Travelling in 2019? Here’s why you might want to fly (and flâneur) solo
We’ve all done things on holiday that we never really wanted to do. Like spending entire afternoons following guides to places we pretended to love for the sake of someone we actually love for real. Riding thrill rides we weren’t ready for because our friends said it would be “fun.” Or posing, begrudgingly, next to monuments we know nothing about for the sake of our travel companion’s insatiable desire to document every moment between the hotel check in and the flight back home.
Because heaven forbid you both forget that you’re on holiday.
To travel in good company is a magical thing, but there’s nothing quite like the freedom of traveling on your own terms. Which is most likely why the independent adventurer has become the latest and greatest contemporary travel archetype.
Compromising on a tour itinerary from time to time is a part of life, but so too should be self love. And nothing indulges your own inner desires quite like solo travel does.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore,” French author André Gide once said. Which is far easier to do when you don’t have someone in the water with you pointing back to the mainland.
Solo travel may at first seem like a daunting feat, especially if you’re particularly bad at (accurately) reading maps, or you find it hard to grasp even the basic phrases of foreign languages—yes please, no thank you and help me I am lost.
But sometimes it’s the wrong turns that take you to the places you were meant to find, and the silently mimed gestures that allow you to absorb the world around you without the need for words. Mostly though, traveling solo delivers a sense of freedom most of us rarely get to feel, because it’s one of our only opportunities to do everything 100% our way.
One woman who has come to appreciate the beauty of checking in as a party of one is Sonia Pilovska, the Head of Tours at the travel company Luxury Escapes.
Jet setting all around the world five months of the year for work, Pilovska spends a huge amount of time exploring solo, and has come to love the unique feeling of liberation that it brings.
“At first it was a little daunting, and of course I often wish that I could share a particular experience or an amazing room I am staying in with someone else, but for the most part I’ve fallen in love with the sense of freedom that comes with arriving at an airport knowing that I am about to embark on my next adventure and I don’t have to think about anybody else’s wants but mine!”
Not only does Pilovska have personal experience with solo travel, she has also observed the rapid rise in its popularity through her work. Over the past five years Luxury Escapes have seen a huge spike in this particular mode of adventure, especially for females, with 75% of the company’s solo traveller clients opting for the route of booking a prearranged tour.
For those who want to make the most of their experience, this organised style of travel allows you to spend time alone while also meeting new people. As Pilovska has come to appreciate, it also invites you to explore the more bewildering destinations that you wouldn’t ordinarily visit on your own, e.g. an active volcano in Costa Rica.
“There are perks to both solo travelling and travelling with a group, but solo travelling challenges you to step outside of your comfort zone and discover a destination your way. When travelling with someone else, they often become your safety net, but travelling solo allows you to meet new people, build your confidence and discover yourself through a new destination.”
While all kinds of travel is good for the soul, only venturing out alone allows you to explore not only what surrounds you, but also what is within. “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls,” Anaïs Nin once said. In a world where travel is more accessible than ever before, it’s no wonder so many are catching on to the beauty of seeking solo.
As Pilovska says, recent advancements in tech have granted greater access to more resources, bringing us closer to the rest of the world and allowing us the comfort to explore on our own.
“Travel has become easier and more accessible thanks to the rise in technology, and what we’re finding as a result is travellers are more curious than ever.”
If you’ve been flirting with the idea of flying solo but don’t know where to start, liaising with a travel company such as Luxury Escapes means less time Googling flights and booking tours and more time planning what’s most important: what you’re going to pack before you go, where you’re going to wine and dine when you arrive, and what monuments (if any) you actually want to see at your destination/s.
As Pilovska has experienced first hand, tours offered by Luxury Escapes are tailor-made for smaller groups, and designed for travellers who are seeking unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences in incredible destinations.
“Our tours are designed to offer insider access and unique experiences you wouldn’t normally be able to arrange on your own and by sharing these costs across a group of travellers, it becomes an affordable way to travel.
We also don’t want to take away the sense of independence for solo travellers, allowing free time for personal adventures, that way, when you tour with us you get to experience the best of both solo and group travel.”
When it comes to tips for travelling solo, Pilovska highly recommends pre-booking your arrival transfer.
“Having someone waiting at the airport to whisk you off to your hotel is such a welcomed relief when you come off a flight. We always include transfers in our Luxury Escapes tours and hotel packages [for this reason], so you don’t have to worry.”
As for your itinerary, Pilovska advises setting yourself challenges to step outside of your comfort zone and meet new people. And when it comes to details such as dining out, choose your table wisely.
“When dining solo eat at the bar or get a seat at the chef’s table – it’s always the most lively and chatty spot in a restaurant. It also gives you a better chance of availability, as some restaurants are reluctant to book a table for solo travellers during peak season.”