5 Great Vacation Ideas for Solo Travellers
Summer is prime time for solo travel. The days are long, the weather is fine and there are plenty of opportunities to score a discount on a hotel or an escorted tour (without the costs of the dreaded single supplement) if you know where to look. I’ve travelled solo to more than 25 countries–experiencing everything from riding a motorbike through Hanoi’s Old Quarter in Vietnam to taking cooking classes in Guatemala–and here are a few of my top picks for summer solo travel:
1. Green Season Savings in Mexico and Costa Rica
They don’t call summer the “Green Season” in Mexico and Costa Rica simply because of the lush landscape. It’s also a prime time for scoring a deal on a hotel, as low season means prices are slashed. This means savings for solo travellers who can take their pick from a wide range of accommodations and commit to a longer-than-usual stay. Options for long stay vacations include yoga retreats ( try Yoga Sofia in Puerto Escondido) or surfing classes (the Cayuga Collection’s eco-lodges in Costa Rica offer “Stay 5 nights, Get one Free” deals). It’s also prime time for watching pro international surfing competitions in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. Check out the size of the giant waves in summer:
Want to learn to surf in Puerto Escondido, Mexico? Check out these posts for ideas:
2. Learning Vacations
Why not spend your summer learning a new language? With its rich colonial past and strong Mayan heritage, Guatemala is home to more language schools than any other country in Central America, so it’s easy and affordable to learn some lingo in a one-on-one Spanish class. You can study 4 or even 7 hours a day starting at just $150 USD a week (or less) at a language school in Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site or in Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. Extra curricular activities such as salsa dancing classes, market tours or archeological excursions are usually included and are a fantastic opportunity to meet students of all ages. Accommodation options include a home stay with a Guatemalan family for around $125 USD a week or a long stay in one of the city’s beautiful colonial hotels.
Another unforgettable Learning Vacation experience is to swim with beluga whales in Hudson Bay. Summer is when 5,000 or more white beluga whales migrate to the Churchill River Estuary to feed and birth their young so it’s possible to don a wet suit and observe them in the wild. Learn about experiences studying Spanish in Guatemala, taking a writing retreat in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia or other escapes in these posts:
Swimming with Beluga Whales in Churchill, Manitoba – a Beluga Adventure by Wandering Carol
3. Get Cooking
Another fun vacation that’s ideal for solo travellers is a hands-on cooking class with a professional chef or local expert. I’ve taken cooking classes in Paris, Mexico, Vietnam, Italy, Guatemala and many other international destinations and not only do you get to mingle with locals and learn about new ingredients while shopping in outdoor markets but you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Read about some of the cooking classes I’ve enjoyed here:
4. Volunteer Vacations
A vacation that gives back to the community you’re visiting is always a worthwhile option for solo travellers. Not only do they offer a chance to help those in need but participants can connect with local people, help preserve the environment and meet fellow volunteers. Through my volunteer assignments around the world — from Honduras to Russia — I’ve experienced countries in ways I could never have imagined and made friendships that will last a lifetime. Read more about Volunteer Vacations and solo travel here:
4 Volunteer Vacations in Mexico – my story in Experience Transat
Volunteering in Honduras
5. Escorted Tours and Cruises
In response to growing demand for solo travel, forward-thinking tour operators are increasing their selection of tours with no single supplement (an extra charge which can cost 50% more than the cost of a double-occupancy space). Insight Vacations often offers deals where solo travellers pay no Single Supplement or 75% off certain departures of their escorted luxury tours to Italy and Turkey. Tall ship sailing cruise line, Star Clippers is offering solo travellers a deal of NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT on select Mediterranean, Caribbean and Asia sailings in 2016 and 2017 on all three ships. I travelled solo on the Royal Clipper, sailing through the Caribbean on a five-masted tall ship and found the ship’s relaxed atmosphere to be very friendly to solo travellers. I especially appreciated the open seating at dinner as it meant I could choose to join a group or dine alone.
Looking ahead to fall solo travel, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises often offers reduced single supplements on their luxury all-inclusive cruise The Splendors of Italy as well as waives the single supplement on cruises in France and along the Danube.
Walking tours are another excellent way for solo travellers to explore a city. Eating Europe Food Tours offers fantastic culinary walking tours in Rome, London, Amsterdam and Prague. Not only will enjoy an insider’s look (and taste) of a city but you’ll meet other travellers along the way. I participated in the tour, Culinary Backstreets of the Bazaar Quarter in Istanbul and not only was it was an incredible culinary experience — we began with breakfast in the Old Quarter, sampled wedding soup from Konya, shared platters of mezes, explored street food like kebab and pide — but at $125 USD for six hours of touring, it was fantastic value.
Sailing the Secret Caribbean on the Royal Clipper – print feature in Fifty-five Plus magazine.
GO VIP in Italy with Luxury Gold by Insight Vacations – my review in TravelAge West