12 EXCELLENTSOLO VACATIONS
You want a relaxing getaway.
You want a relaxing getaway. Your companion prefers to party. Why not agree to disagree and travel separately? More travelers are choosing to strike out on their own to do what they want and experience their destination to the fullest.
Whether you crave quiet solitude or a rowdy adventure, here are a dozen vacations around the globe that’ll give you a great solo experience without breaking the bank.By Erin Burt
CAMP THROUGH EUROPE
Backpacking across Europe is the quintessential budget-friendly adventure for twentysomethings. But if you don't feel comfortable heading out solo, join a group. Contiki Holidays, a travel company that specializes in vacations for young adults ages 18 to 35, offers guided European camping tours. You'll have a guide to help you navigate and point you toward the best sights, and you'll have built-in travel companions your own age with whom you can share the experience.
You'll take a walking tour of Berlin, go for a boat ride in Venice and gaze at the architecture in Budapest, for starters. Prices range from $1,919 for a 21-day excursion through 13 countries to $3,849 for a 46-day trip through 20 countries. Contiki offers other tours for young adults from exploring the ancient pyramids of Egypt to diving off Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
CLUB HOP IN LAS VEGAS
If you're looking to unleash your inner wild child, Sin City may be just the place. With legendary nightlife from bars and clubs to shows and casinos, a good time is practically guaranteed. And you'll find plenty of company. Single men and women come from all over the globe to test the motto "What happens here stays here."
You can find a place to kick up your heels no matter your style, from the swank vibe of the VooDoo Café and Lounge in the Rio to the thumping dance floor at Studio 54 in the MGM Grand. Or just wind your way down the strip and see where the night takes you. And for some entertainment that you can tell Mom and Dad about, check out the G-rated acts in town, including Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group and Celine Dion.
ROAD TRIP THROUGH SOUTHERN UTAH
If life's a journey, why not take the scenic route? A few days alone on the open road is enough to clear your mind and renew your sense of adventure. (And you can sing along to the radio as loudly as you like.) A cheap way to road trip is to tour national parks. In the Southwest, cruise your way around Southern Utah to take in the natural wonders of Zion, Bryce Canyon and Capital Reef. You'll enjoy jaw-dropping vistas and hike Mars-like landscapes. Budget travelers can find ample camping at each park, or you can stay at park lodges or local hotels
When taking to the open road solo, play it safe. Make sure you have your car checked out by a mechanic before you go, bring a cell phone for emergencies, plan your route and pack a good map.
WANDER THE CANALSOF AMSTERDAM
When you're traveling solo abroad, you might feel more comfortable if you don't have to worry about a language barrier. That makes Amsterdam a prime European getaway because most of the locals speak English.
To get a real feel for the city, wander the canals by foot. Frommer's offers five suggested walking tours on its Web site. They'll show you the unique mix of old-world architecture and funky new shops the city has to offer. Or you can rent a water bike and paddle your way through the labyrinth of canals. Other popular things to do in town include visiting the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum and stopping by Anne Frank's house. To relax, kick back in the city's main park, Vondelpark, where you can enjoy free summer concerts, beautiful gardens and prime people watching.
CRUISE FOR LOVEIN THE CARIBBEAN
If your goal in traveling solo is to meet new people -- perhaps that special someone -- check out a singles cruise. And it's tough to beat the romance of sailing on an old-world-style schooner. Windjammer Barefoot Cruises operates a cruise for singles in search of a mate aboard the 248-foot boat pictured here. The cruise line ensures an equal number of male and female passengers. Rates start at $900 for a seven-night Caribbean cruise.
You can also find a number of travel operators that consolidate a group of rooms aboard regular Carnival or Royal Caribbean cruises and dedicate them to singles cruising.
FEEL THE BEATIN AUSTIN, TEX.
With a median population age younger than 30, Austin serves up plenty of youthful energy for a traveler on a budget. Here entertainment comes cheap, and there is plenty of it. Austin bills itself as the live music capital of the world -- it has more live music venues per capita than Nashville, New York or Los Angeles. Take a stroll down Sixth Street and you’ll hear rock 'n' roll, blues, jazz, punk and hip-hop spilling out onto the sidewalk. You can also check out the Austin City Limits music festival in September. This year's headliners include Bob Dylan, Bjork and White Stripes.
Outside the music scene you can wander the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, browse the eclectic shops along South Congress (SoCo) Ave., or beat the heat with a dip in the Barton Springs Pool.
LEARN TO TANGOIN BUENOS AIRES
Swept away by the hit Dancing With the Stars? Why not head to the birthplace of the tango to learn your own smooth moves? Your dollar will go far in Buenos Aires -- one U.S. dollar is currently equivalent to three Argentine pesos -- so you can afford plenty of dance lessons. For example, at the Argentine School of Tango $15 will buy you four classes. Then, when you're ready to try out your moves, you can find free or inexpensive milongas (dance parties) that'll usually let you in for $5 or less -- even free.
You can snag luxe accommodations that include in-house tango lessons (with partners provided) at posh area hotels, including the Casa Monserrat and Mansion Dandi Royal.
BIKE THE HEART OF TUSCANY
If you want an active getaway where you can make new friends, consider a group bicycle tour. Travel company Backroads offers four biking tours through Tuscany geared for solo travelers (and there's no emphasis on matchmaking -- just sightseeing). Rates start at $2,800 for a six-day journey -- that includes your bike, lodging and most of your meals. Backroads will set you up with a same-sex solo traveler roommate, or you can pay a little extra for private accommodations along your route.
This is a great way to see the Italian countryside. Plus, there's safety in numbers, so you'll feel more comfortable in your exploration. Backroads hosts dozens of other solo biking and hiking tours worldwide, including itineraries in Ireland, China, New Zealand, Peru and Canada.
MUSEUM HOPIN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Travel companions often move at different paces -- rushing when you want to linger, or moving at a snail's pace while you're bored out of your mind. That's why Washington, D.C., makes a great solo vacation. In this hotbed of history, you can pick whatever interests you: from the political (listen in on the legislature, visit the Capitol), to the historical (wander the monuments, visit Ford's Theater) to the leisure (fawn over the pandas at the zoo, rent a paddle boat at the cherry-tree tidal basin). And almost every sight to see in D.C. is free.
D.C. also hosts an active nightlife. When you're ready to unwind, head to the laid-back bars in Adams Morgan or the hip clubs on Georgetown's waterfront.
REJUVENATE AT THE SPAIN THE CATSKILLS
When you need to recharge your batteries, a solo trip to a spa can be just what the doctor ordered. The New Age Spa in Neversink, NY, is an affordable choice, located in the Catskills about two hours north of New York City. New Age's focus is on restoring your wellness of body, mind and spirit through fitness activities, spa treatments and lectures. So you might start your day with a yoga class, take a meditation walk in the woods and finish with a massage and a seminar on how to decrease stress.
Inclusive rates for solo guests start at $289 a night. Spa treatments are a la carte. For example, a 50-minute Swedish massage costs $85; a mud wrap costs $100. A five-night package starts at $1,445 for singles, and includes two free spa treatments.
KAYAK IN BAJA, MEXICO
Whether you're a beginning kayaker or a veteran, the islands, shores and reefs in the Sea of Cortez off of Baja, Mexico, are the perfect place to relax and explore on your own -- or with some new-found friends.
That's what the Paddle Baja package from REI Adventures is all about. The beauty of traveling with this adventure travel provider is that it keeps single-supplement charges to a minimum. The eight-day kayaking trip costs $1,045 plus a single-supplement of only $100. (REI even offers a women-only excursion.) The price includes your boat, gear, tent and food. You just bring clothes, a sleeping bag and your sense of adventure.
BARGAIN SHOP IN VIETNAM
If you're looking for a lively culture, friendly natives and plenty of bargains, consider Vietnam. Your dollar will go far here, making it a shopper's paradise. Head to the markets in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) or Hoi An, where you'll find everything from art and housewares to jewelry and custom-made clothing for a steal. Pick up a copy of The Treasures and Pleasures of Vietnam and Cambodia -- Best of the Best in Travel and Shopping for guidance on where to find the best deals.
Lodging is also affordable in Vietnam. You can stay in a four-star luxury hotel in Ho Chi Minh City for about $80 per night. Plus, Vietnam was named one of the world's safest countries by Aon, a large insurance broker, which makes it a good locale for solo travelers.