Common solo travel dilemmas

Who’s afraid to travel alone and who’s game? Olga Galacho reports on how older Australians view being single on holidays and shares advice for those considering travelling solo.

Travelling alone is avoided by many Australians not because they are afraid, but for a variety of practical reasons.

Whether they are in a relationship or not, nearly two-thirds of our Australian Travel Inspirations 2018 survey respondents said they had not holidayed solo. Among their reasons were the single surcharge made it too expensive, they had pets at home or believed they could not enjoy a trip without a companion. Only a small minority said they were too scared to travel alone and fewer still cited poor health as prohibitive.

Just 39 per cent had struck out alone for their vacation, and they had plenty of down-to-earth and motivational advice for others. One participant said it was crucial to “research public transport, the local ‘no-nos’, and public toilet locations”. Another warned that remembering to take hangover remedies was essential!

Many were broader in their advice, with suggestions such as “put yourself out there more and talk to new people” and “be friendly to others and enjoy it”.

On the question of luggage there was a big variation, with suggestions such as “pack everything” to “travel light”. Also eliciting a wide range of perspectives was the issue of personal safety.

Some were overly-security minded and suggested “use your eyes, ears and mouth to learn and keep a sharp eye out for thieves and pickpockets”. Another went further and advised “leave a footprint, as in posts on Facebook and SMS messages”.


Then, there were travellers who encouraged throwing caution to the wind. “Don’t be scared to try free camping … just make sure there are other vans or campers around,” they wrote.

Older Aussies are a sociable bunch with nearly three-quarters reporting no problems connecting with new people. Almost a quarter actually found it “very easy” to strike up a conversation with a stranger, and just eight per cent considered it “very difficult”.

Luckily for that minority there are many tips on breaking the ice. One respondent suggests “smile first and look friendly”. Another reached for Dutch courage – “have a couple of beers or wine first”.

For those determined to learn the gift of the gab, one reader recommended: “Catch public transport before you go on holiday, and practice making small talk to other people. It gets easier.”

Seniors travel guru Perry Morcombe also has sage words on the topic: “Just remember that so many Australians over 60 are single, and they’ll be keen to talk to you, so don’t feel afraid to approach another solo traveller. They could end up being a new life-time friend!”

If you’re still stuck on how to start up a conversation on holiday, have a look at Leon’s five tips – a little small talk could open up some big discoveries.

Do you have a Travel SOS question? Email it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it for you (or find someone who can).

Written by Olga Galacho


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