There are so many reasons why travelling alone can happen. Whether it's a conscious choice to be alone or from an unexpected life change like divorce, death or work exhaustion, it does not have to be a sad thing.
To be 'alone, but not lonely' is what more and more of us are doing.
Travel habits are changing and there are a growing number of people who actually choose a solo voyage over one with family or friends.
Here are our list of 10 tips to make a 'holiday for one' be an unforgettable experience.
Arrive in the morning or day to your destination to avoid night searching for hotels and walking about in a new place, if you're relying on public transport that is. If you take a taxi then be chatty, but remember in some cultures that 'less is more' especially if you are female so what looks like simple chit chat can be taken as more. Avoid oversharing about your trip plans. This does not mean travel in fear but more about being vigilant of your new surroundings and cultures. If where you are travelling to gets dark in the evening then plan mornings and days with your main activities, rather than being out alone at night if you don't feel safe. Contact your hotel in advance to see if there are events in the hotel in the darker or winter evenings for you to attend without leaving the hotel, is another options. Some hotels offer 'solo travel' events like this.
Know when to seek help and know when to avoid it. Know the emergency numbers in your destination: police, ambulance, fire etc. Also make sure you have your hotel number stored in your phone and keep a copy of your passport and documentation with you and leave one at home with someone who is your designated emergency contact. This does not mean that there will be problems, but prevention rather than cure is best especially where natural disasters and the pandemic can cause last minute disruptions, from volcanoes erupting, flash floods to sudden lockdowns. Always keep some amount of local cash in your hotel room.
Choose restaurants that are cosy or not aimed only at families. Take a book or a magazine and keep yourself occupied. Don't be afraid to notice other solo travellers at the restaurant or in your hotel and take a meal together if you want company. Take a journal to the restaurant and make notes on your food, feelings or day! It's a nice way to make holiday memories and not feel isolated at the same time!
Send messages to loved ones along the journey so that someone can track your whereabouts at any given time. It's nice to 'escape from it all' and go 'digital free' but escaping does not mean the same as going 'AWOL' and lost - you can be uncontactable but letting loved ones know that you will send them regular messages of your whereabouts but won't get involved with messaging.
Make sure to leave a rough plan of where you are going, the places you're staying at and emergency numbers with loved ones prior to leaving.
Mingle with locals but knowing which ones to do so with, is the key to safety. Some who approach you, try to speak English with you or who are overly keen for you to follow them, be with them or take their advice should be kept at arms length, but that does not mean don't trust anyone - cultural differences are huge and the more you travel the more you realise how different we are as cultures: the way we eat, love, communicate and work, so it is about learning from your surroundings and interactions before making trustful connections. Lone travellers, especially western females, can be an easy target, because of the ease of communication and dress.
Keep valuable items to yourself rather than 'wearing your wealth' as this will deter any possible opportunities for thieves. This is not to say come in flip flops and use a carrier bag when out and about but instead to be mindful about what you look like to the locals. Clothing, jewellery and accessories in a small village or poorer community will surely scream out 'look at me' so knowing when and where to attract the right attention is important in having a safe and enjoyable trip on your own.
Book a nice hotel rather than a hostel / room sharing or air B&B as this not only brings peace of mind for its safety aspects but also to have some pampering onsite. Being alone means getting to spend all your time, energy and money on YOU so 'me time' is all about having a sense of 'healthy selfishness' to unwind, get a massage and basically spoil yourself. A nice hotel can offer luxury that you deserve and unlike a private apartment or B&B you wont have neighbours bothering you or other disturbances. Room service is a nice way to spend an evening also if you fancy watching a film and having relaxing night in.
Make time to chat to other people so get a different perspective on life as they will be different from the usual people or demographic that you communicate with at home or work. Let the hotel know if it is your birthday or special day so that you don't feel lonely on those days. Flowers might even arrive for you! Know that you are not alone and that even the people who look like they are in couples or with family can also be feeling 'alone' so don't compare yourself to others that are around you.
Try something with the locals - book yourself into a class, like Zumba or private tennis lesson, something that will help you know the culture better and be around local people, also to help you stay fit. A class may also be a cooking class or pottery class, something you have always wanted to do or try something new. Remember that doing nothing and being lazy are also productive ways to spend time so don't beat yourself up for 'standing still' and just being in the moment with zero plans...