Criss-crossing the globe by yourself is as simple as booking a plane ticket. The real challenge comes when figuring out what to do once you get there. Yes, you can always go the “talk-to-the-bartender” route, but sometimes you want the kind of organized itinerary a big group trip entails. The problem is, most of those group trips are geared at people traveling in, well, groups.
But with the rise of solo travel, more cruise lines, tour operators and hotels have begun crafting amenities and programs for all kinds of people who want to explore alone. Whether you’re looking to cruise the Caribbean or explore India, there’s probably a solo-themed trip out there for you.
If you want to get out on the water
Cruising is famously the domain of couples and large families, often in matching T-shirts. But as more people venture abroad alone, cruise lines have responded with a number of solo offerings, and have for the most part ditched the standard single supplement fee, a surcharge passed on to individual passengers.
Norwegian Cruise Lines was the first to offer studio staterooms aboard the Epic in 2010, and now features them on five other ships as well. Those ships also have separate lounges where solo travellers can work, relax and mingle with other family-free cruisers. Royal Caribbean also offers studio suites without a single supplemental fee. And luxury pioneer Cunard even put single staterooms in the Queen Mary during a 2016 renovation, and offers them on the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, too.
Smaller ships have begun appealing to solo cruisers as well. Maple Leaf Adventures helps those travelling alone see some of the more remote areas of British Columbia with small ship cruises along the coast. And International Expeditions is running a Costa Rica-to-Panama cruise aboard its Panorama yacht, with no supplemental fee for solo bookings.
If you want a tropical resort experience
Seeing business travellers alone in hotels isn’t unusual – but the same can’t be said for leisure guests at resorts. That’s starting to shift as resorts begin to offer packages specifically for individuals.
El Mangroove, an 85-room tranquil beach resort on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, offers a three-night package that includes a massage, standup paddle board excursion, and local farm tour.
Nearby in Guatemala, Casa Palopo has named a package for solitary travellers “Travel Solo-la” after the Solola region where the hotel sits. This boutique spot perched in the hills above Lake Atitlan has three-night specials with a boat tour of two nearby villages, and a blessing from a local shaman.
If you love exploring but hate planning
There is some fun in planning a solo holiday, in that you don’t have to concern yourself with what anyone else wants to do. Consequently, you’re now stuck with even more options and all the work of planning.
Monograms is a tour company that arranges itineraries globally, setting up visitors in centrally-located hotels and with local guides. The company’s India Golden Triangle tour, for example, starts in Mumbai, with stops in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, ending in Nepal’s Kathamandu, where, among other attractions, you’ll visit the Temple of Kumari, said to be constructed from the wood of a single tree. Monogram also offers tours to Vietnam, China, Cambodia and other countries.
For those who prefer a more-customized program, Tully Luxury Travel designs specialized itineraries for solo travellers, which can include villas, private jets and exclusive, not-offered-elsewhere tours. It also crafts plans for sometimes-overwhelming destinations, such as a 14-day tour of India designed for women travelling alone.
If you want a last-minute getaway
Sometimes the work week gets the best of you, and by noon on Friday, you just want to get the heck out of town. Explore Worldwide specializes in all sorts of individual travel, including impromptu getaways. Its self-guided cycling and walking tours allow you to leave on any day you wish and follow the itinerary at whatever pace makes you comfortable.
If you still want some company
Oxymoronic solo group tours are probably the most popular form of individual travel. Although companies such as Contiki have been around for decades – shuttling single young people around exotic locales – a new wave of tour operators are setting their sites on an older demographic.
Flash Pack caters to travellers in their 30s and 40s, running backpacking-style trips all over the world for people with a little more disposable income than your typical backpacker. Glamping it is not, but these group trips offer adventures such as ice treks, mountain biking expeditions and cultural tours, with a laid-back, live-and-let-live attitude.
Acknowledging that a large percentage of solo travellers are women, Judi Wineland and her two daughters run AdventureWomen, which offers filled with activities such as meeting with nuns at the Pema Choeling Nunnery in the remote valleys of Bhutan, or visiting a women’s cooperative that makes traditional robes in Morocco. Although men can travel too, 70 per cent of the clientele are female.
If you prefer to plan things yourself
You can always scour the internet. Or you can use a service called GetYourGuide, which can connect you to more than 34,000 different tours, activities and cultural experiences around the world. Specialists can help find interactive, conversation-starting activities in your destination such as pasta making in Rome or crafting macarons in Paris.