re gone. I visited the tribes of the Omo Valley of Ethiopia.
  • Hiking- Many travelers choose to hike Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. Other popular hikes include Mount Kenya, Simien Mountains of Ethiopia, Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, and Fish River Canyon in Namibia. For more ideas, check out this excellent article about African hikes from The Adventure Junkies.
  • Beaches- West Africa is said to have the best beaches in the world. In particular Sierra Leone. The beaches of Zanzibar are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
Giraffes and Zebra on in the Maasai Mara, Kenya

Maasai Mara, Kenya

Transportation Options for Solo Travelers in Africa

Transportation infrastructure is pretty lacking across most of the continent. Minibuses and shared taxis are often your only option. They are uncomfortable and not very reliable. Longer or international routes often offer coach service. For some unpopular routes, there is only one bus per week.

Getting around within cities can also be a hassle. Taxis are surprisingly expensive in Africa. When you travel solo, you don’t have anyone to share the cost with. This can add up quickly.

Most locals use minibuses or motorcycle taxis to get around. These are inexpensive. Luckily, Uber is available in many large cities these days as well.

A fully loaded minibus in Zimbabwe

A fully loaded minibus in Zimbabwe

For more info on getting around, check out my Africa Bus Guide. It includes step-by-step guides to some of the most popular bus routes on the continent.

Accommodation for Solo Travelers in Africa

Hostels are pretty rare outside of touristy areas and large capital cities. When you can find one, expect to spend $12-$15 for a bed in a dorm. Most nights, you’ll be staying in hotels which are surprisingly expensive in much of Africa. Expect to pay $20-$50 per night for a room on average. In smaller villages, you can find budget hotels for just a couple of bucks per night.

Camping is also a good option in Africa. I highly recommend you travel with a tent. Camping is common around tourist attractions. You can save money by avoiding expensive lodges. 

Safety for Solo Travelers in Africa

Solo travel in Africa is probably safer than you’d expect. Across most of the continent, petty theft and pickpocketing is your biggest risk. Having said this, risks vary greatly by region. Make sure you do your research about safety in your destination before you arrive. For example, there are a few hot regions where terrorism, kidnapping, and muggings are common crimes. Most of the continent is pretty peaceful.

For more info, check out my extensive guide: Is Africa Safe? Avoiding Crime, Disease, Injury, and Scams.

Food

In general, African food isn’t too exciting but it is affordable. There are a few nice dishes to try in each region of the continent. One thing African food has going for it is the cost. You can buy yourself a nice plate of rice and beans or chicken for just a dollar or two. If you want to eat western food, expect higher prices. A decent western meal will cost $5-$10.

Rolex, a common type of street food in Uganda

Rolex, a common type of street food in Uganda

Fellow Travelers in Africa

If you’re hoping to meet fellow travelers to go out and travel with, Africa isn’t the best solo travel destination for you. In some countries, you can travel for weeks without seeing a single other foreign tourist. This was the case for me in Ethiopia. In general, Africa contains some of the least visited countries on earth.

To me, this is part of the draw of Africa. The place isn’t overrun with tourists like much of the world. Travel in Africa still feels like an adventure. Of course, the lack of tourists adds difficulty. Solo travel in Africa also gets lonely.

Most travelers that you do meet are on organized overland tours. Solo travelers in Africa tend to be a bit older. Most backpackers seem to save Africa until they become a bit more experienced with travel. Late 20s and up is the most common age range.

Budget for Solo Travel in Africa

One drawback to traveling alone in Africa is that it gets expensive when you don’t have anyone to split the cost of hotels, taxis, and tours with. 

For example, most nights you’ll be staying in hotels because hostels are pretty rare. If you have a travel buddy, you can share a room and split the cost. A $50 room which might be too expensive for a budget traveler becomes affordable when it’s shared. The same is true of taxi rides. You’re only paying half of the cost if you share with someone.

Lake Victoria, Uganda

Lake Victoria, Uganda

Of course, if you’re on a tight budget and you don’t mind skipping the major tourist attractions, Africa is probably the cheapest place on earth to travel. You could get by on just a few hunded dollars per month if you’re willing to live like a local and rough it a bit. 

To learn more about costs, check out my guide: Traveling Africa on a Budget.

Locals and the Language Barrier

Africans are some of the most hospitable people in the world. They are more than happy to help you with directions, finding a taxi, or a place to stay. During your travels, don’t be surprised to be invited for food, drinks, and even a bed.

The language barrier in Africa depends entirely on what region of the continent you’re traveling. Generally, in East and Southern Africa, English is widely spoken. Much of West and Central Africa is French-speaking. In Francophone Africa, you’ll want to know a bit of French to help you get around.

Southeast Asia Solo Travel

Southeast Asia is the top solo travel destination in the world. It is the backpacker capital. Tourists are everywhere. Southeast Asia is incredibly affordable and easy to get around. It’s also beautiful, exotic, and just feels adventurous. For these reasons, Southeast Asia makes for an excellent destination for a first-time solo traveler.

Food in Southeast Asia

The highlight of this region is the world-class cuisine. In my opinion, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia offer some of the best food. Dishes are flavorful, healthy, and not too heavy. For an example of some of the food you’ll try here, check out this excellent top ten Southeast Asian meals list from Be My Travel Muse.

The abundance of street food makes Southeast Asia perfect for solo travelers. This is important because, for whatever reason, some solo travelers have trouble eating in restaurants alone. In Southeast Asia, you can easily survive on street food alone. It’s tasty, fast, and cheap.

A fruit stand in Vietnam

A fruit stand in Vietnam

Accommodation for Solo Travel in Southeast Asia

Finding a place to stay is never a problem. Budget hostels and hotels can be found in pretty much every town. You can usually find a bed for less than $10. In many cases even less. Check out my guide: How to Choose the Best Hostel* for some helpful tips.

Transportation for Solo Travelers in Southeast Asia

The bus, train, and air transport system is extensive and easy to use. Entire bus services are devoted to transporting tourists from city to city and country to country. Multiple budget airlines keep flight prices affordable. Train transport is also available throughout many parts of the region including Thailand and Vietnam.

Within cities, you have cheap tuk-tuks, subways, taxis, and rideshare to help you get around. Getting from point A to point B is never a problem in Southeast Asia. This is the main reason that this reason is so easy for solo travelers to visit.

Safety in Southeast Asia

Overall, the region is incredibly safe. Violent crime rates are low. The most common crime you are likely to encounter in Southeast Asia is pickpocketing and petty theft. Scams are also common in the region.

Fellow Solo Travelers in Southeast Asia

Travelers in Southeast Asia tend to be younger as many people make this their first trip abroad. Most travelers are in the 18-24 age group. You’ll also meet plenty of travelers on their second, third, or even 10th trip to the region. Southeast Asia is universally loved among travelers. Most return multiple times throughout their travels. I’ve been twice so far.

Southeast Asia is also a really easy place meet fellow solo travelers. You’ll meet people from all over the world with all kinds of interests. If you’re reading this guide to help you decide on a first solo travel destination, I highly recommend Southeast Asia.

Locals and the Language Barrier

Southeast Asian locals are friendly for the most part. They’re happy to help when you need it. Having said that, I have found that it’s harder to make friends with locals in this region. Even though the people are friendly and accommodating, they seem a bit distant and disinterested in making friends with foreigners. Of course, this is just a generalization.

English is widely spoken throughout Southeast Asia. Particularly among people who work in the tourism industry such as hotel staff and restaurant workers. This makes getting around very easy for solo travelers.

The Taj Mahal, India

India Solo Travel

Solo traveling in India is an experience. It’s crowded, filthy, and very intense. Attention from locals can get overwhelming at times. On the other hand, India has some of the world’s best food, an incredible culture, and fascinating historic sites. While India may not be the best destination for a first solo trip it is still doable. India is one of the world’s top solo travel destinations.

Food in India

India offers one of the world’s greatest cuisines. There are plenty of street food options as well as affordable restaurants. Finding a great meal is never a problem. For foodies, India is one of the best solo travel destinations.

One thing you do have to be careful of in India is the cleanliness of the food. Hygiene standards just aren’t that great in India. Delhi belly is a real thing. Try your best to make sure the food is fresh and hasn’t been sitting around for too long. Look for restaurants and food stands that are busy. Chances are the food is tasty and safe to eat.

Accommodation for Solo Travel in India

Hostels are available in the large cities and touristy areas. In smaller towns and places that are less frequented by tourists, you’ll have to stay in a hotel. This isn’t ideal for solo travelers because it makes meeting fellow travelers a bit more challenging. You also have to eat the cost of a whole hotel room by yourself if you don’t have anyone to split it with.

Expect to pay $10-$15 per night for a decent budget hotel room. Cheaper rooms are available if you’re willing to give up some comforts. Finding a decent place to sleep is never a problem.

Transportation for Solo Travelers in India

India has one of the best train systems in the world. It’s extensive, affordable, and reliable. The train system is what makes India such a perfect solo travel destination, in my opinion.

There is a bit of a learning curve when trying to figure out how the train system works. Mostly because there are just so many scammers trying to sell expensive tours. The train stations are unbelievably crowded as well. This adds additional stress.

My advice is to not talk to anyone you meet at or near the train station unless they are behind the counter selling tickets. For more info, check out this guide to train travel in India from Seat61.com.

a train in India

Safety in India

India is a fairly safe country for solo travel. Violent crime isn’t too big of a worry. What you have to look out for is pickpockets, thieves, and scammers. I couldn’t believe how often I was approached by con men and guys trying to sell me various touristy junk. It got to a point where I wouldn’t talk to anyone while out on the street. I’d just ignore anyone who approached me.

Unfortunately, female travelers have to be a bit more careful while solo traveling in India. By taking some basic precautions the trip is still perfectly doable.

For more info on scams, check out my guide: 19 Common Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them.

Local people

You’ll never feel lonely while solo traveling in India. As I said earlier, people approach you non-stop. Some are genuinely friendly and just want to chat. Unfortunately, most just want to try to sell you something or run a scam.

I found that I met the most friendly people while riding the train. Someone was always offering me food and chatting me up. You meet some really interesting and generous people in India. It’s just a shame that there are so many scammers and criminals. It makes trusting anyone impossible.

Fellow Travelers

Pretty much every traveler visits India at some point. It’s just such an iconic and diverse country. The age range for travelers tends to be a bit older. Mid 20s and up is the most common. Travelers tend to visit India after they’ve got a bit of travel experience under their belt. India is a slightly more difficult solo travel destination than Southeast Asia or Western Europe, for example.

One thing that surprised me was the fact that there weren’t very many tourists around. When I did meet some fellow travelers, we stuck together.

When to Solo Travel India

I visited India during the monsoon which is low season. I don’t recommend this. It’s either too hot or too rainy everywhere you go. I encountered 47°C (about 116°F) weather in Delhi. In Goa, I had to walk through a foot of water to cross the road on a few occasions. When I return, I’ll visit during a better season.

India is one of the few countries that I have visited that I really want to revisit at some point in my life. I highly recommend visiting India alone. It is a very rewarding and unique solo travel destination.

Paris

Paris

Western Europe Solo Travel

Western Europe is probably the second most popular solo travel destination after Southeast Asia. The region contains many of the world’s most beautiful, historic, and famous cities on earth including London, Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, Rome and more. These are major world cities that every traveler needs to visit at some point in their travels.

Western Europe is expensive but there are hostels everywhere and the transportation infrastructure is the best in the world. My first solo trip was in Europe.

Fellow travelers in Western Europe

Every solo traveler visits Western Europe at some point. You will meet fellow travelers of all ages here but in general, they tend to be younger. Meeting students and people on a gap year in the 18-24 age range is common.

You’ll also meet groups of friends traveling together. Many backpackers chose Western Europe as their first solo travel destination due to the ease of travel. Of course, Western Europe attracts older tourists as well. It’s just too cool to miss.

Accommodation in Western Europe

Part of the reason that Western Europe is such a perfect destination for solo travelers is the abundance of hostels. After all, this is where the idea of the hostel was invented over 100 years ago in 1909. Every decent-sized city or tourist town has at least a couple.

Unfortunately, hostel prices these days are high and continue to increase. Expect to pay $20-$40 per night for a dorm bed in Western Europe. Remember, this isn’t a cheap place to travel.

A typical hostel dorm room

A typical hostel dorm room

During busy season in the summer, beds get booked up well in advance. In some particularly popular tourist cities like Paris and Amsterdam, you’ll have to make a booking at least a week or so in advance to get a bed in a decent hostel. While traveling offseason, this isn’t a problem.

For more info, check out my guide: How to Choose the Best Hostel.

Transportation

The train system in Western Europe is world-class. European trains are comfortable, reliable, and easy for solo travelers to navigate. Unfortunately, they are also pretty expensive. Consider purchasing a Eurail Pass to save some money on train tickets. You pay for this pass by the day and it allows unlimited travel on most European trains through 31 countries.

To find out if the Eurail pass is worth it for your trip, check out this great guide from Nomadic Matt.

For help planning your route, I recommend you check out The Man in Seat Sixty-One. This excellence site outlines train routes and pricing all over Western Europe and the world.

The Bernina Express Train in Switzerland

The Bernina Express in Switzerland

As a cheaper alternative to trains, coach services are also available on most routes.

Transportation within Western European cities is great as well. Most cities have some kind of metro or tram system which is integrated with an extensive bus system. This makes getting anywhere you need to go in the city incredibly convenient.

One challenge is you’ll face is learning how to use a new public transportation system every time you move on to a new city. Every system works a bit different. Some use special transport cards. Some use tokens. Many use cash. 

As an American, I’m always impressed with the convenience of European public transportation. It’s probably the easiest region in the world to get around as a solo traveler.

Food in Western Europe

Some of the world’s greatest cuisines can be found in Western Europe. French and Italian food are probably the most well known. Unfortunately, street food options are limited and restaurants are expensive.

While traveling in Western Europe as a solo traveler, you’re probably better off buying food in grocery stores and cooking for yourself in your hostel. You can eat healthily and cheaply with a few basic cooking skills.

When to Solo Travel Western Europe

Because Western Europe is such a popular tourist destination, it gets incredibly packed with tourists during high season in the summer. Overtourism is becoming a real problem in many cities. Winters are cold. If possible, try to visit during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. You’ll have a much easier time booking accommodation and train tickets. Prices are significantly lower as well.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg, Russia

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg, Russia

Eastern Europe Solo Travel

Eastern Europe is a great budget solo travel destination due to the high value that you get for your money. The region offers excellent tourism infrastructure at an incredibly affordable price.

Personally, Eastern Europe is one of my favorite travel destinations. Something about the culture and aesthetic really appeals to me. I can’t explain it.

The Language Barrier

This is really the only difficulty with traveling in Eastern Europe. Many people don’t speak any English. The most useful language in the region is Russian. Consider taking a bit of time to learn the Cyrillic alphabet. This will help you greatly while navigating the region. Of course, you can get by with just English.

Fellow Travelers in Eastern Europe

The travelers you meet in Eastern Europe tend to be on the younger side. Mid 20s is most common. This region seems to attract a lot of solo travelers as well. This makes Eastern Europe one of the easier places to meet people to travel with.

As far as nationality goes, lots of Western Europeans travel here because it’s so convenient and affordable to visit. They can easily travel by train or a budget flight from their home country for a short vacation.

Accommodation for in Eastern Europe

Finding a place to sleep is incredibly affordable in Eastern Europe. You can book a bed in a hostel dorm for $5 or less in many cities throughout the region. They all include hot water, wifi, kitchens, and all of the standard hostel facilities. Many offer perks like free breakfast, activities, etc. The value is incredible here. Most of my favorite hostel experiences happened in Eastern Europe.

A hostel dorm room

Food in Eastern Europe

Eastern European food is affordable but not too exciting in my opinion. Of course, every country has a few tasty dishes that are worth a try. I’m a big fan of borscht. Expect to pay $5-$10 for a decent restaurant meal. Street food is not too common here.

I like to shop in grocery stores and cook my own food when traveling in this part of the world. If I cook for myself, I can eat for less than $5 per day easily. Eastern European grocery stores are well stocked and offer plenty of affordable options.

Transportation Around Eastern Europe

Getting around Eastern Europe is pretty easy for a solo traveler. The bus and train network is extensive and reliable. Ticket prices are very reasonable. Expect to spend $15-$25 for an all-day international bus ride. Trains are usually slightly more expensive.

The only problem you may face with transportation is the language barrier. Some countries are more difficult than others. Buying a ticket or reading a schedule can be a challenge sometimes if you don’t speak the local language. This is when knowing the Cyrillic alphabet comes in handy. You can read some signs and schedules and write down the ticket that you want to buy.

Public transport very good in Eastern Europe because most people don’t own a car. This is great for solo travelers. Most cities have a metro system that can take you anywhere you want to go. Ticket prices are incredibly low as well. Sometimes the tickets cost less than 25 cents.

A beach in Central America

Central America Solo Travel

Central America is one of the easier destinations for solo travelers. It’s compact and easy to get around. It’s also one of the most affordable regions to travel. The beaches are beautiful and the locals are generally pretty cool as well.

Other Travelers

The nice thing about Central America is that the travelers you meet will either be traveling through the region heading North or heading South. It’s a string of countries so everyone travels in one direction or the other. Most travelers make pretty much the same stops along the way. There is a strong tourist trail here. When you meet fellow solo travelers heading in your direction, you can easily travel together for a portion of the trip.

Travelers in Central America tend to be younger. 18-24 is the most common. You’ll meet a lot of Americans and Canadians because it’s so close and flights are affordable. You’ll also meet a fair amount of Western Europeans, British, and Australian travelers in Central America.

Transportation in Central America

The main mode of transportation in Central America is the chicken bus. These are old school buses from the US that have been auctioned off and driven down to Central America to be used for public transportation. They are usually decorated and given colorful paint jobs and decorated by the owner.

Chicken buses run all over the region. They make getting around incredibly affordable. One drawback is the fact that the routes don’t run too far. For longer trips, you must make several transfers. Usually at borders and in larger cities. This is mostly just an inconvenience.

A chicken bus in Guatemala

A chicken bus in Guatemala

Tourist transportation is also available at a higher cost. Minibus shuttles carry about 10 passengers, have AC, and travel directly between destinations without making too many stops. These mostly make international trips. Minibusses are a comfortable and reliable way to get from place to place if your budget is a bit higher.

Inside the cities, you have city buses and colectivo minibusses. These can transport you across the city for around 50 cents-$1. Of course, taxis and Ubers are also available at a higher cost if you prefer private transportation.

Accommodation in Central America

Finding a bed is cheap in this part of the world. All of the tourist and beach towns have budget hostels where a dorm bed costs $5-$10 per night. Sometimes even less. Most hostels include a basic breakfast. Non-touristy towns have budget hotels available in the $10-$20 per night range.

Food

Finding a decent meal in Central America is easy. Restaurants are affordable. Street food is common. Grocery stores are well stocked. Many hostels have kitchens where you can cook your own food as well.

I didn’t find the cuisine in Central America to be particularly impressive. I found it to be pretty heavy and greasy. Of course, there are some nice dishes to try in each country.

Safety in Central America

The one drawback to solo traveling Central America is the fact that statistically, it is more dangerous than most other solo travel destinations. Crime rates are high all over the region. Honduras, in particular, is known for having the world’s highest rate of homicide. Muggings are pretty common as well, unfortunately.

One place I found particularly sketchy feeling was Guatemala City. I didn’t encounter any crime there but I always felt on edge while out walking around for some reason. For example, one afternoon I bought a pizza and took it to the main square to sit and eat by myself. As soon as I sat down, a local guy and his wife approached me and told me that I should go eat at my hotel because it’s too dangerous around there.

police

If found this hard to believe because I was literally sitting in a plaza surrounded by the country’s main government buildings and cathedral. From where I was sitting, I could see multiple police officers patrolling. I don’t’ know if the guy was just paranoid or the area was actually dangerous. He was very nice and just looking out for my safety I guess. This experience just put me on edge.

Don’t let this scare you away though. Even though crime exists, the risk is manageable. The best advice I can give is to limit your time in the capital cities and enjoy the beach, mountains, and nature. To help you stay safe, check out my guide: Is Solo Travel Safe? Avoiding Crime and Scams.

Machu Picchu, Peru

South America Solo Travel

South America is maybe the most diverse continent on the planet. It contains one of the world’s most impressive mountain ranges, the Andes. South America is also home to the Amazon which is the world’s largest rainforest.

The continent also offers vast deserts, grasslands, and some amazing beaches. The history and culture of the region are spectacular as well. South America has it all. If you’re into the outdoors, this is the place to go. Luckily, it is also another easy region to solo travel.

Accommodation in South America

Hostels and budget accommodation can be found in every city and tourist town. Prices vary around the continent. Generally, the south of the continent is more expensive than the north. Expect to pay around $8-$12 per night for a hostel on average.

Of course, some countries are more expensive than others. Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador are on the cheaper side. Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay are on the more expensive side.

In less touristy areas where hostels may not be available, budget hotels are available for $15-$25 per night. The affordable accommodation makes South America an excellent solo travel destination.

Transportation in South America

South America is a massive continent. Traveling from country to country is time-consuming and expensive because distances are so large. Unfortunately, flights are expensive and there isn’t much of a rail network. The most common way for solo travelers to get around is by bus.

Luckily, buses in South America are fairly comfortable. They have to be because the journies are so long. I took multiple 24 hour bus rides while traveling on the continent. Full-day bus rides are treated almost like an international flight. You get a big reclining seat, meals, and a blanket and pillow. Sometimes buses even come equipped with a built-in entertainment system. Shorter trips just use a standard coach. Overall, buses travel in South America is fairly comfortable and reliable.

Food in South America

Food in South America is affordable and tasty. You can enjoy a nice meal in a small restaurant or street food stand for less than $5. If you prefer to cook for yourself, most hostels have kitchens. Grocery stores are well stocked and affordable.

Fellow Travelers in South America

South America is a majorly popular travel destination. You will meet loads of fellow travelers everywhere you go. One thing I did notice is that there are a lot of couples traveling in South America for some reason. There are also a fair amount of solo travelers.

One interesting thing about South America is the fact that you meet a lot of local travelers. By that, I mean South Americans traveling their own continent. I find this is pretty uncommon outside of Europe and North America.

The average age travelers in South America tends to be mid to late 20s. You’ll meet a lot of Americans and Canadians because its affordable and easy to fly there from North America. You’ll also meet a fair amount of British, Australian, and European travelers.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Safety in South America

Overall, South America is a pretty safe solo travel destination. It’s probably slightly more dangerous statistically than somewhere like Southeast Asia or Europe. Having said that, tourist areas are heavily policed. You do have to look out for pickpockets and scams as with anywhere. Depending on the city you’re in, you probably don’t want to wander around alone at night due to the risk of muggings.

There are a few dangerous regions on the continent that are best to avoid. For example, at this time, most travelers will want to avoid Venezuela. For hardcore adventure travelers, the entire continent is accessible if you take the proper precautions. Be sure to do your research on your specific destination to help you avoid high-risk areas.

Australia Solo Travel

I’ll be honest. Australia is my least favorite solo travel destination. There are 3 main reasons. First, it’s incredibly expensive. Second, it’s a bit tough to meet other travelers. Third, it just feels a bit too similar to my home country, the US.

While I was there, I was thinking to my self that I might as well have stayed at home in California. There’s more to see and I would have saved money. Australia would be an excellent place to live. It’s just not too exciting for solo travel, in my opinion.

Having said this Australia is an excellent choice for some travelers. If you aren’t on a budget, your options really open up. It’s also better for those staying long term, like 6 months to a year. A working holiday visa opens up your options even further.

Fellow Travelers in Australia

Unfortunately, meeting other travelers is a bit tricky in Australia. This is my biggest complaint. Many of the hostels cater to working holiday visa holders. These guys basically live in the hostel long term. Because the hostel makes so much more money off of these guys, they don’t really seem to care about short term guests who are just staying for a few days.

Another problem is the fact that the working holiday visa holders tend to make friends with each other and ignore short term guests. While this is fine, it’s kind of disappointing for solo travelers who want to make friends at the hostel.

These people aren’t being rude. They just tend to form their friend groups with others who are staying long term. They don’t need to make friends with guests staying short term. It’s understandable. This is a phenomenon that seems to be exclusive to Australia in my experience.

Most travelers that you meet in Australia tend to be in the 18-30 age range. That is the age range for working holiday visa eligibility. The most common nationality is British, Irish, and Canadian. You’ll also meet a fair amount of Europeans with the occasional American.

Accommodation in Australia

Hostels can be found in every major city though they are expensive. The vibe is a bit different than other parts of the world. Many Australian hostels feel more like a roommate situation because there are so many long term guests. I sometimes felt like an outsider for this reason.

Many travelers choose to buy a van and drive around the country. They camp out in the van to save on accommodation cost. This is a nice alternative to staying in hostels every night. If I returned to Australia, I would probably bicycle or motorcycle tour.

Food in Australia

Australian food is great but expensive. Be sure to try the classic Australian delicacies such as Tim Tams, meat pies, Milo, Vegemite, Shapes, fairy bread, Lamingtons, etc.

Every hostel has a full kitchen where you can cook. You can save a lot of money by buying food from Coles or Woolworths supermarkets and cooking it yourself.

Transportation in Australia

The bus network is decent. Deals can be had if you purchase a hop-on/hop-off ticket or buy tickets far in advance. As I mentioned earlier, many travelers choose to purchase a vehicle to self drive around the country.

Within the cities, you’ll find a public bus and train network. Tickets are kind of pricy but the system works fine. I ended up walking a lot. It’s a great way to see parts of a city that you otherwise wouldn’t get to see. Also, it’s free.

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

The United States and Canada Solo Travel

I’m lumping these countries in one section because most travelers visit both in one trip. They’re also incredibly similar. Admittedly, this section is a bit bias because I’m from the US. Having said that, I recognize that there are some challenges to solo traveling in this part of the world.

In my opinion, the US and Canada are the most naturally beautiful countries on earth. The national parks are definitely the biggest draw for travelers. The scenery is spectacular and diverse. You can see everything from mountains to beaches to deserts to rain forests. Sometimes in the same day.

These countries are also easy for solo travelers to visit. Tourist infrastructure is great and the level of service is high. The main drawbacks are that traveling alone here is significantly more expensive than traveling with a group. Chances are, you’ll also have to drive as public transportation is limited.

Accommodation

The best accommodation option in the US and Canada is camping. I highly recommend you travel with a tent* when visiting North America. The best sights on the continent are in the national parks. You can save a lot of money and see more by camping.

Having a tent also comes in handy when road tripping. You can stay in campgrounds or wild camp instead of staying in a hotel or motel every night.

Hostels are available but aren’t too common in general. This is your best option as a solo traveler when visiting large cities and touristy areas. A dorm bed costs less than a motel room. Expect to pay $25-$50 for a bed depending on the city.

In smaller cities and rural areas, the only budget accommodation available may be cheap motels. Expect to pay $40-$70 per night for a motel room. This is a bit spendy for most solo travelers. If you have no one to share a room with, you’ll have to eat the whole cost yourself.

Another accommodation option when traveling in the US and Canada is Couchsurfing. You will get to meet some interesting locals and you save on accommodation costs this way.

Transportation

This is also an issue for solo travelers visiting the US and Canada. Renting or buying a car or motorcycle is really the best option you really want to see the country. Public transportation in the US is generally pretty bad. You just can’t get everywhere you’ll want to go without having your own transportation. Unfortunately, if you don’t have anyone to share the cost with, rental fees add up pretty fast.

Of course, it is possible to get around and see most of the main tourist sites only using public transport. You will miss out on a lot of great destinations simply because they are inaccessible without a car. Many travelers choose to buy a car, make a cross country road trip, then sell the car before they leave.

If you prefer not to drive, Greyhound offers bus service to most cities. The buses are just fine. Service is average. Amtrak is the main train company in the US. Trains are reliable and comfortable but expensive.

Greyhound bus

Food

In my opinion, the US is the best place in the world for dining. Options are endless. In large cities, you can find nearly any cuisine you can imagine. Even smaller towns offer great variety. In fact, the best Indian food that I’ve ever had comes from a hole in the wall restaurant in a strip mall in Fountain Valley, California.

Some of the best food cities in the US are New York, San Francisco, Austin, Los Angeles, Portland, and Chicago. Portion sizes are also generous. Be sure to try the barbecue when visiting the south. It’s probably America’s best dish. Stop by a diner as well for a classic American breakfast.

One thing that struck me on my first solo trip was how small portion sizes are outside of the US. I’m used to feeling full after a meal at a restaurant. On one occasion in Germany, I remember finishing my meal and ordering a second meal because I was still hungry. The waiter looked at me like I was crazy but I was just hungry. I’m a pretty skinny guy. I don’t understand yow people feel full and maintain their body weight eating such small portions of food.

Of course, if you’re traveling on a budget, you won’t want to eat out every meal. Restaurant meals are expensive and you’re expected to give a 20% tip. To save some money, buy your own food at the grocery store and cook it up at the hostel. You could also consider packing a camps stove and pot so you can cook up your own food while camping.

Fellow Travelers

This is another destination that every traveler visits at some point. Most backpackers traveling in North America tend to be in their early to mid-20s.

You’ll also meet plenty of families and older travelers. Most commonly, you’ll meet locals traveling in their own countries. I would say that there are fewer solo travelers in this part of the world, in general.

Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan

Mexico Solo Travel

I’ll wrap this guide up by talking about another one of my favorite solo travel destinations, Mexico. I have spent more time in this country than in any other country outside of my own. I lived in Tijuana for over a year and have traveled pretty extensively through the rest of the country as well. In my opinion, Mexico offers some of the best food, beaches, nightlife, and prices of anywhere in the world. The people are pretty cool as well.

Food in Mexico

Mexico offers one of the world’s greatest cuisines. It’s complex, varied, and affordable. The street food, in particular, is incredible. This is ideal for solo travelers because you can always enjoy a quick, delicious meal without having to go to a restaurant alone. Be sure to try the tacos, tamales, tortas, gorditas, and elotes.

tacos

Accommodation in Mexico

Hostels can be found pretty in pretty much every decent-sized city and near a tourist attraction. Expect to pay $5-$15 for a dorm bed depending on the city.

Budget hotels are everywhere as well. Sometimes they are even cheaper than hostels. You can get a private room for $15-$25 per night pretty much anywhere in the country.

If you’re traveling long term, consider booking an Airbnb. Many hosts offer significant discounts for guests staying longer than a week. For example, I booked a room in an Airbnb in Mexico City for a whole month for just $100. This included a kitchen, wifi, washer and dryer, and hot water. The location was excellent as well.

Couchsurfing is also a great option for solo travelers. The locals are friendly and very welcoming. 

Transportation in Mexico

The best way to get around Mexico as a solo traveler is by bus. The main bus company is called ADO. Tickets are fairly affordable. Expect to pay $3-$4 per hour of travel. The buses are well maintained, comfortable, and safe. Most have bathrooms.

Tip: You can save a nice chunk of money by booking ADO bus tickets online in advance. Unfortunately, you need a Mexican debit or credit card to do this. Ask a friend or host you can use their card to make the booking. Use the money you save to buy them a beer or two. I saved about $50 this way.

For long cross country routes, you may also want to check the cost of airfare. Mexico has some great budget airlines including Interjet, VivaAerobus, Volaris, and Avolar. You can often fly across the country for $50-$100.

For example, I flew from Tijuana to Mexico City for $70. I bought the ticket just two days before the flight. The bus would have cost $100 and taken like 30 hours.

For info on booking a cheap flight to Mexico from the US, check out my guide: How to Fly out of Tijuana Airport and Use the Cross Border Xpress.

Fellow Travelers in Mexico

Mexico is a major backpacker destination. Meeting fellow travelers while solo traveling is easy. The most common age range of travelers in Mexico is mid-20s. You’ll meet a lot of American and Canadian travelers because it’s just so convenient to visit. European backpackers are pretty common as well. Mexico is also popular among families and retirees.

The beach in Cancun

The beach in Cancun

Safety in Mexico

Mexico is a fairly safe travel destination. You’ve probably seen horror stories in the news about narco-related crimes like kidnappings, shootings, beheadings, etc. These crimes do happen, but tourists aren’t the target. They also tend to happen in areas where tourists don’t really go.

Other crimes to be aware of include mugging, pickpocketing, and various scams. For more info, check out my complete guide: Is Mexico Safe? Avoiding Crime and Scams.

How to Choose Your First Solo Travel Destination

For first-time solo travelers, trying to decide where to go can be a challenge. You have so many choices. Where you go depends on:

  • Your interests- Do you want to visit museums, beaches, mountains, cities, or nature? Do you care about history, culture, food, or parties? Consider your personality and interests while considering the different solo travel destinations.
  • Your budget- Maybe you only have $1000 to work with. This won’t get you very far in Western Europe but will allow you to travel for a couple of months in Southeast Asia, Central America, or parts of Africa.
  • How long you plan to travel- If you’re only going for a week, you probably don’t want to fly to the other side of the planet because you’ll burn up two days in transit. If you have at least 2 weeks to a month, you can go pretty much anywhere.
  • Difficulty of travel- If you’re inexperienced with travel, choose an easier destination for your first trip. Some destinations are just difficult to travel due to the lack of infrastructure, weather, language barrier, or high rate of crime. For example, you probably don’t want to solo travel to West Africa for your first trip. Having said that, it can be done. Just know what you’re getting yourself into when you choose your destination.

After you decide on the type of trip you want to take, it’s time to narrow down your decision to a specific region to travel. When choosing your first solo travel destination, look for a place that meets the following criteria:

  • Easy to get around- Choose a destination with a reliable, affordable, and easy to use transportation system.
  • Lots of fellow travelers- In some destinations, you see more tourists than locals. In these types of places, you can easily make friends. Traveling solo doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.
  • Good street food- Many solo travelers don’t like eating in restaurants alone. If street food is common in your destination, you can enjoy the local cuisine.
  • Somewhere that interests you- Maybe you’ve always had a fascination with France. Maybe you really want to see the Great Wall of China. Personally, I love to travel in Africa and Eastern Europe. Those regions just speak to me for one reason or another. Avoid traveling somewhere just to check it off your list.
Havana, Cuba

Havana, Cuba

Solo Travel Recommendation Destinations

If you’re having trouble deciding where to go for your first solo trip, I’d recommend Southeast Asia. It feels exotic with the tropical weather and Eastern culture. At the same time, It’s incredibly easy to get around, the food is phenomenal, and fellow travelers are everywhere. It’s just an all around easy place to travel.

Alternatively, Western Europe is an equally great first-time solo travel destination. It’s easy to get around and there are loads of other travelers. This region also contains many of the world’s major tourist cities and sites.

This is a great choice for American, Australian, and Canadian travelers. Europeans probably won’t find traveling around their own continent quite as exotic or interesting.

Central or South America are also easily doable for first-time solo travelers. Before your trip, you’ll probably want to brush up on your Spanish a bit.

Of course, you can go anywhere as a first-time solo traveler. You’re not limited to easy destinations. If you’ve always wanted to visit Uganda, go. If you really want to see the Taj Mahal, go. The trip may be slightly more stressful at first but you’ll soon adapt. Some people prefer to ease into something new while others just jump into the deep end.

Where Not to Solo Travel

The only type of destination that you may want to avoid as a solo traveler is a destination or activity that is designed for couples or families. For example, cruises and all-inclusive resorts are usually designed for people traveling with someone. It may be awkward or simply no fun to take these types of trips by yourself.

My Experience Traveling Solo

I have been solo traveling, off and on, for the past 8 years. In my experience, the first 2 weeks of each trip can be a bit rough. It takes time to get into the solo travel mindset. Living in close quarters in hostels, spending long hours on buses, and navigating unfamiliar places takes some getting used to.

During my travels, I’ve developed some preferences. These days, I choose destinations with fewer tourists. This means traveling off-season or, better yet, choosing less popular destinations. When a destination gets too popular, prices increase. Booking accommodation and transportation becomes a challenge. Extremely touristy areas are just stressful to travel.

What’s worse is that locals get annoyed and become much less hospitable when their city gets overrun. At this point, I believe overtourism is a thing.

Having said all of this, there is a reason that certain destinations are overrun with tourists. Don’t skip something just because it’s touristy. All of the major tourist sites that I have visited have been worth the trip.

You can read about my first solo trip here.

Nairobi, Kenya

One of my favorite cities, Nairobi, Kenya

Final Thoughts: The Best Solo Travel Destinations

The most important thing to remember is to choose a solo travel destination that interests you. By this, I mean you shouldn’t travel somewhere simply because it’s popular or cool. Go because you’re interested.

The beauty of solo travel is the absolute freedom that it offers. You can be selfish. You can go wherever you want and do whatever you want.

Where are your favorite solo travel destinations? Share your experience in the comments below!

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