Travelling solo in a small, guided group, is rising in popularity – and we know this because over 50% of our customers are choosing to travel solo, together with us. This way of travelling can kickstart a renewed sense of adventure and freedom, where you can also benefit from the security of travelling with a group of like-minded travellers and an expert local leader who knows their destination like the back of their hand. Lorna Frier, an avid solo traveller with Exodus, shares her insights into the captivating world of solo exploration on her adventures in Antarctica, the Galapagos, Sri Lanka and Morocco.
“I get to travel anywhere in the world I fancy without having to find a friend to go with”. For Lorna, solo travel means freedom. It’s about embracing the globe without the constraints of coordination with companions. And the joy doesn’t stop there; “then I get to share this experience with like-minded people while making new friends from all around the world.” This is one of Lorna’s favourite things about solo travelling in a group, as she has met many incredible people that she may have never come across if she hadn’t embarked on a solo Exodus adventure. One person she clicked with was a Canadian woman she met during her solo trip to the Galapagos in 2013; “We got on so well people thought that we had come on the trip together! We were the only two solo travellers onboard and we’re still in touch to this day”.
Many people are nervous about the idea of solo travel, but when we asked Lorna what her advice would be to anyone who is thinking about travelling solo with us or is unsure, her response was confident, “Just do it! The guide will make sure everyone is included and you will find ‘your tribe’. Everyone else has picked the trip because they want to be there just as much as you do, and that’s one thing you already have in common!” She went on to explain, “You won’t have to sit alone at mealtimes, as most are always with the group and on group trips people want to be part of the group and are more receptive to making new friends.”
Speaking of mealtimes, Lorna highlighted the seamless blend of the group and solo experiences during meals; “there are always enough group meals to form bonds, usually by the time ‘you get off the leash’ you have found someone to hang out with to try other recommended restaurants. On my trip to Antarctica, 53 out of 164 passengers were solo travellers! At mealtimes, the Maître D’ would have lots of tables of eight or six specifically for us solo travellers, so I just joined one. Couples also joined so we mixed a lot and met lots of interesting people. It was fun having new people to chat to.”
We believe that one of the best benefits of travelling solo is enjoying shared experiences with a group of like-minded travellers. We asked Lorna to tell us about three experiences she particularly enjoyed sharing with a group; “number one is camping in Antarctica; you just couldn’t do that alone! Number two would be taking the polar plunge, and having a group of new friends to queue up for that with really helped me to get past the nerves and have people to celebrate with after. My third choice would be paddling below the Antarctic Circle (in a canoe), as I would have been scared to do this on my own, but having an expedition team with me put me at ease and I was able to thoroughly enjoy it.” Lorna finds comfort and a sense of security in travelling solo on a group tour, she specifically felt this on her recent trip to Morocco. “I was in Morocco in May with Exodus, and I felt safe as the group wasn’t too big and the leader had a ton of local knowledge, so you knew you were safe with them. I also felt this on a trip to Sri Lanka, despite there being protests in the region, at no time did I feel unsafe as the leader always kept us secure.”
Lorna also went on to explain her love for Exodus’ organised approach to trips, from transfers to accommodations, letting her enjoy the adventure without ever worrying about logistics. “I never want to be stuck in a foreign country and be unable to speak the local language, trying to get to my hotel. I always feel a bit famous seeing my name on the transfer board at the airport and have a huge sense of relief when I see the Exodus board along with the anticipation of meeting my leader and my group, as I can then relax and let the experience unfold!”
Part of letting this magical experience unfold as a solo traveller is making other solo traveller friends, which Lorna has done many times. “I’ve kept in touch with many of the people I have met, particularly those on the Antarctica trip. We now have a WhatsApp group called “Penguin Pals”. As I said before, over 30% of our group were choosing to travel solo. Some were there by themselves, as their partners at home didn’t fancy the cold. Couples mixed well with solo travellers, and we had a few party nights over Xmas and New Year for dancing together etc. Also, for disembarking the ship for landings we were put in Penguin groups. I was in Adelie. When your penguin group was called to get into the Zodiacs, we did so in groups of 10. Nothing bonds you better than a shared wildlife experience with your 10 and your Zodiac driver. I honestly loved that trip so much!”
Lorna wrapped up our interview by reflecting, “You have the friends who you will find in the bar, the friends who also enjoy whale watching on deck and friends in the shop or having a coffee and biscuit in the lounge. Solo travellers are more likely to be sociable but even the quieter ones have plenty to do like taking photos or enjoying the lectures. If you’re thinking about travelling solo, just take the leap – you won’t regret it!”
So, if this has inspired you to travel solo like Lorna on one of our guided group adventures, take a look at our full collection of trips here.