Oct. 17, 2012 at 10:09 AM ET
Let’s first tackle the concerns and hesitations about traveling solo. Safety issues, handling language barriers and having to dine out alone are all things that could keep us all from hitting the road alone. But the benefits — being on your own schedule, eating what you want where you want and feeling totally independent — can outweigh any negative connotations. Plus, the solo traveler gets to temporarily escape from the hustle of the everyday and go exactly and only where they want.
Of course, traveling on one’s own isn’t for everyone. The trick is to plan ahead — make sure you choose a safe place, plan great activities to keep you busy, do some research on all the great things to taste, think of somewhere with friendly locals and a communal vibe and suck up any insecurities about talking to strangers because they’re the ones with the best tips; the hotel concierge, friendly bartender and locals standing in line for something that looks and smells delicious are all the best impromptu tour guides.
Certain destinations are better for solo travelers than others, depending on language barriers, easy-to-understand currency, built-in activities or food so good you’ll forget you’re sitting there on your own. Ideal solo destinations don’t need to be too far flung, either — Austin and Portland are both dynamic, charming places to spend a few days alone. But international destinations from Belize to Dublin make for safe, mouthwatering, friendly and relaxing getaways for anyone looking to get out on their own. If retelling the glory of your own travel successes and laughing at your own trip-ups sounds like the right kind of holiday for you, read on for the eight prime solo destinations.
Getting lost along Venice's canals is one of life's great pleasures, and while it might sound like a romantic interlude, it can be equally (if not more) indulgent if you take that stroll on your own. Stop into family-owned boutiques, lounge over espressos on canal-side terraces and sink into dimly-lit trattorias for long, perfectly prepared dinners. Spend at least one day exploring Murano and Burano, the two islands sitting just out of view of Piazza San Marco where lace and hand-blown glass have been made for generations.
Scandinavians love showing newcomers around to help them fall ever more in love with their fantastic food scene, fascinating culture and stunning landscape. And that Norway is ranked ninth on the Global Peace Index quells safety concerns. The country boasts 21 national parks, legendary fjords and the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, as well as a cuisine that has been on culinary trends lists for the last two years, for good reason.
Portland is on everyone's minds now, with its laid-back cool vibe, lush greenery and ample opportunities to spend all day outdoors. Its food cart scene rivals that of cities twice its size and the cafés, boutiques and galleries lining Mississippi Avenue are not the usual brand names you'll find from SoHo to Melrose. Solo travelers are easily entertained in this relaxing mecca of hip design and mouthwatering food.
Austin, Texas, is definitely having its moment in the spotlight — the food, music and art scenes are at full tilt. Solo travelers would be right at home during a long weekend spent in Austin, where sampling the iconic barbecue at the Salt Lick, grabbing a coffee from Jo's coffee shop at the Hotel San Jose or stopping in for a drink at La Condesa mean built-in conversation with locals sitting nearby.
It’s easy to assume that an island of spectacular beauty like Fiji would be expensive or lonely for solo travelers, or both. Not so. Fiji has fantastic lodgings that don't break the bank, the locals are warm and welcoming, and there is ample mouthwatering tropical food to sample. Close your eyes and imagine this: island-hopping to try spicy island-style Indian food, fresh grilled seafood and Fiji-style barbecue with funds to spare.
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