The Best Places to Travel Alone

04 May 2016

So you’ve decided that you’ll be traveling alone, and now the question is, where to? There are many things to consider when visiting a new place on your own, like how easy is it to get around? How safe will it be? Will it be easy to talk to and interact with other people? While there may seem to be a lot to consider, going at it alone can lead to some wonderful, life-changing encounters. Fortunately for the lone traveler, there are HI USA hostels everywhere from major cities to national parks where you can rest assured that you’re not only getting an affordable place to stay, but you’re staying at a place that welcomes those traveling on their own. With inviting common spaces and activities to get even the shiest of travelers out of their shells, the only thing you’ll have to worry about when staying at our hostels is saying goodbye to your new friends when you leave. So, where are you going to next?

New York, New York

empire state building

Since this is the City that Never Sleeps, it won’t matter which time zone you’re arriving from if you’re on your own. Pack a picnic and watch the world go by in Central Park; go exploring in the many museums and famous buildings; or ask the folks at HI New York City for the scoop on off the beaten path gems and sweet spots where locals hang out. The hostel leads a full slate of city tours and on-site activities that will have you mixing and mingling with fellow travelers from all over the world from the moment you step through the door. Whether you’re there to check off items on a bucket list, or just to discover what makes the city tick, you won’t be hard-pressed to find someone to take along for the ride as this is probably one of the most visited cities in the world.

Where to stay: HI New York City hostel

Getting around: The hostel is just one block from the subway and within walking distance of some great sights!

Insider tip: You don't need to spend much to have a good time in the Big Apple - there are plenty of free things to do in New York

San Francisco, California

female traveler with camera in san francisco

San Francisco has always been attractive for adventurers and those who like to swim against the tide, and it’s still as welcoming as ever to wanderers who are finding themselves by traveling alone. Not only is there a wealth of things to do – from iconic sites to lesser-known jewels, excellent eats from all over the world and a culture that’s inimitable –it’s also quite easy to get around by foot or public transportation. Travelers can experience the best of the city just by taking part in the hostel’s tours and activities, whether it’s sampling some iconic San Francisco food or taking on the infamous hills. While making new acquaintances is as easy as joining a communal dinner or going out on a pub crawl. This is the home of the hippie, so if there’s one thing that’s guaranteed it’s that love rules here.

Where to stay: The HI San Francisco hostels are accessible and close to the must-sees and -dos.

Getting around: There are BART trains and MUNI buses to help you go near or far.

Insider tip: Definitely go see the big sights, but be sure not to miss the items on this off the beaten path bucket list.

Portland, Oregon

traveler checking in to HI Portland Hawthorne hostel

It may be weird, but weird is good. And in Portland, weirdness includes friendly locals and a bikes and beer culture that makes it practically impossible not to feel a sense of camaraderie with people you’ve just met. You can lose hours by yourself browsing the pages of books at the famous Powell’s bookstore or indulging in an indecent amount of doughnuts and coffee, or gather a crew and go exploring in the city’s quite spectacular natural surroundings. HI Portland Hawthorne hostel is a cozy converted house, and thanks to its small size and awesome staff, chances are you won’t get through your first day without meeting nearly everyone staying there! You may arrive in Portland alone, but you’ll leave feeling like you had friends there all along.

Where to stay: HI Portland Hawthorne, which kind of feels like staying at a friend’s house, or HI Portland Northwest, two historic buildings in the city center

Getting around: Bike! You can rent one at the hostel. Public transportation is easy to use, too.

Insider tip: It’s super easy to make the most of Portland while on a tight budget.

Austin, Texas

travelers paddle boarding on lake in Austin

Keeping with the “weird” theme, Austin is another gem of a place known for its quirkiness and kaleidoscopic culture ideal for curious explorers. Whether you’re visiting the city for its lauded eclectic music scene or you’ve heard that this is the only place to be if you want legit good Tex-Mex food, you’ll likely find a traveler or two who’s up for the same adventure. HI Austin hostel’s activities, like the ice cream socials and happy hours, are geared toward bringing travelers together so you’ll get to mix and mingle while getting to know the city as well. This Texan town might not get as much traffic as some of the bigger cities, but it’s got a culture and a certain je ne sais quoi that make it enticing for travelers looking for somewhere that will embrace their solitary spirit. And that makes it perfect for finding a fellow loner to hang out with for a while.

Where to stay: HI Austin hostel is not only close to the hip and happening downtown, but it’s also right on the shores of a lake so you get the best of both city and nature.

Getting around: You can rent a bike at the hostel and explore that way, or use the easily accessed bus lines.

Insider tip: Explore the city without spending a dime thanks to these free things to do in Austin.


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At our hostels across America, you know you always have a place to stay where you’ll feel welcome and comfortable. We also understand that there’s a lot to think about before you take your solo trip.