The Best Places for Solo Travelers This Fall
However you roll as a solo traveler—a purist in search of quality alone time, or a party of one who's up for good company—this season doesn't disappoint: epic road trips; Italian cooking classes; alternate Inca trails...even the proverbial sail into the sunset. Read on for six of our favorite solo trips, then start drafting your OOO message.
Cruise the Caribbean
Chase the sun—and support a considerable hurricane recovery effort—on a Caribbean cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line. (NCL also happens to have been the first of the cruise titans to introduce studio staterooms—read: no double occupancy fees—and has since landed on countless "best line for solo travelers" lists.) On the fleet's six ships that offer studio digs, you'll also find a Studio Lounge, where you can grab drinks, order room service or just chill by the TV. NCL also hosts solo traveler meet-ups, including Friends of Dorothy Happy Hours. As for the excursion menu, it ranges from parasailing above the Caribbean's legendary waters swimming through them with their equally legendary menagerie (from angelfish to parrotfish and every tropical species in between). Depending on where you are, there's also kayaking, bamboo rafting and beach-lounging aplenty. Of course, traveling alone, you'll have no one around to judge you if all you really want to do is stay on board for back-to-back spa treatments and tropical drinks by the pool. So cheers to that!
Get cooking in Italy
Umbria flies under the radar, but—mamma mia!—is this central Italian gem worth the trip. "Umbria is known in Italy as the nation’s 'cuore verde,' its green heart, where the landscape still reflects ancient traditions—agricultural, artistic and spiritual," according to the New York Times. "But the rest of the world knows little about the region and its cuisine: its gold-green olive oil, its rich red wines, its diverse grains and its unmatched artistry in salumi." Go see (and taste) what you've been missing at Let’s Cook In Umbria—a family-run, organic farm-based operation that's particularly great for solo-traveling foodies. You can still join the last solo-only trip of the season if you go, like, now: The five-day olive harvest and cooking package starts Oct. 27. But if that’s too last-minute, the company also offers solo-friendly (if not solo-specific) trips—usually a mix of friends, couples and singles (see: the wish list for solo travelers). The 5 Days Italian Cookery Getaway in Umbria is a popular choice, involving a stay at the owners' farm house, a trip to a chocolate museum, a wine and olive oil tour, a visit to Assisi—and lots of hands-on cooking classes. And you won't have to share a room: Your own space comes at no extra cost.
Road-trip through New Zealand
Need some major me time? On a New Zealand road trip, the only thing keeping you from being alone with your thoughts is half the world's sheep population (or so it will seem, even if we just made up that stat). As one of the safest and most stunning places in existence, New Zealand is the perfect solo travel destination. And there's a bonus for anyone who's already feeling some early onset Seasonal Affect Disorder: Spring has already sprung in the Southern Hemisphere, where—rather than sad, barren branches—all kinds of budding and flowering will be happening. Immerse yourself in the awakening wilderness by booking a safety- and cleanliness-guaranteed Spaceships campervan (all come with cooking and sleeping basics, but you may want to spring for the luxury bedding and/or fully equipped kitchen), and check the company’s solo travel tips. And given the long-haul flight you've taken to get here, go all out: Try this 13-day Auckland to Christchurch adventure, and be sure to hike ancient glaciers, hit Polynesian spas, explore glow worm caves and bungie jump at the world’s first bungie site along the way. Sure, driving on the “wrong” side of the road might take some getting used to, but you won’t be doing much city driving anyway. On the open road, your biggest obstacles will be sheep crossings.
Light things up in Thailand
Safe and easy to navigate, Chiang Mai is never not gorgeous, but it turns into an extra ethereal escape during two overlapping festivals: Loy Krathong (Nov. 11-13) is celebrated with the release of lotus-shaped, candle-bearing floats onto the nation's rivers. Yi Peng (Nov. 11-12), another light festival that's especially epic in Chiang Mai, sees countless lanterns sent into the night sky along with prayers and good wishes (you can buy biodegradable lanterns before you go). If you like to travel but not alone, consider going with G Adventures, a company that repeatedly ranks on best-of lists for solo travelers and offers various trips to Chiang Mai in early and mid-November.
Try a Peruvian sampler course
Tick Machu Picchu off your bucket list—and get a quick intro to Peru in the process—on this 8-day trip from Flash Pack, a company that caters entirely to solo travelers in their 30s and 40s (read: nary a single supplement in sight). You'll do everything from mountain bike through the Sacred Valley to hike a portion of the Inca trail to—of course—explore the mind-blowing ruins of Machu Picchu. Having worked up a proper appetite, you'll take a cooking class in Cusco and learn first-hand why Peruvian cuisine is dominating the global foodie scene. Keep in mind that November is the start of the wet season, but any rains should be mild, if they show at all—and they keep the summer crowds away (worth getting a bit damp for, in our humble opinion). Plus, every other shop in Machu Picchu Pueblo (the ruins-adjacent town formerly known as Aguas Calientes) sells ponchos.
Soak up Southern charm in Charleston
On a quest for an easy fall escape? Head to South Carolina’s charming Charleston, where pretty much everything you want to do is an easy walk or bike ride away. History-rich stops along the way include the Nathaniel Russell House (above), the Charleston City Market (try to visit for both the day and night markets) and the Battery. The best eateries for solo travelers include the cool-and-casual Bar at Husk (part of the famed namesake restaurant, whose house burger pairs beautifully with bourbon) and The Grocery, a friendly spot with a wooden community table and killer corn pudding. If you can time your arrival to the Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival (Nov. 7–10), so much the better: Everyone from Rebecca Makkai to Joyce Carol Oates will be in attendance, too.