Solace for the solo trav­eller

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - AN­DREA McCALL MOUNT EL­IZA, VIC­TO­RIA

I am a woman of a cer­tain age who chooses to travel alone. I do this partly be­cause I en­joy my own com­pany and at the same time I en­joy flex­i­bil­ity.

As I have aged, it has be­come ap­par­ent that tour op­er­a­tors, ho­tel man­age­ment, restau­rant staff and other trav­ellers con­sider me odd — pitiable even.

People look at me, smile in­dul­gently and even com­ment to their com­pan­ions, “What a shame.” It has taken years for wait­ing staff not to put me ei­ther next to the kitchen door or the ladies’ toi­let.

I al­ready bear the brunt of the sin­gle sup­ple­ment on ac­com­mo­da­tion and can­not ben­e­fit from other-per­son­flies-free of­fers of the big tour op­er­a­tors. I pay through the nose and do not even get the ben­e­fit of an ex­tra bowl of fruit or a taxi voucher. I live fur­ther than 40km from Mel­bourne so do not get the “free ride’’ to the air­port.

Hav­ing said all that, let me tell you that trav­el­ling alone at my age does have real com­pen­sa­tions. It starts with the word adapt­abil­ity and ends with the word zest- ful. I can se­lect my flights, ho­tels, meals, trans­port, des­ti­na­tions and tour guides. I choose whether or not to have break­fast, lunch or din­ner and can shop till I drop with­out any­one crit­i­cis­ing me.

Does this make me self­ish? In­deed it does and after over 40 years of hard work and long hours, I con­sider I have earned it. I have one plea and I make it to tour op­er­a­tors. If you would like us to be less self­ish and to be part of your tours to some ex­otic lo­ca­tion, please re­con­sider the sin­gle sup­ple­ment. We do not want to share with some­one we do not know.

We do not want to go out and find a friend to travel with. Trav­el­ling kills more friend­ships than adul­tery does mar­riages, but we could learn a lit­tle team spirit if we felt we were more highly re­garded.

I have been part of a few tours as a sin­gle per­son and I no­tice some com­pa­nies deal with us bet­ter than others.

Re­mem­ber, we are a se­ri­ous sec­tor of the trav­el­ling com­mu­nity with money to spend and time to spare, so if you want our busi­ness re­con­sider and re­con­fig­ure your tours to make us come with you. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@theaus­tralian.com.au. Colum­nists will re­ceive a beau­ti­fully boxed set of a dozen 2ml vials of woody, flo­ral and spicy scents from in­ter­na­tional fra­grance house Amouage; $110. More: lib­ertinepar­fumerie.com.au.

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