There’s something so liberating about travelling alone although understandably many people find the idea quite daunting. But there are a great many benefits from solo travel. Be it discovering a new city or exploring the natural beauty of the world; solo holidays allow you to pick and choose exactly where you go, what you do, where and when you eat without any concerns for anyone else. And it’s good for you to get away from everything familiar from time to time, including your family and friends, boosting your confidence along the way.
Featured image: Getting ready to go white water rafting in Slovenia with a group of people I’d only just met. Travelling solo is a great time to step out of your comfort zone. I wasn’t sure how I’d enjoy the rafting but I had a fabulous time and would love to do it again.
On the downside, hotel rooms can be extortionate when you are travelling alone, with most package holidays charging a single supplement. And of course, being by yourself can get a little lonely. Memories spring to my mind of watching the sunset from a beautiful restaurant with a view out to sea. Dining on your own in such an idyllic setting just feels so wrong! But travelling alone doesn’t have to mean being alone.
Top tips for travelling solo
Before you go…
- Avoid single supplements by looking for holidays where single rooms are available, no single supplements apply, or the company offers to pair up same-sex, single travellers in twin bed accommodation.
- Book early as single rooms and dates offering no single supplements often have limited availability and get snapped up quickly.
- Get travel insurance. I’ve needed to use mine more than once, and it’s an absolute godsend when something goes wrong.
No need to be lonely…
- If you’re worried about being lonely, there are plenty of holidays popular with, or even explicitly designed for, single travellers, offering excursions and classes as group activities.
- Alternatively, book some interesting excursions independently. I find they are always a great way to meet people. I particularly love food walking tours as I both find out where the best places are to eat and, at least for that day, I don’t have to dine alone. A lot of cities now have free walking tours.
- Smile. A smile means the same in any language and makes it much easier to strike up a conversation.
- Sit in a coffee shop with a communal table or bar and sit near someone. Have a book written in English clearly visible. A fellow English speaker is far more likely to start a conversation if they see you also speak English.
- Stay somewhere with free WiFi making it easy to stay connected to family and friends back home.
Don’t forget your travel adaptor
- Leave a copy of your travel itinerary, including your flight numbers and hotel reservations, with your family or friends. It will give them peace of mind and will prove invaluable in the highly unlikely event they are needed.
- If you’re not comfortable walking around after dark and, if you have a laptop with you, take some films either pre-downloaded or on DVD to watch in the evenings. That free WiFi could also come in handy here.
- When in your hotel room, make sure you lock the door from the inside and check that any interconnecting doors are locked. You could also take a door jammer with you as an extra precaution and, if it’s practical, place your suitcase or a table in front of an interconnecting door.
Buy a door jammer
Sleep easy knowing this door jammer will deter anyone trying to enter your hotel room. Buy this one from the US or this one from the UK. While I haven’t used one myself, if you are anxious about travelling alone I’m sure one of these will help ease your concerns.
Top 10 solo holidays
When 101Holidays asked me to write about solo holidays, I found a great range of options well suited to people travelling alone, including some excellent purpose-built singles packages.
At the risk of getting your wanderlust juices flowing here are my top 10 holidays for solo travellers.
1. Walking in the Lake District
I’ve been enjoying a lot of walks lately both at home and overseas, so it’s no surprise that a walking holiday was the first thing that came to my mind. The Lake District, is somewhere I’d dearly love to return to now that I’m fitter so that I can make the most of the fabulous countryside.
Hassness Country House on the shores of Lake Buttermere attracts a lot of solo travellers. It’s owned and run by Ramblers Walking Holidays. They promise a warm welcome, hearty breakfasts, qualified walking guides and with packed lunches and three-course evening meals included in the price, they offer excellent value with 3-night breaks priced from £305 per person in a single room.
2. Cycling Holidays
Of course, you get to see even more spectacular scenery if you go by peddle power. From leisurely weekends in the UK suitable for all the family to challenging adventures around the world, and everything in between, Skedaddle offers a superb variety of cycling holidays. Their guided tours are popular with solo travellers, and they offer a twin share scheme where they pair solo travellers of the same sex together to share a twin room. Their six-day ‘Way of the Roses’ holiday cycling through the Yorkshire countryside from Morecambe to Bridlington via York costs £655 per person.
3. Fly and flop bargains from the Algarve to Goa
If, however, you yearn for a break where you can relax on the beach and do as little or as much site seeing as you wish, then check out multi-award-winning Mercury Holidays.
They offer a range of solo beach holidays with no single supplements.
A week’s holiday in a 4-star hotel Cyprus, for example, costs from £271 per person on a bed and breakfast basis and includes return flights and transfers. You can upgrade to half-board for just £16.
4. Adventures in Sri Lanka
For something more exotic, Sri Lanka is a country I’ve yearned to see for a great many years. It promises a heady mix of UNESCO temples, stunning scenery, fabulous food and national parks that are home to wild elephants and leopards.
On the Go Tours have a choice of itineraries to Sri Lanka. Their prices are based on two people sharing a twin room occupancy, but they can pair you with a fellow traveller of the same sex (if they fail to pair you up you get the room to yourself at no extra cost). They also offer single room supplements if you want to guarantee you’ll have your own room and occasionally, they offer special deals where there is no single supplement.
I’ve got my eye on this tour that combines Sri Lanka with one of my favourite countries in the world, India, the most colourful and exciting place I’ve ever been to. Prices are currently from £1,313 per person in a shared room for this 14-night tour of India and Sri Lanka.
5. Gorillas in Uganda
Have you ever dreamed of trekking gorillas? I certainly have, but unsurprisingly it isn’t cheap. The permit alone to go on one trek in Uganda, for example, costs £480. Rainbow Tours offer some fabulous small group itineraries. While they don’t offer a room share scheme, their single supplements are very reasonable. A 9-day tour in November including international flights, transfers, accommodation (including a single supplement), national park entrance fees and permits as well as most meals costs around £5,000 per person.
As well as gorillas you’ll likely see chimpanzees, elephants, hippos and so much more. For me, that would be an absolute dream come true.
6. City Breaks in Europe
If you’re more of a city girl (or boy) Solos specialise in city breaks for single travellers from Rome to Istanbul (pictured below). Imagine spending Christmas in Slovenia visiting a snow-covered Ljubljana and fairy tale Lake Bled or visiting the historic town of Cremona during the annual Nougat Festival. Prices for the Cremona break start from £625 per person and include return flights and transfers, three nights’ accommodation, breakfast, a 3-course dinner on your arrival night, a half-day guided tour. And there’s not a single supplement in sight!
7. Gourmet walking in Italy
Combining three things I love food, wine and walking Hedonistic Hiking is a husband and wife team offering hiking itineraries in Italy and beyond all with one thing in common, fabulous food and wine. The couple leads all these all-inclusive tours themselves; you’ll stay in lovely boutique hotels and sample the finest food and drink the region has to offer. 7-night tours in Italy cost around £3,320 per person (including the single room supplement).
8. Beach escapes in Crete
Located just a 3-minute walk from the beach in the historic village of Maleme on the island of Crete, The Mistral is a stylish boutique hotel exclusively for solo travellers. Two swimming pools, a wide range of excursions, excellent traditional home-cooked Cretan cuisine, themed weeks and a friendly atmosphere await. This small, welcoming hotel is the perfect choice for people travelling solo but not wanting to be alone and their 45% repeat booking record speaks for itself. Crete is a beautiful island, I’ve visited a couple of times, and I’d love to return to see the ruins at Knossos and to walk the Samaria Gorge. Prices at The Mistral start from £359.32 per person for three nights’ accommodation on half-board basis.
9. Holistic Holidays in Greece
Described by The Sunday Times as one of the World’s Best Holidays, Skyros, offer holistic holidays in Greece as well as weekend retreats on the Isle of Wight.
The Atsitsa Bay centre is in a stunning setting surrounded by pine forest right on the bay on the Greek island of Skyros in the Aegean Sea. Most guests are solo travellers but couples, families (school holidays only) and groups of friends are welcome. You can avoid a single supplement by opting for a same-sex twin shared room in the rustic yet comfortable huts in the lovely garden. The range of courses available includes everything from yoga to creative writing, abseiling to comedy theatre. Stick to one or two disciplines or mix it up a bit to create your perfect holiday, learning new skills and discovering new passions in a friendly community environment. A 7-night holiday costs from £745 per person and includes all courses, meals and shared accommodation (excludes flights and transfers).
Spending a week starting each day with a yoga lesson before breakfast, swimming and snorkelling in the bay, interspersed with kayaking, singing, painting or even abseiling with a group of like-mined people, I couldn’t imagine a more rejuvenating holiday.
10. Exploring Peru
Have you ever fancied visiting the lost city of Machu Pichu or the islands of Lake Titicaca but didn’t fancy going alone? With the award-winning singles holidays specialist, Just You single travellers can explore the world from Croatia to Peru on a small group escorted tour and ALL their prices are based on single occupancy.
Their 11-night Highlights of Peru tour costs from £2,999 per person for return flights and 4-star accommodation with one night in a homestay on Lake Titicaca. Also included are all breakfasts and some lunches and dinners, the services of a local specialist guide as well as your tour host and numerous excursions including Machu Pichu and Lima. What an adventure that would be!
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