Solo travel puts decision-making in your own hands. No having to compromise over destination or accommodation, or what you do from day to day. And it’s not just proving popular with those whose personal circumstances dictate travelling alone – those who are divorced, say, or widowed. Many couples also find that taking separate breaks is no bad thing. You may enjoy lounging around the pool, but after a day or two your partner may be champing at the bit to go wandering into the wild green yonder. Resentment can build up and, let’s face it, no one can bicker quite like a couple abroad.
Nearly 40% of us now holiday ‘alone’ and the tourism industry has wised up to this market. What is surprising is that while you might reasonably assume most single travellers are gap-year youngsters, according to a recent survey the average age of an intrepid solo holidaymaker is now 54 – with women outnumbering men. So, following the Grey pound and Pink pound, we now have the power of the single travellers’ Solo pound.
We’ve come up with a pick’n’mix of suggestions for going it alone, for him and for her – which isn’t to say either gender shouldn’t try whatever they like. Wherever you go, if you’re heading off without your partner, go guilt-free. After all, what’s wrong with a little ‘me time’ once in a while?
For Her: Austen Power
Literary breaks focusing on genres or specific writers give you the opportunity to delve into the background of your favourite authors, from Jane Austen’s Bath to Dickens’ Kent. After exploring the locations that inspired them, spend evenings exchanging views with fellow enthusiasts – without your partner musing aloud about the footy on TV. If you’ve got a book inside you screaming to get out (and haven’t we all), where better to engage your muse than the Greek islands? On (left), Writers’ Lab combines one- or two-week creative writing courses with a break in the sun. Each morning starts with yoga to help get rid of that blasted writer’s block, followed by three hours’ tuition from distinguished writers. Past tutors include Hilary Mantel and Margaret Drabble.
For Him: Harley and Me
The midlife crisis, or later-life crisis as it probably is these days, can manifest itself in curious ways, from taking up cage fighting to opening a bespoke marmalade shop. But it usually involves a motorbike. More specifically, a Harley-Davidson. Relish the freedom of the road as you head off on your ‘hog’ on Route 66 – or follow the hippie biker trail of Easy Rider, from LA to New Orleans.
The A303 might not have the same cachet as Route 66, but we sometimes forget the staggering beauty of our own bucolic backyard; the West Country, Snowdonia and the Scottish Highlands are a biker’s dream. So why not stay closer to home and consider hiring a Harley for a week in the UK. A Touring Ultra Classic Electra Glide will cost from around £120 a day.
Together? Polish the pillion and bike over to your nearest literary festival. Settle for a tandem if you have to.
For Her: Take It In Your Stride
When it comes to a rural walk with your loved one, there’s nothing like a blokeish ‘Oh do hurry up, will you!’ to ruin the moment. Walking Women organises hiking-oriented holidays (women – and sometimes dogs – only). Short breaks and week-long (or longer) trips take place throughout the UK and at many destinations abroad. The company is happy to advise you on the terrain and holidays that might be best for your fitness level. It also offers a range of women-only special-interest holidays, including cycling, natural history, yoga and photography (walkingwomen.com, 0114 241 2774).
If you don’t mind striding out in ‘mixed company’ (how quaint that sounds today), you could explore the interiors of Croatia and neighbouring Slovenia, which are proving increasingly popular for specialist walking holidays.
For Him: The Importance of Being Ernest
If the prospect of man versus marlin in the Atlantic wastes is a little too much, then release your inner Hemingway by sea fishing closer to home.Enterprising sea-fishing outfits arrange packages around Great Britain’s 19,500 miles of coastline. Landing a humble gurnard may lack the thrill of reeling in a thrashing 9ft, 1,000lb swordfish, but it’s still the lone angler against the denizens of the deep. Jensen sea-angling cruises operate year-round off the North Wales coast and from the Mersey. Set off for a few days’ coastal walk, with a fishing harbour at journey’s end.