Solo Valentines-How to Chart Your Own Course Part 3
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Feb. 14 is coming up. For many solos this really is a red letter day, wanting to take cover to avoid being the only “Group of One” at your favorite restaurant or local haunts! Be empowered by creating new traditions for yourself to enjoy.
Some I have come up with in the past for other holidays:
-Swimming in the Amazon River on Christmas morning hoping the piranha were still dozing
-Celebrating my birthday solo on a Nile River cruise followed by marveling at Abu Simbel
-Witnessing New Year’s Day fireworks in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
I admittedly have had a few false starts creating my new holiday celebrations! However, there is another great reason to make this, or future Valentine’s your own special holiday: Since it is in the dead of winter, Europe and many other popular summer tourist destinations (as well as airfare) are discounted by up to 50%. Take it from one who traveled to Siberia one January, the road less traveled by will give you a lifetime of memories. So put away thoughts of munching on boxes of chocolates, dust off your passport and plan to hit the road.
Even last minute, there is something for every budget and style of travel. In addition to off-season prices, take advantage of weekend rates at business hotels that reduce prices to fill vacancies. This is a little tricky so do go to our hotel booking engine link starting on our home page to research destinations and specific dates as prices are in constant flux. For example, you will find in Manhattan many 4-star and 5-star hotels are close to half-off on Friday when business travelers have left but revert to standard prices on Saturday when weekend tourists and theater aficionados arrive. Lastly, don’t only consider flying to your destination. Trains can be great values, especially this time of year. Here in the Washington, DC-New York corridor, everyone from millennials to affluent middle-aged travelers are also lining up for $35+ bus tickets!
The”road less traveled” at least when it comes to Valentine’s!:
Here are some of my personal favorites. Just remember the more unusual the choice the greater the likelihood of good pricing because reduced demand for a destination tends to bring rates down.
Amazon Upriver: This is a perfect tour to get your mind off the office or day-to-day life although it may be late to find a tour spot. However, since it is rainy season, you can easily locate a hotel vacancy and connect with local and/or day tours on arrival. An added bonus for North Americans, the Amazon Basin is in northern Brazil so the flight time and cost are limited.
As to the next two, although airfare is less this time of year and local prices are among the best worldwide, this may be too far for many last minute travelers from North America. However, for solo travelers in Asia and Australia/New Zealand, this could work well.
Rarotonga and Aitutaki/Oceania: The Cook Islands are about 1,000 north of American Samoa and 1,000 west of Tahiti. Think of the days of Mutiny on the Bounty! My special memories include galloping on the beach on a single-minded (out-of-control?) mare. I have chosen Rarotonga and Aitutaki having vacationed there since: 1. They are not as likely to be filled with honeymooners as Hawaii and 2. They are much less expensive than most of the Pacific’s elegant destinations.
Sports Aficionados: As an “Intermittent” Intermediate skier, I have taken small group ski lessons both in Norway and Andorra. Both were wonderful, with endless snow-covered slopes and warm greetings for solos. Prices were more competitive than Switzerland’s and at the high-end pistes of much of Europe. In each case, I combined cultural/museum visits en route. (Traveling to Andorra, I flew via Barcelona and had 2-3 days there sightseeing as I did in Oslo.)
Fiji: Although better known than the Cook Islands, Fiji still offers many undeveloped, pristine beaches but also an active vacation with unlimited water sports and real adventures. If you are looking for the latter, try, swimming or diving with sharks, ziplining, rappelling past waterfalls into caves, or you can even try Zorbing. (Never heard of it? Think rolling downhill inside a plastic ball!)
For North Americans/Closer to Home: Quebec for me is the perfect way to go “abroad” without ever crossing the Atlantic or Pacific. For those in the middle or eastern Canada or US, flying, taking the train or driving can be economical. From 4 or 5-star hotels to bed and breakfasts, the prices are very attractive especially for those carrying US dollars. Having been 5 times, I highly recommend the dog sledding, skiing and sampling of local cuisine and robust wines. There are lots of shops as well as local history to explore.
Vancouver: This is the perfect solution for Canadians and Americans living in the West. You can explore the city of Vancouver and then hop a seaplane or ferry to Victoria Island, take a day trip to Whistler and visit Fraser Valley Wine Country.
Las Vegas: Its reputation as a destination for bachelor parties, gambling and the nightlife is only part of the story. Select Las Vegas hotels don’t have casinos and offer a different kind of trip. Day tours to the Grand Canyon (5 hours each way) and the much nearer Hoover Dam are just two options.
New York is another venue that is welcoming for solo travelers. As the city that “never sleeps at night”, visiting museums, seeing Broadway shows, strolling down Fifth Avenue and people-watching will quickly fill your days. I have taken the tour boat to the Statue of Liberty and highly recommend it. As mentioned before, look for special business hotel reductions and do line up for discounted theater tickets or even standing room!
Whether you have chosen a more sedate city/museum tour, a harrowing zipline over a rainforest canopy or even a staycation engrossed in a movie marathon, be sure to make Feb. 14 another special day to celebrate each year as a solo traveler.