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5 destinations that are ideal for solo pandemic travel

Sept. 16, 2021
11 min read
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Editor's Note

The entry requirements listed below are accurate as of publication. As with all travel during the pandemic, please stay abreast of the latest COVID-19-related restrictions. 

Your travel philosophy shouldn't change, no matter how many people are along for the journey. All travelers yearn for fulfilling experiences. Solo explorers aren't any different.

Over the years, traveling by myself has crafted some of my most rewarding memories ever (peep my Instagram for some of them).

I love weaving the great outdoors with the opportunity to meet others. Or perhaps intertwining an urban escape with a moment of Zen somewhere more remote.

Of course, the pandemic is now a major consideration about where you can go, too. Here are five destinations I've visited that may be a great choice for solo pandemic travel.

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Iceland

(Photo by Matte Enrico/The Points Guy)

Iceland is open to fully vaccinated U.S. travelers, along with those that have recovered from COVID-19. In addition, you'll need to have a negative PCR or antigen test result within 72 hours of departing for Iceland.

I visited Iceland solo several years ago, and if one word could describe that experience, it would be "otherworldly." The vast landscapes and rugged terrain, combined with the fast-changing weather and surreal northern lights, make for an experience unlike any other.

And I did all of it solo by renting a car and staying at a variety of Airbnbs around the island nation.

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While Iceland may be on the more expensive end, especially when traveling solo, it doesn't have to break the bank. Stay at an Airbnb, cook for yourself or even rent a camper van as TPG staffer Stella Shon did.

Related: Traveling to Iceland during the coronavirus pandemic — the complete guide

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Sean Pavone/Getty Images)

Portugal is open to U.S. travelers, and I visited this past summer. All travelers headed to Portugal must provide proof of a negative nucleic acid amplification test, such as a PCR test, taken within 72 hours before boarding. Rapid tests are also accepted but must be performed within 48 hours of boarding.

In my mind, it's one of the perfect cities that combine a picturesque historic center along with easy access to gorgeous beaches and natural escapes.

 

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Related: Traveling to Portugal: 7 things to know before you go

Consider a daytrip to the beach town of Cascais or the whimsical palaces and castles of medieval Sintra. Best of all, as one of the cheapest Western Europe capital cities, it can be relatively affordable for solo travelers.

Merida, Mexico

Right before the onset of the pandemic, I visited the vibrant Mexican city of Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula. Mexico is currently open to U.S. travelers by air, but border crossings remain closed.

The colorful buildings of Merida. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

Merida has a rich Mayan and colonial heritage, with cathedrals and monuments erected throughout its colorful downtown core.

It's affordable, safe and a charming place to spend a few days -- or even longer. That's because Merida is centrally located, with easy access to Mayan ruins (like the famous Chichen Itza) and cenotes.

As a solo traveler, I would much prefer visiting Merida to the popular touristy destinations of Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Your money goes much further here, too.

 

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Related: Beyond the beach: Mexico’s 6 best inland destinations

Toronto

On Aug. 9, Canada reopened its borders to U.S. residents for both land and air crossings.

Toronto is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. If you want to savor cuisines from around the globe, this is the place to be.

(Photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy)

There is a slew of galleries, museums and attractions so you'll never get bored as a solo traveler, either. Driving to Toronto is relatively straightforward if you're coming from major cities in the Northeast, or take a quick one-hour flight from cities such as New York.

Related: Traveling to Canada during the pandemic — what’s it like?

Istanbul

Istanbul is known for its incredible culture and cuisine, set against a historical and religious backdrop that spans centuries. It’s an impressive city — and not just because its 20 million residents stretch across two separate continents.

Istanbul. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

I visited as a solo traveler earlier this fall and had a fantastic time. In such a massive city, you'll never run out of things to do, no matter what type of experience you are in search of. During my time there, I used Airbnb Experiences to see a unique, local side of the city.

If visiting has been on your list, know that it is very feasible at present. Of course, rules are constantly changing, so keep abreast of the latest both here at TPG as well as the official information at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey website.

Note that Turkey is currently on the State Department’s Do Not Travel list.

Related: 5 things to know about entering Turkey right now

Bottom line

The world is reopening for tourism, and solo travelers with a case of wanderlust can get back out on the road. Here, I showed you five of the best international destinations for solo travelers. They're all jam-packed with activities and sights, making them perfect for the lone traveler.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023