Checklist for planning a single trip
So, you’ve found the perfect destination and are ready to go. But, before you leave home, read through our simple checklist to make sure that your holiday goes swimmingly.
Here’s some top tips and things to consider from our solo travel experiences to help you get started.
If you’re going with a tour operator…
• Ask the tour company what mix the group is – how many couples and singles?
• Are you willing to share a room with a member of the same sex? You could save the single supplement
• During the recession you may be able to negotiate a waiving of the single supplement; some companies offer supplement-free trips during the low season
• Safaris, overland trips, special-interest trips and expedition cruises tend to have a high percentage of solos
• If you’re going on a tailormade trip, check if you’ll have a guide and find out what sort of accommodation will you be staying in?
If you’re going independently…
• Choose a destination you’ll feel comfortable in for your first trip – for example, you may want to start in a place where English is widely spoken before embarking on a trip across the desert!
• Pre-book your first night’s accommodation so that you know exactly where you’re going and check out how you’re going to get there. It’s always worth knowing how much a taxi or transfer should cost before you get to the airport so that you’re not ripped off
• Choose accommodation with communal areas. Small, owner-managed places are often friendlier than large, anonymous hotels but make sure you avoid romantic retreats!
• Even if you are not normally a hostel person, consider staying in a hostel. They’ve come a very long way since the days of single-sex dorms and having to do chores – Hostelbookers has places to stay around the world; search for a place to stay
• Don’t feel obliged to travel on with the first person you meet. If the point of going away was to get some ‘me time’, make sure you get it
Eating alone, especially in the evening, can be the loneliest part of the solo travel experience. However, don’t use that as an excuse to hide in your room – you could be missing out on some great experiences.
• If you’re joining an organised trip of some sort, find out what happens at dinner. Will you be eating communally? If you’re on a cruise, is it allocated seating or free seating, enabling you to vary where you sit?
• If you’re completely solo, you can always use the time to write your diary, read a local paper, or catch up on your emails
• Don’t be intimidated into being seated in a horrible spot. Choose a table where you can people-watch; alternatively, sitting at the counter/bar can be fun
• If the staff at the restaurant or bar are friendly (and not too busy) tap into their local knowledge. And don’t be afraid to strike up conversation with other solo travellers
There’s no reason to fear that you’ll be any less safe if travelling on your own – but it helps to follow a few tips for keeping safe.
• Avoid arriving at strange airports or stations late at night; get an official taxi to your accommodation
• Always let people know where you’re heading, eg your friends back home, via social media tools such as Facebook or Twitter, or the people at your accommodation
• Pre-book your first night’s accommodation. Ask at reception about any areas that you should avoid
• Store the phone numbers and addresses of your accommodation in your mobile phone
• Find a friend at the other end. Use travel communities, such as our own myWanderlust forum, to make contact with locals or other visitors. Your Safe Planet has a global network of trusted locals (tailored advice costs from £45)
• Be open to new experiences, ideas and people. But always trust your instincts
• Don’t look like a tourist abroad, try and fit in with the surroundings and wear appropriate clothing. A ‘We love Britain’ t-shirt in the middle of Egypt is a bit of a give away!