Why Travelling Alone Needn’t Be a Scary prospect
More and more people are recognising the advantages of solo travel. And thanks to new technology and more flexible accommodation options, holidaying alone is easier than ever before.
Research has shown that solo holidays are on the rise, with over a third of Britons choosing to travel alone. And it’s not just the preserve of 18-30 year old backpackers – the biggest surge in demand for solo travelling has actually been seen in the over-50s market.
And with the many advantages afforded by solo travelling, it’s easy to see why so many people are choosing this option.
Unlike travelling with friends or a partner, you are free to design your perfect trip. You can do whatever you want to do without having to worry if it fits with other people’s plans. And in terms of logistics, it’s much easier to organise – you do not have to make decisions by committee, and any last minute changes can be more easily dealt with.
What’s more, it frees you up to having a more rewarding, memorable trip. As a solo traveller you are more likely to meet new people – both fellow travellers and locals – opening you up to new and exciting experiences. Travelling alone is also good for your mental health and wellbeing and has been shown to increase your sense of confidence and accomplishment – all of which will be beneficial when you return to your daily life.
Despite the advantages of solo travel, many people are still slightly wary of going it alone. But factors such as new technology and flexible accommodation options mean that it might be easier than you think.
Accommodation is Changing
In the past, people travelling alone were at a disadvantage, often having to shell out for the dreaded ‘single person supplement’. But things have moved on.
In recognition of the growing demand for solo holidays, travel operators are offering more flexible options to single travellers, including scrapping the single supplement, offering dedicated trips for solo holidaymakers, and even running roommate programmes which match you up with other single travellers.
You might also want to look at other accommodation options than the traditional big hotel. Staying at small guest houses, B&Bs or hostels, for example, can make it easier to meet new people.
There has also been a huge surge in popularity of room-rental platforms such as Airbnb, which is beginning to be viewed as a serious competition to established hotels and hostels. So what is Airbnb ? In a nutshell, it’s a website which connects people who want to rent out a room with people who are looking for somewhere to stay. Airbnb is particularly great for solo travellers as it instantly connects you with someone from your destination and offers you the opportunity to live with and learn from a local resident. Your host can also be a great source of local information and advice.
The Wonders of Technology
Another factor that has changed the face of solo travel is the development of new technologies.
Perhaps the biggest concern for solo travellers (particularly lone females) is safety. Technology can help with this. Most travellers today carry mobile phones, making it much easier to contact family back home or your nearest Embassy in the case of an emergency. Smart phones also give us access to social media, the immediacy of which means that you can update your friends or family on your whereabouts in real time.
It can also be difficult to meet new people when travelling alone, particularly if you are on the shy side. Asking your Facebook or Twitter friends to put you in touch with any of their local connections can be a really easy and effective way of making new friends. There are also some great websites such as Meetup or Wandermates which can help you to connect with like-minded people.
In terms of keeping in touch with people back home, Skype is a must; it enables to you contact friends for free wherever you have an internet connection. If you have an iPhone, then the Facetime function will do a similar job, and on Android phones, Google Hangouts provides a similar service. This makes it much easier to stay in contact with loved ones, helping to minimise any feelings of loneliness or homesickness.
In addition to these, there are a number of useful travel apps you can download to enhance your travel experience, including currency converters, translation apps and virtual travel guides.
With a smart phone and a Wi-Fi connection, you are pretty much covered for most eventualities, whether it’s getting hold of money, staying in touch with friends or family, or simply sharing the photos from your latest adventure. You could also download some e-books or podcasts to keep you occupied on any long journeys.
Travelling alone can be a nerve-wracking prospect, particularly if it’s your first time, but the pros far outweigh any cons. And with travelling alone easier than ever before, there’s never been a better time to head off on your own for that trip of a lifetime.