On my 50th birthday - almost ten years ago now - I was in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon, on a holiday that took me to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco and all points in between.
Best of the USA!
On my 51st, I was at Niagara Falls, en route from Toronto to Washington DC, when they decided the season was over as it began to snow - I was on the last boat they lifted out of the water.
Since then, I’ve scaled the heights of Macchu Pichu in Peru (that’s a bit of a fib - I did it by train and bus!), marvelled at the Terra Cotta warriors and walked the Great Wall of China, and seen nature in the wild on safari in South Africa.
From South America to Asia to Africa!
I’ve ridden elephants in Northern Thailand (and seen more buddhas and temples than you’d ever believe existed), danced the salsa and walked in Hemingway’s footsteps around the streets of Havana.
I’ve watched the sunrise at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and the magnificent sunset from the deck of a junk on Halong Bay in Vietnam.
Beautiful East Asia
And I went on all those holidays on my own
I’m rather hoping that makes me sound like an intrepid explorer - but I’m not, I’m really rather shy and not particularly brave. But when there are things you really, really want to see and do - and, I’ll happily admit, can afford to pay for - it’s amazing what you can make yourself do. But I don’t want you to get the impression that I’ve been packing a rucksack, booking flights and sleeping in youth hostels - I’m sure wonderful holidays can be had that way, but they’re really not my idea of a good time. When I said “on my own”, what I really should have said was “without a partner, or anyone else I know”.
For many years I was with a very dear partner, but his idea of adventure was booking a B+B in Keswick rather than the usual Bowness for our annual holiday
By my 50th birthday I was on my own, and I’d always wanted to mark it with something special. For that first adventure, I booked my “Golden West” tour with a traditional travel company and paid extra - quite a lot really - for a single room.
There were quite a lot of people travelling solo, all of a similar age, and we found we all enjoyed each others’ company - it was a lovely holiday
Having had such a good time, I tried it again the following year - this time up the East side of the US from New York to Eastern Canada and back. It was a totally different experience - I enjoyed the holiday, but I was the only person travelling alone, and the tour guide embarrassingly pointed it out to everyone as we set off. Although all the couples were really welcoming, I always think there’s something a little awkward about odd numbers - but I suspect that was my issue rather than theirs.
So the following year, I decided to try something different
I found a company who cater for solo travellers - Just You, part of the Travelsphere group - and travelled to China and Hong Kong. One taste of this new travel experience and I was hooked. Just You have been my company of choice ever since, but here are a number of companies out there that cater for the single traveller. You may know others, but I’m aware of Travel One, Friendship Travel and Solos, Saga have most certainly shaken off their former image, and Voyages Jules Verne offer many holidays without a single supplement.
It does take guts to do it for the first time, but most of the major companies do UK or European breaks and you can try out the experience before you try something more major
Friends with partners think I’m terribly brave, but I’m not - I just love my holidays, and prefer a bit of company. My fellow travellers have never been particularly strange - all groups are made up of people you’d choose as friends, and some you probably wouldn’t. I’d never share a room - I need a little time and space of my own. And I sometimes don’t take well to being “organised”, and prefer to look around on my own - and you’re almost always able to do that.