Answering all the questions and busting all the myths about solo travelling
Anyone considering heading on a one-person trip will want to give this a read.
There are a few ideas that immediately come to mind when people talk about going on holidays on their own.
Isn't that a lot more of expensive? Aren't you effectively paying double for a trip because you're not part of a couple or with a friend? Is it even safe to travel alone?
On the flipside, there is a bucket-list'y vibe to the idea of travelling alone, an experience that should probably be completed by everyone at least once in their lives.
So with all of this in mind, JOE spoke to Cathy Burke, the General Manager at Travel Counsellors Ireland, to talk about some of the myths and truths behind the idea of solo travelling:
Would you say there is a pre-conceived notion that solo travel is too expensive? As in, one holiday maker essentially has to pay double the price of a couple, as they have a room to themselves?
There is a myth that solo travel is expensive. In actuality, single supplements are really no longer the case. Most hotels now globally charge per room, per night, regardless of whether it is one, two, three or four in the room. While it is a bit more expensive if you are a solo traveller, as you pay for the full room rather than sharing the cost with another person, you do have a room on your own. There are travel companies that have a shared accommodation option, offering you the chance to share with a stranger of the same sex. However, this is an option that wouldn’t be for everyone.
Have you ever spoken to solo holiday makers about why they feel there is a stigma for travelling alone?
In my experience, it was mostly women who felt like this, as for men, travelling solo was often seen as a rite of passage. However that’s changing now. While travelling solo can be daunting, it can be such a rewarding experience. It will test your limits, take you outside of your comfort zone, and may even be life changing. The internet has made solo travel much easier - you can quickly get information on a place, or an area, and find out what’s happening locally. There are also lots of apps these days for meeting up with people should you get lonely.
Are hostels or "group holidays" the only options for those who can't afford to pay for nicer hotel rooms by themselves?
These are options, but not necessarily the only ones. For "group holidays" there are companies that cater for the basic/low cost, while others cover high-end. Do your research, get testimonials, and make sure you are 100% happy with your choice before booking.
What tips would you give solo travellers when it comes to initially planning their trips?
I have two tips. Firstly, get advice from a travel expert who knows the choices out there. Don't look for the cheapest - it won't be the best. For more discerning customers, there are lots of choices too like river cruises or small group tours in every part of the world. My second tip is to simply do what you want to do. Follow your heart. Solo travel gives you the opportunity to indulge yourself fully and to do what you want to do, at your own pace. This is the chance to plan an itinerary that works perfectly for you.
Are there any locations or resorts you'd recommend for solo travellers, specifically for 2019, any particular trendy destinations?
As a solo traveller it can be difficult to know where to start - should you go for a relaxing break or an adventurous once-in-a-lifetime trip? Again, this is where travel specialists, like Travel Counsellors, can help, finding that perfect holiday experience that works for the person. We are recommending China, Vietnam & Cambodia, and Costa Rica at the moment for solo travellers. There are some great offers available for the solo traveller in these locations, and all these countries are safe and friendly. River cruises are also a great option, as many boats cater for solo travellers with single rooms. Popular river cruise options at the moment are U by Uniworld’s Rolling on the Rhine along with Venice and Northern Italy; the Douro River through Portugal and into Spain; and Eastern Europe through Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.
Outside of trendiness, where would you recommend for (A) a bit of solitude, and (B) particularly friendly locals should you want to mix in?
Taking the opportunity to travel solo is a great excuse to recharge your batteries. For solitude, you can get peace and down-time anywhere really once you pick the right hotel. Personally I’d go for an adults-only hotel as they can be relatively quiet.
From a 'getting to know the locals' point of view, my advice is pick a local town where tourists don’t go much. Many of these will be inland, as tourists are attracted to the beach. Even in a busy island like Majorca, you can find solitude with friendly locals in a town in the hills.
Is it better to be super organised for solo trips, or just winging it?
Super organised wins every time. When you are on your own you want to make life as easy as possible for yourself. I’d recommend some definite key things to plan in advance - your route, and let people at home know where you will be and when.