The world has seemingly become smaller and smaller as the internet has become the tool and source to research, plan, and even take virtual tours of distant and not-so distant exotic locales around the world. In recent times, only those of a certain economic class were afforded the opportunity or luxury to traipse off to the likes of the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and other exotic lands. As the world has opened up to mainstream America, so too has the curiosity and desire for greater, worldlier experiences. Amidst this new era of exploration, a new breed of traveler has emerged – welcome “The Solo Traveler”!
What separates a solo traveler from your average run of the mill traveler is a mindset; a daring, open, adventurous, brave, and most importantly uninhibited desire to explore the world. In the mind of a “solo traveler” it is the destination and experience versus the companionship that matters most. There is no destination too distant or off-limits as each experience begins with a purpose. Be it a search for solitude; a quest to meet new people often in a land where YOU are the one with the accent; or just the desire to be free to indulge and move to and fro without consulting with an accompanying travel companion.
It is often freeing and most certainly liberating at best but requiring an independent spirit or desire to embark on something new and different. Solo travel however, is most certainly not for those challenged by solitude or scared of dining alone (a phobia known as solomangarephobia or the fear of eating alone in public). Who knew?
No fret, as there are tons of resources for solo travelers including apps, dedicated sites, travel agents, travel groups and clubs all geared to the ever-growing population of solo travelers. So even if you’re not quite ready to take the leap on a solo journey, you can start by going alone but in a group of other solo travelers so you’re not totally out on your own. Just google solo travel to get a taste of what that ‘world’ looks like from the perspective of those who live by it and do it on a regular basis.
I, myself have gone on adventures with others whom I did not know prior to the trip (I’ve been to Cancun, Puerto Rico and Brazil for example and had a ball) and although we traveled together we were able to move and explore on our own, by our own individual rules. This, I can tell you is a great way to slowly move into the solo travel space while still providing you a ‘parachute’ or safety net of others to fall back on. Here are some sites to consider when researching your own solo journeys:
- Friendly Planet Travel – they have a wide range of destinations and types of travel (independent, groups, etc). I peruse them quite often and am thinking of trying them out this year for my next adventure.
- Solo Travel with Abercrombie & Kent – Best known as a luxury travel company, Abercrombie and Kent accepts solo travelers on all of its trips — to all seven continents. They also offer Solo Savings escorted group tours, where single travelers enjoy their own private accommodations during every stop of the trip, but don’t have to pay the usual single supplements. A&K either completely waives the supplement, or reduces it by up to 75%.
- Lonely Planet – I peruse this site just because…there’s a little bit of everything on it
- Wanderlust and Lipstick – a new site I stumbled upon but definitely a good place to start for those new to or considering solo travel
- Contiki is geared towards younger travelers, specifically those aged 18-35. The company uses forums and social media to connect vacationers with each other before they embark on their journey. Since most of their pricing is for doubles, Contiki’s goal is to match travelers up with someone of the same sex and then book a double room for them. So if you’re looking to make friends on your trip, this is the company for you.
- Ideal for budget travelers, Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) takes single travelers to exotic destinations such as Botswana and Patagonia. They have both land adventures, which are tours on land with groups of 10-16 other travelers, or small ship adventures, which are boat tours with anywhere from 16 to 25 other travelers.
- Norwegian Cruise Line – On three of its ships — the Epic, Breakaway, and Pride of America — has cabins made exclusively for solo travelers that cost about 30% less than a double stateroom. They offers cruises all over including Alaska, Florida and the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada and New England, Hawaii, Mexico, Europe, and Panama just to name a few.
There are plenty others as well as numerous blogs, articles, and books on solo travels so it’s really personal preference as to your source for researching, planning, and ultimately making your solo travel dreams a reality.
Imagine a destination you’ve always dreamt of however you socialize it with your spouse, partner, friend, family, etc. only to discover those who would accompany you have limitations (for various and sundries of reasons); or want to provide input on the destination, travel time, even the accommodations. Can you say downer! Oftentimes the trip sunsets before it even gets finalized becoming more of a headache in the planning stages than the exciting dream destination you originally envisioned. As a Solo Traveler, you think it, you plan it, it happens. No consulting necessary as the only one to please is YOU! It may begin with researching sites, groups, tours, etc. designated for solo travelers or destinations best suited for the solo traveler but it ends with an experience based on your expectations.
Research is key as is understanding how daring you are as in, are you courageous enough to travel alone or prefer a group of other solo travelers. Much like Julia Roberts’ character in the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” who went on a voyage to find herself after a painful divorce – solo travelers often discover much more about themselves as they are left to their own defenses, thoughts, and preferences totally unfiltered or encumbered by another. Traveling in this fashion enables one to fully embrace ones’ surroundings to the point of self-indulgence, unfiltered, undisturbed if so desired.
Safety and precautions of course are a greater risk as a solo traveler as you are more vulnerable to scam artists and criminals targeting unsuspecting tourists in a party of one. However, as with traveling in any capacity precautions must be made to ensure one’s safety. With the right amount of preparation, planning, and research you will at best be armed with information on what to avoid and known safety concerns to name a few. Travel sites often socialize key safety concerns, known dangers, and safety precautions for travelers so always do thorough research on any destination as part of your planning. However, when in doubt always trust your instincts!
Imagine doing what you want when you want in your destination of choice. If you choose to lounge in your hotel room or by the pool all day no one will object when you travel alone. It may appear to be a lonely experience and to some, perhaps, but traveling solo opens the door to new interactions simply because you are a party of one. Many are more inclined to approach you as a solo traveler from the wait-staff to the concierge as well as the locals. You have the power to engage in conversations or be eyeball high in your Kindle, the choice is yours. I have traveled abroad without knowing a soul however, by the end of the trip I made so many new connections it truly felt like I traveled with a companion or two. The beauty of the solo travel experience is that the journey is just as you envision it to be with as little or as much interactions, excitement, and/or quiet time as you desire.
To the solo traveler in you!!!