A to Z of Destinations
Australia, NZ and South Pacific
A to Z of Experiences
Walking and trekking
Diving and snorkelling
Wildlife and safaris
Meet the locals
Frontier and expedition
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Visiting the Poles
Career breaks and BIG trips
Body and soul
Volunteer and conservation
Australia, East Coast
Australia, West Coast
Everest Base Camp
Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railway
Great Migration, Serengeti, Tanzania
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights
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Hope you've all had a good start to the week! This month's issue of Wanderlust covers the rising trend of solo travellers, where more and more of us are roaming the world alone. I'm really curious to hear your solo travelling tales; what amazing experiences have you had? Have you got any invaluable tips to share?
I find it odd that solo travel is such a big deal for some people. I did my first solo trip when I was 17. I'm currently in South America, by myself of course. For me, this year marks thirty years of saving money on group tours and going it alone. But it's not just the financial reward, it's the freedom to do exactly what I want. My advice for first time solo travellers would be to start within your comfort zone. Try a short trip where the infrastructure's good, you speak the language and you're right on the tourist trail. Stay in hostels to meet people (even if you opt for the extra comfort of a private room). Talk to anyone and everyone. Be flexible with your plans so you can team up with people you like but be confident enough to say no to people that you don't gel with. If you feel lonely, book a day excursion with a group and share the experience. Do something rather than see something: take a bike ride, a cooking class, go to a language school - anything that encourages interaction. Adapt the way you travel to the country's level of safety and security and make sure you do your homework in that regard. Make sure you stay somewhere with WiFi so you can check the news and Twitter to keep abreast of current events such as natural disasters and political change. Each time you travel, push the boundaries a bit, expand your skill set and broaden your comfort zone. I promise you'll never look back.
This is really interesting to read Julia.
When I travelled on my own in Italy I really enjoyed it during the day. I did get bored with eating on my own in the evenings. Staying in hostels might have helped. I did not have any problems sorting trains and buses even though I speak very little Italian. I had learned a few key phrases.
I likevto travel with adventure companies, with small groups and a great deal of freedom during the day. There will be like-minded people to share meals in the evening.
I will continue to travel both on my own and in a small group. There is space for both in my travel life. I will spend more time thinking about accomodation when I am on my own and look into hostels.
Since I retired some 15 years ago, I go on small group tours but tend to book land only and fly out a few days in advance to explore a bit on my own and recover from long flights. I book my own flights direct with the airlines ( I don't trust agencies) and research and book my own hotels for stays before the tour. To explore on my own I sometimes go on a hop-on-hop-off bus or find a willing taxi driver to take me around. Sometimes things don't work out as planned but I am confident enough to cope. Last year I landed in Accra, the hotel forgot to send a booked pick-up driver and I had to take a local taxi to my hotel. I have no problems eating on my own in restaurants and generally take a book.
I think there are two different strands here: firstly travelling without known people- leaving familiar faces behind to discover yourself and secondly independent travel without an organized tour operator. The feature in the last Wanderlust includes travelling without familiar companions but with an organized tour, where you make new friends, meet new
people within ‘solo’ travel. Whereas Julia’s experiences are solo in every
sense- alone on the road and discovering a land on your own (I think?)
Cultural barriers and financial constraints meant that travelling solo as a young single Indian woman was no go area. It must have been empowering for you Julia. But late as I started, there have been some great memories- so no complaints.
In recent years two other friends and I decided to take an annual trip to discover ourselves. We left the hubbies and kids behind. In 2015 we did Tomatina, in 2016 the Wine battle of La Rioja. In 2017 we plan to visit the Nestinarstvo in Strandja, Bulgaria.
Even though most of my travels have been with family there have been ‘solo moments’ I treasure. In March 2016, I went to Havana for a 3-day conference. I had most of a Sunday and half a Wednesday to myself when I strolled the old city, bought ‘antiques’, got a bargain or got ripped off (I still do not know which) buying cigars from a local home into which I had got led into by a complete stranger, on a sudden adventurous whim, heard the
musicians at Plaza de Armas and got kissed by an old wrinkled gentleman who
wanted to give me directions!
Similarly I explored Copenhagen in spring 2014 but joined a ‘free city tour’ for a guided walk, marvelled at the smallness of the ‘Little Mermaid’ which brought home similar memories of the Manneken Pis and the Mona Lisa. In the evening as I was trying to get to the working dinner meet in a rather obscure district, an elderly lady took me under my wing and pointed me in the right direction.
I had three nights in Manchester on my own for business. One evening I decided to explore China Town and see an evening show of ‘Dancing in the Rain’ on a last minute £25 pound ticket.
Not travel in the strictest sense but when I was 18 years old, I went to stay in Bangalore for 2 months for a summer project in the Indian Institute of Science. On weekends I shopped on MG road, tried the Chinese chopsuey on a rooftop restaurant and bought my now dog eared copy of Lord of the Rings. In later years I would leave home for studies in Ranchi and
Chandigarh- explore the cities on my own and learn about cultures away from
Kolkata’s Bengali neighbourhoods. On one of my train journeys from Ranchi to
Kolkata on annual leave, I was the only ‘solo’ person within a compartment
filled with a marriage party. I was cajoled into joining for dinner and a thums
up late at night. On another journey I shared a compartment with three other men
who snored in different pitches all night. The next morning after a round of
arguments I was asked to be the judge of who was the loudest offender.
And my latest solo moment- sunset from Pidurangala rock in
Sri Lanka-an hour to myself in the big family holiday sitting on the rocky
expanse watching the sunset light up Sigiriya Lion Rock fortress in an orange
glow. Back in the guest house my mom was waiting in seething temper, as if I
was not one day older than the school girl she would admonish if late returning
home after dark. It had it gains though- made me feel young, the sunset was
worth it and it amused my 15 year old daughter no end!!!
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