As a veteran solo traveller I’m often asked when the best time in life to take a trip by yourself is, and my answer is always now. I’m constantly meeting more mature solo travellers all around the world, whether they’re treating themselves to the retirement trip of a lifetime, or have embraced going on holiday alone after the death of a partner. If you’re new to solo travel or are tempted to take a trip, here are my tips for having an adventure to remember…
1. Train yourself up at home
Being comfortable in your own company is like a muscle, you have to use it or lose it so practice spending time by yourself. Go on small solo adventures and see how you find it. Take yourself for a coffee alone or go to an exhibition solo. Then go for dinner by yourself. As you grow in confidence, the idea of going abroad with no plus one in tow will feel less daunting.
2. Go with an organised group
A great way to dip a toe into solo travel and see if it’s for you is to go with a tour company that caters for lone rangers. Some, such as Thelma & Louise, are solely for solo female travellers. Look for an itinerary that gives you flexibility and free time. Or consider an activity holiday, where you learn a new skill and have company when you want it.
3. Make a solid plan
On your first night in a new place, it’s even more important to have a plan if you’re solo. Spontaneity plus jet-lag, plus being alone, can equal wandering around in the dark for hours until you’re forced to eat in the nearest branch of KFC because there’s nothing else open, and stay in the most uninspiring hotel. Arrange your first night’s dinner and accommodation so you start your trip off right.
4. Think about your inner voice
When you’re alone, that voice in your head might be all you’ve got to see you through, so make sure yours is saying good things. If it’s not, you can consciously change it until it does. You will feel silly doing this at first, but just try a few “You’re doing so well”-type words of encouragement.
5. Enjoy being selfish
Want to wake up at noon and spend all day in the hotel spa? Want to pretend you went to the archeological ruins, but really just snap one selfie and then go to the beach? When you’re solo you can do exactly what you want, when you want, and for as long as you want to do it. It’s rare to find a travel partner who shares your passions, body clock, appetites, budget and/or desire for shopping. Solo travel means zero compromise. It means engaging with the world on your own terms. And that’s what the best adventures should be all about.
Kate’s book A Trip Of One’s Own is out 7 July in paperback (£9.99, Blink)