Could you go on holiday alone?

Georgina Smith / 20 September 2016

Solo travel is fast becoming an incredibly popular travel choice. But what sort of person goes it alone on holiday? Do you have what it takes?



The power of one

Some people say it takes a certain type of personality to embark on a holiday alone. In a way that's true: there are a number of traits you probably possess if going it alone is your cup of tea.

For instance, if you're a seasoned pro, you'll likely have a reasonable sense of self-confidence (inherent or acquired) and a penchant for adventure.

But solo travellers come in all shapes, sizes and personality types – and there are many reasons why people find more pleasure in solo travel than group trips.

Related: Going solo: the many benefits of travelling alone.

Confidence

Solo travellers will usually be equipped with a degree of self-confidence.

But this doesn't necessarily mean you have to be an outgoing, extrovert personality: many solo travellers enjoy the solitude of their own company without the need to make lifelong friends with everyone they meet.

The type of confidence we're talking about here is the confidence to make decisions, walk away from situations you don't feel comfortable with, and ask for help when you need it.

Related: Top tips for travelling alone.

Content with your own company

Suffice to say, when you're adventuring alone, you won't be short of 'me time'. Which means you must like your own company at least a little bit.

But if you're unsure if you truly are the one for you, make your first solo trip a short one. Chances are you'll love it, but you won't have to endure too many awkward silences with yourself.

Independence

This ties back in with confidence. As a solo traveller, you'll want to have the inner confidence to make independent decisions about where to go and what to do.

If you've always just gone with the flow on group holidays you'll have to quickly learn to take the reins.

But the brilliant advantages are: no squabbling over sights to see, no quarrels over cuisine, and no antagonising over what activities to do.

And if you come across other soloists, you'll probably find they have this sense of independence too. Which means you may want to team up for some things, but go separate ways for others.

A sense of adventure

Solo travel offers a real sense of adventure – even if you're somewhere relatively familiar.

That's because when you travel alone you are truly free to forge your own experiences. Most soloists thrive on this freedom.

Which means any other people you encounter on your journey will very likely be as open-minded as you are about doing something new and exciting.

Related: Forget Souvenirs: 7 things to bring back from every holiday.

Spontaneity

One of the best things about travelling by yourself is the unbridled ability to do what you want when you want.

If you happen to walk past the most incredible looking gelato shop you've ever seen at nine o'clock in the morning, who's to say you can't have a second breakfast packed with a gazillion calories?

Or if you want to take the guided tour of an obscure craft museum in a back alley of a small town without meeting moans and groans, it's entirely your prerogative.

Chances are, other solo travellers with whom you cross paths will get an equal thrill from being spontaneous.

You may even be interested in discovering the same sorts of things, like how the painted pottery of Provence is made.

Sociability

This is probably one of the most varied traits you'll find in fellow soloists; introverts and extroverts can derive equal pleasure from going solo.

Depending on which one you are, you'll find your own way to deal with other people whilst on holiday.

For instance, if you cant wait to talk to locals and meet other travellers, why not sit at the bar of a restaurant to eat your meal?

It'll be much easier to strike up conversations with passers by. On the other hand, if you prefer your own company, simply ask for a table for one, out of the way.

Related: How to make friends on holiday.

Itinerant introverts

If you're at the introverted end of the sociability spectrum, you may be drawn towards solo travel because it allows you to be self sufficient and gives you the space and time to soak in every experience by yourself.

If you don't feel the need to keep social interaction to the minimum, travelling alone lets you do this. And even if you're a reluctant introvert – that is, if you wish you were a little more outgoing – then solo travel is a fabulous way to force yourself to open up.

Depending on how far afield you are, and how you plan your holiday, travelling alone lets you place yourself outside of your comfort zone.

This then helps bolster your inner confidence, which does wonders with how you interact with others. 

You may not feel completely transformed after your first trip alone, but after a couple of solo holidays you'll probably feel the shell of social insecurity shedding away.

Related: The etiquette of solo travel.

Expeditioning extroverts

If you love meeting new people, then solo travel gives you opportunities to do this in abundance.

Usually, when we travel as a group, we envelop ourselves in a little bubble, where we only interact with our fellow companions.

Whilst this can be highly enjoyable – sharing extraordinary experiences with friends and family – it can close us off from meeting new people, whether they be other travellers or locals.

If you're an extrovert and you're going solo on holiday, it will no doubt feel natural to open up to people and even instigate conversations.

Your friendliness and openness will be like a beacon, and before you know it, you've made new friends and perhaps even teamed up with others for a portion of your trip.

Whether you're on a well-trodden path or off the beaten tourist track, you'll do doubt find ample opportunities to connect with others.

But just be careful not to become the tag-along. Be sensitive to signals that your new friends may want to make a break for it and continue alone without your company (as wonderful as it no doubt is).

Not sure if you've got the mettle?

There's only one way to find out if you've got the disposition for solo travel. Give it a go.

If you've never travelled alone before, why not book a short break? You can even join a group tour so you can enjoy a balance between independent travel and the comfort of a group.

.And with your accommodation and activities planned, you won't have to worry about organising every moment of your day. You can simply enjoy the experience.

Discover a range of holidays and cruises for solo travellers with Saga.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.