Single travelers are finding ways to go it alone
Awakened by her alarm clock, Betty Price walked to the hotel room window, took in the view of the Eiffel Tower under a departing plane, and climbed back into bed. Alice Beers made a different decision early in the morning. Because she was enjoying her time in Hawaii so much, she opted to spend several more days lounging on its beaches rather than jet off to the next destination on her itinerary.
Price and Beers has the luxury of doing what it wants, when it wants, regardless of the preferences of others. They are part of the large and growing phalanx of people who travel alone, whether for business or, in their case, for pleasure.
Women make up the majority of these loners. The Travel Industry Association reported that about 32 million single American women traveled in a recent year, and about 30% of them took trips five or more times.
Admittedly, solo travel is not for everyone. Some people worry about feeling lonely, cost can be a factor, and personal safety is a concern for some women. For those taking the plunge or considering taking the plunge, there are many resources for information and support.
Pack the light. Grab a scarf or two. Arrive early. These words of wisdom are part of the “101+ Tips for Women Traveling Alone” compiled by Overseas Adventure Travel. This tour company offers “small-group adventures on the road less traveled” in 80 countries around the world. He bases his advice on the experience acquired since the creation of OAT in 1978.
Although many of the suggestions in the booklet also apply to men, they specifically target the large and growing number of women who take to the roads, seas and skies alone.
They suggest taking the clothes and shoes you no longer want and leaving them on the way for the hotel staff who might appreciate them, thus lightening your bag. A scarf can dress up an outfit and be used as a placemat, seat and pillow cover, eyeglass lens cleaner and more. Arriving a day earlier at your destination gives you time to catch up on sleep and adjust to the new time zone.
The book also discusses the benefits of traveling alone. For example, you can go where you want and do what you want. If you want to spend a day lounging in your hotel room, no problem.
Whatever your hobby or interests, you can indulge yourself as much as you want. No one will drag you into shops, restaurants and activities that don’t interest you. If a sudden impulse prompts you to change plans, don’t hesitate to do so. Go on a whim, backtrack, or stay somewhere longer than planned.
Learn to love the locals. When you are alone, you are more likely to meet and mingle with a destination’s residents and learn about their culture. A number of times, whether solo or in an organized group, I’ve been invited to people’s homes where I’ve learned their way of life and they’ve learned mine.
Maybe you like to visit art museums, enjoy the thrill of rafting, or prefer to relax on a cruise ship deck chair with a good book. The list of opportunities well suited to solo travelers is long and varied.
Cruises combine a long list of onboard activities with opportunities to explore port cities. In the winter, some ski resorts have plans and packages that cater to singles of all ages. Group tours focused on a hobby or activity bring together people who share a common interest.
It is also possible to take advantage of the many advantages of individual travel while enjoying the ease of group travel. Many people who travel with tour groups are alone, with most being women. Solo travelers on small-group adventures can tailor how much time they want to spend alone and with others. Many accommodations aimed at solo travelers do not impose an additional supplement for one person; others are still affordable. The main destinations for singles are Africa, Japan, New Zealand, Iceland and Australia.
Another company, Road Scholar, is a leader in educational travel for “baby boomers and beyond.” He also reports that trips to Africa are among his most popular programs with solo travelers. Domestically, many are heading to Florida, especially Key West.
Road Scholar has seen an increase in the number of people traveling independently since COVID-19 vaccines became available. Among the adults over 50 who signed up for trips, the first were single women who longed to get back into the world to enjoy life.
If you’re a potential solo traveler who shares this goal, there’s no shortage of opportunities to combine the support and safety of group travel with alone time. If you prefer solitude to spending time with others, there is a wealth of information available that can help make your trip as enjoyable as it is enjoyable.
When you go
Adventure travel abroad: www.oattravel.com
Road Scholar: www.roadscholar.org