I love getting emails from readers, even though sometimes, I’m at a loss for how to respond to them. Sometimes I get emails asking what it’s like to travel solo to a place I’ve never been to. I feel bad that I can’t help those people, though I usually try to steer them toward another blogger that I know has been to that place. (So keep those emails coming, I’ll point you in the right direction if I can!)
Then, there are the emails asking: “Where should I go? What’s a good solo travel destination?” Wow, that is such a big question. I’m hesitant to cite specific destinations to someone I don’t know very well. Because the truth is, almost any destination is a good solo travel destination. It just depends on where you want to go.
I’m becoming more and more convinced that the reason some people don’t travel is because they can’t decide where they want to go. Does that describe you? Maybe you have a desire to travel, but it’s a big world out there and you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you have a long travel bucket list but can’t prioritize it. That happens to me sometimes, too. Too many choices can be paralyzing. My fallback position every time I have trouble deciding where I want to go is to follow my passion. It hasn’t steered me wrong yet.
By “passion” I don’t just mean your passion for travel. That’s a given. I mean the other passions in your life, whether it’s gardening or music or sports. If you’re having trouble deciding where to go, or if travel has lost some of its lustre and you just can’t work up any motivation to go anywhere, it’s time to get back to basics, to get back to who you are.
What are you passionate about?
My first big solo trip was to England in the 1990s. I was an English major in college, and my favorite authors were usually English authors. So when I saw that the University where I work was offering a 3-week summer course in England called “Shakespeare on the Page and Stage”, it was a match made in heaven. I signed up.
I didn’t know anybody on that trip, because I wasn’t a student at the time. I was older than the traditional students, and younger than the non-trads on the trip. But the subject matter was my passion, and the trip was one I’ll never forget. We went to see eight or nine performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company and visited sites important to Shakespeare in Stratford-Upon-Avon. During my free time, I visited the former home of John Keats and took a literary walking tour through London that included the home where Virginia Woolf lived. In other words, I followed my passion.
Years later, when I decided to visit Las Vegas, two things convinced me this desert city historically known for gambling, the mob, and girlie shows was finally for me: I was a huge fan of CBS’s forensic show, CSI, and The Star Trek Experience opened in Las Vegas. I am a die-hard, lifelong Trekkie. How could I not go? Ten years and multiple trips to Las Vegas later, I’m such a fan of the city I have a blog about it.
Visiting New Orleans was a no-brainer: I love jazz, food, and cemeteries. I’m also a history, architecture, and photography nut. Many of my recent travel destinations have been chosen because I know those cities have amazing history and architecture that I wanted to see and photograph—Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Florence. And the list goes on.
Look around you, and you’ll see that others prioritize their travel the same way. Jodi Ettenberg follows her stomach around the world, as a passionate foodie. Janice Waugh loves films and has traveled to Utah to volunteer at the Sundance Film Festival. Jeremy Branham created the College Football Travel Tour for himself, where he traveled around the country to experience college football games in a variety of cities.
So if you’re having trouble deciding where you want to go, think about how you can combine travel with the non-travel passions in your life. If you love gardening, you might travel to Amsterdam to see their tulips or visit some of the amazing palace gardens around Europe. Do you love the ballet? A trip to Chicago could be planned around attendance at a performance by the Joffrey Ballet. If you’re a sci-fi or comic book fan, you could visit San Diego around the annual Comic Con. If you’re into genealogy, why not plan a trip to the home of your ancestors and get to know your own cultural background firsthand?
The only limits to where you can go are your own passions and imagination. If you already have a list of destinations, try narrowing your focus by asking which ones offer you the opportunity to pursue your passions? If you don’t already have a list of known destinations for that interest of yours, a little Google searching of keywords should do the trick. The important thing is not to let an overabundance of choices or a lack of focus paralyze you and prevent you from going anywhere.
What are your passionate hobbies and interests outside of travel? How have you incorporated them into your trips?