I‘ve been asked far too many times what my favorite destination is. I enjoyed different places for different reasons, making the question impossible to answer. A better question would be for recommendations for destinations, particularly if you plan to travel solo.
The editors at Conde Nast Traveller put together their picks, and I have to agree with about half of the 14 (I haven’t been to the rest yet). Some of them are interesting picks.
The list starts with New York City, and I have to agree with that. But I’m biased because I grew up in New Jersey and live right across the river from the city. There’s tons to do for everyone — food, drinks, art, culture. But if you do come to visit, please don’t take up the whole sidewalk; some of us have places to be.
What stood out for me in the list was that the editors didn’t just choose cities — there are whole countries on the list. Right after listing Paris as a choice, they listed all of Italy. I can’t really argue with it — I loved my month in Italy, but I didn’t see anywhere near enough of the country. Same goes for including all of Japan and Iceland.
Japan was a surprise mostly because it’s not the easiest country to get around without knowing the language. I could at least read some signs and menus because they use a lot of Chinese characters. But it wasn’t easy going to restaurants where no one spoke English and the menus had no pictures. Once you get past the language barrier, it’s a wonderful destination.
I was also surprised about the inclusion of Bali as a solo travel destination. I have always viewed Bali as a more romantic destination, but that could be because I wasn’t alone on my trip there.
And while I haven’t yet visited New Orleans, I would imagine that it’s more fun to travel with someone. It would certainly be a safer trip for those of us who want to sample the famous nightlife and drinks of the city.
Here are some of my choices for solo travel destinations:
I called Taipei home for almost three years. It’s an often overlooked destination, but it has a lot going on. It is particularly easy to get around and it’s affordable. The bar scene has definitely improved in the last few years, and there’s amazing art. And if that big city isn’t enough, the convenient trains and buses can take you around Taiwan to other great places like Taroko Gorge and Yehliu.
2. Mexico City
Some of this depends on where you stay, but Mexico City is amazing. The art, the food, the friendly people. There’s so much to see and do in the city that it’s impossible to plan for everything in one trip. I’m sure if I had more time I would’ve made quick friends with more locals.
3. Boulder, CO
It’s been a long time since I lived in Boulder. I spent two years there for grad school and left kicking and screaming (I couldn’t find a job there to stay). I haven’t been back there, but I know it hasn’t changed quite that much, though friends tell me it’s more expensive. If you go, you have to eat lunch at the Tajik tea house — it’s beautiful. I miss the literary events, friendly people, and the mountains. You know what? To hell with the people and literary events; I just want the mountains.
I have a soft spot for the gambling mecca despite not being a gambler. I enjoyed the architectural mix in the city — the colonial Portuguese style and classic Chinese alongside modern casinos. It can be a beautiful city. Plus there’s great food all around, especially down the alleys.
I don’t speak French, but I do speak food. I found the people around Montreal to be friendly and helpful — and I was there during a heatwave and a horribly frigid New Year. After ordering my first meal there, the owner of the restaurant asked if I could read French (nope), and then he turned the menu over to the English side. It was too late, I had already ordered (and it was delicious). I spent the rest of the early evening talking with the owner.