Don’t put off your travel dreams just because you have to go solo. Single travel can be even more exciting and fulfilling than going away with friends or family if you pick the right trip. We’ve put together a list of hints and tips to help you get over any nerves and feel confident about a holiday for one.
What’s Stopping You?
The first step to finding the perfect solo trip is identifying what is currently putting you off. Are you worried about eating in a restaurant alone or nervous about finding your way around a new place? Maybe you love a night out and can’t imagine having fun without being part of a huge group. You might just like a chat now and then and don’t want to spend a week entirely devoid of human interaction. Think carefully about what you want from your holiday too; are you desperate to see a certain place, check out a new culture or just after some well-deserved rest and relaxation?
Don’t forget there are lots of plus points to solo travel. Imagine no more nursing sunburn and insect bites while your tanned friends frolic happily on the beach for the fourth day in a row, or traipsing round every gallery in town while your brother shows off his art history degree. You can pick exactly what you see and do each day. You can keep to a tight budget or blow the lot without being judged. You can even eat pizza at the same restaurant every night as you don’t have to please anyone else.
Another thing to remember is that lots of people travel alone and that most people like a chat. Don’t be afraid to approach other solo tourists and ask them for recommendations or things to do. The worst that will happen is they will be uninterested and the best case is that they might invite you along to something awesome. Many an epic travel story starts with a random conversation at the hotel bar so keep an open mind.
Try A Quick Break
Taking a solo trip now doesn’t mean you’ll have to holiday alone forever! It also doesn’t have to be a huge spiritual odyssey where you spend several months in the jungle finding yourself. Sometimes a quick solo city break is just what you need to scratch that travel itch. This is a great way to try out travelling alone; a weekend away isn’t long and if you do hate it then it will be soon time to go home.
Pick a city or area that has plenty to do and plan out your trip in advance. For example, a sports fan visiting Barcelona might book a tour of Nou Camp for the morning, head to the Olympic swimming pools in the afternoon before attending a motor race in the evening. By having a rough idea of something to do each day you are less likely to get bored or lonely, even if all you plan is to chill on the beach or read your book at the hotel terrace bar.
Eating alone in a restaurant is something that worries many people even in their hometown, but once you are comfortable solo dining it makes travelling by yourself much easier. Take a book or newspaper to read or ask for a seat with a good view so you can people watch. Lunch time is generally more relaxed so if you are nervous aim to eat a good lunch at a restaurant and then dinner can be a small snack or takeaway that you can smuggle back to your hotel room if another meal out feels a bit too much. A final reason to love dinner alone is that many top restaurants can squeeze in a solo diner even if they are otherwise fully booked. Flash a notepad and pen and they might even think you are a reviewer and send out a free drink or two…
Learn Something New
If the thought of holidaying totally alone seems too much but you still need to get away then holidays focussed around a specific skill or hobby could be the perfect solution. Choose from experiences like a cookery course in Thailand, a yoga retreat in Ibiza or learning to paint in Morocco. There’s also a great selection of language holidays from beginners to advanced or volunteering trips if you would like to share your time and skills with others.
This is a good compromise if you don’t mind a bit of alone time as often you have to get yourself to the destination and back. However once you arrive at the location you’ll be surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals so there will always be someone to hang out with. This type of holiday is ideal if you like meeting new people and want a social element to your trip as many include trips around the local area and communal meals as well as time spent on the activity itself. It’s also a flexible choice in terms of budget. A luxury all-inclusive Caribbean sailing skills holiday will blow the budget but volunteering in a school in Botswana (and camping there at night) will be extremely cheap.
New Friends Included
Another option if you are still worried about finding yourself alone in a strange part of the world is a tour or cruise holiday. Despite the slightly old-fashioned image these type of holidays have there really is something for everyone with more and more operators aiming to entice a younger crowd.
If you like the idea of a cruise, there are plenty of to choose from. Check out floating music festivals such as the Pitbull After Dark Party or The Rock Boat. There’s even a Walking Dead themed cruise or the Carnival Las Vegas cruise, which starts with 3 nights in the desert before boarding a ship in LA and floating down to some of the best beaches Mexico has to offer. Norwegian Cruise Lines have cabins specifically designed (and priced) for single travellers next to an exclusive solo lounge; so you can chat to the other travellers without worrying about becoming a third wheel. Cruises also offer regular expeditions and activities which are another great opportunity to meet people – get talking to the other participants while you kayak with dolphins and you’re sure to find yourself invited to dinner that evening.
Tours offer a similar experience to cruise but on dry land and often in smaller groups. Again the choices are almost endless and you are sure to find something that suits your tastes. There are affordable backpacker buses that cater for a younger crowd staying in basic hostels or luxury trips that take in the best local sights and experiences before whisking you off to a 5* hotel each night. As you’ll be with the same people for much of the trip it’s easy to strike up a conversation and make new friends – you might even decide to stay in touch after your holiday and never have to worry about finding a likeminded travel buddy again!