19 October 2011 by Oliver Bennett

How to holiday alone

Explore cave paintings in Spain, go hiking or adventuring, look after monkeys in Africa or make like a tree in Turkey: Oliver Bennett finds the best holidays for singles, with tips on avoiding single supplements

Holidaying alone_Flickr-jar7580_620You’re divorced, possibly never married. Anyway, you’re on your own, and you want a holiday. But there’s a hitch. A recent study by Which? Magazine found that solo travellers pay up to 90 per cent more for a holiday abroad than people travelling in pairs.

This is despite a growing demand for single-room accommodation. Unfair? Here are high50’s tips and links to help you avoid single supplement hell, on holidays surrounded by paired-up smugs.

Do something adventurous: give yourself your own sabbatical, take a ‘gap month’. Write an itinerary with plenty of detail so you don’t get yawning days fretting about your life.

Write an itinerary with plenty of detail so you don’t get yawning days fretting about your life

Do an activity in the UK, to see if it suits. From walking to dry-stone walling, an activity can be a catalyst for fraternal feelings. And if you don’t like it, go home.

If you’re ready to go abroad, follow a pursuit. KE Adventure Travel does climbing and hiking, Andante Travels is the brand leader in ruins (they’re archaeologists). Or trek with The Adventure Company, which takes city breaks and holidays in groups of between 20 and 30 people.  Above all, don’t vegetate on the beach or in some canoodly all-inclusive.

Go somewhere where skills are needed, get pro-social and get that warm glow. Like helping with monkey rehabilitation in South Africa.

Try a wellbeing holiday. These tend to be full of singles and are geared up for stigma-free personal development breaks where it’s all about you. The yoga retreat at Huzur Vadisi in Turkey on the Turquoise Coast, Turkey, has four hours of yoga a day followed by communal dining, when you can discuss your progress with your new friends.

Try one of the multifarious holidays offered by Exodus and Explore, who have most of the globe covered. They are the brand leaders of intrepid single travel and have seen it all, but are cleverly not singles-branded.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind searching as a single, go to dedicated singles sites Just You and Solo’s Holidays, which are explicitly geared up for singles, eschew single supplements, and have holidays banded to specific age groups.

Travelling alone? Then stay in smaller places. B&Bs and boutique hotels often throw up characters who want to hang out, whereas the hotel chains of this world may well fill you with a sense of corporate loneliness.

Go camping – or its more glamorous older sister, glamping. There is no single supplement as you usually pay per person, and there’s a lot of solidarity among campers. Too much, perhaps. But you never feel alone in a campsite.

Learn to eat out alone, and get over your solomangarephobia (fear of eating alone). Try busy restaurants, rumbustious joints with lots of action. Ditch the props: smart phone, paperback, newspaper. Get into the mindfulness of eating alone and try to sit in a place with a view of the human traffic: the kitchen, the bar. For more tips on this fascinating subject, see US site Solo Dining.

Meet the locals

Try one of the meet-up websites such as Couchsurfing, Airbnb and iStopOver, which connect travellers with spare rooms across the world. At best, they’ll give you a social leg-up into the destination, and it’s a positive advantage to be single. Leap Local and Localyte can help you track down a local guide to show you around.

Thelma & Louise connects women looking for travel companions. As always, be as circumspect as you would advise others to be.

While abroad alone, be the person you want to be. Remember to bullshit. Invent your own history, and according to how much you want to get rid of pests.

In the word ‘no’ lies true freedom. Learn it in the local language.

Avoid romantic destinations. There is nothing more alienating to the singleton than tripping over snoggers at every turn.

Take photographs. It’s a great way to use your hands, and assuage the self-consciousness that sometimes afflicts the solo traveller.

Get inspiration from US writer Janice Waugh’s free solo travel ebook called Glad You’re Not Here.

Further reading: see Lonely? Try going solo

 

Oliver has worked on the travel desks of the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Business magazine at the Financial Times, Creative Review and numerous others. Follow Oliver on Twitter.
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Added 27 November 2011 - 1:18 am

Hi – some of your single readers might be interested in http://www.themajesticline.co.uk where singles are welcomed on board a unique small boat cruise- there are only 6 double cabins in total yet two are for the use of single travellers at no supplement. Singles become part of the onboard “house party” atmosphere and have great fun as well as a good holiday.