How to Plan a Solo Trip

Our Travel Specialists share their expert tips for making the most of a solo adventure, from how to stay safe as a woman traveling alone to packing advice for solo travelers.

01 March 2024

Solo Travel Guide

Solo travel is incredibly empowering and rewarding, and by prioritizing preparedness, the experience will be that much more enjoyable. Three of our travel experts – Jules Maury, Head of Scott Dunn Private and CNT Top Travel Specialist, Rachael Mendizabal, Europe Team Leader and Travel + Leisure A-List advisor, and Ellen Fraser, Asia Team Leader – share their top tips and favorite destinations for the ultimate solo travel trip.

Packing Tips for a Solo Trip

Our advice is to pack light, keeping the weather and local customs in the destination front of mind to plan your vacation wardrobe accordingly. A good rule of thumb is to lay out everything you want to bring, then take 1/3 away. If a laundry service is included at your hotel, then remove half as you can re-wear basics throughout the trip. Some destinations and religious sights require following a specific dress code, so plan accordingly. We recommend keeping a light shawl in your bag as an easy way to cover your shoulders when required.

How to Enjoy Dining Alone

Picking the right restaurant for a solo meal is the first challenge, so we always advise leaning on local recommendations where you can. Ask your hotel concierge to make your dinner reservations (they’ll know the fun, buzzy places to eat) and don’t be afraid to ask to move if you’re not happy with your table. We love a well-positioned table for people-watching or a cozy corner to read – a good book is a must for solo meals. Striking up a conversation with your waiting staff can be a great way to chat with a local.

Woman in an Italian market 

For foodies, our top tip is to book a private food tour with a specialist guide at the start of your trip. Not only will they show you the best places to try local delicacies, but they can also recommend great restaurants for the remainder of your trip and in many cases, help you to make a reservation, which is necessary if you don’t speak the local language.

Advice for Booking Solo Experiences

Local guided experiences and tours are fabulous as a solo traveler as you have the total attention of your guide, meaning you can focus on exactly what you want to see or learn about. You’ve got a built-in buddy for the day, allowing you to find your bearings and get a feel for the local vibe. Don’t hold back on asking questions, be it around local customs or tipping culture, to ensure you can easily navigate the rest of your time in the country.

Woman walking inside Abu Simbel Temple 

Here are some of our team’s favorite solo travel experiences with a local guide:

“During a recent trip to Morocco, my guide was happy to discuss female education and rights in a patriarchal country, providing valuable insight into a subject near to my heart.” - Rachael Mendizabal, Europe Team Leader

"One of my most memorable solo travel experiences was in Egypt when I went to the Valley of the Kings and Queens in the heat of the day with my local guide, witnessing the famous tombs of King Seti II and Nefertari in almost total solitude.” - Jules Maury, Head of Scott Dunn Private

How to Stay Safe when Traveling Alone

Getting safely from A to B is a big concern when traveling alone, so we always recommend asking your hotel concierge to call you a cab or share details of their trusted taxi company to avoid any unreliable drivers or inflated fares. If you’re going out alone on foot, let the concierge know your plan for the day and check if they have any concerns or advice.

A simple rule of thumb is to always keep your valuables locked in the hotel safe and avoid walking around with your phone in your hand when out and about. Try to plan your route in advance or stop in a café to check Google Maps rather than looking at your phone on the street. It can be helpful to ask friends or family to ‘track’ your location from their phones for peace of mind. Finally, remain aware of your surroundings and your belongings. Flashing large notes or expensive jewelery can create unwanted attention in any location.

The Best Destinations for Solo Travel

Don’t let being solo stop you from taking a bucket list trip. An expedition cruise to Antarctica, an African safari, or active adventure through Latin America are excellent solo travel trips where you’ll often find yourself sharing experiences with other like-minded people. You can go at your own pace and take each step as you’d imagined it without having to cater for anyone else, making the journey as meaningful to you as possible.

Solo Safari

Female photographer in Namibia on safari 

An African safari by yourself may seem daunting, but it’s a very popular trip for our solo female guests. Staying in an intimate luxury lodge is very safe and you will never feel lonely, sharing stories of each day’s wildlife encounters over a communal meal or sundowner drinks with the other guests.

Wellness Escapes

Women at a Yoga retreat 

Nothing restores body and mind like some solo relaxation and wellness, whether you’re a tired mom in need of some self-care or an active yogi. For a European break, we recommend Lily of the Valley near St Tropez which has an extensive health program or Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal for the ultimate combination of wellness and wine. Furthermore, we love JOALI in the Maldives (nicknamed the ‘island of wellbeing’) or COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali, where you can follow series of Wellness Paths rooted in Ayurvedic healing practices.

Active Adventures

Woman walking in the Himalayas 

Hiking through incredible scenery, diving to untouched coral reefs, or swimming in a cool lake – all things that are incredible solo experiences, where there’s no time to feel lonely. Slovenia is a great destination for active solo adventures and is rated as the safest destination in Europe for women. The friendly atmosphere and epic scenery of Iceland is another favorite, as is a self-driving journey through Australia or a guided hike along the Inca Trail in Peru.

All-Inclusive Luxury Lodges

Woman sat on a rock in the Blue Mountains at sunset 

For nervous solo travelers, an all-inclusive luxury lodge offers the utmost safety in some of the world’s most extraordinary destinations. Meals and experiences are usually included, allowing you to participate in everything from sunrise yoga to scenic walks with a small group of guests, plus you won’t need to worry about any unexpected bills at check-out. Saffire Freycinet in Tasmania is a great example, where lots of the complimentary experiences are outside of the lodge, such as sampling delicious food and wine at their oyster farm, and all the guides are all incredibly charismatic.

Cruise and Train Journeys

Woman on a cruise in the Galapagos 

Journeying solo by boat or train is a fantastic way to experience those bucket list destinations without having to worry about logistics or safety, all while in the company of fellow intrepid passengers. A luxury cruise in the Galapagos the perfect way to explore these volcanic islands, with an expert naturalist guide on hand to share fascinating insights, while the glamorous Belmond Venice Simplon-Orient-Express would be perfect for an evening mingling with others, passing by beautiful European scenery.

If this guide has inspired you to embark on a solo journey of your own, chat to our Travel specialists who can craft an unforgettable trip filled with authentic experiences.

Speak to One of Our Experts

Our team of specialists are waiting to help you book your next adventure. Contact us today to start planning your customized trip.

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