Did you know that more than one third of Britons are currently single, divorced, widowed or separated but a study by Mintel reveals that solo travellers account for less than 6% of holidaymakers*? It isn’t difficult to see why however, as the travel industry and particularly its pricing methods are heavily geared towards couples and families. Some people (wrongly!) attach a social stigma to travelling alone. So if you are a singleton, or even want the sort of holiday that your other half might not be keen on, this blog is for you!
The biggest stumbling block can be the idea of solitary travel itself, so let’s dispel a few of those myths.
“Travelling alone is dangerous”
As long as you follow a few common-sense rules, travelling alone is no more dangerous than travelling with a family. If anything, it could be safer because people tend to keep their guard up and their wits about them when they are by themselves and having to take responsibility for their own safety. Always look confident (even when you’re not), don’t carry excessive amounts of money and be sensitive to local customs. Women should dress modestly and in some countries it is a good idea to wear a cheap wedding ring. Make sure someone at home knows about your plans and has a copy of all your travel documents, and keep in touch with them regularly – a Hotmail or Yahoo! account is good for this.
24/7 travel insurance have compiled a travellers checklist which gives you some useful tips on staying safe on your travels.
“Travelling alone is lonely”
It is pretty difficult to go travelling nowadays and not meet other single people. Couples and families can be less likely to mix with other travellers but most seasoned single travellers actively seek out like-minded people. Certain types of holidays and accommodation are better for this than others – think about how sociable you want to be and plan accordingly. A great way to meet other people is to go to a festival or convention on something that interests you. People are very friendly when they have the common ground of something to celebrate.
“Travelling alone is a bit sad”
There are many single travellers who would give you very short shrift at that! Going travelling by yourself shows resourcefulness and self-respect. The biggest plus of going solo is being able to do exactly what you want, when you want, without having to worry about what anyone else thinks. A well used and trusted tip is if you are nervous about going to a restaurant or café alone, take a book to read or write up your travel diary.
“Travelling alone is expensive”
Unfortunately, some sections of the travel industry still haven’t twigged that there is a huge untapped market out there and you may well hear a few stories of being charged higher prices for inferior service. However many tour operators offer packages without single supplements, and there are an increasing number of companies that offer singles holidays.
If you shop around you can make savings in other respects. Unlike families, you might be able to go during school term times.
In addition to the safety points mentioned earlier, don’t forget to take out travel insurance and leave a copy of the details with someone at home. 24/7 travel insurance offers cover from under a fiver for individual travellers.**
If you are still unsure, perhaps start by going on some days out by yourself or take a weekend away somewhere familiar to get used to yourself as a travelling companion. Remember, you shouldn’t deprive yourself of anything – in travel or in life – just because you are on your own.
* Holiday Which? October 2007
** Premium £4.76 includes Insurance Premium Tax; based on an individual traveller aged under 55 taking out a Standard single-trip policy for 3 days in Europe and purchased within 14 days of departure date.