Nothing on earth beats that belly-flipping feeling you get when you do something awesome for the first time. Dunking a Dorito into homemade guacamole. Licking raw cake mix of the spoon. Using one of those weird-spider-looking-scalp-massager-thingys. Remembering to bring an umbrella before it rains. They might be teeny-tiny things, but they all manage to plop a smile on your face, especially the first time round.
But forget all that stuff for a moment because we’ve found something that beats them all: going travelling… by yourself… for the first time.
It’s the sense of adventure. The freedom. The independence. The chance to do your own thing and learn a little bit more about that kooky voice inside your head. It’s your chance to use those last bits of vacation time to spend eight days on a beach of your choice, working through a sharing platter of tapas by yourself without a worry of being here or doing that or pleasing anyone but numero uno. Woohoo.
Hitting the road on your own is the Holy Grail of travel. You get to do what you want, when you want, how you want. So, if you would rather shop for a pretty pair of painted clogs than queue up outside a museum, go for it. Or if you just fancy finding a coffee shop to slurp down a cuppa kaffii while people-watching for an entire morning… and afternoon… and early-evening, then smile, nod, hop on the good foot and do it, dude. You’re a solo-adventurer. That’s like being a teeny-tiny country with a population of 1, which means you can settle all referendums with just one vote. Example: “All those in favour of enjoying a nice bottle of local wine followed by a night of salsa dancing raise your hands? Wine and salsa it is.”
Sure, your mum will probably freak out a tad at the prospect of you solo-scaping and, if you listen closely, you might be able to hear your nerves jangling like distant cowbells. But, if you can overcome all that, you’ll set off on the most amazing, fulfilling, life-changing and not-to-be-missed experience of your whole entire life. You’ll fall into moments you’ll never forget, meet people you’ll think about with a smile in decades to come, and make mistakes you’ll never regret. Of course, the trick is knowing where to go on your tod.
So, without further ado, we’ve pulled together a list of places so perfect for solo-scaping you’ll be yelling “this is the best thing I’ve ever done!” at every waiter to approach your table for one - you might even begin planning your second unsupported-excursion before you even get back from this one. Trust us: lonesome travelling is the best kind of travelling.
Seville is the most amazing place for anyone that loves the idea of travelling on their own but isn’t so sure how they’ll cope on their own for one simple reason: you only need to step outside for a mind-fizzing experience to land in your lap. That’s the sort of fun-loving and brilliantly bonkers place this is. The social-scene is like nowhere else on the planet, spilling into every pocket of this southern city. Religious processions make their way through the streets, flamenco shows seem to pop up in plazas all willy-nilly, and the cobblestone streets quickly fill with the world’s happiest football fans, tooting their horns and tapping their feet from La Alameda to Plaza del Salvador whether they win or lose. It’s such an infectious place. One minute you’re asking an Andulanz local for directions and the next minute your sharing tapas with them and their friends, learning how to dance in the middle of a restaurant as you get cheered on by the whoops and claps of total strangers.
Hmmmmm. How did Bali make its way onto this list? Let us think. Oh yeah, we remember, it’s because it’s basically HEAVEN ON EARTH; a delicious cocktail of impetuous waves, magical rainforests, emerald-green rice paddies, sacred volcanoes and one of the. most. relaxing. cultures. ever. In a nutshell, it doesn’t matter what sort of solo-scape you’re hoping for, there’s something for everyone. You can reinvigorate your mind, body and soul by watching the sunrise from a volcano peak or you can soak up the epic sunsets with a signature cocktail in hand at the Potato Head Beach Club. And there just bookend ideas, in between which you can chase waterfalls, soak in temple spring waters, take selfies from the top of rice terraces, get your morning yoga on, surf like you’ve never surfed before, have your jaw drop at a kite festival and have your senses assaulted during a dawn trip to a local market. Whatever you’re into or up for, Bali is like the ultimate place for an epiphany trip.
We know we’ve used an OMG! already but OMG! Mexico City is crazy cool. It’s that place everyone who’s a touch fed up with a life of mundane routines and monotonous days because the only thing you can expect in this madcap metropolis is the unexpected. It’s a city you can get totally lost in. Fact. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just dropping in for a few days or running away from reality for a big chunk of a month, you will never ever run out of “look at that” moments. The parks, the cathedrals, the museums, the orange-tiled roof of the Palacio de Bellas Artes - and that’s just the touristy stuff. There’s also a bunch of cooler bits that will make you sound like the kind of person that sat in the back row of class at school too, from the street art that will make your Instagram more colourful than a street-stall taco to the hipster-hoods of Juarez, Roma, and Condesa, all of which are bursting with pinch-yourself scenes. Sometimes all you want to do is head somewhere you can walk a little slower, live a calmer life for a moment and recharge ye olde batteries. But this is not that place. This is a fly by the seat of your pants adventure where every moment competes for a space in your frontal lobe, and it’s am-a-zing.
Morocco (All Of It)
If we had to describe Morocco in two words (which would be a pretty odd scenario to be in), we would only have to tap our chin twice before clicking our fingers and saying the words, “dizzying diversity” with a smile because that’s the only word-duo that does this place justice. From the epic mountain ranges to the ancient African cities to the far-as-the-eye-can-see deserts, it’s all kinda magical. The sort that makes your hairs stand up and salute the spice and adventure that is woven into this country. It’s one of those places where you’ll take a gazillion photographs because everywhere you turn in something else that deserves to be photographed. The landscapes, the medinas, the mountain ranges, blue-washed buildings, tanneries, history and, probably at the top of the list, the food. It doesn’t matter whether you wear a label that reads culture-addict, backpacker, thrill-seeker, obsessed-foodie, beach-lover, shopaholic or a bit of all the above, Morocco is a super-epic place for everyone toying with the idea of a vibrancy-filled solo-scape.
Okay, so it’s worth noting that, if you’ve got two to five years spare, you should probably just do all of New Zealand because it’s, like, the coolest, most laid-back and adventurous place in any pocket of the planet. Period. But if you don’t have two to five years because, well, life has gotten in the way a bit, then we recommend you hone in on Queenstown because it’s perfect for getting your thrill on while slapping yourself with a decent dose of self-reflection, and that’s not just a reference to the super-stunning lake this town sits on (or next to, which would be a more apt description because “on” suggests Queenstown floats, which it doesn’t). That said, you don’t have to be into skiing/white-water-rafting/parasailing/bungee-jumping to make the most of your solo trip here. There’s plenty of other reasons this is a premier destination for all those looking to do a spot of lonesome travelling and it starts with the natural views and ends with the burgers or, to give you a few more specifics, horseback rides through a place literally called Paradise, boat tours of Milford Sound and tables for one at Fergburger, which is hands-down the best burger joint in New Zealand (and possibly the world).
Given everything this city has seen - and been through - it’s pretty mad that it turned out the way it has, yet all these different influences seem to have been absorbed by the city, becoming part of the texture that makes each moment so hot damn mesmerising. Bismarck, Marx, Einstein, Hitler, JFK, Bowie - they’ve all helped create a city that’s as glamorous as it is gritty - a city that’s vibrant in every niche going - and that’s what gives it the title of “must-visit” for anyone that’s solo-wanderlusting. It’s super funky, uber laid back, really artsy, packed full of epic eateries, specked with a totally unique party vibe and pretty much cool right down to its core. Basically, if you’re looking for some awesome streets to get lost in while exploring your own company, you’ve found the perfect place. You really, really have.
So we’re kind of breaking our own rule on this one because Miami to LA isn’t strictly a place but, meh, if you’re gonna break the rules you may as well do it in style and what could be more epic than heading across the most eclectic parts of America, embracing all the weird moments from behind the wheel of a quirky hire car? Now, we haven’t checked the answer per se, but we reckon the answer is nothing. So, to kickstart this solo trip of a lifetime, grab a cafe con leche and say adios to the Magic City by leaving it in your rearview mirror as you slurp your way toward St. Augustine and onto New Orleans where you can settle in for a few days of live jazz, propping up eclectic bars and snacking on foods so scrumptious your taste buds will pop like the bubbles in your favourite soft drink. Then it’s on through the “everything here really is bigger” state of Texas (getting served plates of BBQ’d food that could feed a family on Thanksgiving and tapping your feet to music you never realised you quite liked), before trucking through the white sands of New Mexico and orange-landscapes of Arizona, making sure you sleep in your car at Joshua Tree ( the sunrises here are like nowhere else), getting tons of Insta-snaps en route, and then finally rocking up at your final destination of L.A. which is probably the most exciting city in the world. In fact, you might want to be aware that, if you’ve not been here before, you probably won’t want to leave in a hurry. There’s just too much in the way of hill hikes, surfing, skating and street food to head straight to LAX.
Sydney might grab all the Australian headlines, but Melbourne is nothing to sneeze at. It’s also a way better city to drop into when you’re travelling about on your own because a) it’s unique culture is wicked-cool, b) as far as altering your perspective goes, Melbourne’s way of life is addictive, c) it’s not such an intimidating place and d) it’s soooo much cheaper. And that’s just a nail-deep scratch on this (hot weather) iceberg. Melbourne is also notorious for its art scene, laid-back vibe and widespread adoration of coffee, making it an epic city for the solo traveller wanting to dig a little deeper into culture and music and, yeah, bloomin’ great coffee. It’s a city of concealed bars, secret cafes, quirky museums, food markets, free tourist trams, live music, glorious eateries, staggeringly cool beaches, even cooler places to swim and tons of coffee shops (just in case we hadn’t mentioned the city-wide coffee-addiction already).
Doing a list of epic solo-travel destinations and not mentioning Bangkok is kind of like doing a list of pasta dishes and not mentioning spag bol or penne arrabiata, which is because this absolutely crazy city is always a winner when you’re looking to make friends with other unaccompanied travellers. And that’s not the only checklist tick. The shopping is good, the street food stalls are exciting, your misfit band of buddies will be eclectic, your digs will range from luxury to budget, the nightlife rattles about to a completely unique beat, it’s super budget-friendly, and the beaches nearby are soooo stunning you won’t be able to relax with a book because you’ll just want to keep staring at the water, and the rock formations, and the local fishing boats, and the beautiful mixture of people around you, and the colours - everything, basically. In short, it’s a one-size-fits-all city and that makes it a pretty great spot for first-timers on the theoretical traveling alone train.
Thanks for reading. For more travelspiration and far-flung adventure ideas, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and, you know, don’t forget to grab yourself the most awesome towel ever made… and some shorts… and a hair wrap... and probably a poncho too. After all, everyone looks good in stripes.