Packing up your possessions, booking a ticket, and venturing to a foreign country on your own is one of the most daunting but liberating things you can do. To some, that might sound terrifying, but for Lisa Imogen Eldridge, a longtime professional traveler and founder of Girl About the Globe, solo travel is something every woman should try at least once in their lifetime.
"Traveling solo shows you how to overcome obstacles, connect with your emotions, and cope entirely by yourself," she tells MyDomaine. "It makes you more approachable and open to opportunities. You have to problem-solve and make constant decisions—essential life skills."
So far, Eldridge has traveled to 70 countries solo, and she tells us she doesn't plan to stop anytime soon. "It's a never-ending learning curve, and each time I feel that I have it all worked out, I learn something new about myself."
If you've never traveled on your own, don't worry. These are the seven safest and most rewarding vacations to take as a first-time solo traveler. Believe us, this is one decision you'll never regret.
FRANCEThe Solo Romantic Trip
The City of Love isn't only for couples. "I spent five days in the French capital and fell in love with the Parisian way of life," Eldridge says. "You can stop in a French café and won't get judged for being here alone. It has so many beautiful buildings to see that you could easily spend five to seven days just sightseeing."
If you're nervous about finding your way around a French-speaking city, don't worry. Eldridge points out that one of the perks of visiting Paris is the efficient metro. "It's so easy to navigate your way around and each station is artistically different."
Top Solo Attraction: There's an almost endless list of attractions, ranging from exquisite galleries to glittery landmarks, but Eldridge says there's one place you must see. "The list is endless but my favorite attraction is the Sacré Cœur. It is a stunning basilica and one of the most iconic monuments in Paris. It is definitely worth climbing the hill to see it."
SLOVENIAThe Introspective Trip
If you'd rather escape the bustle of tourists who flood popular cities like Venice and Dubrovnik, Slovenia should be at the top of your list. "It isn't on the main tourist route, so you won't find the hordes of crowds that you get in Italy or Croatia," Eldridge says. Bonus: "One of the most underrated countries in Europe, Slovenia has the beauty of Austria and Switzerland and is lighter on the purse strings."
The perfect introspective trip, the stunning Slovenian countryside will encourage you to pause and self-reflect. "Over a third of Slovenia is a protected natural area and the country has more than a thousand lakes as well as tens of natural thermal springs," she says.
Unlike other scenic countries, it's surprisingly easy to get around if you're traveling solo. "There is a great bus network, whether you want to visit castles, monasteries, or caves, or spend time at Lake Bled, one of the most tranquil spots I have ever visited."
Top Attraction: Fly into Ljubljana to appreciate the capital at your own pace. "Spend some time wandering around Ljubljana admiring the Baroque-style architecture and alpine parks and forests on its outskirts," Eldridge says. You won't tire of your own company, as "you'll often find musicians and people dancing in the main square or locals reciting poetry," she adds.
THAILANDThe Social Trip
"If you've never traveled solo before, then Thailand should be your first port of call," Eldridge says, explaining that of the 70 countries she's visited on her own, this is the ultimate first stop. "The people are incredibly friendly (it's not called 'The Land of Smiles' for nothing), and there are so many travelers that you'll be looking for those hidden gems to escape the crowds."
If cost is a concern, Thailand is a great option. Aside from the initial cost of the flight, the country is very affordable to explore alone. "Completely geared up for the tourist industry, Thailand is incredibly easy to visit with great transport links, stunning accommodations, and the guarantee of meeting many other like-minded solo travelers," she says.
Top Solo Attraction: "The capital, Bangkok, is one of Asia's most exciting and culture-shocking cities," Eldridge says. She notes that the beaches live up to the hype, but that Thailand's "real magic lies in its Buddhist culture and stunning temples."
NEW ZEALANDThe Road Trip
Granted, New Zealand is far away, but if you're planning a long trip or are visiting neighboring Australia, Eldridge says it's well worth the jet lag. "New Zealand has an abundance of gorgeous scenery and easy-going folk to create a winning destination," she says.
Thankfully, there is a wide range of accommodations and transport, making it the ultimate road trip destination. "There is a large choice of hostels, campsites, hotels, and wooden lodges, and getting around the country couldn't be simpler. Jump aboard an organized tour, hire a car, or rent a motor home to travel around the two islands."
Top Solo Attraction: "If you love adventure, Queenstown should be on your list. This gorgeous destination is a mecca for adrenaline junkies—you can skydive, bungee, or take a jet boat, plus so much more," Eldridge says.
SHANGHAIThe Culture-Shock Trip
One of the most powerful lessons you can learn from traveling solo is insights from vastly different cultures. "I have realized that people all have the same basic needs: shelter, food, and love, no matter where we are in the world. Travel has taught me not to judge and to be open to any experience," Eldridge says.
If you're searching for a vacation that will challenge your worldview and teach you about a different culture, Shanghai is ideal. "Shanghai is an amazing city. [It's] nearly five times bigger than New York, and being alone doesn't seem to be a problem here," she says.
"Old French buildings adorn the riverfront, and shop after shop line East Nanjing Road, a shopper's paradise with every store you can possibly imagine. If you are visiting South Korea or Japan, Shanghai makes a great multi-destination."
Top Solo Attraction: Head to one of Shanghai's world-famous sky bars to sip on a cocktail and take in the breathtaking skyline view. "Seeing the city's skyline from the waterfront, riverboat, [or a rooftop] bar has to be the best thing to do here."
SWITZERLANDThe Adventurous Trip
If you love the natural scenery of New Zealand but can't take a long vacation, consider Switzerland. "It's one of the safest countries with fantastic infrastructure," Eldridge says. "Every place you visit here is just gorgeous, and there are panoramic trains so you can see the scenery from the comfort of a train seat."
Language isn't an issue, either. "Most of the Swiss speak English. "You'll have no issues walking around at night, and if you get lost, someone will always offer a helping hand, although everywhere is well-marked, so you shouldn't get lost!"
Top Solo Attraction: Eldridge has traveled extensively throughout Europe, and she says one Swiss attraction provides the best views she's ever seen. "Take the Jungfrau Railway to the highest-altitude railway station in Europe," she says. "The Jungfraujoch is situated in the middle of the UNESCO World Heritage–site Swiss Alps and is called the 'top of Europe' because it literally is."
AUSTRALIAThe Long-Term Trip
If, like Eldridge, solo travel sparks a curiosity and excitement in you that makes returning home impossible, consider Australia. "Australia is one of the easiest places to travel to alone, and because of its ease, many younger travelers choose to visit here to experience life Down Under before entering the job market," she says. "They offer [skilled migrant] visas, so you can base yourself there then go traveling afterward."
Unsure where to go in this vast country? "The east coast is popular for backpackers, or visit Melbourne for chic boutiques and a mature crowd," she says. "With an outdoor culture and a more relaxed vibe, Australia will feel just like home, only much further away."
Top Solo Attraction: Tick off the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in one day. "To get a good view of the harbor, you can climb the Harbour Bridge. Don't forget to go inside the Opera House and watch a show!"
Ready to book your first solo trip? Here's what our editor discovered when she ventured overseas on her own.