Tips for Solo Travelers

Whether you’re a novice or a pro at going it alone, these tips can help you make your vacation the trip of a lifetime.

by NEA Member Benefits

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The number of first-time travelers going solo increases every year, so if you’re considering your own solo trip this year, you’re in good company! In fact, 24% of respondents to the 2015 Visa Global Intentions Study traveled solo on their most recent leisure trip. Whether you’re a novice or a pro at going it alone, these tips can help you make your solo vacation the trip of a lifetime.

1. Book a private tour.

The Visa study found that the number of solo travelers booking personal guided tours has nearly tripled in recent years. Companies such as Viator, Tours by Locals and Vayable offer a multitude of options around the globe tailored to your personal interests and schedule. You can see Rome’s ruins with an archaeologist, taste tapas in Barcelona with a chef and much more.

Don’t assume a private tour is beyond your budget. The Global Greeter Network can connect you with free personal tours led by locals in more than 28 countries. One of the network’s biggest participants, the nonprofit Big Apple Greeter, offers solo-friendly free tours of New York City.

2. Seek out a solo-friendly group tour.

Some lone travelers prefer the safety in numbers that a group tour provides. While most tour companies typically think—and charge—by the pair, some cater to solo travelers. Solos, based in the United Kingdom, offers trips sorted not only by type (such as a city break or walking trek) but also by age group. SHE Travels and Women Traveling Together serve solo female travelers. Other agencies, such as Exodus Travels, offer a mix of standard and “solo-only” itineraries.

3. Look for fee-free tours.

A growing number of tour companies have reduced or eliminated the “single supplement” fee that has made it cost-prohibitive for solo travelers to join in the fun. Such fee-free trips significantly broaden the options for your budget. For example, Road Scholar (formerly Elder Hostel) offers dozens of fee-free “learning adventures,” including painting in the Adirondack Mountains and a multi-sport Costa Rican getaway.

4. Book a solo cruise.

Several cruise lines are ditching or reducing their single supplements and actively courting solo travelers. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines offer solo and studio cabins aboard several ships with itineraries in Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Eyeing a European river cruise? Tauck waives the single supplement on category 1 cabins.

5. Turn to fellow travelers for guidance.

Not sure where to go or how to start planning? Visit TripAdvisor’s solo travel forum and the Journeywoman website. Both sites have travel tips and reviews from other solo travelers that will help you zero in on your destination, lodging, packing and more.

6. Know before you go.

Fear of the unknown stops some prospective solo travelers from setting out. But thanks to today’s digital resources, it’s easy to address many concerns before you make plans.

Survey your social network for potential contacts in your destination. Study online maps and schedules for mass transit—and download relevant apps like City Mapper—to avoid looking lost (and like a target). Use Google Maps to chart walking routes and acquaint yourself with the neighborhood around your hotel. The “nearby” function can help you pinpoint convenient restaurants, grocery stores and ATMs. The more you know, the more confident you’ll feel once you hit the ground.

Book your trip of a lifetime today