55% of American workers have unused paid vacations. Here are some great spots for solo-cation

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The following international destinations give travelers easy options for their next getaway. Knowing the importance of rejuvenation of mind and body alike, and taking time well deserved opens the door for greater happiness at home as well as at work.

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picture credit: Relaxing on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Credit Chris Ramirez from The New York Times
Solo travel, among other benefits, means never having to compromise your plans. Still, some destinations – by virtue of language, ease of transportation, expense or level of hospitality — offer significantly better conditions than others. Here are five spots around the globe that fit the bill.

Riviera Maya, Mexico

If you’re looking for a beach adventure, look past the honeymoon- and family-focused all-inclusive resorts that line the Caribbean coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, a.k.a. the Riviera Maya. Make the bustling town of Playa del Carmen your base. It has its own beach, of course, but it also offers quick trips via ferry to Cozumel, the best place for snorkeling the Mesoamerican Reef.
By night, Playa, as it is called, offers loads of entertainment including open-air restaurants, beachfront dance clubs and shops lining the pedestrian-only Quinta Avenida that stay open late.
Accommodations run from thrifty off-the-beach inns to grand beachfront resorts. Travelers bound for the Riviera Maya fly through Cancun, where the average ticket from the United States is down 36% this month to $339 round-trip, according to the airfare prediction app Hopper.
(Related: How to get your U.S. passport in order)

Dublin

In about the same time it takes to fly from New York to Los Angeles, you could be tipping a Guinness in Ireland instead.
“Dublin is perfect for first-time solo travelers. Robert Firpo-Cappiello, editor in chief of Budget Travel, a digital magazine, said in an email: “It is a quick flight, English is spoken everywhere, the city is easily navigable and the locals are incredibly welcoming and helpful.”
The Irish famously love their pubs, and no one will look sideways at a single traveler at Davy Byrnes, where the fictional Leopold Bloom of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” drank. Tours abound; see the city the sporty way with Sight Jogging Dublin Tours.

Thailand

It’s pretty far away, and the language is indecipherable to many, but Thailand still bundles unique culture, beautiful beaches and great value.
In Southeast Asia in general, Mr. Firpo-Cappiello said, “the travel infrastructure is very solid, and many of our readers have reported that they have had an easy time getting around and meeting other solo travelers, and that English was spoken widely.”
Bangkok is a natural starting point, and a gateway to the beaches south or the hill country north. The nation’s affordability is a big advantage as well.
“It is really inexpensive, so you can stay in luxury hotels for less than $50 a night, as well as bungalows on the beach,” sad Lisa Imogen Eldridge, who blogs about solo travel at GirlabouttheGlobe, in one of her emails. “Street food is fantastic and is less than $2 for fresh pad thai.”

Vancouver, British Columbia

The favorable exchange rate against the U.S. dollar ($1 currently gets you $1.31 Canadian), is a strong argument for Canada in general. Other than this, there’s the relaxed West Coast vibe, diverse population, temperate climate and accessibility of natural attractions. All of these superb qualities might just make Vancouver the country’s most solo-friendly city.

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The tranquil Stanley Park’s iconic Seawall path, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Credit: Kamil Bialous for The New York Times

For sporty types, Vancouver has its own temperate rain forest within city limits in Stanley Park. You can also hike the Grouse Grind path up nearby Grouse Mountain.
The city’s food scene draws on the bounty of the Pacific Ocean and the province’s eastern Okanagan wine country. Do a D.I.Y. progressive feast at the Granville Island Public Market, or hit trendy Yaletown and emerging Gastown for everything from oyster bars to a First Nations teahouse.

Iceland

For adventurous travelers, Iceland offers rugged mountain hikes, thermal pools and whale watching. While Reykjavik can be expensive, getting there is not. Wow Air, an Iceland-based carrier, offers free stopovers on flights between North America and Europe, so you can combine it with a Dublin trip for around $400 from Boston.
“Iceland is one of my favorite countries for solo travelers,” said Matt Kepnes, who blogs about travel at Nomadic Matt, in one of his emails. “The locals are really friendly and welcoming to outsiders” and, he added, “it’s the safest country in the world so you don’t have to worry about crime.”

Bonus Suggestion: Group Tours for Single Adventurers

Some trips — an African safari, for example, or the Inca Trail in Peru — are harder to do on your own. Geckos Adventures is now offering guided tours for 18-to-29-year-olds in exotic localities at relatively affordable prices. A nine-day safari in Zimbabwe and South Africa, for example, starts at $915. The company says most of its guests are solo travelers, and they are commonly paired with same-sex roommates; if you require a single room, expect to pay a single supplement ($170 in the case of the African safari).”

By ELAINE GLUSAC
Original article here

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