As the captain announced our 10-hour flight time and I prepared for an overnight haul from San Diego to London, I felt that sense of anticipation and adventure that is amplified whenever I know I’m embarking on a completely solo trip. The thrill of relying on myself to find my way through foreign airports, train stations, and driving in unfamiliar territory is an extreme rush — a feeling bordering between apprehension and excitement.
Too wired to sleep, I flipped through the movie channels and settled on the movie, “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon. It felt fitting for my journey. I imagined myself hiking alone on the coastal trails in Wales, creating my own version of “Wild.”
The truth is, I’ve been craving another soul-searching solo trip for a while. I’ve been dealing with some inner battles these past several months and with my work/travel schedule, I really haven’t had a chance to sit alone with my thoughts and figure things out.
I chose Wales as my next solo travel destination because, honestly, it’s a destination that doesn’t get a great deal of publicity and I’m always up for a challenge. After my trip to the Hebrides in Scotland, I dreamed of another visit to the United Kingdom. I knew Wales would be the perfect place to commune with nature — plus, it has 1,680 miles of coastline and I’m a sucker for beaches.
Before I left for Wales, I hadn’t thought much about whether it was an easy place to travel alone. During my trip, I kept thinking about all of the reasons this is the perfect spot for solo travelers — especially females who may not feel as comfortable traveling solo in other places around the world.
Solo Female Travel in Wales
How to Get to Wales
For some reason, I always had this vision that Wales was this far away place that would be a hassle to get to. It was surprisingly accessible compared to some of my travels. It would be fairly quick and easy for any European or American resident.
I took a direct overnight flight from San Diego to London with British Airways. I avoided the urge to hop immediately on a train to Wales and instead stayed overnight at The Portobello Hotel in Notting Hill. (I also made sure to download the movie “Notting Hill” to watch during my flight from The States.) The next morning, I took a 5-hour train ride from Paddington Station (which was about a 10-minute taxi ride from my hotel in Notting Hill) to Tenby, Wales.
The locals in Wales are very friendly and will often go out of their way to give you directions and recommendations. When I first arrived in Tenby, I couldn’t get a taxi from the train station, so I walked into town and a woman actually offered to walk me to the taxi office. Welsh people seem extremely polite and welcoming to foreigners.
English is widely spoken since it’s the native language for most people in the country. Welsh is also spoken in the north and west parts of the country, but everybody I encountered spoke English as well.
Transportation in Wales
If you want to rent a car in Wales, the best option would be to take the train to Swansea (about 3 hours from Paddington Station) and start your journey there. However, if you visit anytime other than during the winter, it’s not completely necessary to rent a car in Wales. They have regular buses to get you from town to town and a Puffin Shuttle that runs along the coastline — which is perfect for those looking to hike the Coast Path.
Hiking in Wales
The Wales Coast Path runs along a majority of the coastline in Wales and it’s great for all levels of hikers. I normally get nervous when I hike alone, mainly because I’m not sure how I would handle coming in contact with a large predator. The best part about hiking in Wales? There are no large predators! I felt extremely comfortable hiking these paths on my own. Most of the time, I even had the trails all to myself.
I literally cried after my last sunset in Wales, knowing this would be my last evening in this country. I whispered, “Goodbye” and gave thanks for everything I had experienced on this trip. It sounds corny, but it felt right in the moment. I may not have figured everything out in my life (I mean, will I ever?) but I felt renewed and ready to take on the world again — a little less bitter and a little more confident.
Thanks to Visit Britain for hosting my stay in London and Wales. As always, all opinions are my own.