THE POWER OF ONE
Thinking of going it alone on your next holiday? Here’s how to plan your solo adventure
Liberating, exciting, indulgent, terrifying. Depending on the day and your mood, solo travel can be all of these things and more, sometimes all at the same time. “Leaving behind our everyday life and immersing ourselves in an unfamiliar environment can give us the opportunity to find ourselves, or work out how to overcome personal challenges,” says Amanda Behre of travel website Wotif.
One of the biggest challenges for a solo traveller is the dreaded single supplement. While a hotel room usually costs the same regardless of whether there’s one person staying or two, the price you see on cruise ships and tours will often be per person, twin share. Which means you could pay double if you’re stung with a single supplement fee.
But the landscape is changing. Justine Waddington is the author of The Solo Traveller’s Compass: How to Travel Solo But Not Alone and the founder of Encounter Travel (encountertravel.com.au), which creates holiday groups exclusively for solo travellers. “I think more and more people are embracing solo travel because the landscape for solo travellers is far more attractive,” Justine says. “More tour operators and cruise companies are now responding to their needs. It can be as simple as recognising the solo traveller when they advertise their product, and creating offers that welcome them.”
WHEN TO CHOOSE A TOUR
If you’re drawn to a destination your family or friends have no interest in, but you’re not confident about going it alone, group tours could be for you.
Wendy Wu Tours’ Emma Prineas, who is about to marry the tour guide she fell in love with in Argentina, says joining a group tour is an easy way to grow your travelling confidence.
“Solo travel can be rewarding but also lonely at times, and touring in a group ensures your security. You’re also assured of a high quality guide, rather than the alternative that could range from an unqualified local to a sham-ster who makes his wages from souvenir shop sales.”
The single supplement need not be an obstacle. Companies including Wendy Wu Tours have a Willing to Share option so single travellers can be matched with someone with similar demographics and interests and both avoid paying more.
With 40 per cent of its group tours made up of solo travellers, On The Go Tours has introduced “Your Own Room” options on some of its most popular tours to Egypt, India and Sri Lanka. The departures are still available to couples, but give solo travellers a guaranteed room of their own with no supplement.
Trafalgar is another top operator offering 100 per cent single supplement-free fares on selected trips, as well as voluntary pairing.
In 2017 Trafalgar saw solo travel rise by 21 per cent and now one in five of their travellers is solo, with Italy, Britain, Ireland and the East Coast of the US the most popular destinations for solos.
Insight Vacations offers supplement sales on various tours and saw a 15 per cent rise in solo travel last year with Scandinavia, Croatia, Spain, Portugal and Morocco the top of its singles list.
Andrea Powis, the creator of the small group experiential travel company for women, Travelling Divas, says the best group tours offer both the security of a group with the space for independence throughout the trip. And if you’re worried about being stuck on the road with someone you clash with, Andrea says you shouldn’t let that hold you back.
“Travel is tiring stuff and can have ‘moments’ from time to time. It is important to remember that group travel itineraries such as ours do allow enough flexibility and freedom to enable escape from the group or someone in the group if you just need personal space. Most importantly, as a tour leader it is part of our job to be aware of any issues such as these and manage situations.”
WENDYWUTOURS.COM.AU, ONTHEGOTOURS.COM, TRAFALGAR.COM/AUS, INSIGHTVACATIONS.COM/US, TRAVELLINGDIVAS.COM
MORE MILD THAN WILD
Want to explore the great outdoors but not quite ready to do a Cheryl Strayed (American memoirist and novelist who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail) and hike the wilderness alone?
Great Walks of Australia lets people hike some of the best trails in the country with the safety and security of a guide, and a comfortable bed and delicious meal waiting at the end of the day. Their Freycinet Experience Walk in Tasmania offers guests their own room with no single supplement, and can match guests in twin share rooms on their other walks.
Also in Tasmania, the Blue Derby Pods Ride is a three-day mountain
HIKE WITH THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF A GUIDE, AND A COMFORTABLE BED AND DELICIOUS MEAL WAITING AT THE END