Traveling alone has always had its limitations. The first hurdle is usually getting over the social stigma involved in booking alone. For many, booking a table for one in a restaurant is awkward, so a solo holiday is unthinkable. On top of that, there is the potential solitude to contend with and the acceptance that no one will have shared the experience with you. Then there are the financial implications of footing the full bill yourself for taxis, food, and holiday accessories, not to mention the often unjustified single supplement charges.
However, with online travel operators reporting a recent upsurge in holidaymakers traveling alone it seems that the stigma, loneliness, and expense usually associated with a solo-holiday may be things of the past. With statistics suggesting that singles holidays have increased from 15% of all holidays in 2009 to an estimated 35% for 2015 it is clear that the landscape for the solo-traveler is drastically changing, most probably due to the impact of new internet and app based business models and communities.
Applications and websites like Couchsurfing, AirBnB, and Uber, while controversial within their industries, have revolutionised the expenses involved in accommodation and traveling while abroad. So much so, that many hotels and travel agents are now scrapping single supplement fees completely. Couchsurfing.com and AirBnB have enabled solo travelers to not only save huge amounts off of their holiday bills; they also provide something that a hotel cannot in the opportunity to meet your hosts and absorb invaluable local knowledge, information, and potentially make new friends.
The success of online communities such as solotravelerblog.com and lonelyplanet.com have also managed to ease the anxiety that many would have about traveling alone through sharing experiences and offering recommendations and itinerary lists. Travelers can now essentially road-test everything that they will experience on their trip through YouTube videos, Google Maps, and online reviews. This has alleviated the need for travelers to rely on companions or a group to help with decision making and planning. In fact, social media has taken big steps towards making people feel like they have the company of their friends no matter how isolated their location. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and good old fashioned email have made people very comfortable with the idea of monitoring what their friends are doing 24-hours a day. As a result it has surely made huge inroads into making people safer and more connected to the world when travelling alone.
So. what are the options when holidaying alone?
Couchsurfing.com insists that they will enable you to ‘experience the world in a way money cannot buy’ — and they are not wrong. Not only can you stay for free with one of over 10 million ‘hosts’ in over 200,000 locations, you can also read about others’ experiences, share your own, and attend one of nearly half a million events.
Backpacking is the classic adventure for the solo traveler. Staying in hostels can be cheap and offers endless opportunities to tag along with other backpackers’ trips. Make sure that you do lots of research before you leave through websites such as Solotravel.org or solotravelerblog.com.
Motorhoming is one of the best ways to travel alone. The ability to pack up and leave at the rev of an engine is not only liberating, but it enables the solo-traveler the independence to jam-pack a holiday full of adventure. Travel from town to town, landmark to landmark, and best of all run away from the weather when you feel like it. Make sure that you have everything that you need from motorhome experts like the Camping and Caravan Club and Shield Total Insurance.
Cruises can be an expensive option, but they can also be a great holiday for solo travelers. They are seen as a safe introduction to holidaying alone by many people with 24-hour security onboard and teams of professionals always on hand to help. Communal dining and activities can also be a great way to meet people.
Dedicated Singles Sites
101holidays.co.uk is hoping to be on trend with the increased demand for solo traveling and has launched its own dedicated website for traveling alone. Visitors can choose from options such as ‘Active’, ‘Adventure’, ‘Beach’, ‘Boating’ ‘Single Parent’, and ‘Singles Only’ in their quest to find the perfect holiday. Other sites that offer dedicated singles holiday services are travelsphere.co.uk, solosholidays.co.uk, and thomson.co.uk.
So have no fear — the solo holiday is more popular, safer, and easier to do than ever. Choose one of the above options and you are likely to have an unforgettable experience, on your own terms, and at your own pace!