Solo Travel In Your 30s – here’s 5 alternatives to staying home
This post was written by Steve Dillon, founder of Other Way Round, a group travel company specialising in adventure trips for 25-45 year olds. He’s passionate about encouraging fellow 30 somethings to give solo travel a try, and he shares 5 ways to go about it.
(or “vacations” for my North American friends).
If you’re anything like most people it’s what gets you through the day-to-day grind.
Looking forward to that next trip – the opportunity to relax, to disconnect, to experience something completely different.
It doesn’t get much better.
“Where are you going this year”?
If you would have asked me that when I was in my 20s I would have reeled off a list of upcoming trips with friends.
There was always something going on and the main challenge was finding the cash to get involved.
But the first time it happened to me I had just turned 30…
I had resigned from my job and had managed to wangle a 1 week break before starting my next role.
I was in need of a break.
And I knew I would be useless at my next company without recharging my batteries first.
The problem – I couldn’t find anyone to go with.
At such short notice neither my girlfriend or friends could get the time from work and I was faced with the daunting prospect:
GO ALONE, OR DON’T GO AT ALL.
Solo Travel in My 30s
As I’ve progressed through my 30s I’ve realised that this was just the start of things to come.
People get married, have kids, get saddled with huge mortgages.
It becomes near impossible to align schedules and finances with those closest friends.
If this sounds all too familiar, the good news is that you are not alone.
It is way more common than you think and many of us are facing the same challenge.
So what do you do?
You could decide to stay home and miss out (and sadly many people do).
But honestly, in this day and age it’s SO unnecessary.
“Solo Travel” is absolutely booming, especially for people in their 30s, and there are endless possibilities out there.
In this post I’m going to share with you 5 alternatives to staying home if you find yourself in a similar situation.
(See also: Group Holidays for Solos Over 30)
1. Hardcore Solo Travel
By this I mean really go all in and fully embrace the solo aspect of “solo travel”.
Plan out your own trip in full, based entirely on what YOU want to do.
There are SO MANY resources available online to help.
(some good places to start are Nomadic Matt, Adventurous Kate, Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler but really if you just type your destination into Google you’ll find there’s a ridiculous wealth of information available).
Go where you want, when you want.
Don’t worry about pleasing anyone else.
Enjoy the time alone to think, get perspective on life, and renew your sense of purpose (sounds a bit cheesy I know, but it often happens).
Embrace the flexibility and freedom that comes with this option and after a while you may just wonder why you’ve never done it before.
It’s definitely character building stuff and you will likely emerge from such a trip with a new found level of resilience and independence which you can carry forth on into your daily life.
2. The Hybrid Approach to Travelling Alone
This combines the best of both worlds.
Again, plan your trip independently – book your own flights, accommodation, plan a rough itinerary etc… but put yourself in places where you are likely to meet other people along the way.
You could stay at a hostel where there’s likely to be a bunch of other travellers in their 30s sharing a similar mindset.
You could also book yourself onto day tours so you still get to go visit places with other people, but leave plenty of ‘alone time’ with the flexibility to venture off and do your own thing.
Or you could even hook yourself up with a local and really get to know the place you’re visiting on a deeper level.
The great thing with this approach is that you don’t have to plan too much in advance.
Most Hostels / Hotels / Airbnbs will have relationships with the local tour operators and you can typically just land, see what’s available and book something at the last minute.
3. Join an Online Travel Group
The internet is full of online communities (or travel groups) specifically catering to people in this very position – single people looking to travel solo.
They typically provide an abundance of useful information, in-depth resources and helpful tips for those thinking to travel alone.
And better still, some even organise trips which members can join.
Some great examples of such groups are:-
(these groups all also have huge social media followings)
Go search for something in your particular area of interest and you’re bound to find something that resonates with you.
(there are many which will specialise in bringing together singles in their 30s)
4. Get Social
This is a bit more of a long game with regard to solo travel but in my opinion it’s one of the absolute best things you can do.
Here it is…
JOIN A SOCIAL CLUB IN YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY
If you’re struggling to find friends to go on holiday with then chances are you’re also facing a similar challenge in your day-to-day life (and we all need someone to go grab a beer with on the weekend).
And yet the perfect solution is available to most of us within our local communities which typically have ‘social clubs’ for almost every interest out there.
For example, in recent years I’ve been a member of the following clubs:-
- RBS Football (London – football team)
- One Element (London – outdoor fitness club)
- Y Tri (Washington DC – triathlon club)
- La Ruta Outdoor (Medellin – hiking club)
(yeah, I’ve gotten around a little)!
And without exception, in each of these communities I have met great friends, found people to hang out with on weekends and – most relevant to this blog – ended up going on HOLIDAY with other solo travellers from the group.
Sometimes it was part of an organised group trip (most social clubs do them) and other times just directly with friends I have met through these clubs.
And although these particular groups lean more towards the active side, you can bet there’s a group somewhere that covers you own personal area of interest whether that be music, dance, languages or whatever.
Go check out Meetup which is a great resource for finding such groups.
5. Go With a Tour Group
Last but not least is the option to join a tour group.
Now, I know that some people have the image of tour groups being a bit stuffy or rigid but these days there are definitely some WAY more modern versions out there.
(in fact check out this blog: Debunking 9 Myths About Small Group Tours)
Going back to the story I talked about in the intro – where none of my friends were available to holiday with me – I ended up ‘traveling solo’ for a week of ‘Spanish and Surf’ in Fuerteventura.
It was a fantastic trip, I met a bunch of fun people, and I got that much needed time to disconnect.
Fast forward a couple of years and I joined another tour group called Medsailors for a week of ‘Sun and Sailing’ in Croatia (it was so good I went with them again to Greece the following year)!
Inspired so much by these awesome trips I then went on to create my very own tour company – Other Way Round – specialising in group tours for 30 and 40 somethings solo travellers.
These days there are tour groups for absolutely everything.
Whether you’re into yoga, skiing, meditation, dancing, hiking, biking, literature, museums, adventure or just want to party for two weeks – there’s an option out there for you.
Just type your interest and desired destination into Google and you’ll be spoilt with a bucket load of choices.
The “Right Way” to Do Travelling Solo in Your 30s
SPOILER ALERT – there is no “right way” to do solo travel in your 30s.
There is no one size fits all.
For some people the thought of Option 1 (Hardcore Solo Travel) will fill them with dread while for others it will sound like paradise.
At the other end of the scale I know people who could think of nothing worse than going on a 2 week group tour with a bunch of “strangers” while for others it’s what they enjoy most.
It all comes down to what you’re more comfortable with as an individual and what better suits your personality.
I tend to lean more towards Option 4 (Social Clubs) and Option 5 (Tour groups).
I like meeting new people and sharing experiences together.
It always takes me a bit of time to get to know new people so I prefer spending a longer period with the same group rather than meeting new people every day.
I like the bond it creates within the group and usually find that on such trips the banter is the best part.
But that’s just me and everyone is different.
The most important takeaway here is that if you’re a solo traveller in your 30s there’s definitely an option out there for you. There’s no need to miss out.
With that in mind…
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE – Don’t Miss Out !
If I can get only one thing across in this blog it is to tell you not to hold yourself back.
I’m extremely passionate about this subject because I see so many single travellers in their 30s missing out because they don’t take that initial first step.
Yes, it can be tricky.
Eating at a restaurant alone.
Trying to make friends in a hostel when it feels like everyone else is travelling together.
Meeting up with a new tour group or social group for the first time when you don’t know anyone.
But if you push yourself through those initial moments of pain (torture for some I know) then you will open yourself up to a whole new world of possibilities.
Go on, give it a try!
Like the Idea of Travelling Solo With Other 30 Somethings?
If you are open to the idea of ‘travelling solo’ as part of a group then it’s worth checking our itineraries at Other Way Round.
You will travel some of the world’s most exotic destinations, meet other solo travellers in their 30s, and we have a way more immersive approach to travel than traditional tour groups.
Below are some of our most popular itineraries.
11 Days in Mexico. Breathe in the pulsating Mexico city, roam the charming streets of traditional Oaxaca, and hit the beach in sun-drenched Tulum. See Itinerary
15 Days in Colombia. Dance salsa. Meet coffee farmers. Sail tropical islands. Hike lush jungles. Taste the finest Caribbean rum. See Itinerary
12 Days in Peru. Cook ceviche in Lima, sail the Amazon, hike to Machu Picchu and become awestruck by the Sacred Valley. See Itinerary