How to Choose a Solo Travel Destination (As a Newbie)

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So you want to go somewhere, but there is a whole world of choices. To choose a solo travel destination as a newbie can be simple. You may already know. Or it can be difficult to pare it down from a mountain of choices. There are places you may want to enjoy alone and places that seem perfect for you and a mate. Or it may be the dream place you wanted to discover with a parent, a lover or sibling. But there is a place for you! For your own solo frontier!

Make a List of Your Dream Places

Write down or list somewhere (digitally) all the places you have always wanted to go. Some of these places will be relaxing destinations like beaches in the Caribbean. Others be big exciting cities like Tokyo or New York or Prague. Others will be adventure destinations such as rock climbing the Pyrenees or snowboarding in Banff or kayaking on the Colorado river. You will soon start to see what kind of places are dominant in your travel profile.  Maybe get some inspiration in beautiful books like this one from Lonely Planet or this one!  Books like these had me mesmerized as a kid!

planning in a journal.

How Much Time Do You Have?

This is a big one because time alone can decide if you are going to zip over to a place closer to home or get on a long haul flight to Australia. Having 2 weeks off to see several cities in Europe and really feel them is much more manageable than doing them in half the time and coming home burned out from living on transport. Long travel is much more to prepare for than a short vacation as well. A short 4-day weekend may be exactly what you need to visit a friend in Vancouver or Miami or London. Maybe the family wants to take a trip to Hawaii for 2 weeks over Xmas, allowing you 3-4 days on your own in San Francisco on the way there. Be creative. A work trip for 3 days may allow you 2 extra days on your own. You won’t know without asking!

Decide What Kind Of Traveler You Are

(Or will be)

Are you a foodie? Is the type of cuisine and reputation for world-class vittles important to you? Are you more into the high intensity adventure of the outdoors? How about a stylish shopping city slicker? A history and culture buff intent on seeing ancient temples and churches? Do you need all your tech with you from a laptop to a phone, and a high end camera or one of these Go-Pro’s that everyone seems to have have? A lazy bum..intent on lying around a pretty view? Do you do well far from home without all of your modern comforts? All of these questions will help but no one is all in one. Chances are you will have a little of many things in your travel type. Most folks are not 100 percent one category but there will be a dominant theme if you are honest with yourself about it.

When Can You Travel?

This is huge. But not a deal breaker. No matter what the weather is at home there is always somewhere better for you to be whether you are chasing sun or snow, or spring like moisture to chase the blooms of a flower festival like the blooming blossoms of Hanami in Japan. Also, you have to think about everyone else who may want to go to the same destination as you at that particular time. Will it be much too crowded to go to Carnival in Rio? Maybe Rio de Janeiro is better for you when its calmer. That leads into the question of what is happening where you are going? Is it festival season in many Asian places?  Are you chasing music festivals in western countries. Are you trying to party on some exotic locale like Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party? Whatever the reason make sure you research your destination at the time you want to be there.

How Big (or less than big) Is Your Budget?

This is important but not a deal breaker entirely. Just because you can’t go traipsing across Europe for several months on $2000 dollars that easily doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself somewhere for a bit. Take a look at your total budget. There are several factors. Air fare there and back. Travel insurance. Food. Accommodation. Walking around money for shopping or extras. Every person will vary on these. Don’t forget on the last day that souvenir for mom. Even for the non shopper there is always some last minute “I wish I had extra money” purchase. Also, do you have a friend, relative or anyone that can spare a bed at your destination (Even for a night)? That will save a little and every bit helps!

Is the Destination Safe at This Time?

This is not just about a war or dangerous political climate. There is the aftermath of a natural upheaval like an earthquake or other disaster. Does this country have good relations with yours overall? Do others go there from where you are from and report back mostly good stories and fun times?

novice monks leaving angkor wat

Do you need too many inoculations in a short time before you go, making you uncomfortable? Is this the worst time to go there because of any religious reasons or beliefs that make you uncomfortable? (If anything makes you uncomfortable going alone..always consider a group tour or a friend as you build confidence.)

To Sum It Up…

  1. Make a list of places.
  2. Decide what kind of traveler you are.
  3. Decide how much time you have.
  4. Decide when…
  5. Decide on a budget.
  6. Do you feel safe here?

Remember, this is just a list to help give you ideas. This is not the end all of how to choose a solo destination. Research anyway you can from word of mouth to photos to guidebooks and more. Deciding what kind of traveler you are, or at least mostly are, can help you decide on a situation. If you live for sushi then where else but Japan. (LP)  And if you love the big cities like I do then where else but Tokyo? Hopefully this is all a step in getting you out on your own Solo Frontier!

Please leave a comment below! Thanks for stopping by!

4 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. One thing I find the hardest to do is planning a travel. I don’t necessary want to go by myself, but, I would like to one day go on a family trip. I find many places not kid friendly and the ones that are. Cost a lot. I will take note of your suggestions and see what I can come up with. Who knows we may be able to travel way before I know it. Thanks for sharing this…

  2. Thanks for stopping by. At some point you may just want a getaway. Even if with family you may want to take a quick day on your own. For example, you may be in Spain with several family members and do a day trip or 2 alone and meet back up with them. Anyway there is information that can translate to any kind of travel. Hope you get the chance to go somewhere on your bucket list!

    Thomas.

  3. I have been a world traveler, sometimes alone and sometimes not, and this advice is spot on. It is helpful without being over the top and gives anybody a framework to help figure out how to determine a good vacation spot. Traveling alone is so much different than traveling for a family trip. I found many places cater to couples or the family, but not that many cater to the single traveler.
    All the Best, and thanks for the info. Jay

  4. Thanks. You can’t wait on life. Sometimes you have to do you. Even if family doesn’t want to go where your dream is..where there is a will there is a way. There is a growing body of solo travelers out there! Hope to see you here again!

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