A few years ago there were hardly any tour companies that offered options for solo travel – let alone companies who completely focused on solo departures and looked at things like no single supplement etc. Thank goodness for the growth in the solo traveler as now there is a good economic reason for companies to look at developing great offers for those flying solo!
I will let you know which of these tour companies I have traveled with and which I haven’t – if you then go and do a tour on one of the ones I haven’t been on please do let me know what they are like – and I would love you to write a guest post if you’re up for it!
Exodus is perhaps one of the classics of solo travel. It is also the company I have traveled with the most so they get their own heading! Exodus is UK based and has been around for quite some time – it has also expanded into Australia and Canada and the US so you can get a real selection of different travelers.
I have done several trips with Exodus – on my own and with friends. I went to Costa Rica on my own which was fine. I also did Kilimanjaro on my own – which I would highly recommend. If you are travelling solo one of the best ways to not feel like it is to join a group doing some kind of challenge – with Kilimanjaro we were a team from almost the word go. More than half of the trip was travelling solo – some were single, some had partners who didn’t want to go, some like me had someone pull out last minute etc etc. It really didn’t matter who you had arrived with – what mattered was everyone wanted someone to talk to about whether or not to take Diamox, tips on altitude, share lollies etc etc.
I have done two trips with friends – North India and cycling Southern Iceland. Again an activity based trip can be a great way to ensure you never feel lonely – particularly as you tend to be exhausted every night and just eat and sleep!
Exodus now does lots of what they call Solo Departure trips. This doesn’t mean that everyone on the trip is travelling on their own – it just means they recommend these trips for those travelling on their own. And you do normally end up with the majority of people travelling solo – or the ones travelling with someone tend to be quite friendly and up for a chat.
I think Exodus are brilliant – I love how they use locals and treat them well and they pack their tours full of great activities and experiences. They are also great value for money – but personally I would prefer to spend a bit more and have a higher thread count on my sheets! Oh well you can’t have everything! And you can have a single supplement with most of their trips if you want your own room – however make sure you book early if this is what you’re after as they tend to go quite quickly.
If Exodus interests you also check out Explore and The Imaginative Traveller. I have done an Explore trip before and it was excellent. They have a specific section of their website devoted to solo travel with recommendations for different age groups and specific trips as well as tips.
If you are looking at a big overseas trips and watching costs several friends have recommended G Adventures.
One company I have been particularly keen to try but it just hasn’t worked out on timings and destinations is Flash Pack. I love the tone and feel of their website – it is very much about boutique adventures! They are focused on people in their 30s and 40s.
Australian based www.travellingdivas.com.au also promises boutique hotels and customized trips.
I have also been very keen to try Cox and Kings solo holidays.
Cox and Kings have a great reputation as a high end travel specialist so I am highly confident that their thread count on their sheets will be up to my standards based on how fantastic their hotels look! These trips though will of course be at a premium to some of the other options I have mentioned.
Specifically for solo travellers
I would highly recommend that you think beyond the country you live in when it comes to solo travel. For example there are now quite a few travel companies based in Australia that run specific holidays for solo travelers. Encounter Travels is all about solo travel but not travelling alone as they say! They also age match so if you are a 35 year old solo traveler you won’t be in a group of people in their 70s. They do have quite a few trips to various parts of Australia but they also do quite a few trips to other places around the world. Another solo travel company based in Australia is www.twosacrowd.com.au
Some UK based companies that specialize in solo trips are:
For a more adventurous bent check out 8th day adventures. They are a London based club that have lots of sporting events and other fun things that are a mix of social and activity. They also run some group holidays which could be good for the more adventurous solo traveler eg Everest base camp
An interesting sounding organization is Archaeo Adventures . This is a female focused travel company that looks at adventures in countries like Morocco and Jordan in small groups. They are about boutique hotels, working with locals and off the beaten track experiences.
Female focused hosted adventure trips is also the focus of www.livingbig.org which is US based. Also US based is Overseas Adventure Travel that offer some fantastic sounding trips for adventurous solo travelers.
Heading to Australia there are quite a few in this group:
Another one on my list is www.anotherworldadventures.com. The site curate adventures from different providers. It is a very comprehensive site with loads of options that sound great!
Even cruise ships have gotten on board with the growth in solo travel. Norwegian Cruise Line is the brand most commonly mentioned for having actually built single cabins and apparently there is a dedicated area for solo travelers! They have several different cruise brands – Norwegian Epic, Breakaway, Getaway and Escape. But make sure you look closely as these can be more family focused at certain times of the year – check out my top tip 2 below.
Encounter Travel also has loads of information on solo cruise options. They even have a “cabin mates wanted” section where you can potentially find another same sex solo traveller with whom you can share a cabin.
There are a few organisations that run group tours that have some type of activity/challenge that supports a charity. These can be a great way to find others to travel with and the shared sense of purpose can surely add to the group bond. Have a look at www.globaladventurechallenges.com and www.charitychallenge.com
Passion based travel
An organized trip around an activity you love that is also about solo travel is a fantastic formula to follow. Even if you don’t really bond with anyone on the trip if you have learnt more about Italian cooking or photographing sea life it is a holiday well spent! Quite a few of the organisations I have listed above offer planned trips around passions and hobbies. Here are a few others I’ve found:
Frui has some fantastic looking passion based trips – from photography (a great one for solo travel) to painting to food in some lovely locations. I did a day class with them once in London in photography and they were great. www.frui.co.uk
The Red Sea in Egypt appears to be a very popular solo travel spot – most likely driven by the amount of activity that can be done in the water. A friend stayed at the Alaska Camp and loved it. There are also numerous courses in diving and/or underwater photography in the area.
Skyros is a very famous spot in Greece for activity/passion based trips. They used to have a bit of a self help bent but now they are very focused on passions like painting, singing, yoga and learning and loads more. They have two locations in Greece and also a place now on the Isle of Wight for taster weekends. According to their site 70% of their travelers are between 40 and 60 and the large majority do travel solo. (www.skyros.com)
For a slightly different type of passion the Australia dating website RSVP also runs group tours for singles in Australia and across the world.
Go Learn To is all about holidays based on learning – from languages to art to yoga. They have an entire section for solo holidays.
Top tip 1
A great way to travel solo is to mix things up. If you were heading to say Australia you could go and stay in a spa for a few days (great way to meet people), head to say Sydney on your own and stay at a boutique hotel and use Tinder or join a meet up group. You could then join an organized tour with someone like Encounter Travels and travel with them for a while and then have some time solo again. Committing to a lengthy organized tour can be a bit much – plus it is hard to find one that covers everything that you want. I find a mix is optimal – if you feel lonely it is only a few days till you have company, if you’re dying to be on your own again it’s only a few days till that happens! And you may very well meet other solo travelers on your organized section who are keen to have further adventures after the tour! I have many friends I have met when travelling solo who then become travel buddies and loads of other friends of mine are the same.
Top Tip 2
September is a great time to travel solo. Be careful of all organized tours/cruises etc during any school holiday time and particularly over the summer as you may end up surrounded by families. However in September school has returned and there are often a lot of deals on for solo travelers.
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Also published on Medium.