YES YOU CAN leave the guilt, kids, spouse, BFF, or significant other behind and set off solo for your next vacation. Increasing numbers of savvy travelers are doing just that and returning home the better for it.
Single or not, male or female, on a budget or ready to splurge, looking to learn or seeking solitude, traveling on your own is so much easier when you take out the guesswork.
To help get you started, here’s a selection of best bets for solo-friendly travel.
Heli hiker, Canadian Mountain Holidays. Photo by Ellen Barone.
CITY BREAK: San Francisco, California
Perched on the hilly edge of culinary, high-tech, music and seriously funky good times, San Francisco is one of the planet’s most eclectic and dynamic cities. With its fabled cable cars, stunning vistas, distinctive neighborhoods and innovative food scene, no-matter what your budget, this city features enough sensory delights to round out a vibrant and happening city break. www.OnlyInSanFrancisco.com
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE: US National Parks
Fall asleep to a chorus of howling wolves, cycle an alligator-strewn loop, or bed down with bears as your only neighbors. You don’t have to go far to enjoy the wilderness experience of a lifetime thanks to the U.S. National Park System. The network of mountain, desert, coastal and wetland parks are brimming with wildlife. With 394 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state (except Delaware), there are plenty of places to put you in the presence of eagles, buffalo, whales and some 400 endangered species. The parks are readily accessible to be explored independently or with organized tours. www.nps.gov
ADRENALINE RUSH: Heli-skiing, Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH)
Canadian Mountain Holidays invented heli-skiing in the Bugaboo Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, and that’s no surprise: home to some of the best snow conditions in the world, it’s an absolutely prime location for making fresh tracks solo style. And after a day of letting it rip Warren Miller style, you’ll head back to one of CMH’s 11 luxury lodges to relax, recuperate and recount the day’s adventures in style and comfort. Whether you ski or board, are a strong skier or never skied, CMH heli-skiing is the ultimate adrenalin rush. Be sure to check out their heli-hiking and summer adventures, too. www.CanadianMountainHolidays.com
LIVE AND LEARN: ShawGuides.com Learning Vacations
Return home from vacation this year with something more than snapshots and souvenirs to show off. Instead, impress em’ with your newfound knowledge and enjoy yourself while you’re at it. Whether it’s a Tuscany culinary adventure, learning the tango in Buenos Aires, or brushing up your language skills in Spain, Shaw Guides, an Internet directory for travel learning opportunities, offers a road map for new experiences, destinations and journeys of discovery. www.ShawGuides.com
THE LUXE LIFE: Aman Resorts, Worldwide
Amanjunkies have been known to criss-cross the globe just for a fix. Stay in any one of the small luxury Aman Resorts in Asia, Europe, or North America and you’ll understand why. Amazing properties in extraordinary settings boasting exquisite service and exotic graciousness, is an elixir that’s highly addictive. From the turquoise waters and powder-fine white-sand beaches of the Turks and Caicos Islands to action-packed days on the slopes in the fashionable French Alps to meditating in Rajasthan, an Aman getaway will leave you loving the luxe life. www.AmanResorts.com
VOLUNTEER: Elephant Adventure Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand
If you get that warm and fuzzy feeling from being part of something special while gaining insight into a foreign place, the Elephant Adventure Park, a unique elephant rescue project in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is a volunteer vacation to consider. While you help feed, bathe, and get to know the stories and spirit of the individual elephants, every volunteer baht goes towards elephant conservation, habitat restoration, and creating awareness. Better still, the program is suitable for all ages. www.ElephantNaturePark.org For additional voluntourism opportunities visit voluntourism.org.
BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT: Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa Miami Beach
Since opening in 2008, a growing chorus is singing the praises of the trendsetting Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach as a premier escape to reawaken your spirit, refresh your soul, and seduce your inner bliss. Overachievers will love the two-story climbing wall, though sybarites tend to make a beeline for one of the 54 treatment rooms or four soothing pools. Shed some stress with morning walks on the beach, delicious nourishing meals, and top health and wellness experts who may even give you a new outlook on life. But be forewarned: You may never want to come back. CanyonRanch.com/miamibeach
WHITEWATER THRILLS: Rafting the Grand Canyon with O.A.R.S.
If whitewater thrills are topping your Life List, then look no further than a Colorado River Grand Canyon rafting vacation. O.A.R.S. president and founder, George Wendt, was one of the first ever to go down the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River in a raft. Today, with more experience running the Colorado River than any other outfitter out there, O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon rafting vacations are recognized as one of the best vacation experiences on the planet. And unlike many lodge-based adventures where trip prices are based on double occupancy rates, there’s no single supplement. www.oars.com
Photo: © Ellen Barone.