Can there be anything more deliciously self-indulgent than solo travel? Going where you want, when you want? Creating your own agenda, sticking to it if you wish and ditching it if you don’t?
I’ve often flown solo and I prefer it this way. I can wander around the airport or work in a lounge, board at my own pace without searching for the rest of the group, and switch off for the entire flight. Most of the time though I would find company waiting for me at the other end – a business associate, other conference attendees, a long lost friend.
My last trip, however, was different – it was a whole week’s holiday on my own. As you can probably tell from my posts, I absolutely loved it. I got up in my own time, spread my clothes out around the hotel room and made the most of not having to share the space with a single soul. Because of the type of holiday that it was I was kept busy with activities and group sports.
However, there were a couple of instances when I realised I was truly alone and that was a bit of a problem.
The first involved tan lines. The weather was gloriously warm in Grenada and when my schedule allowed I would pull out a sun lounger and make the most of it. I sensibly rubbed my factor 30 sun lotion onto the parts of my exposed skin I could reach. I slapped a blob on the back of each shoulder and as that was the furthest I could reach, that had to do.
That evening my back revealed the errors of my ways. Horrid, red, criss-crossing burn lines! Not attractive. In fact, they were so bad, the next day a guest offered to put cream on my back to prevent it happening again. (Which was very kind of her – thank you stranger.)
Pictures are very awkward too; if you want to be in them that is. If I wanted to photograph anything other than my giant head and a speck of sand (see above), I would have to ask for help and stand awkwardly all alone on a romantic spot, posing for a stranger.
There were certain activities I was apprehensive to take up on my own too. The La Source resort attracts a lot of solo female travellers so on this occasion I could pair up with other ladies for visits to the local markets or nights out, should I have wanted to. I was apprehensive to do these things on my own in a place I don’t really know, so if there was no one else willing to come with me I would have missed out on seeing a fascinating part of the country.
Eating alone is a bit sad isn’t it? As a writer I could just about get away with dining with my laptop. As a bookworm I was happy to share my table with a good novel. But it was others in the restaurant who felt most uncomfortable about my solo dining. I found that couples often asked me to join them – I suspect wishing I wouldn’t. Again, the La Source resort is unique in this way as every night a member of staff hosts a ‘singles’ table where all the solo travellers can dine together. Joining these tables for a couple of nights I found the company great and conversation flowing, but I’m aware this isn’t an option on all holidays or trips abroad.
I noticed that I begun talking to myself, particularly in my room which was often silent – there were no TVs in the bedrooms at La Source and it felt odd without any background noise. I missed idle chit chat and started muttering or giggling to myself. During the day I could chat to staff and other guests around the pool but there were many silent periods in my evenings. It turned out that was exactly what I needed though, silence is indeed golden.
At times when I was sick of silence, or had experienced something amazing I wanted to share with loved ones, I found myself reaching for my iphone or laptop and hooking up to wifi like I needed it to survive. With no one to share the highs and lows of my day with, I went online and shared with the world instead. As a blogger this is a beneficial trait but I wondered if the average non-blogging Joe Bloggs would just end up doing work or spending all their time online, when they should be unwinding on holiday?
I totally enjoyed my holiday for one though. With an increase of well priced solo holidays on the market, if your friend or partner doesn’t have the time, budget or inclination to join you on a trip, I say take the deliciously self-indulgent option of going alone. Consider the potential pitfalls as mentioned above and measure your choice of destination and accommodation against them. Finally, pack lots of books and mind you don’t burn your back!