As someone who has done a lot of traveling, I will be the first to admit that solo trips can be seriously intimidating. As wanderlust-inspiring as Eat, Pray, Love may be, the thought of attempting a similar adventure for yourself comes with an exhaustive loop of anxiety-inducing questions. Who will I talk to? What will I do with all that me-time? What if people think I’m a weirdo for eating alone at a restaurant? But as scary as it may be to board a plane all by yourself, it can also be incredibly empowering. Going on vacation alone means that you don’t have to answer to anyone and that you can fill your days with whatever activities make you happy. It’s an opportunity to grow and see the world at the same time, and it is something every woman should attempt at least once in her lifetime.
The trick to having a life-changing experience—instead of a trip where you spend the entire time asking yourself why you did this—is choosing the right destination. Keep reading for 10 solo trips every woman should take throughout her lifetime for a little eating, praying, and loving of her own.
Get pampered in Dubai
When it comes to luxury vacations, Dubai should be at the top of your list. It’s the perfect place to treat yourself to some indulging spa treatments like the “Imperial Arabic Hammam Ritual” from The Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah, fabulous shopping (check out Bamba Boutique for some seriously special goods from a local designer), and beautiful beaches for relaxing (my recommendation being Nikki Beach Club). As a female traveling alone, the city is quite safe, and you won’t be bothered. Just make sure to brush up on the culture’s local customs before you go.
It may be known as the most romantic city in the world, but Paris also happens to be a great place to go on a date with yourself. Get lost in the Louvre, spend the afternoon reading while drinking a café au lait at an outdoor café, or treat yourself to a cheese-and-baguette picnic in front of the Eiffel tower. Who needs another person to travel with when you’re busy falling in love with the destination itself?
Go somewhere to learn a new skill
Why not kill two birds with one stone by exploring a place you’ve never been and learning a new skill? Whether it’s scuba diving in Thailand, cooking in the Italian countryside, or surfing in Portugal, there are hundreds of activities all over the world that can teach you valuable lessons. Taking a class also happens to be a great way to meet new people and will give you something seriously cool to show off (or at least, brag about) when you get home.
If you’ve seen the most recent season of Masters of None, you know that Italy is a primo—and delicious—place to find yourself. In addition to its rich history and affordable artisan leather goods, Florence is known for its endless supply of pizza, pasta, and panini. It’s also a major hub for solo travelers, so chances are that if you get sick of eating alone, you’ll be able to find a companion to share a plate of pasta with.
Go on a wellness retreat in Bali
There are few dreamier destinations on the planet than Bali, and the island is chock-full of wellness retreats designed exclusively for female travelers. You’ll spend your days surfing, doing yoga, meditating on the beautiful beaches, and eating Acai bowls while learning to be more mindful in the process. Plus, the only things you’ll have to pack are workout clothes and bikinis.
Even if you aren’t quite ready for an 1100 mile, Cheryl Strayed-style trek, there are a host of hikes around the world that will give you a major feeling of accomplishment—and serious #viewsfromthetop. Whether it’s the Inca Trail in Peru (which takes three to four days) or the Beehive Basin Trail in Big Sky, Montana (which takes three to four hours and can easily be worked into an afternoon), set a goal for yourself that feels manageable and gives you an excuse to spend time appreciating nature.
Some places are just so magical you don’t need anything other than yourself (and maybe a camera or journal to capture every minute of it). Trust me when I say that Siem Reap is one of those places. The northern Cambodian city is home to dozens of ancient temples, including Angkor Wat, which is the largest religious complex in the world. It’s an incredibly special place to watch the sunrise while being blessed by monks. Plus, it attracts thousands of solo female travelers each year, so you technically won’t be alone.
Considering a direct flight from NYC to Reykjavik takes less than six hours and is surprisingly affordable compared to other destinations in Europe, why wouldn’t you make this trip? It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump for a long weekend. Rent a car for the most epic road trip before spending your days visiting waterfalls, hiking glaciers, and floating through lagoons. On your way to the airport, stop at the Blue Lagoon for the ultimate spa day and you’ll leave your lone adventure feeling extra refreshed.
Whether it’s the Sound Of Music tour in Vienna, the Game of Thrones tour in Dubrovnik, or the Cupcake Tour of NYC, themed tours are a great way to find like-minded individuals while solo traveling, especially if none of your friends or family members nerd out over things the same way you do. Find something you really, really love—a food, a pop-culture moment, an activity—and look for a dedicated tour, or better yet, create one of your own.
Chill the F out in Tulum
Real talk: Is there anything dreamier than a vacation that involves the beach, sipping margaritas, and eating tacos? Unlike many places in Mexico, Tulum is void of large resorts, which means anywhere you stay will have an authentic vibe, and is surprisingly safe for female travelers. Everything in town—including delicious restaurants like the world-famous Hartwood and fabulous shopping—is accessible by bike, so if you ever get bored of vegging out on the beach, you can hop on a ten-speed and explore.