Backpacks, Google Translate, and You

Flying on an airplane full of strangers to see a new city is one of the coolest feelings ever—and not just because you can listen to your headphones uninterrupted. When I used to intern for a major airline, I did this a lot: I flew to Los Angeles to visit Disneyland for a day, to Chicago for some deep-dish pizza, and to New York just to say I’d been there. Sometimes fellow interns would come with me, other times I would go alone.

Traveling solo is a weightless feeling: no luggage, no commitments, no considering what someone else wants to do. You just have your backpack, Google Translate (if needed), and yourself. You can do whatever you want, all while learning about you and what you are capable of (answer: anything!). Book a plane ticket for one this month and explore one of these beautiful cities!

Marrakech, Morocco

Try spicy food, see gorgeous architecture, and go shopping in Marrakech, Morocco. This is a great place to visit alone. Explore its vibrant souks selling colorful rugs, handmade shoes, lovely jewelry, and other one-of-a-kind goods from more than 40,000 craftsman. Or, bring a book and soak in some quiet time in one of Marrakech’s relaxing gardens, like the Majorelle Garden: a small botanical garden with exotic plants and rare flowers such as water lilies, jasmines, banana trees, cactus, bamboo, and more. While you’re out, take yourself out to dinner by grabbing a flavorful meat skewer or soup filled with spices and vegetables from a street market.

Zurich, Switzerland

Retreat to stunning Zurich, Switzerland this fall, a city with beautiful nature scenes, an entertaining nightlife, and gorgeous architecture. Take extra precautions when hiking alone, such as not going out alone after dark; letting someone (like hotel staff) know where you’ll be; and bringing a paper map and flare lights just in case you get lost. Once you have taken care of the safety, go hiking on Mount Uetliberg, which offers a panoramic view of the city and Lake Zurich. You can also ride a bike or stroll through one of the seventy parks and green areas in the city, like the Old Botanical Garden, which is filled with pretty flowers, medicinal herbs, and a 19th-century palm house. Or check out the iconic architecture, like the wavy buildings inside the Student Village at ETH Zurich. In the evenings, explore some of Zurich’s famous nightlife, like the Café Bar Odeon, made famous by its legendary guests such as Albert Einstein and Benito Mussolini.

Paris, France

Visit the “City of Love” (AKA Paris, France) alone to fall in love with yourself—and to learn so much more about this picturesque place! Unless you are traveling with a group of friends (and even then, I don’t recommend it), don’t stay in a hostel. Instead, choose a hotel, such as the Hotel de Nesle Paris, that’s in walking distance from some of the sights you want to see. This stunning hotel has gorgeous décor, pretty gardens, and (most importantly) front doors that lock at night. And it’s only a ten-minute walk from the Louvre Museum! Take pictures of the famous glass pyramid entrance, then spend as many hours as you want visiting the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and other masterpieces. Just let your heart lead you!

Traveling solo gives you plenty of time to reflect, meet new people and gain self-confidence in a way that is indescribable. And much cheaper, too!