There’s always been a romanticism about upping sticks and heading out on your own. No compromises, no pressure, zero moans about staying late at that Thai beach party… Just sauntering through experiences at your own pace.
And it seems like more people than ever before are taking solo trips – ABTA’s 2018 report revealed that 15% of Brits go on holiday by themselves, up 3% from the previous year.
It makes sense. When you ace a solo adventure, you feel like anything’s possible. Keep reading to learn why 1 in 6 people are getting out of their comfort zone and travelling on their own.
What are the benefits of solo trips?
Let’s start with the basics – the absolute best reasons for saying “screw it”, setting your out of office, and packing your bags.
For one, there’s the rush of adventure. The breakneck pace of moving to and fro in a place you’re barely familiar with. You can do what you want, when you want, and choose a perfect travel package that’s built entirely around you. Scale a natural wonder. Hike, camp or canoe. Heap a plate of superb food without worrying if your friend is keeping up.
Having a solo adventure also means you’re forced to chat to absolute strangers who may very quickly come to mean something more to you. The trail will be littered with guides, locals and fellow travellers. Chat to them. Challenge yourself. Share backgrounds, stories and music. You’ll return home more plugged in to – and appreciative of – the world around you and the people within it.
The big question: do you want to find a group?
While everyone should try solo travel at least once in their lifetime, we get it – there’s a chance you’ll be lonely. The days can seem too long when we’re devoid of people like us.
But the good news is, you can plan a trip that brings you into a band of other adventurers, all of whom have a mindset on wild experiences.
Why not be a solo traveller joining a group? Here are a few points to weigh up:
Imagine missing a region’s must-sees. Or getting to your next destination to find out all the hotels are booked up. Or circling a forest for hours with a driver who’ll never admit the route’s overgrown…
By joining a group, everything’s already in place. That means you only have to focus on one thing: leaving home behind.
Group travel for singles will leave a lot of time to get close to your co-adventurers. Don’t waste it. Again, having a clear idea of where to stay, and what to do, frees up your trip for the stuff you’ll remember – like the relationships you’ll develop.
But if you’re travelling outside of a group, make sure you spare a couple of hours every four or five days to arrange the next batch of activities. The peace of mind you get knowing you’ve sorted the logistics is priceless.
Solving more dangers together
There’s safety in numbers, as they say; especially if you’re heading somewhere risky together. Crime, disease and environmental threats may present themselves. None of these will matter if you scope them in advance, and agree on a few set rules when travelling.
A solo traveller joining a group, of course, is much less susceptible to danger. Just draw up a buddy system if you wander off, share shifts for guarding gear, and make sure everyone understands what they’re doing at the start of each day. An experienced host can guide you through any eventuality.
How to pick a group
Once you’ve decided to join a group for part (or all) of your solo trip, the next step is to pick the right one.
Think carefully about what you want to see, which activities you want to do, and when you want to do it. But throw these factors into the mix too:
The size of the group
Whether you’re considering solo trips for women or men, avoid a group with 30 or more people. Dozens and dozens of solo adventurers can split into cliques and ruin the social experience. Small groups are better, enabling everybody to get time with each other.
IGO Adventures remember this when matching members up. The largest groups we take are 16-strong – the perfect amount, in our view, to really get to know each other and form close bonds.
Types of activities
How fit are you? Do you relish the outdoors, or are you a total newbie to trekking and foraging? Pick an adventure with activities that push you to do something new. Kayaking, mountain biking and climbing may appeal, or go for something less intense like foraging or yoga.
We have a grading system. From Hedgehog to Lion, you can meet people with a similar level of stamina and scale up as you grow in confidence. But don’t worry – you’ll do so much more together than simply touring a cathedral, strolling through a gallery or having a guided city tour. They’re called adventures for a reason.
The member ratio
Solo trips should be open to anyone. We believe in a generous demographic divergence… Professionals in their 20s, young parents in their 30s, and 40 or 50-plus adventurers can all share the buzz of an IGO booking. Just take a look at our Instagram to see what our groups look like.
Also, 75% of our average groups are women. It’s what makes us a top contender for solo female travel.
The organisers’ experience
Being led down the garden path is much more risky when the path is a thin trail above a chasm. So be wise about selecting your host. They should have credentials to back up their offer, and have been on many trips already. You’ll get smarter accommodation, find food easily and stay protected.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Discover where they’ve come from, what their unique skills are, and why they love their job. Our own travel hosts are a good example. They come from diverse backgrounds such as extreme sports, mountain leaders and arctic expeditions.
Day one – getting off on the right foot
So you’ve disembarked, bags in hand, ready to kick things off. Sure – it can be daunting. But stay strong, breathe, and pluck up the courage you’ve always had inside of you.
We have some tips for making a great first impression:
The key introductions
It’s likely that you’ll have lunch or dinner together shortly after arriving. The best experience packages know that nothing breaks the ice quite like a good conversation over a great meal. Just enjoy yourself and talk about whatever comes to mind.
Or, instead, get to know the person next to you on the bus, taxi or ferry. Everyone will be eager to share their story – solo trips are never launched on a whim.
Take the pressure off
The worst thing you can do in a group of strangers is think too much about thinking. Which is to say – don’t force yourself to be interesting 24/7. It’ll wear anyone out. Grab quiet time when you need it, and be happy to listen.
Conversation will move at a nice pace when you accept its ebb and flow. Perhaps you’ll chat more freely at night when the group is exhausted. Otherwise, there’ll be social breaks (hot springs, cabin drinks, stargazing and more) to encourage interaction.
Message in advance
Just get in touch with the IGO team if you’re looking for a solo adventure to England, Wales, Scotland or farther-flung destinations like Sri Lanka and Kenya.
We can shed light on whether you’ll be in shared living quarters or taking your own tent or room. By messaging us directly, we can provide any details to help your adventure get off to the best start, and give you a sense of who you’ll meet.
An increasing number of people are leaving the familiar behind and going on their very first solo trip. Where will it take you? We’re looking forward to being there every step of the way.
Want to find out more? Read our Ultimate Guide to Solo Adventures.