The Best New Trend in Travel? Going It Solo.

Three tour operators that let you leave your baggage at home

By Kirk Miller

The Best New Trend in Travel? Going It Solo.
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25 October 2017

The problem with getting away?

You’re probably taking a part of your life with you.

And it’s probably the part you’re trying to escape: friends, family, co-workers.

We’ve got a solution: Ditch ‘em.

You’ll have fun. You’ll learn more about yourself. And maybe you’ll make newer, better friends (or family, or co-workers) in the process.

Today, we profile three different tour operators that offer a range of global adventures built for solo travelers. Some offer adventure, some luxury, some mystery. All offer the one thing you can never get enough of: alone time.

Intrepid Travel
A long-time small group adventure tour operator, Intrepid recently noticed a 40 percent growth in bookings for solo travel — enough to account for half of their total bookings.

They also helped conduct a OnePoll survey that showed that nine in 10 U.S. adults were content in their own company, 75 percent of travelers find solo travel more acceptable than 10 years ago, and 24 percent of people have already traveled alone by choice.

Why? According to the poll, there was no pressure to do activities. Solo travel was more relaxing. And it’s easier to meet new people and experience new things when people from your life aren’t around.

With that in mind, the company just launched six new “For Solo Travelers” tours, starting in 2018 and available to book now.

Now, these aren’t completely solo adventures. There are other travelers there, but, like you, they’re going at it by themselves within the “safety net” of a group led by a local guide. “Safety is a concern for some, so the majority of solo travelers feel safer in a group setting,” notes a rep for Intrepid.

The six new solo/small group tours offered by Intrepid include one-two week sojourns in Bali, Morocco and the Golden Triangle. There’s motorbiking in Vietnam. A nine-day culinary tour through the heart of Mexico. And retracing the steps of the Incas in Peru.  

Abercrombie & Kent

For something even more upscale, luxury tour operators Abercrombie & Kent offer two solo-friendly options: the already-small Expedition Cruising expeditions provide steep discounts for travelers going at it alone, including an Antarctica-South Georgia-Falkland Islands adventure and an upcoming Cuba jaunt in February where solo travelers can save 75% off single supplement accommodations.

Given that solo travelers are often charged a premium — because only one person is using a room that most hotels and cruises assume will be occupied by two people or more — these heavy discounts offer a real incentive to head on your own.

And don’t assume these are programs for the loveless.

The majority of solo travelers on A&K cruises are not single,” an A&K rep told us. “Their significant other may not share their enthusiasm for a particular destination or simply may not be able to get time off work.”

A&K also offers more dedicated solo travel excursions (again, traveling alone within a small group of like-minded solo travelers). While their demo tends to lean female and older (50-69), they do attract a broad range of travelers.

“Nearly 40% of A&K solo travellers chose a trip because their partner doesn’t share their interest in the destination,” says our rep. “Or, scheduling conflicts prevented family or friends from joining them.” As well, a quarter of those who travel alone want to pursue a personal passion such as wildlife photography, history or archaeology.

Two small group/solo journeys A&K recommends include Wings Over India, a journey that combines luxury small-group travel with privately-chartered flights, and Cruising the Mekong: Siam, Saigon & Angkor Wat, a weeklong cruise on an exclusive charter. Both journeys are limited to two dozen or fewer guests, led by experienced local guides and feature significant discounts for solo travelers.

Black Tomato
If you want to be truly “alone,” we’d suggest Black Tomato’s new “Get Lost” program. Here, after a brief consultation with a travel expert, you’ll be taken out of your comfort zone, disconnected from the world and placed in a remote polar, jungle, desert, mountain or coastal environment … and you won’t know where you’re going.

But you’ll definitely be figuring out by yourself.

Just not in a dangerous way. “There will be dedicated Get Lost travel experts that will be available for 24/7 support via a satellite phone,” says Black Tomato co-founder Tom Marchant. “While they will be out of sight, Get Lost travelers will have our team tracking their progress and checking-in along the way to assist in any way.”

Black Tomato’s goal? To facilitate “meaningful and transformative travel experiences,” which are usually easier to do when your significant other/parent/friend from college isn’t dragging you to, say, Svalbard’s only Olive Garden.

(If you want to do something more luxurious but also small in scope, try Blink, Black Tomato’s pop-up luxury journeys that are built for tiny group adventures ... though no one’s stopping you from doing it alone.)

A few other tour groups that offer solo, private and small group travel adventures:

Trek Travel: For biking across the world
TCS World Travel: Private jet expeditions with personalized itineraries
Heritage Tours: Private custom-designed travel
Absolute Travel: Luxury solo travel experiences (Update: While their site is still active, we'd now suggest skipping 'em.)
Journeys Within: Solo tours of Southeast Asia
TourRadar: Self-guided and solo tours that last several days

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