Travelling solo is not quite the escape it once was. As more and more people shun big resort hotels, pick up their backpacks and head out around the world under their own steam, some destinations are becoming hopelessly overrun with travellers. If you’ve no desire to follow the same path as every other person you meet at a hostel, you’ll need to get creative.
We’ve got five ideas to make your journey genuinely original:
- Don’t do things by halves
- Travel without flying
- Leave your friends at home
- Make it personal
- Don’t just hit the beach
Don’t do things by halves
If time allows, try circumnavigating as much of the globe as you can. Several airlines offer world travel tickets that work out much cheaper than if you book each flight individually. Depending on which offer you choose, there are likely to be a set number of stopovers – exactly where you take them is left up to you. Only the start and end of your trip has to be in the same place.
Travel without flying
Attempt to complete as much of your journey as possible without the use of an aeroplane. Instead, take a road trip into the blue, try the romance of a long-distance railway route, book a crossing by boat or just go on foot – it doesn’t have to be around the whole world. On every continent there are long panoramic paths that lead you through breath-taking regions. How about, for example, the Appalachian Trail, which meanders 3,500 kilometres through the mountains from Georgia to Maine in the US?
If you don’t want to travel that far, or that long, why not try the Kungsleden, a 440-kilometre hiking trail through northern Sweden. Spectacular views come as standard here as well.
Leave your friends at home
Sure: if you travel with your better half or a good friend, you’ll always have a familiar face by your side and you won’t have to make every decision alone. However, going solo also has many advantages and can make the experience even more exceptional.
Scared? If the latter sounds daunting, pick a country that speaks your language – or at least one you’re fluent enough in – the first time you head out alone. You don’t need to be away for long – a week on the road is fine. If this test run is successful, you can then start planning a more expansive trip. If you’re looking for human connection, incorporate a period of volunteering as part of the journey. The panda breeding centre in Chengdu, China or the Peru Amazon Conservation Project are just two places that welcome volunteers, even for shorter periods of time.
Make it personal
If you want your trip to be genuinely special, instead of trying to take in the tourist hotspots everyone else is going to, seek out a route that has some relevance to your own interests. This could involve attempting to ride all the coolest rollercoasters in one region, seeking out an area’s unique wildlife or finding the finest food every destination has to offer.
Culinary tourism is particularly flexible: simply ask the locals for foodie tips and let their advice guide you.
Don’t just hit the beach
It’s not surprising that destinations promising good weather are high on many a traveller’s wish list. Australia or Bali are unquestionably beautiful, but how about enhancing your trip by heading to a few of the world’s (wrongly) neglected colder climes as well? For example, you could chase polar bears and the Northern Lights on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, or discover the fascinating Alaskan wilderness. For braving the cold, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views – all of which can be enjoyed without hordes of other tourists.