Going on holiday on your own: it used to sound, well, frankly a little sad. No friends? No partner? And then there was the dreaded single supplement – to add insult to injury you had to pay more for the privilege. However, perceptions have, thankfully, changed over the years.
They’ve had to. As there are more and more single travellers out there. Statistically it’s a growing market. According to the Office of National Statistics around a third of households in Britain are now occupied by just one person. And in 2009 Lloyds TSB forecast that over the next decade the number of single-person households would increase by two million. Research by the Halifax, meanwhile, showed that the proportion of single women living alone jumped from 9.8 per cent in 1983 to 21.7 per cent in 2002. Everyone was quick to start talking about the Bridget Jones’ generation.
However, although Bridget did occasionally mope alone in her flat with a bottle of Chardonnay, she was generally looking for some fun.
Travel companies have, of course, finally cottoned on. Many have started offering incentives, scrapping the single person supplement, while adventure companies usually offer the opportunity of sharing with someone of the same sex to avoid an extra charge. There are also many specialist singles holiday companies out there now.
But for those who still feel a little apprehensive about broadcasting their single status to the world an activity holiday is the perfect foil. Whatever, you fancy doing, there’s probably a travel company that offers it, from tried and tested cookery holidays, to yoga, pilates and even belly-dancing. You can try something new, or spend a week doing something you love, with likeminded people. And make new friends along the way.
I’ve travelled extensively on my own because of my job. Sometimes, of course, I’ve had boyfriends or friends to go away with. But because I’m a travel writer there have been plenty of times when I’ve had to go alone. And it’s those trips that have often proved the most memorable – for the adventures I’ve had and the people I’ve met along the way. When you’re not in your comfort zone you’re more open to new experiences.
Cookery holidays are some of the best ice-breakers. I’ve laughed more with strangers – who later became friends – around a stove than I would ever have thought possible. And even grew to enjoy cooking! Especially learning to make pizza and fresh pasta in Italy. There’s something warm and all encompassing about an Italian kitchen – like being wrapped in a big, welcoming hug. Add a communal meal under the shade of some olive trees, a few glasses of good Italian wine as you tuck into the dishes you’ve made with your new friends and it doesn’t get much better.
Going away on your own can be liberating and a real adventure. And, ultimately, you’re not on your own, of course, on a group holiday.