Travelling solo this year? You are not alone.
The number of searches for solo travel has risen by approximately 40 percent from 2015 to 2017, according to Google Trends. In tourism, solo travel has become a key trend and topic, as it continues to grow each year.
Whether you're a seasoned solo traveller or are considering a spontaneous trip alone for the very first time, the Association of Southern African Tourism Agents (Asata) has compiled a list of five hacks for owning travelling alone in 2018.
1. Consider a guided tour
Guided tours are no longer about buses packed with tourists snapping photos and then rushing off to the next attraction. Through the right company, guided tours can offer a full tourist experience with like-minded people, says Theresa Szejwallo, MD of Trafalgar South Africa.
"First-timers can dip their toes into solo travel without needing to worry about getting lost or lonely," she said.
2. Join a travel group online
There's no better source for relevant information on your chosen destinations than asking your peers who've been actually there. There are plenty of such groups on Facebook. There are also travel blogs of fellow solos who have just been to places you've dreamt of.
3. Set money aside for emergencies
Always overbudget for your expenses before going on a trip, especially because you won't have a partner, bestie or parent to rely on in an emergency. Unforeseen circumstances can range from missed flights and transfers to extreme medical emergencies. Also invest in travel insurance that offers adequate cover.
4. Schedule rest stops
The advantage of going solo is that you're not bound to a group or a friend who might not want to try the same things that you want to. You can move at your own pace. Being on your own means you might be able to tick off more than one attraction in one day – often multiple cities in one week. Remember, however, to conserve your energy, as this can take its toll. Take a night off here and there to rest and recharge your batteries.
5. Opt for an all-inclusive experience
It's highly likely that as a solo traveller, you'll be self-funding your trip, so you must be smart about your money when planning your travels.
By simply going online, you're not always going to get the best product price that meets your travel expectations. "However, sourcing a holiday locally from an operator or agent means that you can get the best price and holiday in one fell swoop, no time wasted browsing hundreds of online platforms and no hidden costs," said Jane Davidson, director of Development Promotions.