There is nothing like visiting a part of the world you’ve never seen before, but is the experience quite as exciting if you have no one to share it with? New research has found that, far from being the stuff of nightmares, one quarter (25%) of British holidaymakers are actually making plans to go abroad by themselves in 2018.
No one to argue with about the itinerary or fight with for the window seat, 44% of people asked by Expedia said they actually wanted to go and do their own thing. And flying solo pays dividends - of those who have travelled alone, 32% reporting they had a better experience and 64% saying the trip boosted their confidence.
We asked six intrepid explorers to share their most memorable moment from time spent travelling alone.
Whale watching in San Francisco
It was a dark and foggy morning, and Sarah Bartlett was out in San Fran’s famous harbour, whale watching on a boat with just four others.
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“I didn’t even realise you could whale watch in the harbour but I always try and do it on any trip – I am so obsessed with seeing whales and dolphins in the wild,” she says. “We ended up seeing a couple of different groups of humpbacks and it was amazing in such close proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge and the harbour.”
Kayaking in New Zealand
Chris Nunn visited New Zealand in 2015, and although he arrived on his own he quickly met friends so was far from alone. “The most amazing part of my trip though was a night kayak,“he recalls.
“We were in the bioluminescent waters of Bay of Islands. As we made our way through the illuminated water we looked up and above us was a shower of meteors. From that moment, we ended up just floating about for a while as a group and looking up in the sky, that was until a fish jumped into one of the kayaks – so that kind of ruined the peace and quiet.”
Horse riding in Egypt
Melanie Jones, 41, believes that solo travel isn’t just for young backpackers. When travelling to Egypt she says that being alone allowed her to do activities only she wanted to do.
“I went horse riding, snorkelling and diving. It was just myself and a guide (who was there to keep me safe). I enjoyed the easing into the day with 5am prayers with the sunrise, sitting on a secluded beach. Doing these things alone, you find yourself fully engaged with the environment, the beauty of the country and the people. I was able to absorb it all.”
Backpacking in Australia.
Vicky Hunter went travelling alone in Australia for three weeks.
“I didn’t want to party hard and that was okay,” she says. Instead she took in the sights around Sydney. “I tried the famous ‘Harry’s Pie’, saw the opera house from the bridge, and wrapped myself in a UK flag for New Year at Sydney harbour.”
Seeing the Taj Mahal at sunrise in India
Jack Woods visited the Golden Triangle (the cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur) in 2012 and his most memorable moment was being the first person to visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise, before all of the crowds arrived.
“The gates to the palace open very early in the morning and although I wasn’t particularly happy to be getting out of bed before the sun was up, I was determined not to get stuck with the masses,” he says. “I wanted to get those enviable photographs without other tourists everywhere. I queued up outside for about 40 minutes, waiting to be let in. It was well worth it, to see the sun come up behind the palace and breathe in the atmosphere alone.”
Skiing into a volcano in Japan
Rorie Clarke travelled to Japan to do a ski season at the Niseko resort, during his solo gap year. When he arrived he discovered that in the spring months you were able to hike, and ski inside, the iconic mount Yotei (considered a mini version of mount Fuji).
“You can only hike when the weather is good as it does get quite treacherous, however we picked one the clearest days of the year. It was a fair old slog, in fact it was probably one of the most physically demanding things I’ve ever done. But the reward at the end of it is so worth it. By the time we had reached it’s peak the weather had fully cleared, the view was so clear that you could actually see the Sea of Japan on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.
“Following our long deserved rest filled with a few beers and lunch we then put our skis on skied in to the bowl of the volcano (this volcano is still active). It didn’t take long to get to the bottom and before we knew we had to hike back out. Overall, this was an experience that I certainly will never forget and certainly a must do for anyone who loves skiing!”