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8 things to cross off your solo travel bucket list

Apr 14, 2021 by Jamie Gallerani

It’s so empowering to push yourself out of your comfort zone while seeing the world as a solo traveler. There are new things to try, new people to meet, and moments galore that’ll make you feel like the best version of yourself.

To help you tap into your outgoing spirit on tour, we’ve rounded up some solo travel ideas to cross off your solo travel bucket list. Go ahead and take the leap… we know you have it in you. (Full disclosure? None of these bucket list travel ideas are nearly as intimidating as they look on paper! Solo travel is all about new experiences, after all.)


1. Enjoy a meal at a restaurant on your own

We know, we know, sitting alone at an outdoor cafe can seem a bit nerve-wracking at first. (Who will I talk to?! How will I know what to order?! Do I just sit here enjoying my own company?!) If you can get over the initial panic, there’s real beauty and self-confidence to be found in moments of solitude like this, and makes having a meal by yourself one of the top things to add to your solo travel bucket list.

“One of the best things people can do when they travel is to take advantage of their alone time,” said solo traveler Karen, who fell in love with travel on her solo tour of Lake Como, the Italian Riviera & Venice. “I was once dining alone at a cafe called Vino Vino in Venice and there was an elegant Italian woman sitting by herself across the patio. She looked at me and lifted up her wine glass as if to say ‘Here’s to you.’ It was cool. Women are so often intimidated about being alone—don’t be! You observe things a lot differently and you meet people, too.” Read more about how traveling solo changed Karen’s life >

Still not convinced? Karen’s not the only solo traveler to discover the beauty of a meal for one. “On my final day in Paris, I went to Le Tir Bouchon,” said solo traveler Caroline. “I asked if they were open, and the waitress said, ‘For you, Madam, it’s okay. Come in.’ I couldn’t order from the menu until they were truly open, but I was able to get an appetizer. Being able to connect with the people who worked there is one of my very special memories. Without the guiding hand of Go Ahead, I would never have had the confidence, the gumption, to be so brave and to be truly and utterly alone in Paris.”

Best meals to seek out as a solo traveler:

  • Sit down for aperitivo, or pre-meal drinks and appetizers, in Italy
  • Sample regional tapas in Spain (can’t go wrong with jamón!)
  • Order mango sticky rice from the outdoor stalls at the Chiang Mai Night Market in Thailand

2. Strike up a conversation with a local

It can feel a bit scary to chat with anyone new, never mind a local in a country where you might not even know the language. But, one of the best solo travel ideas is to get to know a place through the eyes of the people who call it home—some of the most life-changing moments happen when you put yourself out there as you cross moments off your travel bucket list.

Spending time around the locals of whatever country I’m in are some very wonderful experiences,” said solo traveler Jeremiah of his time on our Egypt & the Nile tour. “You can learn a lot about people from reading books, but I’ve learned so much more being there and asking the locals questions personally.” Check out Jeremiah’s solo photo diary from Egypt >

Easy ways to meet locals as a solo traveler:

  • Sit down for a home-hosted dinner with a Kiwi family in New Zealand
  • Chat with the boat captain and staff as you sail down the Nile River in Egypt


3. Have a moment of bliss all to yourself

Of all the solo travel ideas, this is one of our favorites. Who doesn’t love a bit of self care while seeing the world? Your moment of bliss can be anything that fills you with joy and is just for you—it’s your solo travel bucket list, after all.

“What made it memorable for me was the spiritual beauty I experienced throughout the tour,” said solo traveler Vincent about his time on our Marian Shrines & the Way of St. James tour. “I am still moved by the memory of the moon shrouded in clouds over the Grotto in Lourdes, the peaceful silence of a monastery courtyard, the reverence of being near the relics of St. Thomas Aquinas in Toulouse, the grandeur of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.”

The Way of St. James is just one of the many bucket list travel destinations—blissful travel moments will catch you by surprise no matter where you go on tour. “My best Go Ahead travel memory is of the evening Seine River cruise in Paris” said solo traveler Caroline. “The Eiffel Tower, lit up, sparkling and twinkling against the backdrop of a full moon, was an OMG moment.”

Blissful moments to have as a solo traveler:

  • Float in the Dead Sea in Israel
  • Hike along the Path of the Gods in Cinque Terre
  • Stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon in Arizona


4. Leave a place better than you found it

No matter what’s on your travel bucket list, you’re going to get so much out of your solo adventure—you’ll come home with new memories, friends, and confidence. So, while you’re soaking up every moment of your solo journey, why not do something to give back to the destinations you’re visiting? It’ll give ‘leaving a piece of your heart behind’ a whole new meaning.

“There were so many itinerary highlights, but planting trees at the Monteverde Heliconia Ranch was very special to me,” said solo traveler Lauren while reminiscing about 5 reasons to love Costa Rica. “Everyone got to plant a tree to work toward offsetting our carbon footprint. The holes were already pre-dug for us, which was super helpful, and it felt great knowing we were doing something good for the planet. It was also cool seeing all the other trees that were planted by past travelers and how they’ve grown.” Check out 3 responsible travel experiences to have on tour >

Ways to give back to a destination as a solo traveler:

  • Plant a tree on tour in Costa Rica
  • Meet a village elder from the Maasai tribe in Kenya—the money from your visit goes towards schooling and more!
  • Learn about elephant rehabilitation at the ChangChill elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Explore solo travel destinations

5. Seek out something that thrills you

Trying a brand-new dish, successfully ordering at a restaurant in the native language, seeing a beautiful piece of art—honestly, everything is thrilling while seeing the world. There will be so many travel bucket list moments that take your breath away. But no solo traveler bucket list is complete without once-in-a-lifetime experiences that push you out of your comfort zone and leave you totally changed.

I loved going up in a hot air balloon at sunrise on the Australian Hot Air Balloon Ride excursion,” said solo traveler Phaedra after her tour of Australia & New Zealand. “That was just unbelievable. I had the opportunity to go up in a hot air balloon on my previous tour of Africa and I chose not to do it because I was nervous, and I’ve regretted it ever since. So, I didn’t hesitate to do it on this trip—and it was beautiful. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. The experience was amazing.” Read more about solo traveler Phaedra’s tour of Australia & New Zealand >

Thrilling moments to seek out as a solo traveler:

  • Go on the hunt for the northern lights in Iceland
  • Float over the landscape in a hot air balloon in Australia
  • Snorkel in Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica


6. Learn something new

Traveling the world and learning new things basically go hand-in-hand—it just comes with the territory. There are new things to see around every corner, and new cultures to immerse yourself in as you chip away at your travel bucket list. Plus, with rich, local experiences woven into every Go Ahead trip, you’re bound to come away knowing more than when you arrived. Check out 5 cultural moments to experience on tour >

“Every time I step away from familiar surroundings, I learn something new,” said solo traveler Vincent. “Every place has its own distinct personality. It’s much like meeting a new person at a party. A destination’s history, language, food, architecture, and music all add to my experience of life. Every new experience adds to me and the way I look at life.”

Need some ideas for new things to learn as you check moments off your solo travel bucket list? “Some advice I can give you about solo travel is to sign up for all the excursions that Go Ahead offers,” said solo traveler Cheryl. “They’re fabulous and you’ll be with the group of people. Cooking classes, going for a day visit to a new town—I mean, they’re all just wonderful.” Read about the six lessons Cheryl learned as a solo traveler >

New things to learn on tour as a solo traveler:

  • Learn to make paella in a cooking class in Barcelona
  • Find out why Lake Louise is so blue while exploring Banff National Park
  • Learn to make the best pisco sour in Peru

Find your Solo Tour

7. Make a new friend

We’ll let you in on a secret: Making new friends on tour as a solo traveler is one of the easiest things you’ll ever do. What a relief, right? The minute you arrive on tour, **you’ll be surrounded by fellow adventurers who love one of the same things you do—traveling!**—and that’s a match made in heaven if you ask us. You’ll already have something to connect about, which means it’ll be a piece of cake to make new friends as you explore bucket list travel destinations.

“I’ll say to people who are traveling solo, GO!” said solo traveler Katie. “You will have a great time. I was nervous my first time traveling by myself, but here’s the thing: Once you arrive on tour, you’re NOT alone! You will meet so many interesting people on tour. I’ve gone on eight out of 11 tours by myself, and I’ve made traveling friends. Some of the wonderful people I met on tour asked me to go with them to NYC, Washington DC, Iceland, Peru, Egypt and Jordan, and Thailand. You won’t know what opportunities are ahead of you unless you go on that trip!”

Ways to meet new people while traveling solo:

  • Switch up your seat on the bus! This will give you an opportunity to chat with different people in your group while you get from point A to point B on your private motor coach.
  • Sign up for on-tour excursions with your fellow group members—taking part in a new activity alongside our experts will bring you together.


8. Treat yourself to something special

While you’re sure to make plenty of new friends while exploring solo travel destinations, be sure to carve out some time just for you. Your free time on tour is a perfect opportunity to seek out your own interests as you cross moments off your solo travel bucket list. That might mean finding a local art exhibit to enjoy in France, or finding your favorite gelato flavor in Italy. Go ahead and do something just for you as you uncover bucket list travel destinations—you deserve it.

“Amsterdam was hands-down my favorite,” said solo traveler Dana after returning from our Highlights of Northern Europe: Amsterdam to Stockholm tour. “I felt like it had an abundance to offer as far as cultural experiences, history, and cuisine—it was so much more than I was expecting. In my free time, I went to the Van Gogh Museum and really enjoyed it; I thought it was neat to see how they showcased Van Gogh’s artwork along with works by other artists that he was inspired by.” Read the rest of solo traveler Dana’s interview >

Moments to treat yourself to during free time as a solo traveler:

  • Have a glass of Champagne next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris
  • Visit a museum in Amsterdam
  • Take a swim in the ocean in Capri

Do you have your own solo travel bucket list? Any favorite solo travel destinations? Tell us all about it in our solo traveler Facebook group!

About the author | Jamie Gallerani
It was Jamie’s homestay in Germany that made her fall in love with travel (and her studies in Florence that really sealed the deal). When she’s not writing and sharing the magic of seeing the world with others, she’s usually on the lookout for her new favorite memoir, testing out recipes at home, or visiting her family on Cape Cod.

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