why i want to travel solo in 2017;

Among the things I enjoyed most about my extended period of time off over Christmas and New Year was having the time to catch up on some reading.

I don’t necessarily mean just books – although, that too – but also all the great content I come across online and bookmark for later reading. I’m fairly careful about who I follow on Twitter and Facebook, so when I see a blog post shared or a one-line summary of a linked article it will almost certainly pique my curiosity. BAM! there it goes, sent to my Instapaper account where it might never see the light of day given the volume of stuff I add to that list every day.

That’s why it was only very recently that I finally read a post from my friend Jackie’s travel blog dated late 2015, about her experience travelling solo for the first time. It struck a chord because it’s something I’ve been mulling over myself for a while, to the point that late last year I decided that if I did one thing for myself in 2017, it would be to take a trip somewhere by myself.

Travel bucket list - cute shoes and a passport

Now, I’m no stranger to the world of travel. And I’ve flown solo plenty, including numerous US trips and even a round trip to Australia that was practically longer than my stay on the continent. But, with the exception of that time I was meant to be following Ryan Adams around the UK only for him to cancel the tour and me to go anyway, I’ve always had somebody to meet me at my destination airport. Even on that occasion, I met up with or stayed with friends in each of my city stops.

When you work full-time, your travel options are quite tightly restricted by the amount of annual leave that you are entitled to. That has to include planned holidays: the annual one with family, for example; or a trip to see my sister. Against that backdrop – and with the important caveat that I’m lucky to have people who love me and want to spend my leisure time with me – taking time for solo travel seems almost selfish. And yet, it’s something I keep coming back to.

MOAR LYG:  can you still have any famous last words if you're somebody nobody knows;

There are a few reasons for this. One is, as Jackie alludes to, the idea that travelling alone opens your eyes to who you are and what you are capable of. I’m quite a solitary person anyway and I enjoy my own company, but I’m sure that even I would end up striking up conversations with strangers if left to my own devices for a few days. I’ve mentioned before that I do my best writing on trains and in hotel rooms at night, and I’m sure I will enjoy this even more without the distractions of company. And, as much as I’ve always taken opportunities to explore on my own whenever I’ve travelled with others, I can’t help but thrill at the chance to really take in a place on nobody’s itinerary but my own.

Recently, Expedia asked me to put together my travel “bucket list” to welcome in the new year. While some of these are completely impractical for solo adventures, don’t be surprised if one of them makes it into a blog post around here soon.

1. Zagreb

Croatia unexpectedly crept to the top of my travel bucket list last year. That’s partly down to the ease with which it can be reached from the UK, with cheap flights and package holidays easy to come by – but also, almost certainly, has something to do with how gorgeous Charlotte made the country look on her own visit towards the end of last year. While Dubrovnik stole her heart, it’s the vibrant Zagreb I’m more drawn to – plus I really, really want to see the Museum of Broken Relationships in situ, ok?

Travel bucket list - thermal baths of Pompeii, 2014

The thermal baths of Pompeii

2. Sicily

While I’d happily take a solo trip anywhere in Italy – in fact, you could even say I’ve managed to cross off a tiny bit of the country on my own already – it’s no secret that I’d love to visit Sicily and trace the roots of my family name. Besides, after three decades of having to spell my surname out to taxi companies and delivery drivers, I think I’m entitled to a cheesy selfie grinning by the road sign for Ferla (pop. 2,622).

MOAR LYG:  'e' is the exit sign backstage at shows;

Travel bucket list - A tired girl in Singapore Airport, 2008

A very tired blogger in Singapore Airport, 2008

3. Singapore

Time to get a little more exotic. While I’ve technically set foot in Singapore, thanks to an airport stopover on the way back from Australia (turns out they really, really don’t like you taking photos of their printed-out takes on international newspapers), it can’t be the same as visiting the city-state itself. Landing in the bay airport at night was one of the most breathtaking sights of my life and one that I would happily see again – plus, you’re talking about a city that reveres its cats! What’s not to love?

Yes, that was another one from my Christmas reading list.

4. Vancouver

There’s one trip I’ll definitely be taking on my own some day, just because I would bore anybody daft enough to come with me to death. As any fan of my all-time favourite show will be able to tell you, the first five seasons of The X-Files – plus last year’s terrible revisiting – were filmed in Vancouver, Canada; and while I doubt there are any guided tours of the show’s locations available anymore I daresay it would be easy enough to put my own together with a little research

5. Havana

My friend Lilit, who is a travel writer for Conde Nast and quite literally #goals, turned me greener than usual last summer when she got a place on the first US cruise to Cuba in over 50 years. I admit that there’s something incredibly tacky in the desire to visit a place that is seen as relatively unspoiled by globalisation (see also: North Korea) but it’s a desire nonetheless.

More Expedia: Web | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks to Expedia for inviting me to share my travel bucket list. As ever, all views are my own and unbiased.

  • I think Zagreb would be excellent for a solo trip but I kind of want to go too which might be problematic for both our solo travel goals! I am thinking about where my solo trip will be to, preferably somewhere I can walk everywhere and feel pretty secure.

    • Ha! It’s a long year ๐Ÿ˜‰ Security is definitely a big issue, especially for solo female travelers, which is why I suspect wherever I end up will be a big city x

  • YES to Croatia. I’m desperate to go back and see more! I really really really want to go to North Korea at some point in my life, although I feel like it’s unlikely… x

    Charlotte / Colours & Carousels

    • Ooh, there’s an excellent graphic novel I need to dig out for you. Also from Lilit. x

  • Michael Murphy

    I do most of my travelling solo, and do prefer it for the most part – that will often depend on the type of trip I am doing and the location though. I feel there is a huge difference between visiting somewhere where people do and do not speak your language, and I find a trip where that language barrier is high is often more rewarding for me. I don’t know if it’s because it feels like more of an accomplishment that you manage to do the trip, or because it feels like more of a foreign destination, but is something I have noticed. It can certainly be harder work though. On that note, I would whole heartedly recommend a trip travelling around Japan. They have excellent, and relatively cheap, public transport which is easy to use and thus eliminates what can otherwise be quite a large headache potential – leaving you to enjoy whichever locations you decide to visit.

    • Strangely, Japan has never been a place that’s appealed to me – which I think makes me a bit of an oddity among most of my friends! That said, it feels like it would be a very safe place to travel alone though – a friend of mine ended up taking a trip there alone last year, and absolutely loved it.

  • Katie Williams

    ooh your choices are perfect! I’m reading a book where a character is from Sicily so obviously I want to add that to the list now. Travelling solo sounds so fascinating and when you do go, I can’t wait to read all about it.
    Happy new year Lis, truly wish you all the best and success x
    littlekaatie.com

    • My parents honeymooned in Sicily. They tried to find the part of the island where my dad’s family are from, but got lost and ended up in Ferla instead. It definitely made for some memorable holiday photos…

      And I know I just said it at your place, but happy new year to you too ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  • Lisa-Marie Hughes

    I got a taste of solo traveling in NY. I flew alone (and switched flights on my first long haul) but also because Dave was working I had loads of days cutting about on my own. I know its not the same, but it felt like a bit of a solo adventure.

    • You definitely get the best of both worlds that way! I do try to get off for at least a few hours’ adventure on my own whenever I travel, so this feels like the logical next step ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  • This is something I have wanted to do for ages as well but honestly staying safe is my biggest concern.

    • Oh, definitely. It’s why I figure I’m more likely to stay in Europe x

  • Yay for solo travelling! I get that safety may be a concern but I’ve travelled solo outside of Europe a few times now (Russia, all over America, Japan, Egypt) and I was totally fine. I think if you’re a pretty seasoned traveller and also a girl who keeps her wits about her (both of which are you) then you’ll be ok. Maybe pick up a few choice words and phrases in the local tongue just to be safe! x

    • I’d love to visit Russia, I’m fascinated with the place. Just finished reading Franz Nicolay’s tour diaries from over there too. This list is never gonna stop growing! x

  • I have a friend that travels everywhere alone. Every year she takes a 2-3 month trip to some place outside of the U.S. Currently, she is in Africa (Kenya at the moment). I am always amazed that she is able to travel alone. I like to think that I could travel alone but I think it will only be something I do in my dreams because I honestly don’t know if I could do it.

    • TWO OR THREE MONTHS. Wow. I can be quite introverted, so I’d probably forget how to speak to people after that length of time alone.

      Africa would be amazing though. My mum spent some time in Kenya when she was a few years younger than me – her aunt was a missionary out there at the time, which gave her somewhere to stay! x

      • She seems to encounter all kinds of people during her travels. She always has stories to tell.

  • Nic

    When I did my trip to Ecuador/Galapagos a few years back I went on a group holiday. Whilst not travelling solo it did make life a lot easier to have someone plan it all for me and I met a whole bunch of folk, most of who I am still in contact with. Robert of leaveyourdailyhell.com was one of the group, he’s always blogging about his experiences and he mostly travels solo too.

    I’m not sure I would go with the whole group holiday thing again, purely because the introvert in me struggled a little but travelling so far on my own (I’d never been to south america) was a big deal and there’s no way I would have afforded a trip to the islands if it hadn’t been part of the package.

    • Sounds like it was an amazing experience, but yeah – I’d react the same way to a group holiday I reckon, I couldn’t socialise with people I didn’t know for that length of time! x