Online surveys have shown that as many as 51 per cent of Australians planning to travel in the next year were intending to go solo, an increase of more than 20 per cent on a survey carried out just two years earlier – and when it comes to departure, women are the most likely to take the single route.
Travelling solo is adventurous, forcing you out of your comfort zone to engage with strangers while discovering new experiences. However, while it can be a massive confidence booster, not to mention empowering, it also can be quite daunting - getting lost, starting a conversation with a stranger can be just as nerve-wracking as wandering the streets alone at night.
There has been a large increase in solo travellers going overseas across all age groups but particularly among those from 45 to 65. So for all those intrepid single travellers out there, here’s how you can make the best of your adventure…
Keep costs down
One of the biggest disadvantages of travelling without a plus one is the ubiquitous single supplement so it pays to shop around for the best deals and discounts. While most tours won’t charge a single supplement if travellers agree to share a room to keep costs down, Singles Travel Connections offers single rooms on all its tours without any additional price supplements.
Find a room-mate
Encounter Travel takes articular care with its roommate matching service. They also try to arrange a reduced rate if a suitable ‘roomie’ isn’t found. They take particular care to establish their solo travellers’ needs and quirks and ask for honesty about sleeping habits, such as snoring, CPAP machines for sleep apnoea, insomnia or other things that might disturb a roommate.
Join the club
Last year, Encounter Travel launched a Cruise Circle for Solos range for solo travellers who want the benefits of solo cruising, without the drawbacks of travelling alone and with the option of sharing a cabin to keep the prices down. Travel with Me is another agency focusing on the solo travel market, which mostly includes women between the ages of 50 to 70, although not necessarily single as often they have partners who aren’t willing or able to travel. The agency also runs a Solo Travel Club where members receive deals and can join quarterly meetups in different locations, as well as get-togethers before their tours.
Meet new friends
Travel with Me aims to establish camaraderie on their tours, keeping group sizes to no more than 16 people per tour. For singles who choose the twin option, they change the room buddy list at each new hotel to give guests an opportunity to get to know more people and, of course, lessen the risk of ending up sharing with someone you may not get on with so well.
Safety in numbers
The benefits of joining a tour group, regardless of whether you have travelling companions or not, are plentiful. Tour companies take care of the logistical challenges of getting you and your luggage around, which anyone who has shown up in the middle of the night in a foreign country can appreciate. Travellers can explore the world safely as part of a small group with the benefit of guides with local knowledge yet still have time to make their own discoveries and, of course, new friendships can be made.
Get the app
Independent travellers, on the other hand, love the freedom of being alone and having the flexibility of changing their plans when it suits them. Apps such as SoloTraveller and Outbound (both developed by Australians and available for iPhone and android) make it easier to meetup with like-minded travellers and filtered to suit age, gender, location and interests.
Create a routine
Establishing a routine if away for a lengthy period can give you a sense of familiarity. Do activities such as meditation, journaling or yoga or whatever gives you a sense of homecoming. As the saying goes, home isn’t a place but it’s where the heart is.
5 more ways to go solo
- Top choice: New Zealand – after all, it pays to be nice to the person preparing your bungee strap.
Calm political climates and spectacular scenery
- Top choices: Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Japan and Canada.
Pilgrimages – physical or spiritual
- Top choices: trekking in Nepal or Europe’s Camino Santiago; Margaret River’s Cape to Cape track in Western Australia; Ubud’s rice paddies in Bali.
- Top choices: New York, Paris, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Singapore all rated in the top 10 in TripAdvisor’s Women’s Travel Survey.
- Top choices: photography in Morocco, painting in the Greek Islands, cooking in the Spanish Pyrenees are just some of the tours available for singles at Go Learn To.