I’m a solo traveler; have been for most of my life. There’s just something magical about sitting on some nearly deserted beach, with a bonfire and a couple of people you didn’t know a few days ago, having the time of your life. Unmoored from the assumptions and preconceptions of friends, partners and family back home. Feeling that warm glow in your chest as you think to yourself, “I made this moment happen.”
I mean, don’t get me wrong. There are hardships. It can be lonely and difficult. There are almost always a few moments where you wonder to yourself why you’re out there all alone, with no backup but your wits and the hundred dollars stuffed into the bottom of your shoe. But the highs are worth it. It’s definitely something you have to try at least once in your life.
If you do, here are some ideas about where to go:
Yes, everybody and your little nephew Timmy has gone to Thailand. Heck, the movie ‘The Beach’ was about backpacking there and it was shot in 2000 (and the book it was written about written in 1996).
And yet, it’s still beautiful (and my God, is the food good!) and still worth visiting. What’s more, if you don’t like it, there are so many other countries you can go to for near to nothing. You can go south to Malaysia, East to Cambodia or Laos, or West to Myanmar, which all have their own charm.
And as some final points, it’s safe, there are tons of other people to talk to doing the same thing as you are, and oh, and did I mention that Bangkok is one of the cheapest airports to fly to in the region? Definitely, go to Thailand.
You can find everything in Chile, from mountains to beaches, from ice plains to gorgeous (and very colorful) cities. The people are friendly (though you should speak some basic Spanish), the food good (as long as you’re not a vegetarian) and the opportunities to see other countries easy (provided you don’t mind sleeping on busses, as flights are too expensive). Yes, that’s a lot of caveats, but travel often has those.
The country is safe, beautiful and the people friendly. It kind of has a European feel, actually. Definitely worth checking out. And it’s easy to see more of South America while you’re down there. Be sure to visit Argentina and make your way up to Machu Picchu as well.
You might not think so, based on the people they always show on TV, but Germany is actually a very fun (And diverse) place. There are some fantastic cities to check out, like Berlin and Hamburg, some great nature and fantastic old buildings like castles and churches and if that’s not your style, then just sit back and enjoy the little things the country has to offer, like fantastic beer, good food and a language that sounds like throat cancer (too much?).
In fact, if you are going down there, Berlin is a must. I think it’s probably the most exciting city in Europe right now. It’s filled with art, artists and graffiti and the parties as legendary. Add to that that it’s safe and relatively affordable, compared to some other places in Europe, and It should definitely be on your list.
Oh yes, and because it’s in Europe you can fly to nearly anywhere for the change you find between the couch cushions. And that is absolutely awesome!
Slightly cheaper than its northern (well, western) neighbor and bordered on two sides by two oceans, Panama rocks! There really are some great things to see in this country, including beaches, islands, mountains, jungles and – yes – the canal.
It’s also quite safe, compared to many other countries in the region, and the airfares are lower than elsewhere in the region (though still far steeper than most other areas in the world – they really should get that sorted).
That means you can go across to the Caribbean, or down into South America proper. Do note, there is something called the Darien gap, and though that sounds adventurous, it’s just plain dangerous. There is no road between Panama and Colombia and to go overland is to risk being kidnapped, which isn’t exactly what most of us are after when we’re traveling solo (or together, for that matter).
Sometimes, Africa might get a bad rep, but it’s not the case everywhere. Kenya, for example, is famous for its wonderful people and if you’re a little bit careful you’ll be fine here. Just don’t carry around big wads of cash and take taxis at night and you’ll be fine!
And in return for taking that plunge, you’ll be able to see national parks, animals, like elephants, black rhinos, buffalos, lions and leopards, and natural habitats that our children might not get to see at the rate we’re going. And yes, that’s a little nostalgic, but a little nostalgia is in order, don’t you think?