Travel Guides

The Ultimate Guide to Planning the Best Solo Trips in the US

Fort Collins: best solo trips in the US

These days, solo travel looks quite glamorous behind the smoke and mirrors of Instagram and TikTok. But in reality, solo female travel is not that effortless. There are two major fears when planning a solo female trip. Number one, is it safe? And number two, am I a loser? First of all, don’t let the anxiety of your family and friends leave you questioning if a solo trip is a good idea. Secondly, there are plenty of activities and adventures that lend themselves to solo traveling. Also, who needs people getting in the way of your perfect trip? So the answer is no, you’re not a loser and yes, it can be safe. How do I know all of this? Because I’ve done it and lived to share my experience. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for international solo female travel, I am not your girl. However, I can help you plan for one of the best solo trips in the US that you’ve ever had. Whether you’re a beginner solo traveler or have a few trips under your belt, I’m here to provide some premium solo female travel tips for a smooth journey with safety and confidence. 


Step One: Choose Your Destination and Plan your Itinerary

The first and most difficult question you’ll ask yourself before a solo trip is “Where should I solo travel as a female?”

Best solo trips in the US: National Parks

In my opinion, some of the best solo trips in the US are through national parks. Why? Because US National Parks are safe, easy to navigate, have PLENTY of solo activities, and have the potential to fit all budgets. That’s right, contrary to popular belief, National Parks aren’t all road-tripping and camping. Many of the parks and surrounding cities offer luxurious stays with all of the relaxation and amenities you’re looking for. Think about all of the worries you can wash away in a natural hot spring…Anyway, if National Parks are piquing your interest, then you can check out my full itinerary for a road trip through Rocky Mountain National Park, or read about my solo experience and the top best things to do in Yellowstone National Park

Best solo trips in the US: Cities

If seclusion and nature aren’t really your thing, then traveling to major cities is next on the list of the best solo trips in the US. I’m biased, but after living in Denver for 2 years, I think this city is absolutely perfect for solo female travel in the USA. Denver can help you step outside of your comfort zone with quick access to the mountains while providing the same comforts of city life.

My favorite places to visit solo in the city are any number of the incredible coffee shops then I peruse shopping on these hip city streets. Finally, I like to grab a bite at Denver Central Market or Denver Milk Market where there is open seating and so much abuzz that no one will notice you’re reading a romance novel at a table for one. If Denver isn’t doing it for you, then check out the list of cities that Travel and Leisure ranked for best solo trips in the US. While Denver isn’t listed, there are two cities in CO that I can absolutely get behind. 

Step Two: Research Accommodations and Transportation Options

Now it’s time to ask yourself “Where will I stay and how will I get to my bucket list destination?”

There are 3 things you’ll need to consider when researching your solo US trip:

  1. Budget 
  2. Safety
  3. Length of stay
  4. Proximity to activities 

Finding the Perfect Accommodation

To get an idea of the price, I recommend conducting a preliminary search of stays across Google and Airbnb. For National Park camping, my preliminary search is usually on recreation.gov. Once you have an idea of the price, you can search for what spots are the safest. Write the safest spots down. Now, the last part is to figure out the hippest and hottest spots in your destination. Are you going somewhere specifically for an event or bucket list adventure? Do you want this event to be walkable from your doorstep or is an uber/driving ok for you? Write down your ideal areas based on your activities. Now, break out google maps and cross-reference it with your safe zones. Any overlap? Can you afford it? If not, keep working your way through the list until you can narrow down the perfect stay within your budget and your safety zone.

Choosing the Best Transportation

Often the cheapest transportation option is to road trip to a close destination. When I’m traveling solo I like to keep my drive no more than 4-6 hours. If you’re going across the country, then flying honestly might be a more budget-friendly and efficient option. When flying, I always check google flights first because it will show you the cheapest round trip even if your arrival and return are on separate airlines. If you chose a National Park as your destination, I recommend a road trip. Often these parks are far from major airports and you will then have to rent a car which can lead to a hefty bill. 

Getting there is one thing, but the pro travel planners have a handle on transportation after their arrival. It’s important to research what type of transportation is available once you arrive at your destination, especially if you’re flying. This can save you time and money. Renting a car after a flight is not always within the budget. So, you can look into the availability of public transport, uber accessibility, airport shuttles, resort shuttles, or even those pesky scooters…If you’re road tripping it’s important to consider the parking situation, especially in major cities. Try to look for accommodations that offer parking (even at a cost) to save you a headache and offer peace of mind. 

Step Three: Pack Smart and Light

Next, you’ll want to ask yourself “…But what will I wear?!”

Some things you’ll want to consider when packing for your solo trip in the US:

  1. Weather at your destination 
  2. Length of your stay
  3. Type of Transportation  
  4. Activities you plan to do

If you’re like me, you’re a chronic over-packer. To prevent this, I like to visualize myself on the trip and at the destination. Not only to see if my outfit choice matches the vibe but also to see if I’m fumbling around with all of the unnecessary stuff I brought. As a solo traveler, you don’t have the luxury of your friend holding your things while you run to the bathroom, or recruiting your boyfriend to set up the super complicated tent you bought.

After you visualize, write down everything you plan to do. What type of clothing is required? Can you wear the same pair of jeans for two separate outings? Pack your outfits based on what you expect each day to look like. No more and no less. Next, ensure you’re aware of the bag requirements on your flight and the weather at your destination. It’s important not to go too crazy if you’re road-tripping. I pack my clothing like I’m flying even when I’m taking a road trip. If I don’t, I’ll pack my whole closet. If you’re camping, check out this packing guide that lists all of the essentials. 

Solo Travel Packing List Essentials:

  1. IDs, credit cards, and carry extra cash 
  2. A small bag that is on your person (e.g. I prefer a small backpack or a fanny pack)
  3. Phone charger and/or portable charger
  4. Headphones 
  5. A book and/or a journal
  6. Depending on where you’re going, a hotspot router can be helpful & provide some safety
  7. Safety alarm, pepper spray, luggage locks, etc. (if you deem necessary)

Step 4: Embrace the Solo Travel Experience

And finally, ask yourself “What do I want to gain from this experience?”

These days, I honestly feel that nothing you do alone is strange. You can eat at a restaurant, see live music, hike that mountain, go to the spa, and sip that latte all on your own. You did this trip because you’re brave and have a lust for adventure. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. If you’re feeling nervous about your solo travel, you can use visualization again. Picture yourself on your vacation. What are you doing, wearing, smelling, seeing, and feeling? Picture the perfect day, but then picture what you’re anxious about. After all, nothing ever goes perfectly planned. This always helps me walk into a situation with more confidence and allows me to handle the bumps with ease. 

Once you arrive at your destination, surrender to the experience. Don’t be afraid to chat with people in line, your bartender, or your barista. Take quiet pauses throughout your trip and use your journal. Listen to your gut and leave space for a change of plans. After all, you’ve done all of the work to prepare, now you have to allow yourself to enjoy it. 

Planning a solo trip in the US requires some preparation, but the trip doesn’t have to be extravagant, nor does it have to be complicated. I mean this may as well have been an advertisement for google. It’s not. But, you can see that planning one of the best solo trips in the US simply comes down to your research and preparedness. It’s all right at your fingertips. So, get excited for the solo trip of a lifetime and enjoy your well-deserved vacation.

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