A to Z of Destinations
Australia, NZ and South Pacific
A to Z of Experiences
Walking and trekking
Diving and snorkelling
Wildlife and safaris
Meet the locals
Frontier and expedition
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Visiting the Poles
Career breaks and BIG trips
Body and soul
Volunteer and conservation
Australia, East Coast
Everest Base Camp
Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railway
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
Great Wall of China
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
The Galápagos Islands
This is the place for you to ask your travel questions and share your tips. To search for particular topics, go to categories and choose a relevant topic
Hope you've all had a good start to the week! This month's issue of Wanderlust covers the rising trend of solo travellers, where more and more of us are roaming the world alone. I'm really curious to hear your solo travelling tales; what amazing experiences have you had? Have you got any invaluable tips to share?
I find it odd that solo travel is such a big deal for some people. I did my first solo trip when I was 17. I'm currently in South America, by myself of course. For me, this year marks thirty years of saving money on group tours and going it alone. But it's not just the financial reward, it's the freedom to do exactly what I want. My advice for first time solo travellers would be to start within your comfort zone. Try a short trip where the infrastructure's good, you speak the language and you're right on the tourist trail. Stay in hostels to meet people (even if you opt for the extra comfort of a private room). Talk to anyone and everyone. Be flexible with your plans so you can team up with people you like but be confident enough to say no to people that you don't gel with. If you feel lonely, book a day excursion with a group and share the experience. Do something rather than see something: take a bike ride, a cooking class, go to a language school - anything that encourages interaction. Adapt the way you travel to the country's level of safety and security and make sure you do your homework in that regard. Make sure you stay somewhere with WiFi so you can check the news and Twitter to keep abreast of current events such as natural disasters and political change. Each time you travel, push the boundaries a bit, expand your skill set and broaden your comfort zone. I promise you'll never look back.
This is really interesting to read Julia.
When I travelled on my own in Italy I really enjoyed it during the day. I did get bored with eating on my own in the evenings. Staying in hostels might have helped. I did not have any problems sorting trains and buses even though I speak very little Italian. I had learned a few key phrases.
I likevto travel with adventure companies, with small groups and a great deal of freedom during the day. There will be like-minded people to share meals in the evening.
I will continue to travel both on my own and in a small group. There is space for both in my travel life. I will spend more time thinking about accomodation when I am on my own and look into hostels.
Since I retired some 15 years ago, I go on small group tours but tend to book land only and fly out a few days in advance to explore a bit on my own and recover from long flights. I book my own flights direct with the airlines ( I don't trust agencies) and research and book my own hotels for stays before the tour. To explore on my own I sometimes go on a hop-on-hop-off bus or find a willing taxi driver to take me around. Sometimes things don't work out as planned but I am confident enough to cope. Last year I landed in Accra, the hotel forgot to send a booked pick-up driver and I had to take a local taxi to my hotel. I have no problems eating on my own in restaurants and generally take a book.
I think there are two different strands here: firstly travelling without known people- leaving familiar faces behind to discover yourself and secondly independent travel without an organized tour operator. The feature in the last Wanderlust includes travelling without familiar companions but with an organized tour, where you make new friends, meet new
people within ‘solo’ travel. Whereas Julia’s experiences are solo in every
sense- alone on the road and discovering a land on your own (I think?)
Cultural barriers and financial constraints meant that travelling solo as a young single Indian woman was no go area. It must have been empowering for you Julia. But late as I started, there have been some great memories- so no complaints.
In recent years two other friends and I decided to take an annual trip to discover ourselves. We left the hubbies and kids behind. In 2015 we did Tomatina, in 2016 the Wine battle of La Rioja. In 2017 we plan to visit the Nestinarstvo in Strandja, Bulgaria.
Even though most of my travels have been with family there have been ‘solo moments’ I treasure. In March 2016, I went to Havana for a 3-day conference. I had most of a Sunday and half a Wednesday to myself when I strolled the old city, bought ‘antiques’, got a bargain or got ripped off (I still do not know which) buying cigars from a local home into which I had got led into by a complete stranger, on a sudden adventurous whim, heard the
musicians at Plaza de Armas and got kissed by an old wrinkled gentleman who
wanted to give me directions!
Similarly I explored Copenhagen in spring 2014 but joined a ‘free city tour’ for a guided walk, marvelled at the smallness of the ‘Little Mermaid’ which brought home similar memories of the Manneken Pis and the Mona Lisa. In the evening as I was trying to get to the working dinner meet in a rather obscure district, an elderly lady took me under my wing and pointed me in the right direction.
I had three nights in Manchester on my own for business. One evening I decided to explore China Town and see an evening show of ‘Dancing in the Rain’ on a last minute £25 pound ticket.
Not travel in the strictest sense but when I was 18 years old, I went to stay in Bangalore for 2 months for a summer project in the Indian Institute of Science. On weekends I shopped on MG road, tried the Chinese chopsuey on a rooftop restaurant and bought my now dog eared copy of Lord of the Rings. In later years I would leave home for studies in Ranchi and
Chandigarh- explore the cities on my own and learn about cultures away from
Kolkata’s Bengali neighbourhoods. On one of my train journeys from Ranchi to
Kolkata on annual leave, I was the only ‘solo’ person within a compartment
filled with a marriage party. I was cajoled into joining for dinner and a thums
up late at night. On another journey I shared a compartment with three other men
who snored in different pitches all night. The next morning after a round of
arguments I was asked to be the judge of who was the loudest offender.
And my latest solo moment- sunset from Pidurangala rock in
Sri Lanka-an hour to myself in the big family holiday sitting on the rocky
expanse watching the sunset light up Sigiriya Lion Rock fortress in an orange
glow. Back in the guest house my mom was waiting in seething temper, as if I
was not one day older than the school girl she would admonish if late returning
home after dark. It had it gains though- made me feel young, the sunset was
worth it and it amused my 15 year old daughter no end!!!
My first solo trip was in 1996 - it wasn't anything big, just travel to Toronto and Montreal, but it made me realise that I could definitely travel by myself without any problems. Since then, I have been to over 40 countries, all but one by myself. I have done tours while in country, but most of the time I research, plan, and book everything myself. Like Julia has already mentioned, I'm a big fan of doing something - cooking classes, volunteering, cycling, kayaking, etc. while in country to get a more rounded experience, although a lot of that depends on where I am and how long I'll be there. Most of the time I have no problem being by myself, but there are some situations where it would be nice to have others around - like having dinner in the evenings. But I usually don't eat out at lot at restaurants (too expensive) so that's not usually a big deal. There are some places that I've been that I would like to have shared the experience with (Venice, Paris, etc) but who knows what the future will bring.
The few times I have travelled with others, I've noticed that I don't usually get to do what I would do if I had been by myself, although the flipside to that is that I've done things that I wouldn't have done by myself. ;-)
There seems to have been a number of different interpretations of what is understood
by 'solo' travel from the previous respondents. I'd like to add another version but,
before I do that, I should say that in my past I've done the travelling
exemplified by Julia - totally independent, fully flexible and well researched. I've also arrived early and solo prior to meeting up with other group members as mentioned
by Cathy Aitken. Each approach has its drawbacks and its joys.
For me the biggest downside of solo travel has been when eating my evening meal. I like to
try out local foods and then be able to to talk about them and the venue to a
companion. That hasn't always been possible with my solo travel.
My other way of solo travel is by stretching the definition of what we mean by 'solo'.
You see I am very keen on wildlife - have been ever since I was a boy. I'm now
in my early sixties, retired and widowed. What I have started doing over the
last few years is travelling to my destination on my own ( Oman, Guyana,
Mozambique and most recently Assam in India) and then meeting up with a local
guide who can take me round the national parks to witness the fauna and flora
of the area. So strictly speaking I'm not 'solo' because I have companionship
from the guide and driver during the day but often I'm left on my own at the lodge or hotel in the evening.
It's fine if there are no other visitors but if it's a busy hotel then eating a meal
on my own at night just emphasises that there is no one with whom I can share that moment. Reading my eBook is one way of making me feel more comfortable but I suspect that the other guests may also think that I don't want to talk to them. That is not the case and I would be perfectly happy to strike up a conversation.
The other downside of this style of travel is that there is often a single supplement which adds to the cost of the trip.
Apart from those two drawbacks I'm perfectly happy to go 'solo'. It means that I don't have to compromise on any plans proposed by fellow travellers. We just do whatever is my choice although to be fair I am usually constrained by the itinerary which will have been drawn up in consultation with me.
My next major 'solo' journey isn't until November when I'm visiting Uganda but in the mean time I have 4 other journeys to several corners of the UK. I'll probably be reporting back on these so watch this space.
By the way I'm fairly new to this Forum,
There was a line in the article which struck a chord with me, '... I can't deny it can be lonely, but travelling with the wrong person is far, far worse.'
Travelling solo is a life affirming experience, one that can become addictive ... You will have the most amazing time, locals are far more likely to approach a single person, and 99% of the time, the intent will not be bad. You can go where you want, do what you want. Want to be up before dawn to walk the city streets? Then you can. Want to have a lazy day sat in a cafe with a book or laptop, then you can. Want to flirt outrageously with that cute barista, then you can.
The evening meal seems to be the thing most people struggle with. This, I agree, can be hard going. I tend to try and make lunch the main meal of the day, everyone is far more relaxed, and there are more singles around - or at least you are less visible. In the evenings, I'll stop in a bar or two for a drink, somewhere you can sit at the bar and be caught up in the fun and banter, or stroll around, perhaps have a snack or some street food.
Finally, I have to say, I've felt far more lonely when travelling with someone, than I ever have alone.
I personally enjoy solo traveling a lot. Last year I went on a solo trip to Miami. It was amazing to visit there for the first time and exploring it alone too. It's quite similar to New York. Being sure of security, I used public transportation in the day and preferred cab at night to avoid dark and lone streets. Miami is a great place to meet travelers. I really enjoyed my stay there. If you are planning a solo trip, I'd suggest you to go for short trips rather going for long trips. Here are few more tips for solo travelers:
Plan before flying - It's good to plan prior for the places to visit and things to do. I find it very easy to plan a trip when traveling alone because I don’t need to wait for anyone. You can plan your trip with the help of a travel agent or use apps.
Pack Light - Pack important things but only which you can carry yourself.
Connect with others – It's good to interact with fellow travelers, you'll find some short-term friends and knowing people from different part of the world is a great experience. Also, connect with locals to know their culture and history.
Stay Safe and Protected - While traveling, no matter you are alone or with someone, you must stay protected. I never go on a trip without travel health insurance and I generally take it from VisitorsInsuranceReviews.
Dining alone - Enjoy dining alone. Go to restaurants and ask a local what is best to taste. This way you will start a conversation.
Avoid dark alleys - The public place is always safer. To stay protected, try to stay in public places.
Enter a region, country or destination
Simply select the destination you’re interested in or the activities you’re looking
for and we’ll send your request to a select panel of tour operators.
Each operator will respond to your request individually. Your details remain private
and are not disclosed to any partners unless you decide to proceed with a booking.
23 Days in Bangladesh from £2,000 per person or less
10% (over £300) OFF the EARLY BIRD Rates for the Philippines Sailing Challenge
£60 off your first order
Wanderlust sends out regular email newsletters – be the first to know about web
exclusives, competitions, hot offers and travel jobs. Register today!
I have read and agree to the Terms &
Where in the world are you? Add
#wanderlustmag to your tweets and share your latest travel adventures with
fellow Wanderlusters on wanderlust.co.uk
Get to know Wanderlust on facebook and bring all your travel-minded friends, too