Justine Waddington is the founder and director of Encounter Travel, a company that creates holiday groups exclusively for solo travellers. As a solo traveller with 57 countries under her belt and 10 years of leading travel groups, Justine is in the unique position of being able to offer tips and advice from the perspective of an experienced solo traveller and also that of a travel agent.
Solo Travel: Busting 7 Big Myths
There’s some myths about solo travel, all putting down road blocks to planning your first trip on your own. Bust the myths, and armed with some practical advice, you’ll be taking off on your first solo adventure before you know it.
1. I'LL BE LONELY
There’s this myth that solo travel has to be solitary. You may leave home alone but that’s not to say you can’t travel with new friends.
Without a travel buddy or just prefer to make plans on your own? More and more, solo travel is on the rise with the trend for singles joining groups tours. Flash back some years, it wasn’t such common place and groups were couples, or friends travelling together. Nowadays, for many of the group options you won’t be the ‘odd one out’ anymore when you join on your own.
Top tip – do your research; ask the tour company the popularity of their tours among solo travellers, seeking out a small group rather than big coach touring may bring your more chance of better connections within the group, or for your best chance of camaraderie, join a group just for solo travellers.
2. I FEAR GETTING HOMESICK
It’s most likely the fear of the unknown that’s getting the better of you, rather than a reality of getting homesick. And for many, what you may think is homesickness when you first set out is often culture shock - give it some hours and usually it’s behind you quickly enough. Let’s face it – it’s hard to blame ‘homesickness’ when you’ve only just left home. For your best chance of avoiding homesickness, jump right into your holiday from day one and be an active participant in your group.
3. I'LL HAVE NO ONE TO SHARE IT WITH
It can be hard to imagine if you haven’t travelled solo before, that someone you don’t know will play an important role in your memories. When you make new friends on a group tour, it’s like condensing a year of social ‘get-togethers’ into just a few weeks, if not days, in some cases. You will be bonded by your travels in a way that can be hard to find in everyday life.
4. THE COST IS MORE WHEN YOU GO SOLO
It’s true that, in many cases, if you are a solo traveller, you pay more – you’re paying for a hotel room (or ship cabin) to yourself rather than sharing the cost with another person. It’s what commonly called the ‘single supplement’
The good news is that there are some travel companies and operators that will offer the option to share, ‘share with a stranger’ or ‘room-mate matching’ to avoid this and this way, split the cost of the room between two. Or as more and more tour companies are more attuned to solo travellers rates are getting lower or even sometimes no supplement at all.
5. I DON'T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE
You’ve longed to discover the ancient wonders of China or uncover the wonders of Eastern Europe but knowing the language barriers it could seem like it’s going to be a struggle to get by. Without a travel buddy, it can feel like it’s too much to take on by yourself.
An organised group tour will give you the comfort of a holiday operated in your own language, with travel companions who also speak the same language. Also, your tour leader and/or local guides will be there to assist.
6. I HATE DINING ALONE
A big part of enjoying a meal when you’re travelling is sharing it. And experiencing the local food plays a big role in our memories and connections with the destination. The last thing you want to do is miss out on this part of your trip just because you’re travelling solo and you don’t enjoy dining alone. This is when joining a group makes a huge difference.
When You Fear Dining Solo
Not all travel groups are the same when it comes to dining. When looking over group options compare the dining inclusions between the tours. Find a tour where more meals are included so you’re guaranteed company of your group members. For the nights off, when a dinner’s not included, where there’s a good group dynamic you will find group members look forward to heading out to find a local restaurant for a meal together.
7. I DON'T HAVE THE TIME TO PLAN
Life is fast – busy work and home schedules and if you’re single and planning on your own, it can feel like a burden when all the travel planning lays 100% with you.
How much easier is it if someone’s done the planning for you? This is where a tour company takes over; all the planning is taken care of for you but it’s more than that. Credible operators know the highlights, with lots of tours it means you avoid the queues at the busy tourist spots (very big part of European touring) and you’ll have the peace of mind of mind of a local contact on hand in the destination to help you with questions and for advice.
If you are pondering taking off alone, rest assured that there are plenty of other solo travellers out there – new friends, just waiting to meet you along the way.
READY TO FIND YOUR SOLO TRAVELLER GROUP?
Check out my book, How To Travel Solo But Not Alone
For enquiries, call from Australia
T: 1300 653 692 or visit our Contact Us page on our website