by Katherine Allen

rTaveling solo for work is one thing, but taking a solo vacation can be very daunting. Work trips are often shorter and you generally know that at some stage during the trip you are going to connect with colleagues or clients. The prospect of taking a holiday on your own, however, can often lead to anxiety on many levels. You might worry that being on your own will make you feel more vulnerable or isolated. There might also be all sorts of practical considerations that concern you, those which you wouldn’t give a moment’s thought to if traveling with others. Following some of the tips below will hopefully help to turn your solo vacay into an experience you are too eager to repeat.

The Trip
If you really do want some time on your own then traveling independently may well be the thing for you. However, there are companies specializing in holidays for the lone traveler which provide options for traveling within a group as well as traveling completely solo. Many of these specialist companies will not charge a single supplement which can often make quite a difference to the holiday cost. If you would prefer to make your own travel arrangements while still not being completely on your own, then staying in a hostel, B&B or small hotel may give you the best chance of meeting other travelers who might eat or even explore the local area with you. Signing up for local excursions could also be a great way to meet other travelers. The internet is a great tool for researching the local area and identifying companies offering sightseeing trips or other local activities before you travel.

Meal Times
The thought of eating alone is often the biggest cause of anxiety for solo travelers. But it doesn’t have to be. Many restaurants offer the option of eating at the bar, which can lead to conversations with the bar staff or other visitors who come in for a drink or bar meal. Many restaurants also now have bench-style seating and will seat separate groups of people at the same large table. If you do find yourself in a position where you are eating at a table alone, take a good book or magazine with you or catch up with the news and/or your emails. People-watching can also be fun—plus, it can be done unobserved from behind sunglasses if you are sitting at a table on a sunny terrace.

Practical Tips
There are some things that you take for granted when you travel with other people—for example, having someone on hand to help you apply sunscreen or look after your suitcase while you go to the bathroom at the airport. But you can get around all of these things with a little bit of planning. Buy sunscreen in spray form so that you can still protect those hard to reach areas. Make sure you only go to the bathroom at the airport after you have checked in your luggage or before you collect it from the luggage carousel. If there is anything about traveling alone from a practical point of view that is causing you some concern, explore travelers’ forums online—you will probably not be the only person to have such concerns; chances are someone will have already found a way around it!

Embrace the Experience
Individuals who have traveled solo often say that the trips they did on their own were some of the best they have ever taken. Being on your own will put you in situations where you have to be more adventurous and open to the prospect of experiencing new things, something that can often result in a heightened enjoyment of the trip. You are likely to meet new people, some of whom will become friends and future traveling companions. At the very least, the opportunity to go where you want, do what you want and experience what you want without having to consider the demands of fellow traveling companions could be liberating—so don’t let your anxieties hold you back!