The Best Solo Travel Ideas for Winter

Nov 24, 2019

No shade towards your family and friends, but on the assumption that you’re about to get a megadose of them, we’re guessing you might need a minute (or a month) to yourself after the holidays. We’re also guessing that if your me-time happened somewhere that felt far, far away, you wouldn’t mind. Dreamy surroundings probably wouldn’t hurt either. With that in mind, we’ve come up with six experiences that will let you decompress, pursue your own interests, meet like-minded travelers—or just do you.

Explore the Arctic

Though their stories don’t get much love in history books, several pioneering female explorers have braved the Canadian tundra. To celebrate these intrepid women—as well as those who’ve been here for generations—Natural Habitat Adventures (the travel branch of the World Wildlife Fund) asked naturalist Annie Van Dinther to create an epic adventure just for women. The resulting Northern Lights and Arctic Cultures weeks (Feb. 4-10; Feb. 24-Mar. 1) are based in the former fur-trading post of Churchill, Manitoba, where you’ll do a deep dive (figuratively—but if you want the literal version, look here) into local life. Think igloo building, snowshoeing and dog-sledding, for starters. You’ll also get an intro to field research at the Churchill Northern Studies Center, meet with the daughter of a famed local elder and—of course—take in the Northern Lights. Arguably the best vantage point? A mercifully heated glass Aurora Pod with 360-degree views. To help you cheat a bit on your packing list—because the Arctic wasn’t built for traveling light—the organizers will spot you a lot of the cold weather gear you’ll want (serious parkas, waterproof pants and Arctic boots, among other things). And as long as you're willing to share a room (the way we see it: the more body heat the better), there's no single supplement.

Get fit in Costa Rica

One way to not let yourself off the hook once you’ve made your obligatory annual wellness resolutions? Work on them somewhere beautiful, where you’ll enjoy your surroundings as much as your workouts. Or so goes the thinking at Ketanga Fitness, anyway, and we’re total believers. The company’s retreats pair exercise with all kinds of local highlights, from wine tastings, to—in the case of Costa Rica—rainforest tours. See for yourself on the Tamarindo-based 2020 Fitness Jumpstart retreat (Feb. 6-10), whether you’re just looking to restart your routine or you want to take things to the next level. You’ll get one-on-one coaching sessions, small group classes and local adventure ops (think surfing and zip lining)—plus free time to peace out poolside or in the Pacific. You'll be staying at the classically beachy Tamarindo Diria, where you can book a room for yourself or bunk with a fellow fitness seeker. 

Take a working vacation

Whether your fulltime gig makes you location-independent to begin with—or you just want a break from it to pursue a side-hustle—check out Hacker Paradise. With trips that typically last weeks to months (you can join at various points along the way), the company sets up comfortable, private digs in fun neighborhoods, plus coworking spaces, SIM cards, reliable wifi, professional development workshops, networking events with locals and other get-togethers. February in Montevideo is looking pretty good to us, but then again, we wouldn’t mind catching the last few weeks of the already-in-progress trip to Cape Town or Santiago. If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, check out a variation on the theme: Unsettled’s programs range from a week to a month and take curious, independent travelers of all ages and professions to Peru, Bali, Colombia, Argentina, the Bahamas and Nicaragua (and that's just the lineup for this winter).

Discover your inner surf bum

Or mountain biking bum, or climbing bum…you get the idea. Whatever pursuit is likeliest to reconnect you to nature—and disconnect you from the noise of daily life—LOGE Camps are here to help. Shorthand for Live Outside, Go Explore, the brand takes forgotten but well-placed motels throughout the Pacific Northwest, CA and CO, and brings them back to life with outdoorsy-chic accommodations (that include plenty of solo options), cafes, fire pits, open mic nights, game nights and live music. The properties also come with onsite gear rental so you can take full advantage of wherever you happen to be, from Bend (all about the mountain biking, but check out the local snow-shoeing, too) to Westport (surf central).

Go on a solo safari

Though it's the kind of trip people tend to put off until they can find someone to go along (rare is the soul who wants to spend the night alone, in the jungle, where the lion sleeps at night), your epic safari doesn't have to wait. Like every trip by Flashpack—a British company that caters specifically to 30- and 40-something solo travelers—the Gorilla Trekking & Wild Adventure in Rwanda will pair you with a roomie, whom you'll meet along with your other fellow travelers via a private WhatsApp group before you take off. Once you arrive, the marquis gorillas are just the start (though being in their presence is—without exaggeration—one of the most sublime and intimate wildlife encounters you'll ever have). You'll also bike through the stunning Virunga Mountains, kayak and canoe the area's wildlife-filled waterways, get an intro to coffee production from villagers who specialize in it—and track still more wildlife in the the Nyungwe Forest. Word to the wise: There's still one spot on he January departure, and more availability on the February departure.

Get rolling on the river

As go the world’s megaships, so go its smaller vessels—at least when you’re talking about their newfound friendliness to solo travelers. Just like the big boys, river cruise lines are increasingly offering single-occupancy cabins, waived single supplements and other solo travel perks. Among the best and poshest is Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, whose river fleet includes solo staterooms, plus frequent pricing breaks for solo travelers. So if, say, the waterways of Southeast Asia are sounding really dreamy right about now, know that Scenic has waived all single supplements on the last Luxury Irrawaddy and Luxury Mekong departures of 2019, of which several remain. Your toughest choice? figuring out which set of stunning pagodas, buzzing markets, old-school rickshaw rides and local delicacies you want to go with. (Good luck with that.)

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