A Changing Industry – Every year, millions of individuals embark on their own adventure of discovery. Sometimes it’s a bucket list quest, a volunteer expedition, or simply relaxation time. But more than ever, solo travel is an extremely popular endeavor, experienced by people from all walks of life.
While there are particular challenges which arise such as safety, accommodation, and transport, all these can be met by planning ahead (while leaving some room for that wonderful sense of spontaneity). As social conventions are slowly becoming more liberal and traveling more accessible, travel industries have begun to cater to solo travelers. In some cases, this entails presenting an even greater challenge, such as boot camp style ventures, while others do all the hard work for their clients ahead of time. Cruises which cater to singles are highly profitable and provide an ideal environment for travelers to journey alone in comfort or meet and mingle with other singles, sharing stories and forging life-long friendships.
Now, there are a myriad of trips which anyone can undertake, which vary in difficulty, theme, accessibility, and other factors – the LGBT community, for instance, enjoys an immense variety of trips which are now available from bed and breakfasts and Pride events to several organizations which specialize in this field. Cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Montreal, San Francisco and several other diverse and inclusive destinations appeal – but it’s not all about the city. Many have stepped beyond the thresholds of the concrete jungle to capture a more authentic experience when it comes to nature and feeling the earth beneath one’s feet – perhaps on an inspiration whim driven by Thoreau, Whitman, Emerson, or those other transcendental greats who sought a revolution of the mind through the natural world.
Contributing to a Better World
Though many individuals choose the solitary route such as hiking the Appalachian Trail alone or rafting the Amazon without companions in order to create a space of reflection and harmony with the world, others journey on their own but in the company of strangers who become friends, and become involved in projects which will benefit communities as well as their own sense of wellbeing and contribution. Particularly with the advent and increasing popularity of ecotourism, which is specifically geared to benefit local communities and travelers while respecting the environment and the cultures which thrive around and within it, more and more people are thinking conscientiously about what they do when they travel. Now, travel companies are motivated to provide an experience which is immersive, educational, and fulfilling which will resonate with people for the rest of their lives, whether it’s discovering the vast history of Machu Picchu or partaking in one of the many lively festivals that animate so many towns, villages and cities across the globe. Rather than the corporate-driven, white-washed setting which isolates tourists from the true spirit of a destination despite its often detrimental effects to the communities surrounding it, this alternative tourism offers a more off-the-beaten track exposure without being disruptive, often directly benefiting local projects. People have a chance to walk away having met new characters and experienced a part of the world in a different light.
Even more importantly, traveling alone has given people the opportunity to open their minds and even adapt to alternate lifestyles. From learning about a different history and culture to life-building skills such as team work, traveling alone with a group is one of the best ways to discover more parts of the world. Whether it’s learning a new craft, language, or culture and absorbing what the natural and social environment has to offer, it’s an experience that everyone should undergo at least once in their lifetime.
Story contributed by Susan Gower for the Florida-based, tour operator Explorations, Inc. Explorations’ philosophy has always been that with travel, you not only learn about other cultures – you also learn more about yourself. Founded in 1992, Explorations Inc., offers educational adventures of discovery in Latin America, introducing discerning travelers to indigenous cultures and the natural world. Happy to help solo travelers, Explorations’ staff are knowledgeable, sincere, and reliable.
For more information about educational travels in Central and South America, you may visit Explorations at www.AdventuresOfDiscovery.com. Most of their tours can accommodate solo travelers.