Cathy Winston is editor of 101 Singles Holidays, based in London but constantly plotting how to add to her tally of 60 countries. Her first solo trip was to Egypt 17 years ago when all her friends were too skint to come along. It turned out to be addictive…
Whether you’re planning a solo city break, eyeing up a singles beach holiday or have your heart set on going on a round-the-world trip, there’ll always be a few people to tell you solo travel is a bad idea. But despite all the myths about why you shouldn’t be travelling alone, especially single female travellers, here’s why they’re dead wrong.
1. YOU WON’T BE SAFE
This always tops the list for solo travellers. It’s natural to worry – and for friends and family to worry – about whether you’ll be in danger. But while the occasional tragedy makes headlines, it’s important to remember that’s because it is so rare. Take the usual precautions you’d follow at home and there’s no reason to assume you’ll run into problems.
Always do your research, whether it’s checking maps in advance or getting advice from locals, and listen closely to your gut instinct. Try to avoid arriving late at night into a new destination, have your first night’s stay booked and know how you’ll get there too. Or there are great small group adventure tours, if you are heading off the beaten track!
2. YOU’LL BE LONELY
Not if you don’t want to be. Being comfortable in your own company is a hugely underrated skill but there are plenty of other solo travellers out there to get to know when you’re tired of talking to yourself.
If you’d rather eat your own backpack than start chatting to someone in a bar, there’s always the traditional route of staying in a hostel with communal areas, dorm and ready-made social events. Or join a city tour or activity, whether it’s a day’s boat trip, walking tour or yoga retreat and you’ve a ready-made group of potential friends.
3. YOU CAN’T GO ANYWHERE TOO REMOTE
If it’s your first trip, you might not fancy heading too far off the beaten track – and I wouldn’t suggest wandering into the Outback alone! But with tour operators offering everything from the chance to follow the Silk Road to exploring Central America, many aimed at solo travellers, you can get pretty much anywhere you choose!
4. YOU’VE GOT TO EAT ALONE
Well… for starters, you don’t have to – some resorts and retreats have communal tables if you’d rather chat over dinner. Or sites like EatWith and WithLocals let you head into people’s houses so you get a real taste of the destination from the people who live there.
And between books, phones and people watching, it won’t take long to discover that eating alone isn’t even that scary.
5. IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE
Not these days. Once upon a time, travelling solo equalled huge single supplements to push prices far higher than a holiday for a couple. But with the solo travel market growing hugely over the past few years, more and more companies have ditched these altogether – or at least on certain dates.
You’ll now find hotels targeted entirely to solo travellers, along with the singles specialists and solos-only tours. Think clever and you can find plenty of bargains as well: check in to university accommodation for a budget place to stay in great cities or try a private room in a swanky hostel if you want style without paying a fortune.
6. I’M NOT SINGLE
The sad ‘lonely hearts abroad’ reputation of singles holidays should be left firmly in the past where it belongs. These days, more women than men are choosing to travel solo for one very good reason… because they want to, not because they haven’t got anyone to come with them.