Really think about where you’d like to go and what you’d like to do. Beach, city, touring, the options are endless. Often a group activity, cycling or visiting Italian art galleries for examples, can create a common interest. Consider where you will feel most comfortable.
Would you perhaps prefer to be with your own age group or is a mix of ages better for you? Some single traveller companies have age guidelines. Many escorted tours have both couples and singles on them. Would this suit you? How about a trial run on a UK group away day (theatre visit, coach trip, garden tour) so you can figure out what might work for you on a longer break?
Some companies run forums so it’s possible to meet fellow travellers before departure, and it’s certainly a good way to learn about the world of solo travel, even if you just read the posts and comments.
At the airport, aim to spot some fellow travellers (peek at the luggage tags) from your tour company. If you’re not ready to chat to others yet, at least you will have someone to look out for at your destination.
Once on holiday, if you are a bit shy, have a few snippets of small talk ready, discussing previous holidays or the journey are always easy opening topics. Talking about food, or your expectations of the holiday are usually relaxed subjects too.
If you have tour guide or holiday rep, do pick their brains. A tour guide will travel with you and should be used to getting a group to gel. The rep has loads of information, and may well be able to introduce you to others setting off on excursions, or trying out a local restaurant! Whilst there will nearly always be a bit of a bore, you generally find one or two like-minded souls in every situation.
Sometimes it can be good just to have time to yourself. If you’re eating alone, take a book and maybe pick a more informal bistro style restaurant, where you can sit outside perhaps. Hotel dining rooms can be a little intimidating. Should you get lost, do ask for directions saying you are meeting a friend. It’s not always a good idea to advertise that you’re on your own. Likewise, clutching a guidebook can be a bit obvious too, read up information before you set off and then enjoy the sights unencumbered. And remember to let the hotel or rep know when you’re planning to be back.
Dealing with unwelcome advances. Well, my Granny recommended a hat pin, which is not the best idea! ‘My partner/son/daughter is joining me in a moment’ can work, dashing into the nearest loo has some success, especially if you explain the problem to a waiter or waitress on your return or in desperation, say loudly ‘Go away please, now’, in as many languages as you can muster. The problem with walking away briskly is that you can be followed. With a loud voice, you should be left alone and also alert those nearby to your situation. All that said, this doesn’t often happen, and you may be amazed at wonderful it is to travel solo.
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