Could New Orleans Solo Travel Be Better Than Going With Friends?
Waking up on your own schedule, deciding where and what you want to eat, stopping to pet a puppy, or saying hello to a stranger’s baby. You may be thinking, what’s all this nonsense?
Welcome to solo travel.
It’s been a long time since I last traveled without friends, family, or a partner. To be honest, I can’t even remember when that was. Man, was I missing out!
I highly recommend it. I just got back (okay it was three weeks ago) from a solo trip to New Orleans and had an absolute blast. Southern hospitality mixed with rich culture and history (not to mention amazing music and food), will keep you busy for days. Don’t be intimidated. Try traveling solo in New Orleans.
5 Tips For New Orleans Solo Travel
1. Stay At an Airbnb or Hostel, Not a Hotel
Although I think more and more people are now trying Airbnb and hostels, most people are still staying in hotels. But why?
Staying at an Airbnb where you can interact with the hosts is a great way to learn about the local life and discover spots that aren’t listed on TripAdvisor. Pricing can range from super affordable (renting a room in a shared house or apartment) to very deluxe.
Hostels offer budget accommodation too with a more fun and social vibe but a little less privacy. I wanted my own space and down time so I decided on an Airbnb in the Marigny/Bywater area. It was within walking distance of the French Quarter and to French Street and had a very local, residential vibe which I enjoyed. Next time I’d probably look for something closer to the Garden District around Magazine Street to get a feel for the local living in that part of the city.
My Airbnb host Jennifer provided me with a list of her favourite spots around the city. I watched one of her friends play the trumpet like a professional (okay maybe he was?) at a bar on French Street, shared a cheese and charcuterie plate with some friendly locals at Bacchanal Wine Bar and got the inside scoop about the city during Katrina from a local film producer at the bar at Sylvain.
2. Get Around By Bike to Save Time & Money (& Feel Safe!)
Rent a bike during your stay in New Orleans. Or better yet, find an Airbnb that includes one like I did ;).
Sure, New Orleans can easily be enjoyed by foot (it’s probably the flattest city around), but if you’re on a tight schedule or want to explore less touristy areas in less time, biking is a perfect option. Some of the streets are full of potholes and can take you on an uninviting bumpy ride, so I’d suggest sticking to the major streets with bike lanes – Esplanade and Decatur Streets for example.
I also found biking around New Orleans was a safe (and affordable) option to get home at night. Some of the side streets are poorly lit and can feel a little sketchy to be walking along by yourself at night. I felt safer whizzing by on a bike. Just don’t forget your bike lights!
3. Meet People on Free Walking Tours
My boyfriend Chris first introduced me to free walking tours about three years ago, and I haven’t looked back. They are a great way to learn about a city if you’re on a budget and the guides can typically offer great insider suggestions for the rest of your trip.
Back to N’awlins, (yes, I quickly learned nobody says “New Orleans”). I signed up for a two-hour tour of the Treme area by Free Tours by Foot. My guide Sandy was ex-Treme-ly knowledgeable, witty, and very entertaining. She really helped us understand the heart, soul and history of the area far better than we could have on our own.
After the tour, I ended up connecting with one of the girls from the group. She was from LA, traveling with her dad for a week. We connected over similar interests in travel and social media and had fun later that evening with a couple of old friends that were also in town.
4. Workout With the Locals
As you probably know, Chris and I both love to exercise. I made an effort to find outdoor workout areas during my New Orleans solo travel trip and made it to City Park’s outdoor workout area twice. You can find out more about this calisthenics area other ways to stay active in the city, here.
I also went to a drop-in women-only bootcamp class one morning at Lagniappe Crossfit which was challenging and fun. The ladies in the class were super high energy and I left feeling energized and ready to start the day. On the last day, I explored Crescent Park in Bywater by bike and stopped to do a circuit workout on the grass and stairs. It’s right along the Mississippi river and a great place to jog to and workout. I highly recommend it.
5. Eat Your Meals at the Bar
Maybe a given for solo travelers, but having a meal or drink at the bar instead of a table is one of the best ways to talk to people. Put your phone away and engage with the bartenders and people sitting beside you.
Some of my favourite bar spots in New Orleans were: Sylvain (order the burger), Peche (sit at the raw bar and watch the oyster masters shuck the biggest oysters you’ve ever seen), and Bacchanal Wine Bar, where you can purchase cheese and charcuterie downstairs in the Shop and have them plate it for you with fresh bread, nuts, preserves and olives. It has amazing live music and a gorgeous patio too.
Don’t Be Scared! You’ll Love New Orleans Solo Travel!
Get out there, leave your friends and loved ones behind and find new ones in the Big Easy!
What are your favourite parts about traveling solo? What did we miss? Please leave a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!