#1: Drive the world’s loneliest road in Scotland
The UK’s answer to Route 66, the North Coast 500 is a new coastal trip (opened in autumn 2015) running through the remote north-west of Scotland, a lonely single-track loop of solitude that winds past the seaboard crags and peninsulas of Caithness, Sutherland and Wester Ross, before ending in Inverness, the capital of the Highlands. Throw in a fairy tale mix of dramatic, ruined castles, tiny fishing villages, spooky caves, and shrouded mountain peaks, and it’ll give you a solo perspective on a landscape that’s as barren as Iceland and as stark and striking as Patagonia. A caveat: in future, other road trips will pale in comparison.
#2: Rent a cabin in the woods in Canada
Picture miles of lakefront and swathes of evergreen forest, with pine trees down to the water’s edge, and a small rustic cabin close to the shore, logs neatly stacked in piles outside. It adds up to a Robinson-Crusoe-in-the-woods tableau, and the ultimate escape for city slickers and stressed-out urbanites.
Cabins like these are part of a new trend; backcountry huts for solo travellers that can be browsed online that seem almost too good to be true. A good place to start is Glamping Hub, an online collection with thousands to choose from. For one with a backdrop of vermillion lakes and bushy forests, head to the Rocky Mountain landscape of British Columbia and Alberta. When you ask for remote in these parts, remote is what you get.
#3: Get wrapped-up in books in Dublin
Some travellers look at the Irish capital and see streets and cobblestones. The more curious see stories. That’s because Dublin is teeming with tall tales and yarns, making it a fitting place to lose yourself in the works of James Joyce, Jonathan Swift or George Bernard Shaw, all of whom were born in the UNESCO City of Literature, where the annual International Literature Festival Dublin takes place (it’s from May 21-29 this year).
Tour the Trinity College Library, home to ancient manuscripts such as the Book of Kells, catch an Oscar Wilde play at the Abbey Theatre, read-up on the Dublin Writers’ Museum, or settle down with some WB Yeats poetry on the lawns of St Stephen’s Green. Alternatively, sip a pint of Guinness in Temple Bar and the storytelling – and Irish craic – will come and find you.
#4: Find yourself on a hike across the USA
Having a solo hiking adventure is the ultimate long-winded yarn. Cue the likes of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, both autobiographical accounts made into blockbuster Hollywood movies in the past year. Respectively, they took their inspiration from the Pacific Crest Trail, a 4,286km wilderness route that runs from California to the Canadian border, and the 3,500km Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine on the northeast Atlantic coast.
Voyages of self-discovery, these immersive backpacking hikes require you to be self-sufficient for weeks, if not months on end, criss-crossing dozens of America’s finest national parks along the way, including Yosemite (above), Mount Rainier, Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains. The mindset is key: start out with realistic expectations and you’ll have a far better chance to reach your self-set goal.
#5: Camp out in a Swiss mountain pod
Consider the standard ski chalet holiday: log cabins full of families with young children, couples snug and coquettish by the log fire. Hardly the ideal place for the solo traveller. But the Whitepod eco-luxury hotel (above) in the canton of Valais takes the backwoods camping attitude into the Alps, creating an igloo holiday with a twist. The camp sits high above the mountain village of Les Cerniers, at the foot of the Dents-du-Midi mountain range, and wows with its series of 8ft-tall, steel-framed, snow-white geodesic dome tents. It’s hardly rustic – pods come fitted with wood-burning stoves, cow-skin rugs, iPod speakers – but it makes for the kind of solo stay you’ll be bragging about for years.
#6: Book a table for one at a Dutch restaurant
Solo dining may be a culinary stigma – no one wants to do it – but that perception goes out the window at Eenmaal, the first one-person restaurant in the world, which popped up in Amsterdam back in 2014.
The brainchild of two design agencies, it’s been a runaway success despite the quirk, with each pop-up selling out everywhere from London and Antwerp to New York. Watch this space for more culinary adventures over the next 12 months. In short: no partners, no friends, no sharing, no problems.
An adapted version first appeared in Silverkris.