Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Best Countries to Travel Solo.

I like travelling, and I like travelling solo.

Don't get me wrong, it's super nice to travel with other people, but there's also a great amount of enjoyment to be had travelling with yourself as company. I've been to 20 countries so far completely on my own, meaning that almost half my travels have been solo. I've absolutely loved the experience of being alone when travelling, but some places have definitely been better than others for a solo traveller. Here's my list of top picks, which isn't to say anywhere else isn't good, rather to highlight some of the best places that I've been when solo!

N.B. I have only included actual places that I have been with no one for company. Many places I have been when with others would also be great solo destinations, but having not experienced them alone yet, I don't want to put them on this list as this is a collection of tried and tested places!

1. Turkey
Arguably an unexpected pick for first place, I honestly could not rate Turkey higher. I travelled for 3 weeks completely alone in July and August of 2016 throughout Turkey and quite simply, I had the time of my life. Lately Turkey has had a few political problems, which I won't comment on here, but in my personal experince of having actually been in the country, for a tourist, and a female, red-headed one at that, I could not have felt safer in Turkey if I tried. Everywhere I went, everything I saw and did and everyone I met was amazing! There's so much to do and see in Turkey, it is relatively cheap, I never felt like I was in danger, the people were super helpful and friendly, it was really easy to speak and communicate with people despite speaking very minimal Turkish and there were heaps of options for day trips if I felt like doing something with other people. Perhaps not somewhere people typically consider for a solo trip, but defintely one they should! Turkey = AMAZING.

Dancing around like a lunatic outside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul.
2. Poland
I love Poland. I fist visited in 2015 and fell completly in love with the country. I have recently been back and discovered that I am no less in love with Poland. Essentially it is a truly fantastic place. My recommendations for must see places are Poznan, Wroclaw, Krakow and Warsaw. There are a heap of other places too, but these are some that I've visited and have fallen hopelessly in love with. Poland is a super cheap destination, making it great for a solo traveller with no one on hand to split costs with. There's a heap to see and do, getting around is both cheap and easy with mega-cheap trains and public transport options, it is a realtively safe country and it was easy to get around only speaking minimal Polish. 11/10 would recommend.

On top of the Cathedral in Wroclaw, south-west Poland in the summer of 2015.
3. Slovenia
I feel like this is an emerging pattern, but I must say, I absolutely LOVE Slovenia. There are few places that I've been where I've immediately stepped off the plane/train/bus and thought 'oooooo, I could defintely live here', but Slovenia is 100% one of those places. Aside from being quite seriously the prettiest country I have ever seen, Slovenia is super friendly, super safe, super diverse and fairly cheap. They also love bike riding, mountains, lakes and castles, which is always a great set of things to both appreciate, but also have plenty of in your country. Hot tip - Lake Bled is a must see, along with the capital, Ljubljana (pronounced Lub-lee-ahhh-nahh) and Vintgar Gorge.

This is Vintgar Gorge, which I can confirm, looks a hell of a lot like a magical fairyland/Narnia in real life. 
4. Croatia
Croatia has a bit of a reputation as a party place, so why then do I put it on the solo list when partying generally requires friends? In summer 2016 I spent 3 weeks in Croatia and let me tell you, it was a truly fantastic 3 weeks! I visited Zagreb, Zadar, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Kornati Islands, Nin, Trogir, Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik and I did all of that alone and oh boy was it an amazing time. There's so much to see and do, there's a whole heap of day trips on offer if you ever feel like making some fast friends and doing something with other people, there are plenty of hostels where you'll find lots of travellers after a good time and a few drinks, so if you'd like to head out on the town but fear doing that alone, you need not worry! Croatia isn't the cheapest country in the summer, so at times it was pricey not having someone else to offset costs with, but being Eastern Europe, it was still cheaper than many other places. It was also worth every penny I spent there, because everything I did, saw and ate was great!

One of my favourite solo photos I've ever taken - on the rocks in Dubrovnik watching the sunset over the ocean. I was so fulfilled and so happy and this picture always brings a huge smile to my face when I think back on the moment it was taken. 
5. Germany
I've spent a lot of time in Germany, both with others and also alone, and I think it's a great option for all travellers. In my experience when being solo in Germany, I have always found that there is plenty to do, there's lots of other solo travellers, so making new friends is super easy, it is relatively cheap, especially in the East and Berlin, it is very safe, getting around is quick and easy and there's an endless amount of stuff to see and do, so you'll never be bored! My top recommendations for Germany are Berlin, Potsdam, Munich, Bamberg, Nuremburg, Hamburg and some day trips to some smaller, lesser-known towns. Also, visit as many castles as you can. Germany has lots of them and I haven't been to a bad one yet!

This is one of my favourite scenery pictures, captured in January 2017 in Berlin overlooking the Berliner Dom and River Spree. One of my favourite moments from one of my favourite cities and countries. 
6. United Kingdom
As with Germany, I have also spent significant time in the UK. The UK is a fantastic place to be a solo traveller for many of the same reasons as Germany - lots to do, lots of other solo travellers, fairly low cost, easy transport, GREAT ACCENTS, very safe and amazing shopping. My top picks for the UK are London (obviously!), either Cambridge or Oxford, Bath, Edinburgh and Brighton. If you have a car, the Lakes District is also well worth a trip!

Contrary to initial assumptions you may make, this beautiful building is in actual fact, located in Brighton on the British seaside, and yes, it is indeed possible, on occasion, to wear shorts and sleeveless tops in the UK. 
7. Czech Republic
The first time I went to Prague, I was with a bunch of friends, I got exceptionally intoxicated and essentially had a wild night on the town and actually don't remember anything that happened. The second time I went to Prague, I was 100% sober and solo, I remembered everything and I had a wildly amazing time. Whilst having only been to the Czech capital, this country makes the list because Prague is one of the greatest cities in the world (in my opinion). As a solo female, it was cheap, safe, super friendly, has great summer weather, lots of doughnuts (#important) and was cheap. I plan on heading back there as soon as I can so I can czech out some more of the country (see what I did there? Sorry...I couldn't help myself), in particular, Cesky Krumlov and Karlov Vary.

8. Singapore
Singapore has the great honor of being the only place in Asia that I've been whilst solo. If you're interested in seeing Asia and you'll be alone, Singapore is a great place to start. It is a very developed and organised city, so culture shock won't be as dramatic as with some other places. Singapore is exceptionally safe, in actual fact, it's one of the world's safest countries, it is reasonably priced, they have amazing public transport, great food options and also a forest of trees that light up in fancy colours with an accompanying soundtrack of dramatic music. What more could you possibly want in life?

The traditional Peranakan Houses in East Singapore.
9. Ireland
First things first, Ireland is SUPER CUTE. Maybe this sounds like a stereotype, but it's true; everything is green, everyone is friendly and they have FANTASTIC accents. I have been known to engage Irish people in conversation purely for the pleasure of hearing them speak and indulging my love of Irish accents. I have no regrets. So why is Ireland great for solo travellers? Well. It's cheap, there's so many super fun day trips that you can do to meet other people, they have utterly outstanding nature, Irish people love drinking and going to the pub, so if you're wanting to meet some people, especially the locals, that's easy done and also they have great accents, which is reason enough for going there. A must see is Connemara National Park, which is huge and remote (by Irish standards), but can be seen by either renting a car or jumping on one of many day trips or short tours. There's also a great falafel restaurant in downtown Dublin called 'Umi Falafel' which deserves a special mention.

Kylemore Abbey, in the wild remoteness of the Connemara region. 
10. Sweden
I've been to Sweden three times in four years, so I guess you could say that I like the place. I've twice been as a solo traveller and had a great time both times, so it rounds out my top ten best places. Being Scandinavia, things can get a little expensive in Sweden, which isn't great when you're alone as there's no one to share costs with, but Sweden is still well worth considering as a solo destination. I can only speak two words of Swedish, but I've literally never had a problem getting around, there are a heap of museum, castles, galleries, a super cute Old Town in Stockholm and an incredible amount of beautiful lakes, national parks and green spaces to see. There's also this place in Stockholm called 'Herman's' which is a vegan, all-you-can-eat buffet. I would literally go back to Sweden again solely to eat at Herman's again because that place is HEAVEN. I quite seriously ate 4 times the normal adult intake of food when I went and they also had a snicker's cheesecake that I've dreamt about two nights in a row. In all honesty, go for the vegan buffet, stay for the great sights (including all the beautiful looking Swedish people...).


I plan on adding to this list over the next few years as I continue to take on the world as a crazy solo vegan traveller. I'm planning on heading to Asia, North America and Africa next to hopefully make this list a little less Euro-centric, but like I said, this list contains only places I have personally experienced whilst solo and till now, most of my time has been spent travelling in Europe. Let me know any recommendations you might have for good solo destinations because I'm always on the hunt for some more places to see!! 


Frequently Asked Questions

Who are you?

Hi. My name is Rebecca, and I'm a wizard.
That's a lie. I'm not a wizard but I wish I were. I am however, actually called Rebecca. 
I'm a lawyer who spends my days working in the areas of administrative law and government litigation, my evenings binge watching Netflix and my weekends cooking, eating, hiking and when the weather permits, snowboarding.

Where do you come from?

I was born in Canberra, Australia's capital city. I didn't grow up there though, rather I lived for the first 14 years of my life in regional New South Wales, mostly in a town called Griffith. When I was 14, I moved to Canberra to go to boarding school and after graduating I moved to London, UK where I lived, worked and travelled from for 12 months. At the beginning of 2014 I moved back to Canberra to study at university and then in mid-2016 I moved to Berlin, Germany to study at university. After finishing my uni degree I temporarily moved back out to Griffith (though in reality spent most of that time overseas having a grand old time) and eventually I've done a full circle and very happily find myself back in my beloved Canberra. 

Who's in your family?

Aside from my mum and dad, I have one older brother, my dog (Red, who is the actual love of my life and hands down the best dog ever) and a fish (called Fish because #creativity). 

Why are you a vegan?

For the better part of my life, I've been overweight. For me, being a healthy size has been an ongoing battle, and for many years I was extraordinarily unhappy with my size and my wellbeing. In mid-2014 I decided that I genuinely wanted to be a both a healthier and also a happier person. Initially this came in the form of calorie restricting, which initially caused some weight loss, but quickly became extremely unhealthy and I ended up binge eating, thus defeating the purpose. So, I sought other ways to be healthy, mainly by increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables that I ate. Over many months, I progressively ate so many vegetables that meat only occupied a tiny amount of my diet. In this time I also read a lot about nutrition, and from that reading decided to cut dairy out of my diet. Eventually after reading about veganism online, I decided to try it, and I've never looked back.

For a few months, when I cooked for myself I would make vegan food and when I was out, I'd try and eat vegan, but if vegan food wasn't available, I would eat vegetarian. Thus, I very slowly eased my way into being a vegan. One day In September 2015 I decided to make the 'jump' and became a full vegan. I'd been mostly eating a plant based diet for nearly 8 months by that time and I wasn't scared or nervous about the challenges that being a vegan might mean anymore. I've been 100% vegan since then and I've never felt better or been healthier.


So, to summarise all that, I went vegan for health reasons.


But, as time has gone on, I have become increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of eating animal products, and I am extremely passionate about eating plant based for the environment. 


What's better, cats or dogs?

This is a very, very important question. With zero hesitation, dogs. I am 110% a dog person. In actual fact, I'm so obsessed with my dog that I frequently Facetime home simply so I can talk to her, and not my parents. As you might imagine, they appreciate this order of priorities a lot...

Why do you travel so much? 

I love to travel. It's my greatest passion in life and my biggest love aside from my dog. I love seeing the world and honestly cannot imagine anything worse than being stuck in only one place.  

Where have you travelled?

Asia;
Malaysia, Maldives, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Cambodia, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Japan

Middle East;

United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Jordan

Europe;

Portugal, Spain, France, Monaco, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy, the Vatican, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, United Kingdom, Slovakia, Luxembourg

Oceania;

Australia, New Zealand 

South America;
Argentina, Chile, Uruguay

Africa;
Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia 

All up, 58 countries and counting!!


What's a random fun fact about yourself?

Ich kann Deustch sprechen!! (I can speak German) 

I have no close German family, just some distant heritage from the 1800's, so there's no real reason for me to speak German aside from the fact that I love the German speaking world and apparently like to battle my way through extraordinarily complex grammar...


What's on your travel bucket list?

Lofoten Islands - Norway
Mt. Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar - Tanzania
Bishkek, Osh, Tian Shan Mountains - Kyrgyzstan 
St Petersberg, Moscow, Lake Baikal, Kazan - Russia
Kiev - Ukraine 
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Schloss Hohenzollern - Germany
Quebec, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Ottowa, Banff - Canada
Seattle, San Francisco, Hawaiian Islands, New York, New Orleans, Yosemite National Park - USA
Jellyfish Lake - Palau (Google it!!)
Zhangjiajie National Park - China
Galapagos Islands, Lake Titicaca - Ecuador 
Cancun, Tulum - Mexico
Muscat - Oman
Gobi Desert - Mongolia
Seychelles
Uganda to see the mountain gorillas 

+ EVERYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD 

(as you can see, I'm quite the fan of some rather random and 'weird' places) 

Where in the world are you off to next?

When I have some annual leave banked up at a very imprecise and undeterminable point in the future, the dream is to go to Kyrgyzstan to hike in the Tian Shan Mountains. I also have lofty ambitions of spending a white Christmas in a cute mountain hut in Colorado, USA (mostly for the snowboarding, though I'll also get round the hot choccies because #balance), hiking some of the multi-day trails in NZ's South Island and I'd quite fancy an overland tour through Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Ultimately though, courtesy of being a real adult with a job and also the whole global pandemic thing, all of this is but a dream. One day! 

What is your spirit animal?

This is a very tricky one to answer...

I literally just did a Buzzfeed quiz that said my spirit animal is a sloth because apparently 'Your favourite activities include eating, sleeping, and eating again. Your rap name is Sir Naps-a-Lot.' I do like sleeping and eating, so they're not exactly wrong, but I feel like I'm a little faster than a sloth... 


Do you have any special skills?

I like to think I'm good a remembering somewhat random and generally useless fun facts about most things, so if you give me a topic - any topic - there's a strong likelihood I can provide you with a tidbit of random information on that topic. 
I'm also a geography nerd. If challenged, I reckon I could name all the countries in the world, every capital city in Europe, all the states of America, flags (if you show me pictures) and other fun geographic stuff. 
I also love planes and can tell you with a disturbingly high degree of accuracy all the regualar international departures from Sydney International Airport (approximate time of day, airline, aircraft type and destination) (yes I know how nerdy this is but I'll make no apologies). 

Do you actually frequently get asked these questions?
No. Well, in part actually, because sometimes people ask the odd question and I find it hard to answer properly on social media, so I thought I'd make a page of questions here instead. But truthfully, I like answering questions and I am also an ace procrastinator, and I should be doing work right now, but instead consider it much more fun to ask and answer questions... 




If you have any questions, feel free to ask away! As I said, I like answering questions, so I'm happy to tell you more random and semi-useless information about myself, Harry Potter, bike riding or anything else that takes your fancy!