The idea of travelling solo can be daunting, but booking trips with groups you’ve never met can be even more terrifying. Play your cards right, however, and you can end up having fantastic shared experiences with other solo travellers who might become lifelong friends. Here are some of the most reliable companies to travel with on your own (without an 18–30s holiday in sight).
1. For outdoor activities: Explore
If outward bounds or adrenalin sports are your thing but your friends are more into sitting by the pool and soaking up rays, a trip with Explore, who specialise in adventure holidays, might be just your thing. There are no single-person supplements for any of their 500 small-group trips, and on average solo travellers make up about 50% of their clientele.
Across all Explore holidays, which cover 120 countries, about 60% of guests are women and 40% men, and age groups vary, but generally guests are in their 20s or 30s up to 60s, while the pricier trips lean more towards the 50s-plus range.
You don’t need to worry about any of the planning and organisation, and you’re likely to meet like-minded travellers with whom you’ll share all sorts of adventures – Rough Guides readers voted them one of the best companies to travel with in 2015.
2. For culture and wildlife: Voyages Jules Verne
Not only do VJV run a no-single-supplement policy on around 50 of their trips, but you don’t have to pay extra to have a room all to yourself either – which is a pretty rare deal.
They run a diverse range of holidays, mostly focused on cultural experiences or thrilling wildlife adventures. Ride a horse-drawn sleigh in snow-covered Austrian mountains, explore the colourful temples of Tamil Nadu in India, swim in the Dead Sea in Jordan or spot big game on a Zimbabwean safari.
3. For the singles experts: Solos
If you want to put your holiday in the hands of people who really know what makes a successful holiday for single travellers, look no further. UK-based Solos, the first singles-only holiday company, have spent over thirty years perfecting their specialisation.
They divide trips into age categories (minimum age 30) so you don’t have to worry about being stuck with a group who would be better suited on a jolly with your parents/children. You’ll always have your own room, and in 2015 they even brought in their own exclusive hotels.
They’ve got most bases covered, from city breaks to trekking holidays and skiing trips to Mediterranean beach escapes.
4. For intrepid explorers: Dragoman
Specialising in overland travel, Dragoman run trips for more intrepid travellers to countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas. The company uses its own purpose-built off-road trucks which, as well as taking passengers to all the must-see sights, also journey into less well-known and more remote places that might be tricky to access on your own.
You can even take a trip lasting just over a week to seven-and-a-half months. Yes, you read that correctly – over seven months.
Mixed into the journeys are activities such as trekking, white-water rafting and cycling, and these holidays aren’t for the faint-hearted – you’ll have to be prepared for roughing it, from camping in the deep wildernesses to staying in a village mud-hut. These are the kind of trips where lifelong friendships are made.
5. For laidback trips: Friendship Travel
Offering flexible, unstructured holidays run by attentive hosts, Friendship Travel is an ideal option for those who want to choose how much they socialise once they arrive, and don’t want to commit to what sights to see or which activities to do in advance.
“Houseparties” are their most popular holidays – not nearly as raucous as they sound, this simply means entire hotels are taken over by Friendship Travel, giving guests a more engaging experience.
Most of the clientele are between 30 and 60, and trips can be booked to destinations all over the world on watersports holidays, cruises, safaris, beach breaks and more.
6. For a different perspective: Great Rail Journeys
The benefits of travelling by train rather than by air are abundant. You can forget about your carbon footprint and your secret fear of flying while you whizz past vast, varied landscapes on epic journeys and arrive straight into the heart of cities and towns without the hassle of airport transfers.
However, train travel can get complicated. And travelling on your own on long-distances can be tough – do you really have to take all your valuables with you to the toilet for the tenth time? If you fall asleep, will you miss your stop – again?
Great Rail Journeys have been organising train tours for over 30 years, and they cater very well for solo travellers. Guests can choose form all-inclusive trips to open itineraries for the more independent holidaymaker. Travel the east coast of Vietnam and Cambodia, discover Europe’s grand imperial cities or explore Swedish Lapland and witness the Northern Lights.