The Best City for Your Next Solo Trip

Solo travel is often misunderstood by the uninitiated. Some see it as an exercise in solitude, or a way to unplug. But if you’re an avid solo traveler, you know that it’s about more than being alone, or leaving the world of Wifi. It’s more about creating your own adventure and doing new things at your own pace. And meeting new people can be a big part of that.

The key to a good solo trip is a combination of spontaneity and the opportunity to do something bold. Whether that’s taking a two-day hike to summit a mountain or simply mixing with the locals, solo travel can open you up to new experiences and make you feel alive. The only question is — where is the best place to go if you want to strike that elusive balance?

To find out, we surveyed over 1,000 people nationwide, with participants ranging in age from 18 to 55 and over. Keep reading to find out which city scored the highest for solo travelers. Hint: Pearl Street.

  1. Scottsdale, Arizona (25.3%): If Scottsdale proves one thing, it’s that nature and art are inextricably linked. Situated between Phoenix and Tonto National Forest, it is an excellent choice to experience that interconnectedness within the context of the Arizona desert. And it’s that unique and alluring quality which makes for an ideal solo-traveler destination for those who want a full and satisfying travel experience. While that quality is oftentimes thought to translate to a quieter travel experience, that doesn’t mean there isn’t also plenty of lively activity to occupy you during your stay.

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    There’s canyoneering and ATVs, stand-up paddle boarding, and horseback riding, to name a few desert-centric options that would keep any active solo traveler entertained while enriching the experience with a dose of the untamed wilderness. (And, for the truly ambitious, there’s also the opportunity to check a world heritage site — the Grand Canyon — off your bucket list.) When you aren’t out adventuring, consider taking an art and wine class in town, or visit the Musical Instrument Museum to round out your trip.

  2. Alexandria, Virginia (19.98%): Being situated so close to D.C., Alexandria is one of those beautiful little towns that could easily escape your notice — but it shouldn’t. It’s awash in history and cultural offerings that are not to be missed, particularly for those solo travelers who want a healthy mix of food and fun, topped off with a bit of retail therapy.

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    Explore the city’s old town, rent a bike and tackle one of its many paths (the Mount Vernon Trail is an excellent option), get onboard a river boat, or simply stroll down the King Street Mile and take in the city’s old-world charm. The Torpedo Art Factory is another popular destination, as are Mount Vernon, the city’s Apothecary Museum and Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventures. But to feel that unique rush that comes from solo travel, check out Captain Gregory’s — a secret bar, hidden away behind the door of a donut shop (just remember to text first for a reservation).

  3. Ann Arbor, Michigan (14.48%): College towns are almost always a good choice for those looking to experience a solo vacation filled with action and intrigue, oftentimes mixing small-town vibes with big-city amenities. Ann Arbor is no exception to this rule.

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    In fact, there are plenty of fun sights and attractions right on campus, like: Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, the university’s Museum of Art, and Nickels Arcade. Not to mention the opportunities for exploring the natural beauty of the area (Bandemer Park and Hudson Mills Metropark, for example, are solid options for nature lovers). And a huge plus for Ann Arbor is it’s intentionally inclusive and LGBTQIA+ friendly atmosphere, with a year-round list of inclusive events that solo travelers of all backgrounds can enjoy.

The best destination for your next solo trip

Boulder, Colorado (29.88%): The city of Boulder is home to about 100,000 people and is located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. So if you’re looking for outdoor adventure, it’s an ideal spot. But even if you’re more interested in the social scene, there’s still a lot going on.

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Here are some of the best events and places to see for solo travelers in Boulder:

Tour a local brewery or winery

If you’re 21 or older, and are excited about the idea of solo travel but would like a bit of liquid courage to break the ice, consider checking out one of the many local breweries and wineries in Boulder.

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Those with a taste for beer are in luck, the up-and-coming brewery scene is showing no signs of slowing, with many slated to open in the months to come. You can even combine your brewery tour with yoga — Sanitas Brewing Company offers weekly classes. And if you happen to visit during the colder months, consider checking out the Winter Craft Beer Festival to mingle with locals while you imbibe.

Alternatively, if you’re feeling fancy or are partial to wine, check out one of the areas many wineries. A few popular options include: Settembre Cellars, Bookcliff Vineyards, and, for a truly unique experience, Redstone Meadery, which produces honey wine, also known as mead.

Take in a show

If you’re looking for more of a concert-vibe for your solo trip, consider going to a concert at some point during your stay in Boulder. And, if music is your ideal show, there are a couple solid venue options to choose from. Boulder Theater, for example, is located downtown and regularly showcases local acts. Another option is the iconic Fox Theater, which was voted the fourth best club in America by a host of musical insiders, as reported by Rolling Stone.

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Those with more dramatic tastes should consider the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, while film buffs can head over to the Boulder International Film Festival.

Hiking trails for miles

When you’re staying in a place that’s so close to the Rockies, it’s only natural to think about hiking. And Boulder’s proximity to gorgeous trails, and the fact that it gets over 300 sunny days per year, is a huge draw for nature-lovers. Pair a day-hike with whatever fresh food you picked up at the Boulder Farmers Market earlier in the morning, and you’re set. Alternatively, there’s also a bit for a rock-climbing scene in the flatirons if you’re interested in hiking out to traverse the boulders and rocks that adorn rougher trails.

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The popular and protected trails of the Open Space and Mountain Parks manage over 150 miles of trails and also come with some surprising amenities. The city’s website, for example, can point you to trails that are accessible to those with disabilities. And if you’re interested in dog-spotting, you’re in luck: About 90% of those trails are open to dogs. A few areas you might want to check out: Chautauqua trailhead, which will bring you through the famous red-brown Flatirons, or discover a trail in the scenic Rocky Mountain National Park, or the uber-popular Brainard Lake recreation area.

Pearl Street Mall

Built during 1975 and ‘76, the Park Street Mall is a brick-paved promenade that acts as Boulder’s cultural and recreational center for the downtown area. It’s the ideal spot if you’re going for more of a cultural-immersion approach to exploring the city. The mall lined with tons of shops and nearly 120 restaurants, including James Beard Award winners, that can provide a great opportunity to spend a few hours getting to know the city and maybe even making a few friends. It’s also home to Bands on the Bricks, a summer concert series for local bands.

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Whatever your ideal solo trip, Boulder has tons of options to turn a vacation into an adventure. And you can use VacationRenter to find the place to call home for your stay.

How to Get the Most from Your Short-Term, Vacation Rental Property

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While some travelers will always want the convenience of a chain hotel, a growing number are seeking authentic getaways and want accommodations that offer them a taste of local culture.

There’s never been a better time to own a vacation rental property, but even the most adventurous travelers will insist on certain amenities. Knowing which are the most important—and highlighting these—is one of the keys to bringing in guests, whether you currently own a vacation rental or are in the market to buy one.

VacationRenter compiled data about the amenities that are most important to travelers, and tips for people looking to buy and market a rental property.

If You’re Looking to Buy a Property

If you are looking to acquire a property that can be rented out to travelers, the first step should be determining which cities are the most popular destinations for short-term renters; some markets are hotter than others.

To maximize income from the property, think in terms of renting it year-round, as this is more lucrative than offering a seasonal rental.

Some owners also prefer to buy a rental property in a place they enjoy visiting so they can visit a few times a year, while renting it out the remainder of the year.

Most importantly, look to acquire a property that has some of the amenities travelers want, including a swimming pool, a balcony, a kitchen, laundry facilities, a hot tub and adequate parking.

If You Already Own a Rental Property

If you already have a property that travelers can rent, think in terms of maximizing its potential by offering and highlighting the most sought-after amenities. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t add a swimming pool, because there are other perks travelers are taking very seriously.

Making your rental pet-friendly, for example, is a way to appeal to more travelers. Our data shows that accommodating pets is second only to offering a swimming pool when it comes to important amenities.

Other important features include air conditioning, Internet access and television. Below is a breakdown of amenities, which we’ve ranked according to their importance to travelers based on relevant searches:

Amenity Rank (1 highest)
Pool/Swimming 1
Pet Friendly 2
AC 3
Kitchen 4
Internet 5
Balcony/Patio 6
TV 7
Laundry 8
Parking 9
Hot tub/Spa 10

Whether you already own a rental property or are looking to acquire one, offering the right amenities is one of the top ways to ensure a steady stream of renters. But if you don’t put these amenities on display to the people searching the Internet for the right accommodation, it will defeat the purpose of offering them in the first place.

Create social media pages for your property to bring better visibility to your offerings. A great option is an Instagram page, which many travelers leverage to draw inspiration for places to go and where to stay. Since Instagram is one of the most visual social media platforms, it’s a great place to showcase your property’s amenities and build an aesthetic that will draw travelers in and prompt them to book.

Marketing the property will be important, so don’t limit yourself by simply listing on a website or two. List your rental with services like VacationRenter that pull personalized search results from the top travel sites across the Internet.

Considering the top amenities travelers seek and improving the marketing of your short-term vacation rental property is a win-win – you’ll provide travelers with a better vacation experience, and you’ll achieve a more lucrative rental business.

Is Tech Like AI and Robotics Changing the Personal Touch in Travel?

Chatbots are helping travelers book train tickets, while digital assistants are answering questions about flight departure times. A popular hotel in Japan is staffed by robots, and AI programs are helping major airlines plan their routes. 

The travel and hospitality industries are growing increasingly tech-enabled, if not fully automated. And while travelers can save time and money using these technologies, will they miss the personal interaction that used to come with buying tickets, asking directions or finding the right accommodation? Will travelers still feel they’ve had a unique travel experience if many of the logistics are handled by algorithms?

Major travel and hospitality brands have been grappling with these questions as they further automate services like planning and booking, which were previously handled by people.

It’s a legitimate concern, as there is always the potential for new technologies to distance brands from consumers. But technology doesn’t have to feel like a faceless, digital intermediary. In fact, it can draw brands and people closer together, and make travel feel even more personal than it would otherwise.

Here are a few examples of where new innovations have made travel more personal, efficient and fun:

Voice search – Alexa might not have a pulse, but it’s a program many use in their homes on a daily basis. Bringing voice search programs into hotel rooms, like Alexa for Hospitality, means bringing an assistant you’re accustomed to using at home into your travel experience. By using voice commands, just as travelers would at home, they can leverage Alexa for hotel information, contacting guest services, playing music in their hotel room and other functions that allow for a fully personalized experience.

Immersive experiences – Selecting your lodging by looking at websites and travel brochures offers a two-dimensional view of where you will be staying. But virtual reality tours and 360-degree photos show travelers the view from all angles. Instead of distancing the traveler from the experience, technologies like these eliminate a lot of the guesswork, and offer a new kind of transparency that allows for informed travel planning. In a virtual reality tour, travelers have a better understanding of what it’s like to actually be at a resort and can feel more confident in their booking decision. By viewing 360-degree photos, it’s even possible for vacationers to know what view they’ll be waking up to in the morning.

Automation – Increased automation of the travel experience means that not every interaction will be driven by human beings, but this doesn’t have to detract from a truly personalized vacation experience. For example, with so many vacation rental booking sites available, it’s hard for people to sift through different pages to find the best fit for their travel needs. To more easily locate the best, most personalized options, automated platforms like VacationRenter can simplify the process, showing you the perfect properties to match your search.

One company taking automation to the next level in Japan, the first-ever hotel almost entirely staffed by robots, is planning to open as many as 100 new hotels by 2021 and hopes to sell as many as 1,000 unmanned reception systems to other hotel operators. Even without a human staff, the mostly automated hotel is a smash hit and provides travelers with new ways to personalize their travel experience, for example, by choosing which front desk robot to check in with and using facial recognition to enter their rooms.

These new advancements show that technology can make travel feel more personal. It’s up to travel and hospitality brands to ensure that their customers experience the convenience and enhanced personalization that comes from automation.

With the Travel Industry Ripe for Innovation, Vacation Rentals Pave the Way

While large hotels and hospitality chains offer consistency in their service and quality, vacation rentals offer travelers something different: a unique, memorable experience.

As better search technology and other innovations are making it simpler to find the perfect rental for the right occasion, more vacationers are seeking them out. The vacation rental industry is growing rapidly, with the market expected to reach $194 billion by 2021.

One reason the market is experiencing such rapid growth is due to the unique benefits vacation rentals offer travelers, including:

Personalization – Travelers booking rentals don’t have to choose from a few select hotels in the area. They can customize their searches to find the exact type of lodging they want in the location they want at the right price.

Flexibility – Many people, especially those traveling with children or pets, want flexibility instead of rigid company policies.

DIY Adventure – Many travelers prefer to experience a new environment on their own, without front-desk clerks, concierges, housekeepers and other hotel staff.

Authenticity – Every vacation rental has a unique identity and character and does not fall in line with a larger corporate brand. Also, many of them are homes, which better allow travelers to be immersed in the culture and feel less touristy. 

Privacy – A long hallway with doors on either side, the common layout of a hotel, does not feel like a private getaway from the real world. A vacation rental offers a true experience of privacy and the opportunity to stay in a single family home or other unit without the inconvenience of other travelers nearby. 

With the growing popularity of vacation rentals – which have become one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry – hotels and other industry stakeholders are paying close attention and considering ways they can incorporate benefits like personalization and authenticity. 

Marriott International, for example, recently announced a new home-rental offering in London under Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio Homes brand. The six-month pilot will make 200 homes available for travelers seeking that authentic travel experience but under the umbrella of a well-known, trusted brand.

Boutique hotels, each of which offers a unique experience, are also growing in popularity. Some of these, such as Philly-based Lokal, have begun emulating vacation rentals by implementing “invisible service,” catering to the adventuresome traveler who enjoys a DIY adventure by taking away front-desk staff and other workers. Instead, guests can use touch screens to check in and can talk to hotel staff on request.

These trends all add up to good news for consumers – they have more choices than ever before and can craft their own vacation experience.

While rental properties and small hotels strive for the consistency, quality and predictability large hospitality brands bring, the travel industry has reached a point where those big players are now taking pages from the vacation rental book as well. 

As each player, big and small, continues to learn from one another, travelers have a lot to look forward to – and more unique places to stay than they’ve ever had before.

If you have an investment property and are looking to get in on the action, make sure it is listed across all the rental platforms with VacationRenter.com

How Automation is Tackling the Pain Points of Finding a Vacation Rental

Going on vacation is relaxing, but there’s a lot of planning that goes into leaving your cares behind. The Internet is a great help when it comes to buying a ticket, renting a car and learning all about your destination.

But unfortunately, finding the right vacation rentals is not the easy, frictionless experience that it should be. Internet searches do not quickly direct travelers to the perfect rental at the right price – they return pages and pages of results that range from the ideal to the not-even-close, in no particular order.

Finding the right rental on the Internet is time-consuming and frustrating, but automation is changing that. Artificial intelligence can now aggregate and personalize search results, so vacationers no longer have to jump from website to website looking for what they want at a price that fits the budget.

Finding a rental will soon be frictionless, because automation is tackling the three pain points that make it a difficult experience today:

Too Many Results. The rental you want is out there, but it could take hours to find it. Web searches bring a flood of results that must be sorted through manually. Artificial intelligence can narrow down the inventory of search results without losing any that might be attractive. One of the main benefits of automation is that it can cut away the dead wood, taking significant time out of the search process.

Irrelevant Results. Today, search engines have only a few criteria to match the searcher with the appropriate result. That means most results for any query are not relevant enough. This is another pain point AI can remedy, by discerning the real intent behind the search. Search results that are not relevant come from the lack of data segmentation in search engine results, as well an inability to identify user cohorts. Taking these concepts into account is what enables search results that are far more personalized.

Not Locating the Best Deal. People looking for a vacation rental today have to look at multiple websites—and narrow their searches by date and location on each site—before they can compare prices and find a good deal. After putting in significant time, searchers opt for what they hope is the best rental at the best price. Artificial intelligence enables a new kind of search, one where multiple results from multiple websites can be aggregated and displayed on a single page. This saves significant time in searching, and the user knows for sure he or she has found the best deal within their travel dates, destination and other parameters.

VacationRenter is the service that will make the entire vacation relaxing, including the planning. It will not just save significant time that used to be spent jumping from one website to another, but offer certainty that the traveler has found the perfect rental in the ideal place for the right price.

Every vacation is different. It’s going to be great to have an AI-enabled service that understands that.