Whether you’re a solo travel novice or you’ve been heading off on holiday alone for some time, it’s easy to get nervous when you’re looking at destinations a bit further afield.
So if you’ve always wanted to explore Asia, South America or beyond but aren’t sure how, here are the best off-the-beaten-track escorted tours from Cathy Winston, editor of travel website 101 Singles Holidays.
All Journey Latin America’s Discovery tours are a fantastic introduction to south and Central America but it’s hard to beat the Alcion tour visiting six different countries over three weeks.
Travel from Panama and its famous canal through the cloudforest and volcanoes of Costa Rica to Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, discovering Mayan ruins, colonial towns and some more active thrills.
Their typical age range is 35-65 years, with around 40 per cent single travellers and the choice of sharing a room or having your own at a supplement.
Volunteer in Mexico, Yucatan
Looking for something a bit different? Why not use your holiday for good and volunteer worldwide. Global Vision International, GVI, is a leading social enterprise that offers some superb volunteering opportunities for the over 50s. An ideal way of ‘giving back’ and putting your skillset to good use, a volunteer trip with GVI can include marine and wildlife conservation in the Seychelles, childcare, education and healthcare in South Africa or Mexico, or teaching English to Buddhist monks in Laos.
Explore the only country in the world whose cuisine has been given UNESCO World Heritage status when you join a team of international volunteers based in the Yucatan peninsula. Contribute your teaching skills to valuable education initiatives in conjunction with our partner Save The Children and help improve the futures of disadvantaged children in Mexico. Two weeks from £1,045.
Nothing beats the spine-tingling sight of Petra as you emerge from the shadowy rock passage leading to the ancient site. The Passage to Petra tour from On The Go Tours includes two nights in the Rose city, as well as an optional cooking course, plus the desert landscape of Wadi Rum, a float in the Dead Sea and a visit to a crusader castle over six days.
This year, there’s even a chance to see the Perseid meteor shower over the historic buildings. With a mix of ages, from 20 to 60+, the tour is popular with solo travellers of different nationalities.
If you want to guarantee you’re not stuck with couples and groups, Cox & Kings has trips exclusively for singles, including Costa Rica and Russia. But the 12-day Mystical India tour is easily one of the most fascinating itineraries, including some of the country’s most iconic sights.
Travelling through the Golden Triangle, you’ll see sunrise at the Taj Mahal, spot Bengal tigers in Ranthambore and explore forts and palaces in Rajasthan, the land of maharajas. There are no single supplements, and most people on the tour are over 50.
An escorted tour can be the best way to really get under the skin of a country, with expert guides introducing you to its history and culture as you travel. Insider Journeys, previously known as Travel Indochina, are one of the best if you’re looking to discover South East Asia, with trips to Cambodia and Burma.
But their most popular tour for singles is to Vietnam, with the 11-day Vietnam Insight tour journeying from Hanoi to Halong Bay and Hoi An, as well as Saigon and a cruise on the Mekong Delta. Around a third of the group is usually travelling solo, with an average of 12 on each tour.
Cuba is one of the most popular destinations offered by Explore especially for solo travellers, who make up around half the small groups. And there’s a choice of tours whether you’re looking to cycle, trek, or walk, as well as the option to head right off the beaten track.
For a first visit, their ‘comfort’ style Classic Cuba tour is a fantastic two-week introduction to the island, discovering Havana and colonial Trinidad, as well as the Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro’s revolutionary headquarters and the Sierra Maestra Mountains, plus a few days on the beach.
With four different tour styles – deluxe, superior, classic and essential – Inside Japan tours has an option for every budget and preference, whether you’d prefer some luxury or want to save your cash for exploring than splurge on accommodation. Luxury Japan takes in the key sights including Tokyo and Kyoto staying at five-star hotels and eating top-quality food, with exclusive cultural experiences.
Alternatively, from the classic collection, mix trekking and culture on the historic mountain trails and drink sake with an apprentice geisha, relax in a hot spring at the foot of Mount Fuji and see Tokyo and Kyoto’s history and culture.
G Adventures also has a range of tours aimed at different travel styles, with the comfort trips tending to attract an older age group – that doesn’t mean stuffy and staid though. The North & South Thailand Highlights tour is a fascinating 15-day introduction to the country, with everything from jungle treks to a cookery class. You’ll see the historic ruins of temples at Ayutthaya as well as tropical beaches on Koh Samui and Krabi, not to mention Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Around half the group is usually travelling solo.
You could spend months exploring China and still barely scratch the surface, so it’s not surprising people return again and again. And Intrepid Travel’s mix of tours gives you plenty of options. If you’re short of time or would prefer a briefer trip to test out a solo group tour, eight-night China Highlights visits the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Xi’an, so you can see the Terracotta Warriors, the Great Wall and Forbidden City among others.
If you want longer to explore, check out the three-week trips such as China Uncovered which includes the giant pandas of Chengdu and the Yangtzi river. Most of the group are aged 25-45 but there’s no age limit, while the average group size is around 10.