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On your own, but want to travel?
If you're used to travelling in groups, the idea of going it alone can be quite daunting. It wasn't so long ago that many of us took trips with a bus-load of people we knew as part of a club membership we paid into each week. Lots of us holidayed with the same friends since we can remember, but that devil called Time means inevitably our groups have shrunk, we've said too many last goodbyes.
Most of us have endured and enjoyed in equal measure the family holiday. And then there's those of us who, if we're honest, would rather go away alone than with people we have nothing in common with; doing it only out of obligation or to not be alone.
Things have changed
Thankfully, now we're in the 21st century we have choices; an army of intelligent people realised that just under a quarter of the population are, for various reasons, single. Why alienate one in five people and lose their business? The travel industry is worth billions, and it tailors for everything you can imagine and a lot of what you can't. The result is that you can plan whatever type of trip you fancy. Unless you head to the deepest wilds of Africa or some other remote location, you'll seldom be alone.
Why not give Saga Holidays a try?
Saga specialise in holidays for the more grown-up traveller, so you're not going to be interrupted by boisterous youngsters in the early hours! Plus, having been around since 1951 they are one of the most experienced travel operators in the business so you can be confident that they'll take good care of you. As a PLC they have a high level of financial stability, which is comforting to know in uncertain times, and they have a huge itinerary ranging from sea or river cruises, through no-fly city tours to UK short breaks.
more than a fifth of their 2.7 million clients travel on their own; or travel with a friend but prefer the privacy of a single room or cabin. Often they can provide these at no additional cost.
Travelling in a group
If you've ever been alone and seen a group of people who were all laughing out loud and having a good time, you probably felt like you wish you were one of them. Maybe it stirred up a few wistful memories and now you're ready to create more. So, apart from the Hollywood version, what's it really like to be part of an intrepid clan?
Safety in numbers
For sure, if you're part of a group you're less likely to be targeted by undesirables. But, like at school, if you don't choose your company wisely, you could end up stuck with a bunch of undesirables. Spending time with individuals for the sake of company isn't going to make for happy holiday photos. If it's a trip with people you've only met a few times, it might be an idea to spend a couple of afternoons with them first, before being couped up for days and nights on end.
Everybody's on the same page
In theory, you should all be going somewhere you all want to be because you all have similar interests. It's the people we spend time with who make our precious memories, so being in like-minded company should be ripe ingredients for having a ball. But if there's something or place you don't want to explore (which the majority does), what do you do?
It's less intimidating
Travelling with someone is less intimidating than doing it alone. At the other faraway side, walking into a foreign bar, restaurant or hotel with a crowd feels good. You've got allies if something goes wrong, and there's always the one who knows where everything is, what time breakfast is served, and has the manager on speed dial. Hopefully, you enjoy the inevitable battling egos?
There are different reasons why people travel on their own; sometimes there's no choice, other times it's by choice. Once upon a time people raised a brow to solo travellers, especially women. Times have changed, we can all travel alone to most places without looking out of place, and there are more single women travellers than men. But if you're used to doing things as part of a group or a couple, going away on your own might not appeal to you, brings you out in a cold sweat. That's a shame because you might be missing out on the adventure of a lifetime. Here's why:
Dine where you like
Want to eat ice cream for breakfast instead of joining the masses for a fry up? Well, you can. In fact, when you're alone with a colourful selection of inviting eateries lined up for sampling, you only need to please you. Eat what you want without apology. Do some research or ask around for the best places though. The shiny ones where the coach stops will cost more and might not offer a genuine service, you're just another tourist on their daily conveyor belt.
Plan your own day
If you wake up feeling tired because you overdid it the day before, then you can stay in bed or stay by the pool; you won't be scowled at or called unfit or unsociable. You'll drag your wrinkly butt to the beach or over-priced market later, if you feel like it. If you're one of those who asks 'what will I do, where will I go?' then you have to ask Google, locate the tourist information office or join a group excursion.
You're a valued singleton
Most tour operators used to or still do charge you for the extra bed in a room another person would ordinarily pay for. If this has put you off, don't let it. A short online search with deliver dozens of companies who don't charge single supplements. If you're still in the 'friendly travel agent' era, this might not be as easy. Perhaps someone can help you research the businesses who specialise in single travel, there are lots to choose from and offer all types of holiday to most destinations. Also, if you book online independently, you'll see most hotels have single rooms available and don't charge the earth for them. Getting cheap flight tickets for one person is also easier than finding them for a group.
Why not try a bit of both?
Ultimately, whether you head off alone or with people comes down to preference. Introverts will probably pale at the thought of being stuck with a bunch of strangers for days or weeks; extroverts will already have their bags packed. If you like structure and would rather be shown the sights, you can book on a group holiday where others are travelling alone. For those of you who feel brave enough to travel independently, then you can always find a destination where there's plenty of activities to get involved with. Either way, nobody should have to spend their holidays in company they don't enjoy just for the sake of not being alone, nor should anyone spend their time lonely when they don't have to.
Hopefully, you'll be able to get away at least once a year, for many years to come. There's no reason not to do a little exploring alone one day, if only for a few days to escape, recharge and reflect - be empowered. And for your next adventure, you can always book a cruise or something similar where there'll be a whole bunch of people just like you. Soon enough, you'll know what works for you: to travel singly or in groups.
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