How to holiday solo (and enjoy every minute)

Solo travel is on the rise, especially for women. Image: GettyImages

Whether you’re a seasoned solo traveller or you’re new to adventuring alone, there’s a lot to love about travelling solo. First, you don’t have to consult anyone else about what they want to do or where they want to go.

Want to sleep in and take it easy? Do it. Want to walk all day and explore the night life all night long? It’s all up to you.

And solo travel is growing in popularity, with reporting that solo travel has almost doubled since pre-Covid numbers. Solo travel is growing in popularity, with reporting it has almost doubled since the pre-Covid era, with 23% of travellers now reporting they're planning a solo trip in the future (up from 14% in 2019). And age seems to be no barrier to adventuring alone, with Austrade research reporting that almost a quarter (24%) of solo travellers in Australia are aged 60 or above.

Travelling solo can also help us build our confidence and experience the world on our own terms. It really can be the ultimate in freedom and adventure, but of course it’s important to also ensure you’re taking care of your own safety, because travelling solo can leave you feeling vulnerable - especially if you’re new to your destination or unsure of the social norms or protocols.

If you’re keen to venture out thereon your own, and have a wonderful time doing it, these tips could help.

Decide what sort of holiday you want

Think about the sort of holiday you find most enjoyable. This is all about you, after all! Do you want to go somewhere off the beaten track, or somewhere known for its tourism? There are benefits and drawbacks to both – a quieter destination can be more exciting, but it may not be as accommodating when it comes to speaking English, or if you need help with transport or accommodation, for example.

It's also helpful to think about whether you want to be active and join in lots of activities, or to relax in a hammock under a palm tree.

If you’re new to solo travel, you might want to start with a local destination, and work your way up to something overseas.

Travelling solo in Australia

Australia is well set up for solo travellers, with plenty of tour companies offering great solo adventures, or shared rooms so you can make new friends and (bonus!) avoid paying a single room supplement.

AAT Kings specialises in over 50s travel, and OutbackAussie Tours offers tours that are popular with singles, so you’re sure to make friends along the way.

If you prefer train travel, JourneyBeyond, offers packages on The Ghan and the Indian Pacific, including luxury single cabins, with the added bonus that the restaurant will seat singles together at dinner so they can mingle.

Solo women travellers might prefer WildWomen Journeys, which offer active adventures like road-tripping through the Kimberley or doing yoga at Uluru. (They also venture overseas to destinations such as Nepal, Indonesia and India.)

Travelling solo overseas

There’s no reason these days to not find out all you need to know before you go anywhere in the world. Whether you search online, ask people who have been there, or talk to a travel agent, you can always find the information you’re looking for. You might also like to check social media platforms (such as Instagram and Pinterest) for travel tips in the areas you’re visiting.

Great questions to ask (or Google!) include:

·      Is your destination safe for solo travellers?

·      Are there areas to avoid?

·      What is there to do and see?

·      Are there cultural considerations to be aware of, such as how to dress or places you should avoid?

·      Are there any festivals or cultural events that can coincide with my visit (or that I should avoid if I want a quieter visit)?

·      What accommodation is available (and should I book ahead)?

·      How can I get to my hotel?

·      How can I get around, and are there tours I can join (and do they cater to solo travellers specifically)?

·      Do I need a visa?

If you’d like to join a tour that offers safe overseas adventures, you might like to join Intrepid Travel on their small-group tours all over the world, or G Adventures, which partners with National Geographic Journeys.

Take precautions

No matter how safe your destination, it’s always wise to take extra precautions when you’re travelling alone:

·      If you’re unsure or think you’d feel better with some support, find a tour group to join. It will give you an extra feeling of safety, and you have the benefit of having someone else arranging all of your activities. (If the freedom to do whatever you want is a drawcard of solo travel, you can also find that sense of security at a reputable resort.)

·      Check in with your mental health – if you’re feeling anxious it may help to talk about it in advance of your trip to work through any fears or concerns.

·      Are there any scams to be aware of?(Knowing where to get a SIM card and what taxis to use is a great start, if you’re heading overseas. Try Googling “scam” and your destination to see what others are reporting in the area.)

·      Ensure you share your itinerary and contact details of where you’re staying with a loved one, and have a regular check-in time with them so someone is keeping tabs on where you are and what you’re doing. This is especially important if you’re planning on hiking or heading off the beaten track.

·      Leave your expensive jewellery at home and try not to carry too much cash with you (you can use credit or debit cards in most places).

·      Don’t drink too much if you’re somewhere unfamiliar or with people you don’t know, and stay aware of your surroundings.

·      Have an emergency plan for just incase anything goes wrong – know how to contact emergency services, where the nearest doctor and/or hospital is, and how to contact your nearest Australian embassy or consulate.


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