2017 is the the year for solo travel. Or so say I anyway!
I’ve just returned from my first solo travel of 2017 and as I’m full of the joys of travel plans, I thought I’d share some of my favourite providers aimed at, and catering for solo travellers.
I’ve travelled alone with all of these tour companies before (although it feel strange to say alone, as you immediately feel like one of a gang!).
Dragoman is a specialist in ‘overlanding’, meaning the trucks they use replace the need for a 4×4, and facilitate off-roading. The company were pioneers in offering trips across Africa and the Silk Route because of this, and have expanded their coverage greatly since the early 1980s. Still based in the UK, Dragoman provides trips that you wont find with other tour group companies, simply because only Dragomans trucks can get there. This means you’ll be camping in the middle of nowhere, instead of camp grounds, and you may not see a village in four days of driving. This is really what appeals to me. I’ve been on two trips with Dragoman so far; across Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as part of the Silk Route (2013) and Mongolia (2014).
Dragoman isn’t for you if you’re someone who like to have a phone signal, or doesn’t like mucking in. I will without doubt travel with Dragoman in the future, and can’t wait to explore more off the beaten track destinations with them.
You can read more about my overlanding trip in Mongolia here.
Intrepid is a large tour provider offering tours on every continent. With accessible prices and a wide range of tours that can be bolted together to make long trips easy, Intrepid is popular with gap year travellers and backpackers. I travelled with Intrepid in the US and Canada, with the mini-van and trailer combo providing space for our group of 15. These vans are not the most roomy of vehicles, and do feel a bit cramped, but I guess this helps keep the costs down and the prices reasonable.
On my trips in North America we had a wide range of travellers, from 18 year olds to 70 year olds. Intrepid is popular with Australian, German, Dutch and British travellers especially. Of course, every group is different, and the age ranges will vary across different continents, but I certainly found the vibe was weighted towards the under-30 age range, and that a cool-box of beer was always a priority for the group.
I had a great time whilst travelling with intrepid aged 24, and really bonded with the groups I travelled with. As you can see from the pictures above, red cups are never far away from an Intrepid trip in North America. The trips allow for a good amount of activities, and I certainly found that my fitness levels improved from all the hiking, kayaking and cycling I did, along with the peaceful nights round the campfire.
A Canadian company, G Adventures provide group trips across the world (650 different ones to be precise!) Popular with gap year backpackers and grown up gappers alike, G Adventures offers a number of different travel styles, including trips solely for those under 39 years.
G Adventure’s sailing trips are particularly unique, and offer the chance to sail around a variety of places (Greece, Croatia, The Maldives, The Galapagos) with the added bonus of not having to move your luggage all the time. Sailing means you can get to secluded islands, inlets and villages that other tourists just don’t get to and this often means you get a more authentic experience.
I went on G Adventures’ 10 day sailing trip around the Greek islands in 2015. The yachts the company use are in great condition and the skippers are super experienced. Sharing a cabin with a friend, we had 10 days of island hopping, dropping anchor at lunchtime to barbecue fish and swim in crystal clear waters. Finding the best restaurant on whichever island we were visiting that evening was as stressful as life got for those 10 days.
Being on a yacht also gives you the option to do some of your own cooking if you’re not keen to splash the cash. Click on the banner below to find out more about G Adventures’ wide range of tours for solo travellers.
Flash Pack was founded a few years ago by Lee Thompson and Radha Vyas. Flash Pack call themselves experts in adventure travel and tours for solo travellers in their 30’s & 40’s. The company really does have the personal touch (I was even sent a hand wrapped Sri Lankan novel just before Christmas) and the itineraries have been planned super carefully and with a good amount of personality in order to avoid the usual tourist traps.
I recently came back from my first trip with Flash Pack and was very impressed. The level of comfort you can experience on the trip is really up there, due to the trip calling at some of the nicest hotels in Sri Lanka. Being able to share a room on the trip made this feel like a luxury break at a really affordable price.
What is more, I liked the fact that nearly every meal was included in the initial price, meaning that you didn’t have to worry about exchange rates and working out complicated bills all the time. This also meant that many meals were pre-planned with restaurants or eateries by the guide, so that a wonderful spread of the best local food was presented to us. This included a wonderful meal on the beach at an eatery owned by friends of our guide. This happened to be one of the groups birthday and we all agreed that it was the perfect special evening.
Sri Lanka was a great trip, and I’d definitely consider going on one of The Flash Pack’s group trips again (hello again South America!). For me, the trip was definitely on the more relaxing side of group trips (not too adventurous or active) but doing something like that in combination with a more active trip each year sounds like a great combination to make the most of those precious 5 weeks of annual leave.
The Colombia and Chile trips look really good, especially as it’s hard to find group trips that travel through Colombia (due to insurance costs I believe) and which are affordable.
If you’re in your 30s or 40s (or very late 20s like me), I’d urge you to consider travelling with Flash Pack, you won’t regret it. Check them out on Instagram.
Surf Maroc is an example of a company that has excelled at what it has set out to do. It has been instrumental in establishing Morocco’s southern coast as an affordable year-round surfing destination. Offering various Surf and Yoga package across its four beautiful apartments and villas, Surf Maroc has increased its set-up over the years to include a Surf shop, cafe and restaurant. The beauty of Surf Maroc is that it can provide a whole week holiday of surfing, yoga, food, accommodation, activities and tuition for less than the price of 3 days of the same in somewhere like Devon or Cornwall in the UK, with the added addition of having great weather (and much warmer sea temperatures) nearly all year round.
I chose to go on one of Surf Maroc’s Girls Weeks in April 2015, and had an awesome time. Set up in 2008, Girls Weeks run every 2-4 weeks throughout the year, and offer great value for money, as well as a being a brilliant option for solo female travellers to form part of a group.
Staying at Taghazout Villa, girls taking part on the course get 5 days of surf coaching from female instructors (they are awesome!), three wonderful homecooked meals each day (breakfast and dinner are eaten communally at the villas with all current guests), 1 hour evening yoga class, activities and excursions throughout the week, and a whole lot more besides.
If you’re anything like me, you might well be exhausted by the end of the week, but feeling super relaxed and chilled out. Taghazout Villa is the perfect chill-out zone, and all the fresh air (and yummy meals) that the week provides leaves you feeling renewed and healthy (and thoroughly exfoliated from all that sand!)
I highly recommend a Girls Week at Surf Maroc, especially if you’re feeling a bit burnt out from work and stress – it’s the perfect antidote. Just don’t forget to put sun cream on your ears!
Check out Surf Maroc on Instagram.
KE is next in my plans, as I’ve booked onto their ‘Ultimate Fann Mountains Trek’ in September 2017. I’ve had lots of great reviews on KE from friends and I’ve been wanting to book onto one of their tours for a while. I think a trip to Patagonia to complete the Torres del Paine trek might be on the cards for next year if the September trek goes well. I’ll report back once I’ve been.
And some solo group tour companies I would love to try…
It seems that there are lots of great companies cropping up, offering adventures both near and far-away, and aimed at the single and adventurous types. Take a look at a few trip providers I’ve pulled from my ‘Must-do’ Pinterest board.
Advertising ‘singles adventure weekends’, this company specialises any activity you can do in or beside the sea in Wales; Coasteering, Surfing, Sea Kayaking, and kiteboarding. You may think that’s a lot to fit into one weekend, but it does sound like a hell of a lot of fun.
I can’t quite remember how I came across this company, but it was about six months ago and I was instantly hooked by their ethos of making the most of a weekend/long weekend break. To this end they’ve introduced a growing number of 2-5 day ‘adventures’ across Europe to their product range. From reading through the itineraries, It’s obvious that the team have worked hard to fill lots of fun into these mini adventures, thereby limiting the amount of time you have to take off work. My current wish-list includes Cycle, Hike and Kayak the Croatian Coastline (1 day off work) and Cycling and Wine Tasting in Tuscany (1/2 day off work).
What started off as fun-filled evening canoe trips to explore the waterways of London has expanded to trips across Europe and beyond. I first spotted Secret Adventures when a friend I follow on Instagram posted a pic of her post-work trip of the moonlit Thames. Since then, I’ve had my eye on their 5 day Canoe Across Scotland trip. One for 2018?