The world's yours to explore and enjoy
A third of the UK’s 21 million over 50s are single and it’s a pretty safe bet that at least some of these 7.5 million people will take holidays on their own and relish the luxury while others view the prospect with apprehension, bordering on terror.
Part of the problem is perception because so many images of holidays and travel focus on happy families and loved up couples. So, the perception of being the only person, sticking out like the proverbial among this unnaturally jolly crowd is understandable although the reality is completely different. A great number of people take holidays alone to pursue a hobby or interest that’s not shared by their partner while one in seven say their solo break is to escape their other half.
That’s all very well but much as you’d love to explore and experience new places, there’s a little voice in your head whispering ‘What about dinner alone, what about unwanted attention from the opposite sex, what if no one speaks to you for the whole time ? It’ll be dangerous and anyway people will think you’re odd’… and so on.
Well, that little voice can be very easily drowned out by the chorus from millions of happy single travellers that could be summed up in one word; serendipity. On your own, a free agent, there are no arguments over beach versus sightseeing and you can choose where you want to be and what you want to be doing. That sense of liberation is invigorating and far from being lonely and ignored, single travellers will tell you they’ve come across fascinating people who they’d never have met as one of a group. Travelling alone is a great boost to confidence because it really does broaden the mind. You can linger longer in galleries, improve your golf swing or have a go at water-skiing and will often find instructors and guides particularly helpful as they recognise you’re there because you’re interested, not to keep someone else happy.
If it’s your first time alone, maybe try a short break first before embarking on a month long trek up the Amazon – perhaps add on a couple of days detour en route to friends or relatives. Many solo travellers choose a holiday based around specific interests – history, gardening, art, sport, cooking or walking for instance where there’ll be a structure to the day and common ground to break the ice with fellow guests. Mobile phones, digital cameras and social networking make it easy to share your travel experiences with friends, family and work colleagues who’ll see you in a new light as an intrepid traveller.
It would be unusual to find that every other person on the trip was utterly ghastly but even if they were, it’s only for a few days and it’s easy to avoid unwanted conversations. A pair of headphones on the plane or coach, and a book always to hand will usually act as a polite deterrent but remember there’ll be other people equally apprehensive about being on their own so don’t regard every friendly smile or comment as either a threat or a chat-up. Change seats on a tour bus each day so you get to meet different people and don’t be afraid to join in or invite others to join you, even if it’s for a quick drink or a stroll before supper.
The world is full of single people and exploring more of it is fun, inspirational and exciting – far too much so to be the sole province of pairs. Once you’ve tried it you’ll never look back. Bon voyage!
Join the discussion on Saga Zone
Want to get away on your own but not spend your holiday alone? Talk over the options available on the singles travelling forum.