Internet searches for “solo travel packages” were up 60% in the last year as more men and women are setting out alone for business or leisure. Solo travel provides daily flexibility to chart your own course at each new destination. I have made friends with fellow travelers from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the streets of Lisbon. I have flown over game preserves in Botswana in a plane the size of a biutiful oficial with wings and marveled at the Nabatean ruins in Jerash, Jordan.
With conflicting work and family schedules, it is not always easy to find a friend or relative who can travel at the same time. It can seem challenging to strike out alone, especially to remote locations. However, there are many ways to circle the globe and make connections en route while keeping an eye on your personal safety.
1. Escorted Tours:
This has many advantages:
• All the planning is done for you.
• Guides can navigate a region unfamiliar to you.
• Prices tend to be all-inclusive, except for airfare.
• There is safety in numbers in regions with high crime and/or political unrest.
• A solo traveler has the opportunity to join others for sightseeing and meals.
• Long term friendships can result.
2. Independent Tours:
This has different advantages:
• Much of the planning is done for you but you have flexibility.
• This can cover the entire trip or be an add-on to a business or leisure trip.
• Guides can be provided as needed.
• Prices may cover some but not all aspects of the trip, except for airfare.
• Your tour operator will likely combine your day tours with others.
I found one shortcoming on such a tour to Egypt: I was left finding my own dinner every night. I came up with several solutions which might work elsewhere:
• Joining those whom I met on day tours.
• Paying a cab driver recommended by the hotel to wait for me at a restaurant.
• Taking a night tour which included dinner.
• Connecting with Internet dinner clubs while observing reasonable precautions.
3. River Cruises:
This combines certain advantages of both independent and escorted tours.
• Planning is taken care of by the tour operator.
• Pricing is all-inclusive, except for airfare.
• This can be an add-on to another business/leisure trip, providing flexibility.
• This gives have the opportunity for ready-made travel companions/dinner partners and new friends.
• Safety issues are addressed by being part of a group. In addition, in areas of high crime and political unrest, being on a cruise removes security issues created by going back and forth to a hotel in the evening and lacking dinner transportation.
4. Before leaving home, carefully select a hotel and book an airport pick-up at the same time and:
• Plan day trips with local guides recommended by the hotel.
• Identify professional groups in your field that host events, dinners and receptions.
• Sign up for a 1-2 week course with an art gallery, a language school, cooking class or other personal interest.
• See if your health club has branches or agreements with a gym at your destination.
• Contact your professional or social clubs as to international reciprocity.
5. Use good judgment to avoid running into or creating crises abroad:
• Research your destination before your departure as to any alerts, including health issues.
• Plan a time of day to text, phone or email a friend or relative to check-in with while traveling.
• Have travel insurance and safeguard your belongings.
• Carry just enough cash for that day and credit cards with low credit limits. Divide them and put them into 3 pockets/places.
• Have 2 copies of the first page of your passport and if possible, an extra passport photo.
• Watch out for pickpockets especially in crowded tourist spots and train stations.
• If you carry prescriptions, check drug laws at your destination.
Although it may take some planning, the exhilarating moments will always exceed the challenges in solo travel. Follow our 5 tips when you travel alone and chart your own path around the world.