Just because your best friends are busy building big business in the city (or castles in the sky) and you've binned your two-timing lover to make way for a better kind of life – there's no reason to shed the idea of planning that trip of a lifetime or quick fix mini-break...be brave and go alone.
Traveling solo gives you time to get to know someone who is really rather interesting, namely you, and you don't have to do it completely on your own. Organized holidays for single people, or those traveling solo, is a now-thriving, professional and sophisticated tourism industry niche.
Don't be so boring...you can go it alone and do absolutely anything – learn a new hobby or skill or challenge your greatest fears. You don't want to reach your twilight years and find that you never actually did make it on safari to Africa, journeyed to the Lost City in Jordan, slept under the stars in a desert camp in Wadi Rum, learned to paint or penned a perfect poem.
If you fancy traveling alone with other people, the options for big or small budgets are endless. You can do it dirt cheap and cheerful or blow your savings on six-star deluxe. Luxury travel for solos includes group travel photographic journeys to Bhutan or Ethiopia with Abercrombie and Kent www.abercrombiekent.co.uk or Cox and Kings (www.coxandkings.co.uk )will take you and like-minded fellow travelers to the untouched wilderness of Patagonia, the splendors of Costa Rica or the legacy of Aztec, Mayan and Spanish empires in Mexico. If your inner conscience is starting to tweak, sign up as a volunteer and get a taste of real life in Asia, Africa, Central or South America (www.i-to-i.com). If you feel the need to be spiritually enlightened, why not literally take a page from Eat, Pray, Love visit an Ashram in India?
Group travel holidays tend to be a bit female-heavy – so depending on what you're after, make sure you quiz the sales rep on the mix of people booked for the trip – and book as late as possible so you have a good idea of who else will be going. Generally speaking, the more luxury travel operators attract an older client base. Even if you do like making new friends, paying extra will afford you a room of your own – and at least a bit of time alone.
If the group travel groove sounds like Hell with a hat on, then truly traveling alone is a good plan. But to make a success of it, rules do apply if you want to make friends while you're doing it. Avoid big, heartless hotels and aim for small boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts where you'll get more chance to chat. Don't step into trendy cocktail bars and restaurants expecting to meet your new best friend, the small, maybe scruffier looking local bars and cafes will be more friendly and open. And once you've found a restaurant that you like, go back, there's a better chance of being remembered and welcomed.
A word of caution: When traveling alone, give a family member or friend your itinerary and contact information for every leg of your trip to ensure your safety while you experience the freedom of solo travel. While making friends is a fine idea, be wary of anyone asking you to take packages for them. Never allow someone to be alone in your room or with your luggage. Common sense and listening to your gut feelings when meeting new people and making new friends while solo traveling can keep you out of harm's way.