JANE SLADE investigates some exciting holiday choices for older solo travellers
Taking the plunge and going on your first holiday on your own can be a scary prospect. But those who’ve done it love it resulting in many preferring now to travel alone than with a friend or spouse.
Whether you’re a walker, sun lover, spa seeker, culture vulture or cruise addict there is the holiday for you with a company that specialises in looking after solo travellers.
Stan Kerr, 81, went on his first solo holiday five months after his wife died in 2009.
“My wife and I had always gone away for Christmas together but the year she died I just didn’t want to be the odd one round someone else’s table, so I booked a two week holiday with Friendship Travel over Christmas and New Year to Fuerteventura,” he says.
“I am not the drinker I was but I like socialising. The first week there were 20 chaps and eight ladies but the second week the split was more even.
“Everyone was warm and friendly and the accommodation was lovely (I had a double room to myself) and you always eat well round communal tables.
“I don’t mind my own company so was happy to lie round the pool listening to Christmas Carols. I’m usually the oldest on these holidays but it doesn’t matter.
“Since then I’ve always spent every Christmas on a Friendship Travel holiday. This year I’m going to Lanzarote which will cost around £2,600.
“While I’m not looking for a relationship I did meet a very nice Germany lady on one holiday and went to spend six weeks in Germany but it was a bit complicated so we are no longer together.”
Stan’s tips for nervous solo travellers
- Just do it.
- You will be nervous that’s natural, but you don’t have any reason to be.
- Take enough money so you can go off on your own if you want to.
- Just because people are on their own it doesn’t mean they are single. Some people are having respite from caring for a sick spouse, others just prefer a different type of holiday from their partner.
- You don’t have to join in and take part in everything. Friendship Travel is a good choice if you like to do your own thing.
- Do your research. Some companies will organise every minute of your day.
Friendship Travel’s summer 2016 brochure is packed with destinations and ideas for solo holidaymakers looking to go on a cruise, city break or long-haul get away.
Making its debut is the Greek island of Zante, where two new house-party holidays are being featured at the two-star Apollon Hotel and the four-star Ionian Hill Hotel.
Prices for a seven-night holiday range from £595 to £735 per person inclusive of return Gatwick flights, transfers, accommodation with breakfast and five evening meals with wine.
Speaking at the programme launch, managing director, Colum McLornan said: “The popularity of our house parties continues to rise each year.
“We carefully choose ‘small and friendly’ hotels and our guests comment that it’s like staying in a villa with a private pool with a group of friends.”
On all Friendship Travel holidays guests enjoy sole occupancy of a double room and the services of a Friendship Travel host.
For those looking to lose weight or improve their health should book a break with Wellbeing Escapes, which offers healthy holidays all over the world, year round. The company was launched nine years ago by Stella Photi who says: “Most of our customers are solo travellers and we have many mature ladies.
“As people get older they should invest in their health and wellbeing, especially if they have 30 years of retirement ahead of them. We vet every destination carefully to make sure people travelling alone are well looked after and pampered and get the best deal possible.”
As well as a selection of spa holidays tailor-made for single travellers, popular among retirees is a seven-night health retreat at the Sha Wellness clinic in Spain (above). Priced from £3,500 including return flights to Alicante this break focusses on weight loss and wellbeing.
But for those needing a stricter medical approach should opt for a stay at the historic Thermia Palace (right) in Piestany in Slovakia, priced from £1,000 for seven nights including flights to Bratislava.
New this year is the Ama Andalucia on the border of Portugal and Spain, offering spa treatments, yoga, fitness and meditation classes. Priced from £800 for seven nights including flights to Faro.
Voted Best Singles Holiday Tour Operator in the British Travel Awards for the last four years, Solos Holidays has been catering to the needs of lone travellers for over 30 years.
For newly-single retirees, or those considering travelling on their own for the first time, Discover Solos Weekends are a great way to dip your toe in the water before committing to a longer trip.
Choose from two UK options in 2016: 18-20 March at the four-star Meon Valley Marriot Hotel & Country Club; £319pp and 14-16 October at the three-star Holiday Inn York; £245pp.
New holidays featured in the 2016 brochure include: Albania Uncovered! – a seven-night escorted tour departing 6 May or 7 October priced from £1,069pp and Essence of Myanmar – an 11-day escorted tour departing 12 May or 23 November 2016; priced from £2,999pp.
Friendship Travel holidays /0871 200 2035
Wellbeing Escapes /020 3735 7555
Solos Holidays / 0844 371 8860
Another great company offering exotic holidays for single travellers is Voyages Jules Verne /020 3553 3175 which includes trips to the Northern Lights, Victoria Falls, wonders of Asia, China, and the Sudan. For information on those holidays with no single-room supplement click here