We've all been there at some stage, haven't we? You're desperately in need of a holiday (a week in Kos or maybe something more exotic) but your partner/mates are far too busy with their hectic work lives. So what do you do? Wait until someone's free (but it seems like you've waited months already) - OR go on your own? Yes! You could go on holiday on your own!
The truth is, as life gets more hectic - finding the right travel partner can be more and more difficult. Of course, if you're lucky enough to have a lovely other-half who enjoys a sunny adventure as much as you, then you're sorted.
But a lot of us, especially those working in London, don't always get that luxury - and sometimes you do have to do the unthinkable... consider holidaying on your own.
But going it alone isn't as scary as it seems, and as long as you nail a few of the basic tips down, you'll probably have one of the best trips of you life.
So how does one go about this whole 'solo travel' business then?
Well, first up, think of all the tiffs you've had with pals on where to go, what you should see and how much you can afford for a hotel on past trips. Think about how you felt as you sat down for that pricey meal on the last night thinking "I've spent a fortune already, I can't afford another bottle of red!". Now, YOU'LL be in control of all of those things - and best yet, you might come back with some great new friends - which is never a bad thing!
Take yourself online to STA Travel, EBookers and all the other online sites, and thoroughly explore your flights. Most places say they'll price match other sites, so research away on dates and destinations before calling them up and quoting them your cheapest find. I promise you, you'll bag yourself a bargain!
Next up there's the most important issue of safety. Being sensible is all you need on that score - in fact, you probably practice these tips already, but here are the main things to remember:
1) Leave all valuable possessions at home. Flashy watches and sparkly chains are not needed while catching a bus in Thailand or even sunbathing by the pool in Tuscany. Keep them in your jewellery box at home. In fact, anything you don't want to lose should stay in England.
2) Always keep a small emergency stash of currency (dollars are best as they can be exchanged easily) somewhere that no one will find. If you do lose your wallet/purse you'll have something to get you by.
3) Avoid arriving somewhere late at night. If you don't know the place, get there during daylight hours. Just being able to see your surroundings will make you safer.
4) Leave photocopies of your passport information page, visa and travel insurance with people at home and carry your embassy and insurance company's number with you. If you lose your passport or insurance details, you have back up. Easy.
5) Keep a mental checklist of the important stuff - Money, passport, camera, keys, ticket. And every time you leave a room, bus or plane, tick them all off. Keep them hidden while out and about.
These are all very obvious, but it's the little things that keep you feeling secure.
A few other tips include:
Being aware of visa regulations (do you get them on entry or should you get one ahead of time?), carrying a guide with you so you always have access to hotel names, never let a porter take your bag unless you're willing to pay, always know where you're going when you get into a taxi and always take licensed cabs.
And here's a personal tip from me - a sarong in your day bag will be your best asset. It acts as a blanket (air-con can be a nuisance sometimes), a head scarf (if you need to cover up), a makeshift bag (if your strap breaks), a beach towel (if you fancy a lie down in the sand) and a skirt or top (if you need an unexpected change of clothes). Discovering that was one of the best things that ever happened to me!
Oh and regarding 'feeling lonely'. Don't worry - as long as you're not completely adverse to talking to people, you won't have any issues with this. People on holiday are always more relaxed and up for a natter, while most locals love hearing about your experiences and where you're from.
It might be a huge no-no to strike up a conversation on London transport, but even busy New Yorkers are often caught nattering away to strangers on their subway. Head to South East Asia, Africa or South America and often, chatting to a local will lead to an invitation for dinner back at theirs with the whole family. They're that nice! And you'll get an amazing feed (and probably a taste of the local beer). Although obviously be sensible about who you talk to and don't go off alone unless you feel completely confident about the situation.
And of course, you might not think it, but there are thousands of people in the same situation as you - and thousands of them are off on holiday or on big trips all on their own too. Once you actually get talking to a few fellow holidaymakers, you'll realise you have more companions than you'd ever imagined. And better yet, they might just become you're perma-new trusty travel buddy.
This post has been modified since its original publication.
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