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22nd January, 2019

Why travelling solo is the new way to travel

Views over Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park, Thailand

If the concept of ‘flying solo’ fills you with dread, maybe it’s time to have a change of perspective. Long gone are the days when people might look at you with sympathy, believing it wasn’t your choice to take that holiday alone.

More than a fifth of Saga holiday-makers now travel solo. Increasingly, the reason for people travelling solo is because they want to – because they enjoy it!

Solo travel is empowering, it’s exhilarating and it’s damn right indulgent. You get to decide where to go and what to do, without compromise (ok, excusing the direction from your tour or resort manager).

You get to meet new people you might not otherwise be open to meeting. And, if you’re single in the marital status sense, who knows, you may even meet someone who is worthy of a more permanent companionship.

Sometimes you’ve got to just go for it

I’ve done a fair bit of solo travelling in my time – some of it planned, some of it unplanned. But I can tell you this - I would do it again and again.
Yes, there’s an initial fear of being alone, feeling vulnerable perhaps, but once you get over that part and, to coin a well-known slogan, ‘Just Do It’, it feels wonderful. It feels like, well – you could conquer the world.
My first solo holiday was to Thailand. Many of my friends were otherwise occupied at the time, busy with families, work and projects. I was feeling bored of the mundanity of life and felt full of wanderlust. ‘Why should I miss out?’, I thought. So, I didn’t. I booked a two-week tour of Thailand’s mainland and islands and jetted off to lonesomely lap up the sun, the culture and the culinary delights. I realised on that trip that not everything in life needs to be shared.
When I got bored of talking to myself, I’d instigate a conversation with a stranger by asking them for a lighter. I didn’t even smoke, it was just the conversation I wanted to spark up. If I liked the person and the feeling was mutual, we’d join forces. If not, I made my excuses and retreated to my sun lounger.

Daring downunder

Another year I went to Australia solo. Zero interruptions on my 24-hour flight other than the serving of food and a replenishment of drinks was delightful. I watched films without the incessant nervous chatting from a travel buddy. And I slept, a lot.
During my Australia tour, I met a bunch of other likeminded solo travellers who seemed like fun. We had no preconceived ideas about each other and the infancy of our friendships meant that we hadn’t quite reached the stage where annoyances were apparent. In fact, they turned out to be a great group of friends, with whom I booked a holiday the following year. This was the best of both worlds – the enjoyment of companions on my holiday but with the freedom of having my own room and the unquestionable independence to explore alone, should I wish to.
I’ve travelled as a couple too and it’s wonderful, but I know only too well how easy it is to keep yourselves to yourselves, desperate to have the perfect holiday experience within the confines of your own unit. That’s great when you’re enjoying yourselves. Not so great when you’ve had one of those inevitable holiday tiffs and need a jolly good vent to an actual person and not the overflow grate in the swimming pool.

More than a holiday romance

Then there’s the prospect of finding love as a solo traveller. I’m not going to say I haven’t had a holiday romance, but I can’t say I have ever found my true love. A dear friend on the other hand was a lot luckier, if short-lived (no, she didn’t die in his arms). Full of wanderlust as a divorcee, she booked a Saga cruise around the world, where she met a dapper widow called Edward, whom she married eight months later. They booked more holidays together and became quite the travelling duo. They divorced five years later, but for the sakes of a romantic solo traveller story, we will gloss over that part.

The point with solo travel is that it’s fun. It’s daring and entirely representative of a day and age where we can be independent and adventurous without judgement. Travelling solo doesn’t have to be about being forced into an unfortunate situation. It’s about grabbing the bull by the horns and going for it! The world is waiting to meet you.

Check out our top 10 destinations for solo travellers.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.