There is something to be said about travelling alone—you are your own boss, and you have plenty of time to plot your course and reflect on your choices. Follow your whims on these adventures that are best done by yourself.
1 Sail around the world on a cargo freighter
There’s no bellying up to the buffet table or paddling to the swim-up bar on a cargo freighter—instead, you eat your meals with the captain and crew and see the inner workings of how everything in the world gets from Point A to Point B. Don’t expect to work—union rules and safety regulations prevent you from lending a hand—so you’re mostly left to your own devices to explore the ship and the ports where it stops. Most cargo freighters have room for two to three passengers, and the itinerary options are endless: Hong Kong to Seattle takes 20 days one-way, while Singapore to Genoa, Italy takes 140 days with 16 ports of call in between.
2 Complete the Camino de Santiago in Spain
For more infrastructure than the Shikoku Pilgrimage—and the ability to make more friends en route—try walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. More than 200,000 pilgrims make some version of the trek from Jaca in the Pyrenees to Galicia on the coast each year, and there are plentiful hotels and restaurants along the way, and even tour operators that will lug your stuff for you. That’s not to say it’s easy—this route was promoted in the Middle Ages as a form of penance—with 500 miles of hilly terrain to tackle as you cross Spain.
3 Sea kayak around Hong Kong
Sure, Hong Kong is a megalopolis with 7 million people—but it’s more than just a city; it’s composed of more than 250 islands in the South China Sea. You can still feel alone as you kayak through the areas known as the New Territories—the places remote from the skyscrapers of Victoria Harbour and Kowloon. Head northwest from the urban centre to the Geopark, a UNESCO-protected wilderness reserve, and you may see some pink dolphins at play.
4 Go camping in the Australian Outback
The “Eh, rules? Why?” attitude is what makes it incredibly simple to camp by yourself in the Outback: in most places you don’t need a permit. There are countless free camping sites if you have a vehicle, or if you just walk up with a tent and a backpack. And if an area doesn’t seem like an official camping site, the practice of free-range bushcamping is incredibly common. Just pitch a tent. You’re done.
5 Hike the Continental Divide Trail
Pop culture has already done its thing to popularise the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, but there’s a third across-the-country trail out there that hasn’t yet received acclaim and should therefore be more suitable for solo hiking. The Continental Divide Trail is 3,100 miles long and runs between Mexico and Canada, starting in New Mexico and finishing in Montana. Besides the normal hell challenges of hiking cross country, the CDT adds in the issues of altitude: you’ll go up more than 14,000 feet to scale Grays Peak in Colorado.
6 Work on a farm in Patagonia
This is for those of you who just cannot stand another moment among people in the iPhone-addled modern world: return to simpler days—and by simpler, we mean more exhausting—by working on a small farm. Ranches in the Chilean Patagonia need solo helpers all year round to assist with raising cattle, harvesting honey from bees and doing general maintenance. Some of the farms are spectacularly located in between lakes and volcanoes—meaning no mobile phone service and dodgy Internet connection.
7 Go night squid fishing in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Fishing is one of the most solitary of pursuits—and the chance to do it in one of the planet’s most spectacular settings is unbeatable. Despite the burgeoning tourist trade, the stunning Ha Long Bay remains a group of fishing villages—and armed with a bamboo rod and a net, you can tag along with the locals on night squid fishing trips. Part of your catch—and you can catch up to 30 squids a night—can be cooked and served to you immediately.