Never before has solo travel been so popular. One of the best things about it, is that you can do it at any stage of your life, and while every traveller is different, there are definitely certain destinations and trip styles that suit some age groups better than others.
While writing The Solo Travel Handbook, published this month by Lonely Planet, I picked the brains of some of the world’s most experienced solo travellers to discover the best spots on the planet for people of all ages to visit on their own. Here are a few of my favourites:
Twenties: Nightlife and festivals
Being young, full of energy and probably single are the perfect ingredients for living it up in the world’s top party destinations. If you’re nodding your head, seeking out a backpacker hub known for having a fun but also relatively safe nightlife scene is key – aim for cheaper destinations like Southeast Asia, Central America and Eastern Europe, which tend to attract younger, like-minded travellers. Signing up for a group tour adds an element of safety, with ready-made friends to go out with. If you prefer to travel independently, aim for party hostels where you’re more likely to meet new going-out buddies.
While it can be a little lonelier travelling solo in big, more developed cities that lack a specific backpacker hub, there are some exceptions – I had an absolute blast exploring Berlin’s nightlife scene with new friends at my hostel, most of whom were solo travellers. Other trips I’m glad I did when I was a bit younger include a sailing trip in Croatia, which was essentially a week-long party, and festival-based trips like Oktoberfest in Munich, which I found really friendly, and Rio Carnival, where my hostel-mates banded together to party safely.
It goes without saying, of course, that it’s important to be extra vigilant about your personal safety when you’re going out alone in a foreign destination. Some veteran solo travellers avoid drinking or going out completely unless they feel 100 per cent safe.
Thirties: Active adventures
If you prefer getting up early for a scuba dive than spending the morning sleeping off a hangover, aim for destinations known more for their natural beauty and activity options than their nightclubs. If you’ve always wanted to go to Bali but would prefer to avoid the crowds, why not climb one of its volcanoes? If you don’t mind roughing it a little, an overland Africa safari might be just the ticket. South America offers myriad adventures, from whitewater rafting in Colombia to hiking amongst the glaciers of Patagonia, with an established tourism infrastructure that makes it easy for solos to meet other travellers and get around with relative ease.
One of the friendliest countries in the Middle East, Jordan is a great option for adventure-seeking solos looking to travel to the region for the first time – I had a lovely time exploring the capital and surrounds by myself recently before joining a tour, while Australia offers a plethora of possibilities to pair adventure with wildlife spotting. Even as an Australian who has travelled all over the world, visiting the Northern Territory (and its toothy reptilian residents) for the first time last year was the ultimate adventure, and I can’t wait to get back to New Zealand to tackle another one of its stunning Great Walks.
Forties: Cultural excursions
At this point in life, many travellers tend to slow their trips down a little, planning more relaxed holidays around what makes them happy rather than trying to pack everything in. Allow your interests to guide you to your perfect destination. If you love Mexican food, why not book a culinary-based tour? If you prefer the solitude of wandering around museums and galleries, consider a visit to London or Paris. If you want to be immersed in a vibrant culture, India and Morocco are great options, with solo-only departures available with Intrepid for both destinations. A cultural trip to Myanmar, which included a visit to the country’s first community tourism project, was one of the best trips I took last year.
Fifties and over: The journey of a lifetime
If your budget permits it, this is the time to book that super-indulgent trip you’ve always dreamed of taking, but never had the time, funds or guts to just do it. Maybe it’s a foodie tour of Italy, or perhaps you’ve always wanted to kick back on an Antarctic cruise or see Machu Picchu without having to hike there. If you’re overwhelmed by the logistics of planning a solo trip, or simply don’t feel up to travelling by yourself, a group tour is a great option. And with these low-intensity, bucket-list sort of trips tending to attract a more mature demographic, there’s little risk of getting stuck with a bunch of young party animals. To the contrary, it’s a great opportunity to meet an interesting new group of people and bond over the amazing experiences you share.
Ready for a grand adventure? Check out our solo-only departures now. The Solo Travel Handbook is available now through Lonely Planet.
Feature photo by Miguel Gutierrez, the Nomad Barber.