The 7 best trips to take as an intrepid solo-traveller

Posted by
The Stylist web team
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

Words: Emma Lavelle

Every woman should take at least one solo trip in her lifetime, experiencing her chosen destination free from the constraints of compromising with a companion.   

Don’t be deterred by the fearmongers, travel is a personal experience and often the only assured way to get everything that you want out of a trip is to hop on a plane on your own. Only then can you plan an itinerary that is 100% centred on your own needs without having to cater to the whims of your holiday buddies. You can rise in the morning whenever you want, and likewise go to bed as early or as late as you please. Every choice of meal, activity and transport is yours alone.

Don’t just travel solo for the freedom of choice. It may sound cliché, but taking a trip on your own is a great way to find yourself, away from the influence of your friends and family. There is nothing more liberating than embarking upon a little self-discovery in a new place with only your own wits to guide you. A far cry from worrying about what others think of you, you are free to make your own decisions and to discover more about who you are as an individual.

And if that hasn’t convinced you to travel solo, here are our seven ultimate adventures for lone female travellers.

1. Iceland

Iceland is continuously named the safest country in the world and for good reason. Crime is virtually non-existent, meaning that solo travellers can feel completely safe whether they’re exploring Reykjavik or hiking in the wilderness. Also, with several airlines offering free stopovers, you'll find plenty of fellow solitary nomads hopping off their planes to spend a few days exploring the island.

What to do

The best way to experience all that this incredible island has to offer is to hop in a hire car and circumnavigate the Ring Road. Take at least a week to road trip past mountains, lava fields and glacial lagoons, stopping to view all the natural wonders along the way. The beauty of doing this trip solo is that you can park up whenever you spot a photo opportunity or an interesting landscape without having to worry about your travel companion.

Where to stay

Book rooms in hostels or guest houses along the route, allowing you to meet fellow travellers in the evenings to gush about what you’ve seen that day. We recommend booking in advance, as there aren’t many rooms available compared to the rising number of tourists. The two Halfadan hostels in the creative town of Seyðisfjörður are a great base for meeting like-minded individuals who may make great hiking companions.

2. Bali

Bali is full of solo travellers, especially women; many of them digital nomads setting up residence here to escape the winter months back home. Several come here on their own each year, meeting up with friends from around the world and are more than willing to meet new people. Not only is the nomad community welcoming, but the locals are known for being incredibly friendly and there’s a big focus on wellness throughout the island.

What to do

If you’re lucky enough to have a job where you can work from anywhere in the world, Ubud is a great place to base yourself with its large community of digital nomads. Those wishing to detox and unwind can choose from a vast variety of yoga retreats, anyone craving action can learn how to surf and sun junkies can simply lie on the beach and soak up the sun. There’s also temples to explore, monkeys to meet and volcanoes to climb.

Where to stay

If you’re planning a long stay, base yourself in Ubud and join the co-working space, Hubud to immerse yourself in a welcoming community surrounded by nature, wellbeing treatments and organic cuisine. Anyone wanting to be close to the beach should book a stay at Uluwatu Surf Villas where they can combine a yoga retreat with surf lessons.

3. Kilimanjaro 

If you’re seeking a truly life-changing adventure that will allow you to grow as an individual while having plenty of quiet time for contemplation, challenge yourself by climbing Africa’s tallest mountain. Kilimanjaro isn’t for the faint of heart, but you’ll be accompanied by a team of guides and porters, as well as other solo adventurers, allowing you to connect with new people while undertaking what is sure to be one of the most intense experiences of your life.

What to do

Allow seven to nine days for your climb in order to take things slow, acclimatise as you ascend and to fully appreciate the experience. There are six routes to choose from, all with different scenery, difficulty levels and accommodation (Marangu is the only route that offers sleeping huts rather than tents). Following your trek, you could extend your trip by exploring Zanzibar or booking onto a safari.

Where to stay

Whoever you book your trek with will organise your sleeping arrangements and meals during the climb. A female-focused adventure company such as Whoa Travel will allow you to connect with local women as well as your fellow trekkers.

4. Maui

If the lure of discovering Hawaiian culture and watching dramatic sunsets on the beach doesn’t convince you to take a trip to Maui, then perhaps signing up to a women’s surf camp designed specifically with solo female travellers in mind will get you booking flights. Maui Surfer Girls is a perfect choice for a first-time solitary trip, as you’ll instantly meet a group of like-minded women and your itinerary is taken care of.

What to do

The surf camp isn’t just about being in the water. Yes, there’s surf lessons every morning and plenty of time is allocated to activities such as stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling and swimming, but you’ll also get to experience everything else that Maui has to offer. Afternoons are spent exploring the island on waterfall hikes, participating in local arts and crafts and practicing yoga.

Where to stay

Located just south of Lahaina in the Ukumehame Beach Park, you’ll be based in a beachfront cabin with all of your meals catered for. Following the day’s activities, evening are spent relaxing around a bonfire with the other campers.

5. New Zealand 

The land of the long white cloud may be half a world away but it eagerly beckons solo travellers with its vibrant backpacker’s scene, variety of adventure sports and spectacular landscapes. Joining a Kiwi Experience hop-on-hop-off bus tour will allow you to meet an ever-changing ensemble of fellow travellers, many of whom will also be on their own, as well as providing you with an expert local guide who will take you to secret spots alongside the main sights.

What to do

Take the Kiwi bus all the way from the Bay of Islands in the north to Milford Sound in the south, hopping across the Cook Strait via ferry. Along the way you’ll visit hot springs, vast mountain ranges, fjords, nature reserves and cosmopolitan cities. Adventure junkies can throw themselves out of a plane or take a leap of faith on the site of the world’s first bungee, and wildlife enthusiasts have plenty of opportunities to spot whales, seals and kiwis.

Where to stay

If you travel on the Kiwi bus, your driver will arrange your accommodation with choices including adventures lodges, beachside cabins and even a stay in a Maori village.

6. Pai

If you’ve always dreamt of exploring Asia but are worried about travelling solo, make Pai your first destination. Located in the north of Thailand, just a few hours from Chiang Mai, this idyllic paradise may be full of hippies - amplifying the laid-back atmosphere. A well-trodden stop on the South-East Asian backpacker route, you’re sure to meet plenty of friendly people who you could buddy up with to continue your adventures.

What to do

Pai is all about beautiful scenery and relaxing experiences. Hire a motorbike to get around and ensure that you visit Mhor Phaeng waterfall (the one you can slide down) and Pembok waterfall (the one you can jump into). Climb canyons, soak in hot springs and visit traditional villages during the day, then enjoy the easy-going party atmosphere in the evenings.

Where to stay

Jump head first into the backpacker scene at Spicy Pai, where you’ll sleep in hammocks in bamboo huts surrounded by paddy fields. Most people here are also travelling solo and the social atmosphere is great for planning excursions.

7. Finnish Lapland

Your first choice for a solo adventure may not be a winter break, but Finnish Lapland is an incredibly welcoming part of the world where crime is virtually non-existent. The best time to plan your trip is for January or February when, despite the freezing temperatures, the landscape will be covered in a fresh dusting of snow and long dark nights provide the perfect conditions for watching the aurora borealis.

What to do

Most of the activities available are planned in groups, allowing you to meet new people as you partake in snow-shoeing, a husky safari or snowmobiling. Keen skiers can take advantage of the nearby slopes or enjoy leisurely cross-country skiing through the breath-taking scenery. Spend your evenings staring up at the stars, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive northern lights.

Where to stay

Located next to Yllasjarvi Lake (Finland’s biggest ski resort), the female-run Aurora Estate is a blissful boutique hotel that makes an ideal base for exploring the area. Your hosts, Sirly and Heidi will help you to book your activities while providing you with a comfortable place to lay your head, a traditional Lappish restaurant and a traditional smoke sauna.

Images: iStock