You can’t miss the fact that solo travel’s become one of the biggest travel trends of the past few years. From being the province of long-term backpackers or dismissed as just for singles looking for romance, the number of people travelling solo has rocketed by 150% since 2011. More and more people are discovering you don’t have to wait to find someone to go with if you want to see the world. And solo travel has lots of benefits – it can help build confidence, push you out of your comfort zone and means you can do what you want to without having to compromise.
This post is brought to you in association with 101 Holidays.
Interest in solo travel is up 131% over the past two years according to Google Trends, with women driving the trend – solo travel website 101 Singles Holidays found that around two-thirds of solo travellers are female. Often it’s a big life change like a break up or kids leaving home which pushes people to take their first solo trip. But solo travel can seem scary – especially if you’ve never done it before. I travelled around New Zealand on my own 10 years ago and loved it, but getting divorced has knocked my confidence and I feel like I’m starting over.
The growth of interest in solo travel means a wider choice of holidays for solo travellers to choose from though. Whether you’re a first-time solo traveller or out of practice in going it alone, lots of companies offer tours which let you test the water or mean that you can go solo without worrying about being totally on your own. If you’re looking for adventure off the beaten track, the chance to pamper yourself in the Caribbean, indulging your interests or breaks with a ready-made group of fellow solo globetrotters, here are 10 trips to tempt you.
10 trip ideas for solo travellers
1. A solo short break
If you’re nervous trying a solo trip, a short break is the perfect introduction. A long weekend is enough time to try it out but short enough that it’s not too intimidating if you’re worried about whether you’ll like it. And if you combine it with ticking something off your bucket list, you’re guaranteed to come back with good memories. Solo travel is a great excuse to be selfish, so choose a place you’ve always wanted to see – Riga, Stockholm and Split top my wishlist.
Iceland has exploded in popularity recently, and it’s a great place to start your solo travel adventures – it’s small enough that you can see a lot in a few days, there’s tons of things to do, English is widely spoken and it’s well set up for tourism. On The Go Tours have a five-day escape to Iceland to spot the Northern Lights, as well as watching geysers erupt, swimming in the Blue Lagoon and exploring dramatic waterfalls. If you choose the option to share a room there’s no single supplement, but you can pay a bit extra if you prefer your privacy.
2. A pampering escape
Who wouldn’t be tempted by the idea of an all-inclusive holiday in the Caribbean, with spa treatments and activities included along with food, drink and white-sand beaches? It’s the type of holiday solo travellers might think is more geared up for couples, but there’s a lot more to the Caribbean than honeymoons – it just depends on choosing the right island and resort.
The Body Holiday in St Lucia has Queen-size four-poster beds in its single garden rooms: no supplement for this solo escape, but also no chance of sleeping in a cupboard-sized room on a single bed if you’re travelling on your own. The resort even dedicates September to solo travellers, with a string of events and activities from yoga, abseiling and scuba diving to food made with ingredients from the resort’s garden – check out Tropical Sky for special offers.
3. Change your life
A big life event is often the inspiration for a first solo trip – whether it’s a milestone birthday, the loss of someone or the end of a relationship. It’s easy to get caught up in everyday life and just carry on ploughing through when things get tough, but escaping for a few days can really help – giving yourself time to think and plan for the future. And if you need some guidance along the way, there are specialist holidays which can help give you a new perspective.
At the Cortijo Romero retreat in Spain, there’s a wide range of classes in their themed courses, as well as the chance to explore the unspoiled natural reserve of La Alpujarra not far from Granada, along with yoga or tai chi and short Spanish lessons. You could choose a week focused around art and creativity, wellbeing, relaxation or transformation and change, such as Richer Relationships or Untangling Your Life, to help you look towards the future.
4. A far-flung adventure
One of the best things about travelling solo is that you can go exactly where you want to – however weird, wonderful or off-the-beaten track your travel dreams might be. But sometimes out-of-the-ordinary places come with extra travel challenges, from transport logistics to language barriers. If you’re wary of doing it solo – or would prefer to share the experience – there are some fabulous small group tours exploring the world’s less-visited countries.
Yellowwood Adventures specialises in adventure travel to destinations including Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Mongolia and Lebanon, with both trekking holidays and cultural tours. There’s never more than 12 in the small groups and no single supplement if you’re happy to share. You could discover the Ethiopian Christmas or ride horses with nomads on the Mongolian steppes, as well as exploring some of the world’s most ancient cities in Iran and Lebanon.
5. A river cruise
Cruises are a popular option for solo travellers – they’re sociable if you want to make friends but it’s also easy to find your own space, and being in a new destination every day means there’s lots to see and do. It also avoids one of the biggest solo travel bugbears, eating alone (I’ve no idea why it feels so awkward but it’s always been the worst bit of solo travel for me). If you don’t fancy a giant ocean cruise ship then river cruises are a smaller and more manageable option.
Booking with a specialist company like Just You means there’s no single supplement on your own cabin and you’ll join a group of other solo travellers too. There are lots of different river cruise routes available – you could sail along the Danube stopping at Europe’s Christmas markets, discover the vineyards of Portugal’s Douro Valley or explore Venice and its surroundings, with lots included in the price, from food and drink to some tours and other activities.
6. A solos-only tour
If you’re not keen on exploring alone and would rather travel in a group, choosing a solos-only tour means you don’t have to worry about feeling the odd one out in a group full of friends and couples – plus you’re normally guaranteed your own room and no single supplements.
Solo Travellers runs small group tours specifically for those travelling alone, with itineraries around the world and a mix of ages. Cuba is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for years and they have a 10-night tour of Cuba which has a tempting mix of sightseeing and relaxing on the island’s white-sand beaches, plus a chance to stay with locals in casa particulares, as well as snorkelling, music, stops in less-visited parts of Cuba and a local rum or two.
7. A house party holiday
There are some great solos-only options if you’re looking for an alternative to a group tour as well, including the house party-style holidays from singles’ specialist Friendships Travel. Their winter trips to the Alps are perfect for fans of skiing and snowboarding. You get the chance to polish your skills during the day, in resorts which have a mix of pistes for different abilities.
The group gets exclusive use of the chalet so you can come back to dinner and company after a day on the slopes rather than an empty hotel room. The holidays attract a mix of ages from 30s to 60s, and there’s a chalet host on site to make sure everything runs smoothly.
8. An activity holiday
If you’re nervous of solo travel, a holiday themed around one of your interests or hobbies is a good way to start – having a shared interest is an easy way to break the ice – plus it gives you a chance to completely indulge your favourite activity without worrying about a bored friend or partner waiting on the sidelines. Or you can take the chance to try something new – I’ve had a go at watercolour painting in France and picked litter on a UK conservation holiday.
Whether you’re fascinated by archaeology, a culture vulture or fancy a more active break, there are plenty of options too. Tennis fans will love this singles-only holiday from Solos Holidays. There are breaks in the UK as well as in the Mediterranean sun, with some trips suitable for all levels, fun competitions and doubles tournaments without having to find your own partner.
9. A luxury getaway
It can sometimes feel like solo travellers are a bit of an afterthought – especially at the luxury end of the market – and if you’re splashing out on a holiday of a lifetime you don’t want it failing to live up to expectations just because you’re travelling solo. But with some of the world most memorable destinations, a very luxurious itinerary and a guarantee you’ll be travelling on a solo-only tour, it’s no longer tricky to find solo trips that are memorable for the right reasons.
Cox & Kings run high-end, solo-only small group tours to a range of destinations, from India to Costa Rica, and are particularly popular with over-50s. One that looks amazing is a tour through the natural wonders of Madagascar. There are specialist naturalists and forest guides on hand to make sure you discover the island’s unique wildlife, there’s also boutique accommodation and the chance to upgrade to business class to enjoy your solo getaway in style.
10. Longer-term travel
Taking a year off might not always be possible or something you fancy doing solo but to explore more widely, a month-long holiday is the perfect compromise. Ideal if you’ve got a bit of time to play with, maybe with a sabbatical from work or a break between jobs. Employers are starting to realise that letting their staff take time out can help retain them in the long run – my six weeks in New Zealand was on a sabbatical from my last job during a quiet time of year.
Tucan Travel’s small group tours include a 29-day Asia Experience, visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Following a loop from Bangkok to the temples of Angkor at Siem Reap, along the Mekong Delta to the fascinating cities and scenery of Vietnam, less-visited Laos and back through northern Thailand and its hill tribes, it’s an unbeatable introduction to South East Asia. I’ve got such a soft spot for this part of the world – it was where I really fell in love with travel, so it might well be the perfect place for me to rediscover the joys of travelling solo.
Have you ever travelled solo?