Going Solo

National Travel Solo Day: Three Solo Travel Adventures

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July 15th is National Travel Solo Day. In Australia, anyway. And even though I’m pretty sure it is technically already July 16th in Oz, I’m celebrating anyway. Take that, time zones.

I write a lot about solo travel for two very good reasons. First, due to the circumstances of my life, the majority of my travel is solo travel. And second, solo travel is awesome.

Of course, not every travel experience is created equal, and not every traveler embraces all forms of solo travel. For example, the majority of people who learn that I’ve done multiple solo cruises express some form of shock. It just doesn’t seem like the kind of experience that would be enjoyable alone. Except that it totally is.

I’ve done Disney World solo, solo hiking and solo National Park trips, solo city breaks. Really, my solo travel love knows no limits. And so today, on Australia’s National Travel Solo Day, I bring to you the brief stories of three (more) travel adventures I’ve enjoyed all by myself. Each is an example of a traditionally non-solo experience:

Miami to Key West Solo

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It’s around 160 miles from Miami to Key West, and the trip is considered to be one of the great American drives. So of course I did it. Down and back in one day, solo. Do I recommend doing this trip solo? Absolutely. I stopped wherever I felt like it, turned off the AC and rolled the windows down, and sang along to Jimmy Buffet (loudly and badly).

However, down and back in one day may be a little much. It was definitely rushed, and I definitely did not get to see and do even a fraction of what I’d have wanted to see and do.  Which is why I did it again. Also solo. Seriously.

Highlights:

Rain Barrel Artisan Village, Key Largo

Anne’s Beach, Islamorada 

Oysters at Sparky’s Landing, Key Colony Beach

Sombrero Beach, Marathon

 

The Napa Valley Solo

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I have to admit, even I had my doubts about Napa solo. But I was in the Bay Area for work, and I had a free day. And, well…try to keep me away from a good California Cabernet. You will not be successful.

The key to enjoying the Napa Valley as a solo traveler is variety. You can’t possibly just jump from winery to winery and expect to have fun (or not get arrested for driving while intoxicated). During my solo day trip, I visited two wineries, but only did a tasting at one.

My first stop was St. Suprey, where I had a great conversation with the guy who was pouring (his name was Keith). He at first assumed I was an ‘industry person’, because that’s usually the type of person who comes in alone. I quickly proved him wrong by knowing very, very little about wine other than ‘how to drink it’.

My second and final winery stop was Castello di Amorosa, a winery built on a hill in the form of a castle (see photo above). The grounds are stunning, the view is stunning, and the wine is…I have no idea, because I did not do a tasting here. But it was definitely worth the stop for the scenery alone.

Another key component of any solo wine country trip: food. On my solo visit, I had lunch at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus restaurant. While I do not necessarily recommend it for a solo traveler (the service is very, very slow) there are tours that one can take for a non-drinking stop, as well as bar seating for solos (I got a table and regretted it.) Of course, there’s a plethora of other dining options in the Napa Valley, and I’d happily eat solo at any of them.

 

Solo Zip Lining

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This is possibly the least solo-esque solo thing I’ve ever done. Well, this or the multiple times I’ve gone snorkeling solo. But hey, when in Rome. Or, rather, when in Mexico–Playa del Carmen, to be specific. I was staying at the Occidental Grand Xcaret in order to attend The Festival of Life and Death. And I wasn’t just going to lounge on the beach all day. I mean, what fun would that be?

So I went to Xplor, an adventure park nearby. And I went zip lining (and drove an amphibious vehicle through water-filled caves). Of course, I was the only person there solo. But I made friends with random strangers while climbing to the tops of each tower. I reassured scared small children and middle aged women. I befriended a group of super sunburned college students and tried to teach them some basic geography facts (upon spotting a cruise ship in the distance, one remarked ‘Why would you take a cruise to Mexico? If I went on a cruise, I’d want to go to the Caribbean’. Sigh.) And over and over again, I flew out over the jungle canopy, over deep blue cenotes and dazzling greenery, all alone. It was glorious.

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Of course, there are a great many things I’ve not done solo. I’d really like to drive across the US solo. I’d not turn down a solo train trip across Canada (or anywhere else, for that matter. I loves me some train travel.) And a solo long-distance trek must be in my near future.

And so, dear readers, I ask you: how would you challenge me? What would you like to see me do solo, just to prove that all trips can be enjoyed without the company of others? Share in the comments below. Or share your own solo travel adventures, questions, or concerns. There’s a whole big world out there. You don’t have to wait to find someone to travel with. Go. Go now. You won’t regret it. I promise. 

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