Go it alone: Hop on the solo travel bandwagon

If you’re thinking of flying solo for your next trip away, you’re not alone, as holidays for one are becoming ever more popular.

Personal Growth

Discovering diverse cultures and new landscapes really is an education worth investing in. And travelling solo can benefit personal growth, unlock a new mindset, help you meet new like-minded friends and teach you new life skills.

“Solo travel is not only good for your soul, but it helps to keep your brain young,” says Sinead Kennedy, a bespoke travel consultant who has travelled the world solo. “Learning new words in different languages and having to figure everything out for myself has greatly improved my memory, plus I have so many amazing memories to store and recall that at times I think my head will burst!”

Sinead says solo travelling has also given her the quality time she needs to reflect on life, and her hopes and dreams. “I have had all my best and craziest ideas, personal and professional, while alone on a beach or a long bus journey. That is when my head is clear, I am happy and relaxed, and wonderful thoughts and creativity bubble up to the surface.”

These thoughts, Sinead says, are otherwise “drowned out by stress, the noise of life and other people’s opinions”.

“I even started to write my book, Life Is a Cycle, while under a parasol with a coconut in my hand on a stunning white beach in Cuba with sparkling turquoise water tickling my feet.”

Lorraine Quinn, managing director of The Travel Suite, says there has been a huge increase in travellers booking holidays by themselves. “Solo holidays are growing in popularity. Our customers want to experience places on their own terms and when suits them.”

And the only limit seems to be your imagination. “There are so many types of solo holidays, from trekking with small groups to Machu Picchu to cruising around Japan – there is a holiday for everyone,” says Lorraine.

Wellness resorts like BodyHoliday in St Lucia even have dedicated programmes for solo travellers. Their ‘September Solos’ autumn retreat offers elements of health, wellbeing and fun with other solo travellers, including hosted dinners and dedicated fitness classes.

Be prepared

When you are planning your family trips or weekend breaks, research is key, and solo travel needs that little bit more – particularly if you want to go off the grid into the more unknown destinations to experience something exclusive. As with every holiday, the importance of thorough research, revealing the hidden gems and avoiding the pitfalls, ultimately enriches your journey.

Lorraine says “it’s 100 percent safer to go through an agent” and The Travel Suite works with dedicated solo trip adventure planners around the world (Intrepid Travel, G Adventures and Best Holidays in Italy) to tailor every aspect. “It really depends on what kind of a solo trip you want – active, relaxing, thrill-seeking, meeting new people, mini trips, longer adventures, culinary experiences, learn a new skill, explore, escape… the list can go on,” she says.

“Ocean and river cruising also offer a carefree way to travel. You only unpack once and the destination changes each day. You get to join in activities, dine with people each evening, and go on excursions which are all organised by the onboard teams. It’s so safe onboard and you may also meet other solo travellers.”

Tour America also has a number of options for solo travellers, including escorted tours. “These coach tours are a fantastic opportunity to travel across the USA, taking in many of the iconic attractions and destinations while meeting new and like-minded people and exploring new tastes and cultures,” says marketing manager Veronica Flood.

“For those looking to take the plunge on their first solo trip, we have an ongoing partnership with Rory’s Travel Club which offers group travel from multiple locations in Ireland. Together, we offer bespoke escorted tours from Ireland to many destinations across the USA.”

Have it your way

Be it cruising, wellness, adventure, historical or culinary, the travel options available for a solo traveller are vast because you only have to think and look after one person: you.

According to Lorraine, there’s a new south Asian hot spot to consider. “We have had lots of inquiries for Sri Lanka. It’s the new destination for 2024. So rich in culture, such friendly people and great value for money.”

Meanwhile, Veronica says the US is a popular destination for coach trips, particularly southern cities such as Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans, but you can go it fully alone if that’s what you want. “If travelling as part of a group is not for you, our travel experts can build a unique and personalised itinerary for you based on your preferences and budgets,” she says.

Embarking on a journey alone may seem daunting at first, but solo travel offers myriad rewards that are unparalleled by any other experience. From self-discovery to personal growth, solo adventures have the power to transform individuals in profound ways.

“People often ask me do I not feel odd alone or stick out like a sore thumb. No, I do not,” says Sinead. “Solo travel is never lonely. Over the decades and five continents, I have made lifelong friends. It is surprising how many like-minded people are out there having exciting adventures solo. Hearing their stories, you can easily fall into the trap of making more travel plans before you have even returned home.”

For Sinead, the best part is the freedom. “I can and have changed my travel plans at the drop of a hat. I didn’t have to consider anyone else’s feelings or compromise along the way. While that might sound selfish, it’s not. Far from it.

“All through our lives we care for and consider others. Solo travel is the only time you will probably have entire autonomy over what happens. So never apologise for taking quality time out for yourself. If I had my way, I would make it mandatory for everyone. After all, if you can't enjoy your own company, how do you expect others to spend time with you?”

Want to whisk yourself away on holiday but lacking the confidence? Take our one-hour masterclass with life coach Mark Fennell and discover practical steps to growing your self-confidence.

Yvonne Reddin
Ordinary people often have extraordinary stories and Yvonne enjoys giving them a platform to share their experiences through her writing. A writer producing a mix of human interest, lifestyle and travel stories, she self-published her first book in 2022.

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