We talk a lot here about how travel is great for spending quality time with loved ones. But for some people, travel is something they do solo for a variety of reasons: busy schedules that don’t allow for vacation time when others can go along, stressful lives that travel serves as a temporary escape from or the simple fact that single people like to travel too. For solo female travelers, safety can be an extra concern. And what good is traveling, alone or with others, if you don’t learn something about yourself? These are some of our experts’ recommendations for solo female travelers.
Australia & New Zealand
Being so far away, these destinations require more time off to visit. Family and work obligations can mean you don’t find somebody to go with you. Fortunately, while you’re certain to learn some new words, there isn’t a language barrier. The people are friendly, and it’s safe. There are enough cultural similarities to help you ease in but enough differences to make for a real adventure. There are great cities, expansive nature and unique wildlife.
Expedition ships often have special sailings where single supplement fees are waived, which means you have your own cabin at no additional cost. You’re still traveling in a relatively small group, so it’s easy to make friends, especially when you’re experiencing something so life-changing. The diversity of wildlife in the Galapagos definitely makes for a one-of-a-kind journey and will prompt some introspection that might lead to journaling in your cabin at night, much like Charles Darwin did when he visited.
The Nordic countries
Quality of life is pretty good, and people are generally welcoming. There’s a reason the rankings of happiest countries in the world basically read as a list of the Nordic countries: Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden are all in the top 10 for this year’s rankings. Depending on when you go, you can maximize your chance at seeing the Northern Lights or have it be daytime all the time. See for yourself what makes life in these countries so happy.
Spain & Portugal
The distance between cities can be covered in a few hours on a train. They’re rich in culture, and the food is incredible. Each region offers something unique, so you can pack a variety of experiences into a compact area. The architecture and art are out of this world. The weather is usually good most times of year. This corner of Europe offers adventure and beauty at every turn.
A lot of locals travel solo, so there’s an infrastructure for it and a level of familiarity. It’s easy to base yourself in one place and do day trips. The country is safer than most, and there are emergency phones and small police buildings called koban virtually everywhere if you need help. Hotels and ryokan are used to accommodating solo travelers, as are restaurants. Some cities offer female-only train cars on public transit.
It might not be that big, tucked on the side of Spain on the western edge of Europe, but Portugal is the hottest destination going this year. Combine the capital of Lisbon — think a European San Francisco — with second city Porto and the beach-laden Algarve region with the diverse islands of Madeira and the Azores, and Portugal becomes a lot bigger than you might have previously imagined. That was one takeaway from Virtuoso Travel Week this month in Las Vegas, where more than 6,000 attendees from 100 countries shared the latest and greatest in the travel industry.
Another important trend is the rise of sustainability. From resorts such as The Brando in French Polynesia, where 95 percent of the energy used is renewable. Buildings made from local, renewable and recycled material blend with their natural surroundings and even waste is turned into compost that is used in organic gardens. The resort’s conservation program focuses on fish and sea turtle replenishment as well as atoll conservation. Seawater air conditioning and coconut oil biofuel help power the resort while getting it closer to carbon neutrality.
Kevin Molony, president of New Orleans-based Royal Insider is working to preserve the culture in and around the city his family first came to in the 1720s by showing clients the authenticities of life for those who call the Big Easy home, far from the tourist haze of Bourbon Street. That could mean hanging behind the scenes with a Mardi Gras crew to see how much blood, sweat, and tears go into preparing not just afloat but a celebration of heritage or dining in a historic home with a meal prepared by the city’s top chefs.
With the launch of www.galapagos.com, www.safaritours.com and www.visibleasia.com, Big Five Tours & Expeditions, ranks countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia based on the sustainability of tourism there, and works in the destinations it services to improve those scores. As Lesa Bain of Lindblad Expeditions succinctly put it in her acceptance speech for Virtuoso’s Sustainable Tourism Leadership award, “Sustainability rocks!”
All told, more than 40,000 meetings took place over the course of a week between travel advisors and suppliers, resulting in an exchange of information that will benefit our travelers. Looking for a great meal? Meadowood Napa Valley’s The Restaurant, winner of Best Dining Experience, has you covered. A nice drink? The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel in London was voted Best Bar. As for any other experience you can imagine, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perhaps you’re traveling for business and trying to squeeze in a pleasure trip. Maybe you won’t be back to that part of the world in a while. Possibly you can only get away for a few days. Or you just want a few more days to relax before you head back to work. Whatever the reason, you can explore these destinations in less than a week, either on their own or as part of a longer trip.
Channel Islands, California
Off the coast from Los Angeles, this archipelago is home to a national park and the resort island of Santa Catalina. More than a million visitors arrive on Catalina annually, doing boat tours, snorkeling, and SCUBA diving and enjoying the beach or a nice wine mixer. Five of the chain’s eight islands form Channel Islands National Park. Lindblad Expeditions offers five-day/four-night itineraries out of L.A. on its Base Camp Channel Islands program, which combines wildness and wellness. Mornings begin with yoga or another exercise, and afternoons feature hiking or biking with sightings of rare flora and fauna all along the way.
Fogo Island, Canada
In the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, northeast of New England, Fogo Island makes for a short getaway from the East Coast. Virtuoso-preferred Fogo Island Inn has summer promotions to help you take advantage of the longer, warmer days. For minimum stays of only three nights, the inn is offering workshops with multidisciplinary artist Bruce Pashak with its An Artful Summer or excursions with a naturalist guide in its Flora & Fauna Encounters package. Either shows you the wilds of “an island, off an island, at one of the four corners of the Earth” without spending all your vacation days.
About 1,000 miles west of Lisbon in the middle of the Atlantic, these islands weren’t known to the Portuguese until the 14th century. Mark Twain detailed his 19th-century visit in The Innocents Abroad. Now, they’re a place to stop over for a few days on either end of a trip to Europe, or a long weekend from the East Coast. Each of the nine main islands has a different claim to fame, but there’s an abundant supply of activities out of doors and on the water. Ponta Delgada is the capital, largest municipality and home of the main commercial airport for the Azores. It’s also home to a lively culinary scene.
It’s a long way to New Zealand and Australia. Maybe those are on your bucket list and you’re not going to make it back to that area of the world again. Or maybe you’ve sat through that interminable flight over the Pacific one too many times and need to break up the travel. Either way, these islands in the South Pacific make for romantic stopovers to help you relax before an action-packed itinerary Down Under. On the way home, a couple of days on the beach or lagoon can help you ease into getting over that jet lag or stave off the return to real life. In a pinch, Hawaii isn’t bad, either
Fly Emirates for your safari, and you can plan a stopover in the ultra-posh, oil-rich city. Where else can you go to the Louvre and the beach and ski indoors? Emirates provides a meet & greet service, a welcome pack, hotel accommodations and airport transfers. Check out a polo match, a great Friday brunch or hit the waterpark at Atlantis The Palm. Spend a day or two, then head out to one of 150 destinations from there.