Editor’s Note: NEA Member Benefits understands how much you love to travel and how much you’ve missed it. As states begin to relax their regulations with regard to COVID-19 and more Americans become vaccinated, travel is opening up more and more. Before planning a trip, read the health and safety protocols and requirements for visitors to any destination, as well as those of airlines, car rentals and hotels before booking and again before traveling.
The number of first-time travelers going solo increases every year, so if you’re considering your own solo trip this year, you’re in good company! A Booking.com study shows 40% of respondents took a solo trip in 2021 and another 21% were planning to take one in the future. Whether you’re a novice or a pro at going it alone, these tips can help you make your solo vacation the trip of a lifetime.
1. Book a private tour
Just because you’re traveling solo doesn’t mean you have to be alone. On-the-ground tour companies such as Viator and Tours by Locals offer a multitude of options around the globe tailored to your personal interests and schedule. You can see Rome’s ruins with an archaeologist, taste tapas in Barcelona with a chef, and much more. Check out NEA Travel: Guided Tours for the best prices on all kinds of tours in the U.S. and abroad. You can even apply your Travel Dollars toward the booking.
Don’t assume a private tour is beyond your budget. For example, the nonprofit Big Apple Greeter offers solo-friendly free tours of New York City.
2. Seek out a solo-friendly group tour
Some lone travelers prefer the safety in numbers that a group tour provides. While most tour companies typically think—and charge—by the pair, some actually cater to solo travelers. Intrepid Travel, Exodus Travel, and G Adventures all offer group trips tailored to solo travelers. The Solo Female Traveler Network serves solo female travelers. Search NEA Travel: Guided Tours for great deals on group tours.
3. Look for fee-free tours
A growing number of tour companies have reduced or eliminated the “single supplement” fee that has made it cost-prohibitive for solo travelers to join in the fun. Such fee-free trips significantly broaden the options for your budget. For example, Road Scholar offers dozens of fee-free “learning adventures,” including walking and hiking in Quebec City and a multi-sport Costa Rican getaway.
4. Book a solo cruise
Several cruise lines are ditching or reducing their single supplements and actively courting solo travelers. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Virgin Voyages offer solo and studio cabins aboard several ships with itineraries in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Eyeing a European river cruise? Tauck waives the single supplement on category 1 cabins. For affordable prices on cruises across the globe, visit NEA Travel: Cruises.
5. Turn to fellow travelers for guidance
Not sure where to go or how to start planning? Visit TripAdvisor’s solo travel forum and the Journeywoman website. Both sites have travel tips and reviews from other solo travelers that will help you zero in on your destination, lodging, packing and more.
6. Know before you go
Fear of the unknown stops some prospective solo travelers from setting out. But thanks to today’s digital resources, it’s easy to address many concerns before you make plans.
Survey your social network for potential contacts in your destination. Study online maps and schedules for mass transit—and download relevant apps such as City Mapper—to avoid looking lost (and like a target). Use Google Maps to chart walking routes and acquaint yourself with the neighborhood around your hotel. The “nearby” function can help you pinpoint convenient restaurants, grocery stores and ATMs. The more you know, the more confident you’ll feel once you arrive in your vacation destination.