Travelling solo can be intimidating at first. You leave a lot to chance, like, what if the group is too old/too young for me? What if they’re much fitter, faster or slower than I am? What if it’s all canoodling, anniversary-couples? What if I have nothing in common with anyone? Well, let us put your mind to rest with our tips for solo travelers.
You, as a solo traveler, are in the thick of a new travel movement. The ‘bucket list’ age. The power of the personal ‘bucket list’ has injected a new passion, drive and determination into a wave of solo retirees or soon-to-be retirees. There’s a clear sentiment too – that is, if you wait for someone else, you might never go. It’s this sentiment that is seeing solo-travelers emerge in greater numbers to join those trips and take those excursions while they’re fit, healthy and able.
We put together excellent holiday packages for small groups of keen hikers in the North Island of New Zealand. We’re often asked by tentative solo travelers if they’ll be welcome and the answer is a resoundingly festive ‘yes’! Our small-group hiking tours attract all kinds of fun, outdoorsy people from many different walks of life. A “typical” group, if there is such a thing, is usually made up of a handful of solo travelers, a few couples and a maybe a pair of friends here and there. No matter what your travelling format may be, we all share one important thing in common – we love a great walk.
There can be a knack to traveling solo, and the more you do it, the more you learn the ins and outs of a successful solo hiking holiday. We’ve hosted many solo travelers on our guided walking holidays over the past 20 years and we’ve picked up a traveling trick or two to share with you so you can mix, mingle and make the most of your next North Island guided walking holiday. If you’re ready to embark on more solo-travelling, here’s what we’ve learnt from our past guests – here are our tips for solo travelers so you can transform yourself from a shy tail-end-Charlie to a solo-travelling warrior queen.
Share Yourself Around
Make a special effort to talk to every other person in your hiking holiday group. It doesn’t have to be long, just 5 minutes a day spent chatting to your trail companions will not only put them at ease but give you a more well-rounded social experience. Habit is your enemy, so maybe try sitting in a different spot in the van or bus on the way to the next trail, that’ll help keep things flexible for maximum mingling.
TOP TIP: stay away from topics like religion and politics to start with, these are best broached on Days 3 & 4 after we’ve had time to settle in.
Show Your Talents
It’s amazing what kind of talents our trail-community has hidden away! All it takes is a well-placed question to bring some amazing skills out into the light. If you’re useful in a game of darts or you speak 4 languages, share it with the group and let them into your world. Likewise, you can ask questions about what other skills your trail companions may have beyond what they do in their day-to-day lives, include your guides too, and before long we guarantee you’ll be amazed at the talented folks you’re sharing the track with.
TOP TIP: If your special talent is a remnant of your frat-house university days and could be regarded as socially or culturally distasteful, best to pick something else for now. As hilarious as your ping-pong ball talents may be, we’re trying to make friends here, not commit social suicide.
Document Your Experience
Keep a daily vlog, post about your trip to Facebook and share your awesome adventures with the world. If you’re handy with a turn of phrase, maybe a hiking blog would be a fantastic way to inspire other people to undertake a similar experience as you are. Offer to be the group photographer and take pictures and/or video of your group (with consent of course) and offer to share it with everyone after the trip.
TOP TIP: Gaining consent is essential, respect people’s wishes and be clear about what you plan to do with the photos or videos afterwards.
Once you’ve spent 4 days (or more) on the trail together, you’ll know who you’d like to travel with again, so keep in touch! If the group is being dropped back to the same location at the end of the trip, suggest a post-trip meet up at a local café or restaurant to re-live the highs and lows and generally wrap things up with a celebratory toast.
TOP TIP: Keep an email list and check in with everyone 12 months later to see what everyone has been up to since or share a few of the trip photos to revive the memories.
Say your goodbyes with style and make sure you thank and farewell each person if it feels like the right thing to do. Perhaps organise a special thank you for your guides on behalf of the group. There’s nothing like a bit of ceremony to send everyone on their way with a smile on their face and to solidify their great memories of you as a trail company and a solo hiking holiday warrior they’ve been privileged to share the tracks with.
TOP TIP: If you’d like to spice up your ‘thank-yous’ with an Irish toast, a Māori karakia or a song in your indigenous language, it is most welcome and heartily celebrated!
So, the message is thus – don’t let your lack of a hiking posse hold you back, join one of our fun, friendly small groups today and meet your new hiking holiday tribe! You know what they say, if you wait for someone else, you’ll never go.
Get in touch with our friendly reservations team to discover which of our walks is best for you. We hike in 4 areas of the North Island; Great Barrier Island, Coromandel, Lake Waikaremoana & the Tongariro National Park. Call us on NZ Freephone 0800 925 569 (WALK NZ) or AUS Freephone 1 800 646 584, or send an email to [email protected] to enquire about joining one our guided walking holidays in New Zealand. Mauri ora!