Travelling is arguably one of the most exciting experiences a person can have – but what happens if your friends or family don't have the time or funds to travel with you? For some, the best option is to travel alone. In July 2014, Roy Morgan released a study showing just how many Australians are taking this option, with 16 per cent of the 12,642,000 Aussie travellers jetting away by themselves in the year leading up to March 2014. It seems this is also on the rise, as just 12 per cent travelled alone a decade ago. Here are some tips and tricks from travel consultants in the know.
When choosing accommodation, look for options where sociality is a central part of the operation. Many places have common areas, lounges, bars or even libraries where you can stop in for a rest and perhaps to meet people. You could even speak to the staff at the hotel and let them know you're keen to have a coffee with any other solo travellers staying there at the time. Even though you've decided to travel alone, making new friends while away from home will enrich your experience - and give you someone to dine with to boot. No matter your destination or preferred activity, there will be group tours and options available. Talk to your travel consultant about picking out a few to suit you, such as a history or museum tour, a cooking class, a vineyard excursion or even a stand-up paddleboard lesson. Such tours and groups are almost exclusively full of people who relish the chance to talk to someone new while on holiday, so you'll quickly fit right in. When dining out, don't be afraid to ask staff to help you find the perfect meal setting. One of the best parts of travelling to new places is getting a taste of the local cuisine at the best restaurants and eateries. While travelling alone however, this can be a little daunting. In this situation you have a few options. Either ask the server for a seat tucked away in a corner somewhere so you can savour your meal and the pleasure of your own company, or ask for a spot where you can watch the world go by as your entertainment. Alternatively, look for a restaurant with long, communal tables and ask to be seated at one with other travellers looking for company. Generally speaking, the less formal an establishment is, the more likely there will be an atmosphere of camaraderie. With fine-dining restaurants, most people will be there with loved ones, family or for a special event, but with more casual places, you may find people more willing to talk to others outside their own tables. Safety and security are important factors for any trip, but be extra aware of them when alone. One of the simplest and easiest steps you can take is to avoid looking like a tourist. For example, walk with confidence, put the map and camera away in a carry bag when you're not using them, and wear the sort of clothes you would on a day out at home if possible (rugged tramping boots will always look out of place in a city centre). Be prepared in advance any time you have to travel, such as from the airport to the hotel. If your research has told you a taxi ride should only cost approximately $30, you'll know the fare may be too steep if a driver quotes you $50 before you get in the car. Give your hotel reception details of your planned itinerary each day just so you know someone is looking out for you as well. Remember though, don't let the fact that you're travelling alone stop you from doing what you want to do.