Solo Travel 2018: Immerse Yourself in a New Culture

Go well off the beaten path with these tour groups.

Left: Colorful colonial-era buildings outside Havana’s Parque Central. Right: Fruity drinks. Photography courtesy of John Thompson and Go Kate Shoot

Let’s flash it back, shall we? The year is 2016. Obama has eased travel restrictions to Cuba, leaving you free to hit the pastel-drenched streets of Havana for a dose of that freewheeling Hemingway life. Your friends — smart people, those friends — took full advantage. Now, let’s flash it forward. It’s 2018. Trump put a stranglehold on those policies, but you still dream of strolling the island’s white-sand beaches. Good news: You’re not entirely out of options. Enter El Camino Travel.

This tour company — which also runs trips to Colombia and Nicaragua — is one of a handful that are modernizing group travel by providing real-deal experiences, keeping groups small, and focusing on singles. (Seventy percent of El Camino’s sales come from solo female travelers.) So, what can you expect? Well, you’ll shack up in a private home, tour the capital in a vintage convertible, and take a day trip to tobacco country. You’ll eat Cuban malanga roadside and sip rum drinks while taking in the sunset from a secret rooftop patio. You’ll wander through art galleries tucked away in cobblestone alleys. And you’ll leave with a set of professional snaps to upload to IG (El Camino hires a photographer to document each trip, so you can put away your phone) and a newfound appreciation for mojitos.

If you’re looking for a less, ahem, millennial crowd to bond with, look no further than Overseas Adventure Travel. They score major points with the 50-and-up crowd by capping groups at 16 and eliminating single supplements almost everywhere. OAT estimates that 48 percent of its travelers will go it alone in 2018, and they’ll be going to far-flung locales like Morocco, India, and the Galápagos Islands — places that can be overwhelming to navigate without help. On your trip, you’ll have the freedom to customize your itinerary — opt into a day tour, or choose unstructured ambling — but thanks to the group meals, you’ll always have someone to recap the day’s adventures with. The 2018 destination to try? Tanzania. In between safaris and a hot-air balloon ride, you’ll spend an unforgettable day doing something pretty much impossible to organize on your own: learning beadwork and dance rituals in a Maasai village.

Book It!
The Group: El Camino Travel
Destinations: Central and South America
Rates: Start at $2,100, airfare not included

The Group: Overseas Adventure Travel
Destinations: On all 7 continents
Rates: Start at $2,895

» See Also: Five Ways to Get Away From Philly This Spring, No Companion Required

Published as “Me, Myself And I: Immerse Yourself in a New Culture” in the March 2018 issue of Philadelphia magazine.