When I first started holidaying alone, my main fear was one of safety. A classic Type A personality known for my ridiculous levels of anxiety, I researched obsessively into crime rates, female friendly hotels and portable door locks that give added security for your hotel room. (It’s a thing, look it up!)
What I never concerned myself with was what others would think of me, or whether I’d feel lonely. However, since returning from that first ever solo holiday I’ve spoken to lots of people who are really worried about those very things. One friend who was interested in the idea of a simple jaunt to France on her own, told me that she was holding back because she was worried that she would “feel sad”.
Read more: How being single can enrich your life
Now, I get it. I TOTALLY get it. If you’re abroad on your own because all your pals have reserved their annual leave for their family holidays whilst you’re still flying the single and child-free flag (yep, that’s me!), there’s a chance you could find yourself smack-bang in the middle of your own personal pity-party and terribly worried that everyone will be looking at you with a quizzical looks. But the advice I gave my friend was, “don’t be sad, be SMUG”.
Now, I’m not talking about being an obnoxious idiot. I’m talking about channelling your ‘inner smug’ and remembering how lucky you are to have the freedom and choice that others don’t. That should stop you feeling sad if you hit a downer. And if that doesn’t work, I find a pina colada does the trick.
But seriously, if anyone out there is feeling a bit anxious about their first trip alone for any of these reasons, I am here to hopefully reassure you: it is ACE. I have never once been approached by sleazy men hitting on me or by pitying waiters questioning where my husband is. When I did get chatting to anyone and they discovered I was holidaying alone, these were the typical reactions:
- “Oh that’s great, how are you finding it?” (Standard polite response)
- “Good on you, I could never do that” (Cue absolute #smugface on my part)
- “Ooh, can you recommend any good places to go/things to see?”(Nice, made me feel like I was some kind of intrepid explorer)
- “A blank look of “so what?” (possibly the best reaction as it reminds you that what you’re doing is not weird)
I’ll be honest, I did get one response which was “Oh No!” accompanied with a pitying look. Obviously my temptation was to go on the defensive with a tirade about how the only reason I’m holidaying alone is because-I-don’t-have the-patience-to-wait-for-someone-to-come-with-and-that-I-have-lots-of-friends-really-and-who-needs-men-anyway-and-its-a-good-chance-to-catch-up-with-my-reading blahdy blahdy blah. Instead, I simply smiled and said “no it’s cool, I’m really enjoying it”.
So, never fear. Everyone is far too absorbed in their own insecurities to care about yours. They’ll be admiring you at best, and disinterested at worst.
Just remember the wearing-a-bikini-on-the-beach metaphor: no-one thinks your bum looks big, they’re just wishing they had your legs.
Read more: Stop dating and connect with people
And with that, I leave you with my top five reasons to travel solo:
- How truly relaxed can you really be when you’re with someone else, wasting precious energy nattering away? Rolling solo means your brain literally doesn’t even have to process working out how to string a sentence together.
- You spend less money. Unless you have a borderline drinking problem, you don’t pack away half as much booze as if someone else was there to spur you on.
- You aren’t constantly wondering whether your holidaying companion is having a good time; there’s just you to consider. Want to go back to your room to watch Netflix and rehydrate? Do it. Fancy having wine for breakfast and crisps for dinner? Go for your life. (I may or may not have done this…)
- It encourages you to meet other people. When you’re holidaying alone, you tend to be more engaged in what’s going on around you. You actually make eye-contact (quite the innovative concept for this Londoner). You make conversation with big groups of people in the hotel lift, you get chatting at bus stops to locals, and you engage restaurant staff in friendly conversation.
- It liberates you, and makes you feel strong; like you can take on the world. Navigating your way through a foreign country by yourself is no mean feat, whether it’s Malta or Marrakech.
Ready for an adventure of your own? Find fellow solo travellers on a Flash Pack group adventure
Photos: Caroline Cronin, Shutterstock