As we get older, more and more of us find ourselves living alone, either through bereavement, separation, divorce or even choice. Although many people are comfortable in their own space and with their own company, when it comes to travelling, things can be so much harder.
Travel, as they say, broadens the mind, but it also stimulates the senses – who doesn’t want to explore what a new country has to offer, or visit some of those well know landmarks that you’ve seen on the TV or in magazines over the years? But it’s so much more fun travelling and experiencing these things with others.
This is where the advent of the ‘singles’ holidays organisers help to fill that gap, providing tailor made tours for single people; allowing you to travel with a group of like-minded people, experience the pleasures that a holiday can bring and who knows, maybe creating friendships that will be lasting ones..
One such travel operator is a company called One Traveller, who many Mature Times readers may already be familiar with through their regular advertisements within this newspaper. So, at their kind invitation, I decided to put them to the test and see exactly what a ‘singles’ holiday entails on a trip to the Austrian Lakes earlier this year.
The company’s ethos is simple – and that is to provide their guests with the best holiday experience possible at a competitive price, while ensuring that they are looked after all the way from pre-departure to return to the UK.
The experience started the evening before the scheduled departure to Salzburg with an overnight stay at a hotel near Gatwick airport – a stay that was hosted by a One Traveller representative who in most cases will also be your guide for the whole of your holiday. This is a great ice breaker as it gives you the opportunity to meet some of your fellow travellers the night before you fly for a meal and drinks reception. Travellers can mingle, meet each other and start to build the friendships that are such an important part of the experience of travelling solo.
All guests are greeted at the destination by a Tour Manager and, unlike other companies, the same person remains with you throughout the duration of your holiday – in fact they always stay in the same hotel as you. Their job is to guide you on your holiday, to show you the sights, to introduce you to the local customs of the country you are visiting and more importantly to be on hand if there is anything at all that you might need. The Tour Managers all speak the native language and can help you overcome any language barriers; they could even help you learn some of the language!
Our guide was an English lady called Jill who has lived in Austria almost all of her adult life and was extremely knowledgeable about the country, its customs and the places we were going to visit. Itineraries are all laid out for you before you travel, and you know what each day will entail and your holiday price is inclusive of all entrance fees and other activities that are included within the itinerary. What’s more, you also know when and how much free time you have to explore under your own steam. What is also good is that there is no pressure – if you want to do your own thing one day, or even just spend a day relaxing in the hotel, then you can opt out of any of the planned trips should you rather.
Each of the One Traveller hotels is well chosen, many, as is the one in Austria, are run by local families who have been in the business many years, and who pride themselves on the friendly service they provide. You will always have a double room for single occupancy – so no pokey cubbyholes that you might often be fobbed off with as a single traveller, or rooms that overlook the bin store or kitchen – yes I’m sure we’ve all been there!
But the most important thing about the ‘One Traveller’ ethos is that it is all about you, the customer, and a great deal of work goes into giving you the best experience possible on your holiday. I’ve already mentioned the Tour Managers and quality of hotels, but also groups are kept to a manageable level – in this case 30 people on a large 52 seat coach – so you have plenty of room to relax in as well. On the days out, the terrain and amount of walking that you will be required to do are clearly explained, which means that you can choose which will be best for you.
If you’ve never been to the lakes and the beautiful city of Salzburg, it’s a must – the scenery is just stunning, the drives spectacular and the people are warm, friendly and welcoming. Take a look at the itinerary and see if it whets your appetite.
If Austria is not your cup of tea then there are many more destinations to choose from in Europe and further afield.
So what are you waiting for – pluck up the courage to try it – and then you’ll wonder why you’d never done it before – you may be a little apprehensive to start off with, but that won’t last for long – you’ll have a good time, be well looked after, and maybe meet fellow travellers for more adventures in the future.
Their 2015 brochure is now out – to obtain a copy call them direct on 01760 722 011 or visit their website – www.onetraveller.co.uk.
By Aidan Sawley
Image of:- The city of Salzburg from the Salzach River