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Solo travel

Solo travel travel guide

Hit the road solo and open up a world of increased opportunities and self discovery

I can’t go travelling – I’ve got no one to go with.

Rubbish! This common excuse for delaying, or dismissing altogether, plans of seeing the world is one of the worst. Although the prospect of setting off solo can seem daunting, there are plenty of options for people who don’t have a willing partner or pal at the ready.

For starters, would going alone be so bad? Many travellers love the freedom they have when they’re on their own: there’s no need to make concessions, or miss out on something you want to do because the group doesn’t want to. Also, lone travellers are less intimidating – you’re more likely to be approached by curious locals or fellow travellers. Such encounters could open up unexpected travel experiences.

There are downsides. When you’ve had a tough day (souk hassle, tummy bugs...) it can be therapeutic to offload on a friend. Also, mealtimes are little fun on your own. If you’re eating in a restaurant, sit at the counter or take a newspaper. Check out night markets and graze from stalls so you can watch the action while you eat. Or stay in a hostel where you can cook for yourself, and perhaps strike up a conversation over the kettle. Hostels take people of all ages, and many now have private rooms if you don’t want to sleep in a dorm.

If you’re still nervous, don’t leave finding friends to chance – book a tour. Small-group adventure trips are often largely comprised of solo travellers; whether they are single or are simply travelling without their other half. Ask your tour operator the breakdown of your group before you leave. You can also opt to share a room/tent with a traveller of the same sex, to keep costs down. You’ll be with like-minded people and may well come away with some friends for life.

If tours don’t appeal, you don’t have to stay on one forever. Perhaps start with a short guided jaunt to help orientate yourself, then spend some time travelling independently afterwards – you may even meet a future travel buddy on your tour. Bear in mind, though, that you don’t have to stay with the first ‘buddy’ you come across – this is your trip: if they prove incompatible or downright annoying, go your own way.

Safety can be a concern when travelling solo – there’s no one to watch your back. But that doesn’t mean you’re destined for disaster. Use your common sense – if a situation feels uncomfortable, get out of it. Make sure someone (your hotel, a park ranger, your family back home) knows where you’re going. Keep cash and copies of your important documents in multiple places, so you always have a back up. Lie if necessary: tell that slimy taxi driver that you’re waiting for your beefy boyfriend.

Ultimately, travelling solo can be uplifting, eye-opening, occasionally lonely, sometimes tough but never, ever dull.

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Advice

  • Part two: Your guide to solo travel

    Travelling on your own can seem a scary prospect – but it can also be the most enriching way to explore. Here’s how to take those first solo steps, without a tour group in tow, says Lyn Hughes

  • Part one: Your guide to solo travel

    Travelling on your own can seem a scary prospect – but it can also be the most enriching way to explore. Here’s how to take those first solo steps, says Lyn Hughes

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