A guide to solo adventure holidays
A rising number of people are choosing to travel on their own, and for a variety of reasons. If you live alone, have different or extra holidays to your partner or friends, enjoy different interests or simply fancy a bit of me-time, a holiday that is booked by you, for you can make perfect sense.
Solo travelling, especially if you are new to it, can seem daunting but it can also bring a huge sense of satisfaction and great freedoms. To make the most of adventure, especially if you are planning a walking or cycling tour, here are a few things I have learned.
Having a daily goal, such as cycling or walking, to a new destination, or a programme of places to visit will give the day a structure. You can set a time to get up, make plans for what you will do and generally focus on doing, rather than missing people or worrying about being on your own.
Book travel and accommodation:
While there is a great adventure to be had in turning up somewhere and spontaneously finding a bed for the night, it can also be a cause of anxiety when holidaying alone. Instead, let a holiday company book their tried and tested partners so that you can simply relax and enjoy the holiday, rather than worrying about the details.
Go treat yourself:
If you are booking a trip for you, there is no need to consider anyone else’s budget. Book the quality of accommodation that you want – and can afford – and live life a little luxuriously, or affordable, depending on your own choices.
There is no one to share your load so make sure you can carry all that you pack yourself. Better still, pack as light as you can so you can enjoy the freedom of solo travel rather than being weighed down by heavy rucksacks or panniers. You could choose to have your luggage transferred between accommodations for an even lighter style of walking or cycling holiday.
The night before each day of a walking or cycling trip, or at breakfast, have a look through the planned route for that day. It is helpful to underline places, names or attractions and also highlight these on a map. Knowing a bit about where you will be going and your route will give you a greater feeling of confidence, rather than simply leaving it all to chance. Remember, too, that one of the joys of solo travel is that you can see what you want and stay for as long as you like because no one else can dictate.
But, if you want, just leave it all to fate:
Having no plan might seem like a scary way to holiday, but it can also bring the greatest adventures. You could walk or cycle for a certain distance in a set direction and see where you end up. After all, there is no one to become annoyed or upset at your lack of a plan!
Stop now or then:
If you want to eat breakfast at 5 am, or 10.30am, or stop for coffee and cake an hour later, or not at all, or sip Champagne for lunch and eat an evening meal at 5 pm, you can do any or none of these things when you travel alone. The pleasure of choosing what to do and when you like is what many solo travellers state as one of their favourite things about holidaying alone.
Choose your mileage:
When you holiday on your own, especially a walking or cycling tour, you can dictate exactly the mileage you want to set for each day. No one will contradict you and if you end up feeling disagreeable about it on the day, you have only yourself to blame! However, it is worth remembering that you are on holiday and the daily mileage should be realistic. In warm weather or hilly terrain and with the many inevitable stops to check navigation and to drink coffee, you will probably travel about one-third of your normal average daily distance.
Really, don’t worry:
If you feel anxious about a solo walking or cycling trip try not to be. A self-guided trip will come with lots of notes and instructions so you can relax knowing that someone else has been there, and done that, before you. Even if you do end up getting a bit lost or confused there is always a solution. You can ask someone to help you, call a local support advisor or simply let it go and work out the next best plan for yourself.
Anyway, it’s not getting lost... It’s having an adventure:
In my world, when you are lost you are finding new places and learning new things. This is an adventure and can be fun, so long as you do not become too frustrated, and too lost!
Take modern gadgetry:
A mobile phone or small laptop has many benefits on a solo adventure. You can stay in touch with friends and family back home, plan, navigate, find a place when lost and feel more comfortable when eating out alone if you have something to read or do on your gadget.
This is the part of the day that many solo travellers find the most awkward. If you are eating a meal on your own try to choose somewhere that other single people might go to, such as a pub or cafe, rather than a smart restaurant. Have your next day’s route notes with you, or a pen a paper for making notes, or a book or social media app on your mobile phone, so that you can appear busy and focused even when you are sitting eating a meal and wishing someone was with you. These times are the hardest on a solo trip but they become easier with practice
Think sensibly about where you are and who you talk to when travelling alone. Make sure you keep valuables hidden and always have a charged up mobile phone in case of emergencies. It is important to know how to fix a punctured tyre and other basic mechanical issues when cycling solo, too.
Be open to chat:
If you are travelling solo and like the idea of meeting new people make sure you are open to the conversations. Sit down in cafes near to other people, look for other solo travellers, especially walkers and cyclists they will be easy to spot!) or start a conversation yourself. Most people who are relaxed and on holiday will be happy to pass a few minutes, or hours, chatting with you.
Hotel versus B&B:
If you prefer to be inconspicuous, book a hotel, but if you would like people to chat to you and enjoy the company of smaller holiday groups, a B&B or room in someone’s house (as they offer in countries such as France) will offer more opportunities for social interaction.
Enjoy the peace:
If you have a busy work and social life, being away from it all and travelling alone can feel like a true treat. Make time to enjoy the peace and quiet and the lack of interference in what you are doing. Most people enjoy the experience of solo adventures once they settle into their trip.
We suggest the Camino de Santiago (French Way)
in Spain, where you are guaranteed to meet many fascinating people from all around the world. Or take a relaxed Alpine Trek on the Bear Trail
, which Macs Adventure offer as a package with no solo supplement making it extremely cost-effective, and because these walks are self-guided you can take as much or as little time as you wish.