Some of the world’s greatest modern explorers have flown, trekked, sailed or skied solo. Yet less seasoned adventurers are beginning to appreciate the benefits of striking out alone.
Responding to strong demand, easyJet Holidays recently extended a deal to freeze single supplements on its breaks after recording a 350 per cent rise in bookings for one-adult trips between February and August this year.
Recognising growth in the market, other companies are offering similar initiatives: APT has removed single supplements on all 2022 river cruises; for 2023, Ramblers Holidays offers adventurous trips such as snowshoeing in the Dolomites or summiting Swiss peaks with no additional cost for a single room.
Adventure specialists Wild Frontiers says the growing appetite for solo holidays is largely driven by a desire to seize the moment and fulfil a dream trip, even if no one in an immediate circle of friends and family is available or willing to come along.
And don’t assume everyone is older and retired. Companies such as Flash Pack have shaken up the image of an escorted tour by tailoring holidays to a younger audience.
Trekking to Annapurna base camp in Nepal (Photo: Intrepid Travel)
Wellbeing specialists Skyros Holidays, whose clients have included comedian Jimmy Carr and singer-songwriter Beth Orton, have crafted their group holidays to create a healing community, with the age of attendees ranging from 35 to 65. “People interact with each other as if they were a family, albeit without the usual family hindrances,” says co-founder Yannis Andricopoulos.
Dispelling the myth that most solo travellers are single, Zina Bencheikh, Intrepid Travel’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea), says: “We see many people choosing to travel on a group tour because their partner doesn’t have the same interests: one might want a week on a beach in Hawaii while the other loves the idea of trekking in Nepal.”
Regardless of age or motivation, solo travel promises greater independence – whether that’s in a guided group setting or alone on a tailor-made break. Removing barriers of additional cost and myths of loneliness, these are 10 of the top solo trips to try…
More on Adventure Travel
Mystery seekers, Europe
Without anyone else to worry about, it is easier to take a gamble when travelling alone. Adventurous types can embrace the unexpected with a mystery trip, where all the decision-making is taken out of your control. Pick the dates, budget, a list of European cities and a theme ranging from foodie to bucket list and beach; travel planners srprs.me will do the rest. Details, including weather forecast and essential travel measures, are available via an app. The final destination is revealed two hours before departure. Srprs.me vets the accommodation and airlines used and has a 24-hour helpline.
How: Three days, from £180, including flights, srprs.me
Women only, Peru
Intrepid’s gender-focused group tours are designed to create a reassuring, inclusive environment while also supporting women guides, artisans and inspiring community leaders in a variety of destinations. The company’s Peru expedition includes a hike along the Inca Trail with female porters and a chance to understand the history of Machu Picchu from a female perspective. Learn about the culture of weaving from ladies in the Sacred Valley’s Umasbamba community and dine at a restaurant in Cusco that provides training and employment to single mothers.
How: Eight days from £1,265pp, excluding flights, various departures between June and December 2023, intrepidtravel.com
Intrepid’s women’s expedition in Peru
Soul seekers and pilgrims, Spain
There are many motivations for walking the epic Camino de Santiago trail; all tend to be deeply personal. Of the nine routes, the Camino Frances is the most popular, running for 800km through the Pyrenees. Complete the last 100km leg from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela, weaving through the Romanesque monasteries and rural villages of Galicia. Discover the real joy of the Camino: striking up conversations with strangers along the way. End at the magnificent, no-expense-spared cathedral where apostle St James is reputed to be buried.
How: Six nights from £635 in B&B private room, including daily baggage transfer, excluding flights, macsadventure.com
Classic cruisers, central Europe
The convenience of exploring multiple destinations while unpacking only once makes cruises a joy for older travellers – or those who simply want to sit back and enjoy the view. Avoiding lengthy sea days, river trips meander through some of Europe’s finest waterways. A “Delightful Danube” voyage combines city stops with the beautiful Bavarian countryside on a journey between Nuremberg in Germany and Hungary’s capital, Budapest. Take a horse-and-cart ride along the cobblestone streets of Vienna, tour an 11th-century Benedictine monastery in Melk and find out if the hills really are alive with the sound of music in Salzburg.
How: Nine-day cruise from £1,375 for solo travellers based on 24 November 2022 departure, aptouring.co.uk
Ski bunnies, Austria
Not everyone enjoys the prospect of fresh powder and hurtling down pistes. Rather than leave a reluctant ski
widow/er languishing in the chalet, go solo on a trip where costs have been trimmed to cater for one. Head off on a group trip to Austria’s Soll resort with a host on hand to give tips on mapping out routes. The resort has 90 lifts serving 123 runs and is set between the Kitzbüheler Alps and the Wilder Kaiser mountains. Meet like-minded snow sports enthusiasts at mealtimes, almost all of which are catered, or in the village’s lively après ski bars.
How: Seven nights from £995, including flights, departures on 24 December and 7 January, friendshiptravel.com
Join a trip to Sol in Austria with like-minded skiers (Photo: Friendship Travel)
Fitness fanatics, Thailand
Getting into shape is a personal journey – especially if you’d rather your nearest and dearest weren’t witness to the screams and sweat. One of the fastest ways to get fit is on a bootcamp, following an intensive programme to shed weight while building physical and mental strength. Lift weights and do circuits in a testosterone-free environment on a GI Jane Thailand trip designed for women of all ages. A daily schedule of military training, calorie-controlled meals, yoga sessions and recovery massages form a holistic programme. Time is also set aside to relax on Koh Samui’s beaches.
How: Seven nights’ full board from £995, excluding flights, departs 22 October 2022 with further dates in 2022, healthandfitnesstravel.com
Adventurers and goal-setters, Morocco
It is often used as a metaphor for achieving success, but climbing a mountain literally does reap great rewards. Summit the 4,167m peak of Jebel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa, on an escorted tour with hiking specialists Yellowwood Adventures. To acclimatise, follow guided hikes through lower-altitude trails in the High Atlas Mountains, learning about Berber lifestyles along the way. Sleeping in lodges, camps and a homestay, develop new friendships cemented by a spirit of adventure.
How: Eight nights full board from £1,395, excluding flights, various departures, yellowwoodadventures.com
Hill walkers, Cumbria
Although often the most affordable option for single travellers, joining an escorted tour can be daunting. Dip in with a short walking break through some of the 214 fells listed in Alfred Wainwright’s pictorial guides, which were published in the 50s. Stay at Ramblers Walking Holiday’s 11-bedroom retreat, Hassness Country House. The property is on the shores of Buttermere and set below dramatic mountain scenery. Two leaders will often accompany groups to accommodate different levels of walker. Outings can explore the valley floor or tackle the challenging peaks of the Western Fells.
How: Three nights’ half-board from £395, solo rooms subject to availability, ramblersholidays.co.uk
Hasness Country House in the Lake District
Mindfulness seekers, Isle of Wight
Proof that a creative environment is conducive to forging lifelong friendships, this collection of wellbeing breaks is designed to help participants unwind and socialise. Based at The Grange by the Sea, a Georgian country house with sprawling lawns a short stroll from Shanklin’s sandy beach, the breaks focus on mindfulness. Workshops range from fiction writing to yoga and colour therapy. Accommodation is in twin rooms, sharers matched by interests and hobbies ahead of departure.
How: Two nights from £325, set departures in October and November, excluding transport, skyros.com
Creative sparks, Shropshire
Strike up new relationships by sharing your life story – or at least learning how to put it down on paper, at a memoir writing retreat. Led by Nick Boulos, award-winning travel writer and founder of bespoke biography publishers Master Storytellers, this break features workshops and one-on-one sessions. Follow-up sessions are included and there is an opportunity to arrange a book cover photoshoot in the stately grounds of Henley Hall, where the retreat is based.
How: Three nights’ full board from £1,195, 23-26 March 2023, master-storytellers.com