The Best Reasons to Travel Solo Are the People You’ll Meet
Solo travel is officially having a moment. Search #solotravel, and Instagram will show you nearly 5 million posts. Another social trend barometer, Pinterest, shows pins for “solo travel” have shot up 600 percent. And a 2018 study revealed a 42 percent increase in solo traveler bookings since 2015, according to Condé Nast, with female solo travelers surging by 45 percent.
And solo travel isn’t just for the rich or retired or just divorced. Resonance Consultancy’s new Future of U.S. Millennial Travel report found that a quarter of the U.S. millennials polled planned to take a trip on their own in the next 12 or 24 months.
There are some really good reasons for traveling solo.
Everyone has their own idea of the perfect trip. Do you picture yourself heading to Morocco to fit in as much of the breathtaking desert and views of the High Atlas Mountains as you can into fit into each day? Or do you see a meandering through Tuscany plotting your next pasta and wine tasting? Overseas travel is a big deal in our lives—sometimes once in a lifetime—so why compromise on the itinerary of your dreams?
You can go your own way on a trip solo, create the experience you want. It’s a guilt-free way to be true to yourself. You can skip the wait and eat at the bar. When you make the rules, you can eat when you want and shop as long as you want.
But the biggest reason to travel solo might be this: new friends. Solo travel doesn’t mean you have to travel alone. Many solo travelers join small groups and choose a micro-tour that uses small groups with similar interests, such as Access Culinary Trips’ small group tours for foodies. Access puts together groups so small that local guides often will bring you home for a home-cooked meal as you learn about their everyday lives.
When you’re joining a group solo, you’re open to real connections with both the locals wherever you are and the interesting people you’re traveling with.
Solo Traveler food and wine editor Tracey Nesbitt agrees. “I always try to combine my solo travels with local food and wine experiences as food – the way it is produced, prepared, consumed and shared – transcends all boundaries of language and culture, and binds us all together,” she writes. The Solo Traveler site she writes for is a community hub where people who share a passion for traveling alone exchange tips, suggestions, and encouragement.
While solo travel in general allows her to set her own course and pace, culinary trips are different. These intimate tours offer a unique learning experience taught by experts in their fields, as well as the opportunity to be immersed in the local culture and landscape. Her favorites include culinary trips to villages in France and Italy. She says she loves the idea of sharing experiences with other people passionate about their food and wine.
“The idea of staying in the village, cooking in an actual home, dining with travelers from around the world, meeting local farmers, producers and artisans, visiting the markets … sheer bliss,” she writes.
People who love to travel solo all have their own unique reasons. A special report from Condé Nast Traveler earlier this year included some favorite destinations.
Says Condé Nast photographer Linda Pugliese: “Traveling alone is empowering and freeing, leaving you wide open to new experiences and connections—there’s nothing quite like it. The childlike wonder of roaming around an unknown place entirely on your own is invigorating. My favorite place to travel alone is Italy: It’s a culture so firmly based on welcoming and hospitality that it’s practically impossible to go about your day without exchanging at least a few pleasantries with complete strangers. The only thing I don’t always love about traveling alone is eating alone—and ironically, Italy is a place where people often can’t stand to watch you dine solo. Povera, they always say, meaning “poor thing,” eating all by herself. But in the end, it’s their unflinching hospitality that rescues me from such a fate, as I’m constantly invited to dine with groups of strangers and families—it’s my favorite part.”
Japan is Condé Nast editor Katherine LaGrave’s favorite solo destination: “I love Japan for solo travel, if only because there's so much to see, taste, and do: who needs another person when you've got miles of manga to get through, and ramen counters that practically beg you to eat alone? The country's expansive public transportation network also makes it easy to get around without much coordination, and the crime rate is extremely low. You'll be pushed out of your (cultural) comfort zone, to be sure, but isn't that the point of travel?”
Learn more about Access Culinary Trips solo travel options to explore culture through cuisine.