Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Solo Trips Done Right: Traveler Reviews

by | August 16, 2022

I’ve traveled solo a lot over the years, and I’ve loved it each and every time. During the pandemic, we saw more of you diving into the joys of solo trips too—maybe because your usual travel companions weren’t comfortable with the perceived risk, or maybe you just had the time when others didn’t.

The biggest discovery we hear from you is that solo travel is not lonely: For one thing, you meet so many interesting people. The right trip planner ensures that you will meet local experts and other charismatic characters along the way. It’s likely that you’ll be more inclined to strike up conversations on your own too, as I did in Barcelona when I made new friends in an espadrilles shop.

It took a pandemic for many people to realize that they love the freedom and possibilities when they travel on their own.  You can read some of the solo trip reviews we’ve received below. And if you’re inspired, we’re happy to advise you as to the best places and ideas for solo trips—and the trip designers who can make solo travel easy, safe and fun. Just click the button below to ask for a personalized recommendation.

Sicily: farm visits, wine tasting, genealogy….

coast of Cefalu, Palermo Sicily Italy

The coast of Cefalu, Palermo, Sicily. Photo: Shutterstock

“The first time tour of Sicily that Matteo planned for me was an amazing cultural tour of my ancestors’ homeland. I asked him to plan a 10 day tour across the whole island, focusing on culture and food (of course, being Sicilian myself) and he did not disappoint. Sure anyone could open a tour book and pick from the standard museums and cultural attractions, however the benefit of using an experienced local agency like Matteo’s was their firsthand knowledge of experiences I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

For example, I went wine tasting at multiple vineyards, however doing so with a personal guided tour from the owner and a certified wine sommelier made the experience that much more exceptional and personal. I visited an almond farm (didn’t even know you could do that) where we sat down with the owner and ate an amazing traditional Sicilian lunch prepared by his wife. Of course the best was touring Palermo with a local who then helped research and translate the birth records of my great-grandfather in the village where he was born was an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity, (Thanks Enrica!) If you’re going to visit Sicily, I highly recommend you consult with an experienced agency like Matteo’s before you do.” —Chris Lopinto

Read more reviews of Sicily trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Chile: Santiago, Valparaiso, wine country & Atacama Desert

Traveler walking up snowy incline with walking poles in Atacama desert Chile.

Atacama Desert, Chile. Photo: Jeannie Mullen

“Just back from the holidays in Chile, December 22, 2021 – January 7, 2022, and I could not have been any more pleased with Tom’s trip planning. His assistance with the necessary Covid testing and country-specific entry documents was invaluable and relieved a lot of pre-trip stress. We focused on Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, and the Atacama Desert. Highlights included:

* Vina Vik—what a phenomenal location, beautiful art and architecture, terrific young staff and fabulous food. Every detail taken care of, no matter how small. I hiked every day, had a tasting at their winery, took a cooking class with their chef, which started with choosing our ingredients for lunch from their organic garden, and also took a mixology class with their bartender and learned the secret to a pisco sour.

* Santiago—a walk through the boho neighborhoods in Valparaiso (shopping, street art, great food) and a fresh seafood lunch in Vina Del Mar. Tom’s private guide was a wealth of knowledge about current events in Chile (I’m a nerd about politics … they have just elected a new president and are writing a new constitution). She also knows where to go for the best Peruvian food (which I was on the hunt for).

* The Atacama Desert—an unexpected pleasure and my favorite experience, hands down. I didn’t know what to expect when Tom first suggested the desert, but I went with it anyway and followed his advice. I never knew how beautiful a desert could be. From every angle, at every time of day … the colors. Awasi is an interesting and authentic local property, fresh and creative food, an energetic, caring and engaging staff, and attention to absolutely every single detail. Every guest is assigned their own guide/trekker and 4×4 vehicle for the entirety of their stay. Each day we trekked to a new and interesting place—the salt flats, the petroglyphs, canyons, etc. We’d hike in the morning and in the afternoons, never in the middle of the day when the heat was at its worst. One morning we left at 5:30 a.m. to drive to the geysers in time for the sunrise. On the way back we stopped at a scenic overlook and my trekking guide cooked me breakfast out of the back of the 4×4.

On what would have been my last day to trek before heading to the Calama airport the next morning, my guide convinced me that I could trek to the summit of Toco volcano (elevation approx 18,400 ft). I took a leap of faith and extended my trip an extra day in order to make the ascent (Tom and the Awasi staff made it easy for me to do this by handling all of those last-minute travel logistics also). On the way back we stopped for lunch (again out of the back of the 4×4), and then they called ahead and made arrangements for a massage upon my return. When we got back to Awasi, the staff was waiting outside the front gate to congratulate me. A day that I will never, ever forget. And all because of their encouragement. That night at dinner, Pablo, the sommelier, recommended an infusion (tea) with rica rica to help me recover from the affects of the altitude. In sum, a phenomenal leg to the trip that resulted in achieving several personal bests and an unforgettable time in an infinitely beautiful desert.

Lastly, back to Tom … I goofed up on the last day of the trip in Santiago by unwittingly packing an expired personal Covid test kit. Tom stepped in and fixed that as well. He made my last days in Santiago memorable and very enjoyable on extremely short notice.” —Jeannie Mullen

Read more reviews of Chile trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Iceland: hiking to an ice cave inside a glacier, bathing in an outdoor thermal pool overlooking a fjord…

Sea cave, Iceland. Photo: Arnar Kristjansson Photography

Chris planned the trip of a lifetime to Iceland for me from September 16-26, 2021. I contacted him only two weeks before departure, and he put together an incredibly detailed itinerary, including reservations at the top hotels and restaurants. He also arranged fascinating experiences such as hiking to an ice cave inside a glacier, bathing in an outdoor thermal pool overlooking a fjord and mountains, and a stay at the spectacular private Retreat at the Blue Lagoon. Iceland and its scenery were magnificent. It was also the perfect Covid destination, since the population is very low density and almost all activities are outside. There also are stringent entry requirements for international travelers. I felt very safe everywhere I visited.” —Lyn McHugh

Read more reviews of Iceland trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


London with only locals

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge, London. Photo: Visit London.

“I am just back from a magnificent visit to London. As a regular reader of Wendy Perrin’s newsletter, I finally decided that it was time to start traveling again, but that the services of an expert trip planner were probably in order. Wendy directed me to Jonathan and his wonderful colleague Katie, who were super attentive to my interests and also my circumstance as a woman traveling alone. January in London is the off-season, but still I never expected to see Westminster Abbey with only five other visitors! The same was true almost everywhere I went, whether Churchill’s War Rooms, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, the British Museum. The food markets were busy but mostly with locals, as were the pubs and restaurants. Londoners were COVID-cautious and respectful, with almost universal masking. Like many other travelers have said, I almost felt safer in London than I do here at home.

My private tours were fantastic, with guides who made London come alive for me by showing me different ways to experience the city. I had so much fun learning about London street art from Alex, and Emma’s history of London in four drinks ended up in a gin distillery—what’s not to love about a great history lesson with a gin and tonic in hand! I really wanted to visit Hampton Court Palace again and fit in a visit to Oxford. Simon, my driver-guide, made my day to Hampton Court and Oxford extra special by suggesting we include a stop at Runnymede and also asked if I’d like to attend Evensong at one of the college chapels in Oxford. The day was filled with great conversation, meaningful history, glorious sites, and capped by a beautiful service at New College chapel.” —Nancy Footer

Read more reviews of London trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Uzbekistan: Zulya set up a lunch with her parents and family in her hometown of Bukara

Tilla Kori Medreseh, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Tilla Kori Medreseh in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo: Zulya Rajabova.

“I traveled to Uzbekistan with  Zulya in late May/June 2021. Uzbekistan is fully open despite Covid, and I felt very comfortable throughout, as I am vaccinated, although I mostly wore a mask because of the testing requirement to return to the U.S. The ancient cities of Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand are all wonderful—the architecture is breathtaking, perhaps some of the best preserved Islamic architecture in the world. I learned a lot of history about this part of the world that is often overlooked in American schools! In particular, I enjoyed the Savitsky Museum in Nukus. Zulya set up a private tour with the Museum exhibition director, who is also an art history professor at the local university. She was terrific and spent over two hours with me. Her explanations of the history of the 1920s-40s in both Russia and Nukus/Uzbekistan gave me a great perspective on the art. Another trip highlight was Zulya setting up a lunch with her family in her hometown of Bukhara. It was a real treat to meet her parents, as well as many of her siblings, nieces, and nephews. The lunch was really tasty and bountiful: They demonstrated how they make plov, the national dish, and we also had many other tasty dishes, bread, and homemade fruit juices. After lunch, the children put on a dance show, and I was asked to join them. I am NOT a dancer but gave it a go! Their warm hospitality was much appreciated, and I had a wonderful time. The trip logistics were flawless, and the only disappointment was that the Tajikistan border inexplicably closed a day before I was to travel to Tajikistan!  So my hiking there had to be canceled—a big disappointment. However, within 24 hours, Zulya’s local team was able to organize hiking in the Tian Shan mountains outside of Tashkent instead, complete with a guesthouse and a local hiking guide. I did three hikes, and the scenery was great. While I would have preferred to see the Fann Mountains/Seven Lakes, it was great to still be able to do some hiking on such short notice. Zulya also arranged my Covid test—for returning to the U.S.—at my hotel three days before my departure. It was very easy and results were provided within 24 hours.” —Sally Lee

Read more reviews of Uzbekistan trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Three months in Italy: Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Pompeii…

an autumn landscape in the Chianti region of Tuscany hills in the surroundings of Radda in Chianti

Chianti region vineyard, Tuscany, Italy. Photo: Shutterstock

“The trip was the most enjoyable of my life. In 87 days, Andrea’s team showed foresight in catering to my needs/interests and flexibility in adapting to my needs and interests as they changed, instead of rigidly and blindly following the itinerary. That includes changing transport arrangements based on circumstances and my preferences and guides being willing to take me places that I saw on the spot and sounded interesting. The guides had to be among the most knowledgeable in their cities and regions. Andrea’s team worked seamlessly with a riding outfitter to mix horse trips with their arrangements. This review really only scratches the surface of 87 days in Italy, five weeks of which were horseback riding.

• How did this trip differ from one you might have taken before the pandemic?

Less than you might think. Yes, a few small rooms in a palace in Florence were closed, there were one way routes through museums, I was having to show proof of vaccination everywhere, I had to wear masks in different places, and I had to get tested before returning home and make provisions for a positive test, but in terms of activities, hardly at all. Italy has done better at managing the pandemic than most countries, and the regime was strict but not oppressive.
Because there were way fewer tourists in famous places like the obvious sites in Rome (and Rome overall), the Vatican, Pompeii, and Tuscany, the trip was far more enjoyable. I don’t know how many times I heard a guide telling me, “Before the pandemic, this street would have been packed!”

• Did the trip planner suggest experiences, accommodations, dining options, travel logistics, etc., that felt Covid-appropriate to you? Did he/she solve particular challenges or destination-related problems?

Yes. An occasional restaurant had tables that were a bit too close for my comfort level, but that is totally subjective, and I discussed that with the guide already. As to the second, airport staff used by Andrea’s team helped me deal with with an airline problem and would have helped get to a city by other other means, and Nicole booked a hotel in Torino the night before a flight because heavy snow around where I was staying in the mountains 90 minutes away could have turned into ice and made it impossible to get out. I, of course, had to pay extra.

• What did the trip planner do, or not do, to minimize your health risk or financial risk?
I never felt that there was any unreasonable health or financial risk. I don’t know what would have happened if I had tested positive a few days before the trip, and Andrea’s team made known an evacuation insurance company that could have taken me home if I had met its criteria. If I hadn’t, according to the Embassy, I could have quarantined for as long as three weeks at my expense at my expense and not because of Andrea.

• Did the trip planner add value to your trip?

Yes. By having really knowledgeable guides who had dealt with the people who worked at every site who were willing to change the itinerary as circumstances and personal interests changed. We couldn’t do the Siracusa archeological area on the first day, but were able to add it to the beginning of another. Also, having private drivers meant that it was possible to see more since the driver could let us off at one place and pick us up at another. The guides and Andrea’s team were able to book restaurants at the last moment and other activities, such as puppet shows in Sicily.

• Did you have certain trip experiences that other travelers should either seek out or avoid?

They should seek out a villa in Sicily between Siracusa and Agrigento with complete mosaics that depicted in fine detail life in Ancient Rome, the private tour of the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel, the Palazzo Colonna in Rome, the Galileo Museum in Florence, the city of Verona, and the Piemonte region, which has rolling scenery every bit as beautiful as that of Tuscany plus great views of the Alps. Being with dogs hunting truffles was a lot of fun. San Gimignano, Siena, Assisi, and Perugia were all beautifully preserved medieval and Renaissance cities/towns that made me feel transported back in time. Being in Rome, Florence, and Verona during the time right before the holidays would have been beautiful anyway because of the decorations, but all the more so because Italians had come out of a very tough lockdown and were obviously joyful and relaxed. The only place which I wish I hadn’t visited was the August Mausoleum because the restorations and alterations totally wrecked what was an amazing building when it was constructed.” —Daniel Wile

Read more reviews of Italy trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Africa: A pregnant leopard stretched in a tree, climbed down and walked by our vehicle…

A leopard walking around at a national park in Zimbabwe

A leopard walking around a national park in Zimbabwe. Photo: Shutterstock

“I love Africa, been there more than 5 times. I wanted to change up my next trip with a custom itinerary instead of a pre-defined tour. Wendy’s expert, Cherri, created a fabulous and memorable experience. A friend recommended Mana Pools so we started there. Cherri asked me what I love about Africa. The itinerary for November 2021 she recommended included:

Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa

In Mana Pools, views were expansive and breathtaking. The Nyamatusi camp was modern and rustic and comfortable. The staff was musical and friendly and fabulous. The heat was notable, but the plunge pool, fan, outside shower and the banks of the Zambezi River made every day super special. Elephants, wild dogs and hippos were so close and easy to watch to create a super special experience.

At Chobe, Flo, one of the earliest woman guides in Africa, was my own private guide. The place was uncrowded, so Flo and I drove and floated the Zambezi every day. We did more outings on the Zambezi and I got to see so much elephant and hippo behavior at the water’s edge!!!
On the Okavango Delta, the Kwai Tented Camp is a modern, beautiful place and extremely comfortable. Giraffe, hippo, wild dogs, lion, hyena and leopard kept us company. I got an amazing moment in a tiny helicopter ride over the delta. We also had a really close up visit with a pack of wild dogs, who were hanging out on a dry river bed near the camp. We ended the stay with a fabulous dinner in the camp boma.

At Sabi Sands, the first morning, a pregnant leopard stretched in a tree, climbed down and walked by our vehicle. Then a lion pride of about 20, including two males (brothers) and cubs 3 months, 6 months and one year old. The father of the cubs was eating what remained of a recent zebra. His brother waited nearby and one of the 6 month old cubs approached, looking for approval to check out the zebra. The father grunted, allowing the young one to chew and play with the nose area of the kill. A few times, the little one tried to move up towards the more interesting parts but was immediately corrected—back to the nose. According to the guide and tracker, this kind of behavior is very rare.

Wendy surprised me with a surprise WOW Moment—a visit to an elephant rescue, including an elephant ride. It was astounding!

I’m so hooked on Wendy’s experts for designing and arranging my trips! Awesome locations, totally organized transfers, COVID testing and local updates as COVID happened come from a Wendy expert.” —Helene Bard

Read more reviews of Africa trips. Learn how to get your own WOW Moment. Or use our trip questionnaire (reached via the black button below) to start a WOW trip.


London and Venice: special access and amazing walks

Colorful houses and boat on a canal in Burano, Venice, Italy

Burano, Venice, Italy. Photo: Shutterstock

“Wendy, my dream trip to London and Venice in October 2021, arranged by Jennifer and her team, was everything that I had hoped for…with a little hiccup on the side. London was as amazing as ever. Jennifer was spot-on in recommending The Kensington. It had the best martinis of the entire trip (and I tasted many all over town) and was a quick walk to the Underground for exploring the city. Special access to the Churchill War rooms, a visit to the crypts of (an almost deserted) St. Paul’s, and amazing walks through Blenheim and Chartwell. My local guide, Hugh, knew more than just what was in history and guide books….it was an amazing educational and entertaining experience. I am already planning a return to follow in the footsteps of T.E. Lawrence…Hugh, you better start reading up!!!

At the back end of the trip, Venice seemed to be emerging out of its pandemic isolation and tourists were coming back. So was the water!! It wouldn’t be Venice if San Marco were not flooded at least once during the week…it did not disappoint. The Baglioni Hotel Luna was perfectly situated at the corner of the Piazza San Marco, right off the Grand Canal and around the corner from Harry’s Bar (still have great Bellini’s). Alvise, my artisan tour guide, knew the ins-and-outs of the cathedral, the amazing talents on Murano, and introduced me to Maestro Pastor and his wood-carving talents. But Jennifer left me just the right amount of time to wander (and get lost in) Venice on my own—it’s the best way to experience the city.

Unfortunately, the middle of the vacation was filled with major upheavals, not because of Jennifer but because of Belmond: A day before I was to embark on the Orient Express, the entire journey was cancelled. A major disappointment. However, Jennifer and her team quickly sprang into action and coordinated/expedited/confirmed transport for me from London to Bologna to Venice. It was a major logistics coup and something I could not have done without their help—it turned a nightmare scenario into a (minor) annoyance. But what would life be without such a glitch?? This only means that I will have to come back next year for the train experience—and Jennifer is already working on that. I’ll let you all know how that works out this time next year!!” —John Bradunas

Read more reviews of London and Venice trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 



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