6 Things You Should Know Before Travelling Alone
Planning a solo vacation? Make sure you read this advice before travelling alone.
1. Some companies now specialize in solo travel
Decide who you would like to travel with. Some tour operators, like Australia-based Peregrine Adventures and its sister company, Intrepid Travel, have reported up to a 40 per cent increase in solo travel in the past five years, with the most substantial growth in vacationers who are 65-plus. Companies are noticing and creating more options. Peregrine Adventures caters to a 45-plus audience and offers an array of solo-only trips, while Intrepid Travel unveiled three new offerings this year for people who are travelling alone. “On these trips, you likely won’t know anyone when you start, but that is rarely the case at the end,” says Leigh Barnes, director of Intrepid Travel in North America. “Travelling on your own creates an openness that can enhance the experience.”
2. Travelling alone can be costly—but it doesn’t have to be
Travelling alone is inherently more expensive than splitting costs with a fellow traveller, but there are ways to save cash. For one thing, many resorts and cruises bill on a “per-person double occupancy” basis, meaning they charge a fee for each member of a couple staying in a room or cabin. Since they’re alone, solo travellers are often forced to pay the dreaded “single supplement,” which can range from 10 to 100 per cent of the advertised price. Seek individual rates online or call the resort or cruise line to negotiate. You can also avoid hotels altogether by house swapping through sites like homeexchange.com. Save on cabs by taking buses and subways whenever it’s safe to do so, and if you find yourself surrounded by singles at a guest house or restaurant, form your own group for a tour—banding together can lead to big discounts.
3. Sometimes the best seat is at the bar
Eating by yourself in restaurants can be intimidating. If you’re travelling alone, relocate to the bar, where your neighbours might be more open to conversation. You can sometimes save a few bucks by doing this, too—a number of restaurants offer a bar-only, cut-rate menu.
4. Take safety precautions when travelling alone
Lebawit Lily Girma, author of the Moon travel guides on the Dominican Republic and Belize, advises those travelling alone to book rooms at small hotels and guest houses, where employees can provide valuable local intel. Let staff know whenever you go out for the evening (so they’ll notice if you fail to return), and rather than hailing a cab on the street, stick to official taxi stands or ask for names of trusted drivers at the front desk. As a bonus, staff-recommended drivers “are often some of the most knowledgeable tour guides,” says Girma.
5. You can always find friends online
Looking for someone to explore the world with? The Internet offers a plethora of places to meet fellow travellers. Travelbuddy.com will help you meet friends on the road, while thelmandlouise.com is a club for women who are travelling alone.
6. Travelling alone doesn’t have to be lonely
Should you start to feel isolated on your journey, Leyla Giray Alyanak, who runs Women on the Road, a site geared toward women who are travelling solo, advises you to shift your attention. Keep a journal about your experiences, get in touch with folks at home via social media or simply head outside. “Go for a massage or to a museum or wander around on foot,” says Alyanak.