Liz O’Reilly shares her current bucket list of travel destinations.
For many on the island, the summer break is a family affair. The kids are out of school and it’s time to either take that long-awaited vacation or perhaps, if you’re an expat, visit family and friends in your homeland. But, for an increasing number of women, travel is becoming a solo pursuit. Perhaps your partner can’t get time off, maybe there isn’t a partner or friend you choose to share your precious journey time with or maybe you just want a break from the family to have some relaxing alone time. I’m slightly addicted to solo travel; I reckon it’s the best way to meet new people and selfishly get to see just what you want in a new place without worrying about travel companions. These three destinations are on the top of my current lust list.
I keep reading about Costa Rica’s environmental credentials – it’s big on renewable energy, has banned hunting as a sport and the government even tried, unsuccessfully, to force the closure of its zoos. The country also has a good reputation for travel safety, though, of course, you must exercise common sense, as you would anywhere. If you’re thinking of hitting the tourist trail, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui is a good place to start. With its location at the junction of two major rivers, surrounded by lush green forest and close to several active volcanoes, it’s an adventure lover’s dream destination. A bit more out of the way, Cabo Matapalo on the tip of the Osa Peninsula not only has great surfing beaches but also the Corcovado National Park where a trek might reveal jaguars, toucans and white-faced capuchins.
Getting there’s a schlep, at almost 26 hours with stop offs in London and Dallas. But, as they say, good things come to she who waits.
It’s one of Europe’s most expensive countries but that hasn’t stopped Iceland from slowly edging its way up the list of most popular, and currently coolest, destinations. And it’s a country that’s known not only for its safety for solo travellers but also the friendliness of its people. Head for the cosmopolitan fabulousness that is Reykjavik, famed for its bars and nightlife. Make sure to check out the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, lots of stunning architecture and, of course, if you go during the summer months, the midnight sun – a period during which it doesn’t get properly dark at all. If you want to experience the more rugged side of this stunning country, you could do worse than getting into the saddle and joining in the annual horseback round-up of Iceland’s famous native ponies.
The shortest flight is around 12 hours via London, which is pretty average for far northern Europe.
Vietnam is known as the most female-friendly travel destination in Southeast Asia. In fact, the people are so friendly you may well find yourself invited to join them for food or drinks so they can practise their English! A country of major contrasts, there’s so much to see and do but no trip would be complete without a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels, the underground labyrinth used by the Viet Cong during the war with America. Another must-see is the stunning Ha Long Bay, in the north of the country close to the border with China. Dotted with 1,600 limestone islands and islets, the bay covers 1,500sq/km and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Many of the regional airlines fly to Hanoi and Saigon with a journey time of 12 hours and upwards.