What are your best solo travel memories of 2018?
I posed this question to the members of the Solo Travel Society, our community of close to 240,000 travelers on Facebook. Many people responded, from all over the world, sharing their most treasured travel experiences of the last year.
It was wonderful to hear from so many readers who had traveled solo – some for the first time – gathered inspiring new stories, and exited 2018 with many new and beautiful travel memories.
Here are a few of the Solo Travel Society’s favorite solo travel memories of the past year.
Alison In June, I hired a campervan in London and drove to France (this is the second time I have done this). I drove through Normandy, down through to the Dordogne, then the Cevennes and Provence. The campervan broke down in Provence and I had to stay in a hotel for three nights. Once it was fixed, I drove across the border to Genoa in Italy, then down through the Cinque Terre, over to Florence and Siena, then back up to Verona. From there, I drove to the Dolomites. While there, I camped in the most amazing places and hiked in the Tre Cime di Lavaredo park, which was truly the most incredible experience ever!
I drove slowly back to France then back to London to return my campervan.
The whole trip taught me that a) I am much more resourceful than I give myself credit for, b) people think I am brave and c) no matter what the language, if you smile and are polite, everyone is your friend.
Brad I was able to cross off a long-time bucket list wish when I visited Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and its mysterious moai (stone figures) this past spring. It is the most remote inhabited place on earth, a 4-1/2 hour flight in each direction to Papeete, Tahiti and Santiago, Chile (the only two places from which one can fly directly) with nothing in between. So much is still unknown about this beautiful, safe, and peaceful place. It’s pretty amazing that early settlers were even able to navigate to it – seems like the ultimate “needle in the haystack” with it being in the middle of nowhere and very tiny (about the size of Washington DC). It does take a long time to get there for most people, but it’s well worth a visit in the end.
Sandra Attending the Montreux Jazz Festival has been on my to-do list for years and my dream finally came true last year. I found a room in a Swiss couple’s home high above Lake Geneva. I pushed my physical limits by walking uphill to their house instead of riding the bus. The day was hot and along the way I became thirsty. A small pizza joint was right next to the path, so I asked if they would fill my water bottle. He pointed to a long, wooden trough with a spout bringing icy water down from the mountains – free of charge and as much as I wanted. What a blessing!
I rode the Golden Jazz Train which took us high into the Alps, musicians playing the entire time. The tourist office provided the group with platters of local specialties, including thinly sliced dried beef, sausages, cheese, and wine. It felt perfect in every way until I saw a little church perched seemingly out in the middle of nowhere with a magnificent backdrop. I feel I now know what heaven is like.
After returning, I took a walk along the promenade adjacent to Lake Geneva and discovered the bronze statue of Freddie Mercury, a long-time resident of Montreux, much beloved by its citizens. My time in heaven got even better!
A dream came true in so many ways as I sat in the park listening to free music and watching the steamers transport people along the lake. Memories are made of this.
Mary Lou If a whole island can be considered as just one memory, I’d have to say Ireland. There wasn’t a bad moment in my two weeks of travel through the Republic and Northern Ireland—and I went in February!
If I had to narrow it down to one memory, then the Titanic Museum in Belfast might take top spot. From the moment I first saw the building (in snow flurries), until I finally had to leave, it was so exciting and very emotional at the same time. It was unlike any other museum I’ve ever visited.
Di I travelled to New York in September. New York is my favorite city to visit solo. It seems that I become my most true self there. The only way I can stay in New York City is to be in tune with what I really want. It’s a city with so much going on that I am forced to make choices (what to see, what to do). The only way to make the right choice for me is to listen to my true wishes, needs, and wants. It’s a lesson in listening to my inner voice. Sometimes it’s hard, but it always teaches me how important it is to stay true to myself.
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Sylvie Although I have traveled extensively with friends or family, it was only at the age of 68 that I found the courage to take a big trip on my own. Flying all the way to Vietnam, I spent a few days in Hanoi by myself before meeting up with a small group for a tour. What a country! Bustling cities, ancient palaces and ruins, open air markets, amazing scenery. This trip proved to me that I didn’t have to wait for a friend to be available to spread my wings, see amazing sights and make new friends. No stopping me now.
Susan I travelled to Norway for just over 5 weeks in August and September. This was the first solo adventure where I did not rent a car and drive myself. It was also the first time I used an agent to help me plan my trip instead of planning it all on my own. I took trains, boats, and planes to Oslo, Flam, Balestrand, Bergen, Aalesund, Tromso, and Lofoten. (This was a different kind of stress from driving in foreign territory. Just making sure I was at the appropriate departure point for each leg of my journey was a new experience. It was never an issue and had both pros and cons, but the big benefit was that I learned many lessons for future planning.) Norway is a beautiful country and, although I had lousy weather for most of my trip, it was still an incredible destination with much to love.
There’s no doubt in my mind, however, that the highlight for me was participating in a photography workshop at the end of my trip. A small group of like-minded photographers sailed around Spitsbergen together on a tall ship. Svalbard is north of the Arctic Circle and the scenery and wildlife was spectacular and most certainly memorable. Almost all my solo adventures include a photography workshop at some point, but this was a standout. And again, even though we didn’t have the best weather, we had an amazing time, saw stunning landscapes and indigenous wildlife that I’m not ever likely to see in the wild again. All with the added bonus of making new friends from around the world.
For another enthusiastic story of a solo trip to Norway, read Solo Travel Destination: Norway, by Solo Travel Society member Sofya.
What are your best solo travel memories of the last year? Please share your stories below.
Best Solo Travel Memories of 2017
If you’re in the mood for some more travel inspiration, here are a few of the Solo Travel Society’s best solo travel memories from 2017.
Rose I have traveled solo before, but mostly for work and conferences. However, I recently had to take two years off work, a medical leave. I set out traveling solo, to different parts of the world. The best travel memory of 2017 was my trip to Bosnia last October, for two months. I had always been fascinated by snow, coming from Malaysia where we don’t get any. I’m 54, and on my first day in Bosnia, I met a nice local gentleman with whom I became good friends. On one of our outings, he took me to the mountains, to really see snow. Lots and lots of snow! We made snowmen, walked the mountain, and had tea while the snow was falling. I was in a winter wonderland and that was my best solo travel memory of 2017. I may have found love too. We’ll see.
Paula My favorite solo travel memory is disappearing for a week and not telling anyone I left, where I was going, or when I was coming back. I would love to do it again but for a longer time, a few months maybe, and completely disconnect from the world.
Steve Disappearing into Portugal for two weeks and covering the length of the country and into Spain, with absolutely no plans, is my favorite travel memory of 2017. I met incredible people, got lost, ate amazing food, and soaked in the colors.
Marguerite My favorite memory of the year was my trip to Kathmundu and Pokhara. I met the most wonderful people ever in Nepal, and still stay in contact with them. I stayed at Tibet House, which is hospitable, clean, and with a great dining room and coffee bar. From there I was able to travel where I wanted. Pokhara was wonderful. I stayed at the best location adjacent to the lake, Trekkers Inn, and met a friendly taxi driver who toured me somewhere every day. It was awesome.
Julie My best travel memory of 2017 is the five weeks I spent in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Being on my own meant I really got to see the kindness of strangers and the warm hearts of people in this incredible country.
Jennifer I spent four months in Europe, solo. I went to see the sites, but ended up meeting so many amazing people. I learned to be flexible and more self-reliant and ventured way outside of my comfort zone. I’ll treasure my memories forever.
Dionna On June 30th, I left my job of 7 years. On July 2, I was on a plane headed for a 3-week holiday in London, Dublin, and Paris. I spent my birthday in Paris in an amazing apartment with a panoramic view of the City of Light. The highlight, though, was attending the Joshua Tree tour in London.
Stacy This is not as glamorous as the rest, but I’m proud of myself for fixing my rental car with duct tape on the side of the road in the rain in the mountains of Utah.
Ferdinand I traveled to Manali and enjoyed the trip. It is such a beautiful place. The hills and mountains are covered with snow. What beautiful scenery!
Gail I had a dream to go to Paloborwa in South Africa, so I went on a 6-day road trip on my own and went to several different hotels, B&Bs, and game lodges and had a fantastic time. I enjoyed the beautiful scenery and saw lots of game on the game drives.
Desiree I went to Japan for 3 weeks and managed to get a ticket to the Sumo Tournament down in Fukuoka!
James I discovered hiking while I was in Norway. I had no idea how much fun (and how hard!) a 6-hour hike could be! Now it’s one of my favorite things to do when I travel.
Irene In March, I went back to Thailand to meet up with all of my Thai friends again. This is me dancing with the local people from one of the villages, when they invited me to their celebration.
Amanda I went on my first solo trip. It was my first trip to Europe and it was my life’s dream. I did all the things I always wanted to do all by myself, no tour guides. The best thing is the memories. I always have flashbacks to the amazing little things that happened on my trip.
Steven My best solo travel memory of 2017 is an 11,000-mile Alaskan road trip!
Peggy I spent 6 weeks New Zealand and 6 weeks in Australia in early 2017. It was a dream come true after more than 26 years and after having saved up for more than 9 years.
Mark The entire 6 weeks I spent in Nicaragua. It was fantastic. The people I met. The food. The long bus rides. Even the party hostel I ended up in as I had nowhere else to go. It all makes for a good story!
Melinda My 1st solo trip – two amazing weeks in Italy.
Carole I went on a river cruise between Prague and Budapest. On the last evening onboard, I was alone in the lounge when everyone else was packing and the pianist and singer played Moon River just for me. Magical!
Starr I took a bus up to the Ban Xioc waterfalls in Vietnam. I was the only western tourist there and was asked to pose for photos. The waterfalls were beautiful. I took a raft right up close to the falls. On the other side of the river was China!
Rhiannon Taking my first sleeper from Madrid to Lisbon a day after being robbed and realizing solo adventures are too important and fun to let anything bring me down.
Judy My favorite solo travel memory of the past year was my visit to Delphi at the end of May as part of a 16-day trip to Greece. It was the top item on my bucket list and I really did feel like I was in the lap of the gods. The people were so lovely! I sat on my vantage point – the wall above the Theatre – for ages, just looking down over the Temple of Apollo & the valley beyond. That was my happy place!
Marisol Amazing Scotland, beautiful scenery and wonderful people. This was my first solo trip, and I had a wonderful time. It was a life-changing experience, and a boost for my self-esteem.
Kay I went to St. Louis to attend a presentation by Lee Child, my favorite author. I had no other reason for going: it was a 4,000 mile round trip for one goal only. That is solo travel for me!
Megan This is more of a general memory, but one that will make my life and my travel experiences even better as I’ve learned what is important to me. I’ve had the pleasure of learning just how much I love nature. Hiking and watching the sun set have been two things I’ve done countless times this summer. They make me feel so good and so peaceful. I cannot wait to do these things for the rest of my life. I feel very thankful to have gotten to enjoy it so much!
Best Solo Travel Memories of 2016
Looking for a little more travel inspiration? Here are a few of the Solo Travel Society’s best solo travel memories from 2016.
Gary Sitting at The Pilgrims Mass in Santiago de Compostela after a long month of walking.
Catherine Going to Thailand alone, at the age of 68. Volunteering, teaching English, living in a very rustic compound, with a one-inch mattress cot, cold showers, lots of dust, sharing everything…I loved every minute. At 40-50 years older than other volunteers, I found my inner self is quite an amazing soul.
Patricia A few months ago, I decided to quit my job and do what really makes me happy: travel! As a bit of a planning freak, I drew a plan, packed 14 kg of luggage, and didn’t look back. Naturally, I went right and left of my plan and there are things I haven’t done (that’s okay, I’ll do it next time!) but there were also things I didn’t plan because I hadn’t even imagined them! The more I see the more I want to see. Thank you world!
James For me, it was a toss up between freezing my butt off (three nights in a row) to see the Northern Lights in Iceland and sitting around the small kitchen table sharing a grocery store dinner and wine, laughs, and high fives with great people I met at my guesthouse in Kyoto.
Vé While backpacking in South Korea in October, I randomly met a local family at a bus stop in Daegu. They were so sweet, they asked me where I came from and offered me a city tour with them. They also invited me to a Korean BBQ. I had no place to sleep for the night so they invited me to their amazing apartment. It was super fancy and on top of a huge building. The view was amazing. The next morning they cooked breakfast and drove me to the bus station so I could continue my trip to Busan. They were amazing !
Eduardo Travelling in Iran – a place I had dreamt of going for a long time. Amazing experience, beautiful sights, mosques, ruins, great people. It was surreal!
Tommy I ran the 2016 Paris Marathon and had a lovely visit to Paris, London, and Amsterdam. The timing was not long after the Brussels terrorist bombing, and it was a reminder that we travel NOT to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
Cathy This year it would be my trip above the arctic circle in Abisko, Sweden. (My tour didn’t charge me anything extra for being a single traveler.) Included was a helicopter ride, a trip to a reindeer farm, and hiking. I got some great shots of the northern lights too!
Yolanda I hiked down the Swiss Alps from Almendhubel – Blumental Valley – Murren – Gimmewald – Lauterbrunnen Switzerland. June 29th, 2016… I will never forget this place. The views were breathtaking and the people were very nice.
Gi My best solo travel memories of 2016 took place in Khao Yai national park, discovering wild elephants in the Thailand jungle, toucans and monkeys everywhere. I met a great woman from La Reunion in Bangkok and decided to follow her up there. In the park jeep we were five women traveling alone sharing tips and joyful laughter. I wouldn’t do it differently!
Linda Spending my birthday, October 4th, the feast day of St Francis, in Assisi! The day started off well with cake for breakfast courtesy of my Airbnb hosts and though I didn’t do anything extra special, just sitting in the Italian sun and looking at the festivities was great! (It helps that Assisi is an absolutely charming town, I completely fell in love with it.)
Nancy I had an unprecedented travel experience this year. After a break-up in February I went alone to a romantic 5-star Cuban resort on its own island. It was spectacular–and I was miserable. I have traveled solo all my life and always enjoyed it, but perhaps going alone to a romantic beach destination on Valentine’s Day wasn’t the best choice. Since then, I have bought a 1974 Volkswagen Van which I am having restored and will be embarking on a big solo adventure in the spring.
Diana My first trip to Japan in November. I went alone, and planned it all for months in advance. Some of the plans panned out, some things were improvised at the time, and sometimes there were intense moments where I’d be standing somewhere saying, “Oh, this is not good.” But over all, it was absolutely wonderful and amazing–the most ambitious solo travel adventure I’ve had so far. I can’t wait for the next one.
Nicola Landing in Auckland after traveling for two days to get there from England (with half a day in Hong Kong), it was the best feeling seeing the palm trees and sunshine. The whole trip was a dream come true, an experience I will keep with me. I have done smaller solo trips abroad before but have never gone that far on my own. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I met some amazing people from all over the world, seeing beautiful sights every day! Well worth every second of the journey time
Angela I spent 2 1/2 weeks traveling through Andalucía, Spain. I loved that distinct moment I got to Cadiz, just before midnight. I could smell the ocean and feel the “I’m in a different world” vibe resonating off the very buildings. I took a midnight stroll and soaked it all in.
Stephanie In July, I went to Johor Bahru, Malaysia and tried to go to Singapore traveling solo by train. But when I wanted to go back to Johor Bahru I was late getting to the rail station so I had to return by bus. When I arrived at the bus station I suddenly realized that I didn’t have Malaysian Ringgit to pay for the ticket. I almost cried, but suddenly two French men came and gave me money. I could go back to Johor Bahru because of them. Hello to those men, wherever you are now: I want to say thank you very much once again.
Karla Walking around Lake Bled in Slovenia, hearing a band in the distance, finally realizing that I was heading right that way. The band played, in Slovenian, “Those Were the Days,” and everyone danced and cheered. A couple of songs later, the concert ended with a traditional Slovenian ballad, and the entire audience sang along. Just thinking of this makes me smile fondly!
Caitlin My best travel day/memory of 2016 was from taking a boat tour from Hvar, Croatia through the beautiful Adriatic Sea to visit the islands of Vis and Biševo. This included cliff jumping, swimming underwater and popping up into hidden caves, swimming in regular caves, seeing a cave that was pitch black and the water glowed blue, visiting an island with a population of 8 and having lunch at their beach restaurant, eating fresh-caught seafood, seeing a pod of dolphins swim around our boat, getting to see spectacular natural sights of the islands, stopping at a city to try local wine and have gelato, and finishing at what was rated the best beach of 2016 for its exclusivity where motorized boats aren’t allowed into the inlet and you must swim in.