Read Time- 8 minutes
Travelling solo in a small, guided group, is rising in popularity – and we know this because over 50% of our customers are choosing to travel solo, together with us. This way of travelling can kickstart a renewed sense of adventure and freedom, where you can also benefit from the security of travelling with a group of like-minded travellers and an expert local leader who knows their destination like the back of their hand. But don’t just take it from us. Read on to find out why Exodus customer, Alison Rainbow, keeps choosing to travel solo with us.
When we asked Alison what her top three reasons for travelling solo with Exodus were, she replied, “For me, it’s the freedom, the convenience and being able to go off and join like-minded people. You’re thrown together from day one and there’s just this unspoken camaraderie. Everyone is on that trip because they want to see that particular country, so they just embrace what the tour leader is going to show them.”
“The main thing is, when you get to 50s you have friends that have followed different routes, so I think it would be unusual to find a group of friends that are wanting to do the same sort of thing now. You’re not all in a gap year in your 20s, where you can drop everything and be free to go off and sample what life has got to throw at you.” She continued, “So, I was at a point in my life where I want to go and do these things, but you look at your friendship group and think who could come with me? Nobody! So, instead of dragging somebody around who either won’t like a certain hotel type or won’t like a change of culture, travelling solo on an Exodus trip just gives you that choice.”
“Also, in terms of planning, I like to plan trips, but when you’re going to some of the countries that I’ve gone to with Exodus, you’d need to do an awful lot of research to get the same out of it. But even saying that, you’re never going to get that same level of experience or local information that somebody who has lived there their whole lives is going to be able to give you.”
“Travelling solo with Exodus just takes away all those decisions and fact-finding really. Not to mention the logistics of getting from A to B to C, with all the little stops in between – it would take so much time to plan all the transfers so that everything runs smoothly. One of the first solo trips I had with Exodus, was nearly a month-long across four different countries in Southeast Asia, and if I was trying to do that on my own, it would take a year for me to plan it! Everything was phenomenal – it was a trip that ticked a lot of boxes for me.”
On her three solo Exodus trips over the years, Alison said she’s chosen both accommodation options, sharing a room with a member of the group and booking a single room, and explains the benefits of both. “My first solo trip with Exodus was just short of a month-long, so it would have been pretty expensive to book a single room, and I’m quite sociable so I thought I’d give it a try. In my most recent trip to Sri Lanka, I decided to share again, and it worked out really well and we ended up being good friends.” She continued, “I think Exodus do it very well. They’re not going to lump you in with somebody who will be your polar opposite. At the end of the day, it’s not just about what somebody else is going to be able to give you as a roommate, it’s also up to you to provide a nice experience too. One of the best things you can do when sharing a room is to be respectful and anticipate somebody else’s needs in that environment.”
“There are a lot of pros to arranging your own room too – and it’s great that you can get this flexibility with Exodus. On my Week in Jordan trip, I decided to get my own room and obviously, this comes with all the benefits of having some space to yourself, privacy and your own bathroom. But when making this choice I think it all depends on where you’re going, the type of cuisine and the length of the trip itself. I’ve already booked another trip to India this November, and without getting too basic about it, having my own bathroom might be a plus.”
“Another thing I always do before I book a trip is to take the time and ask about the group demographics. I try to find out what the age range is, and what the male: female and single: couple ratios are. This helps me to understand what the trip’s going to be like and steers me into either sharing a room or booking a single room.”
For those who are worried or apprehensive about travelling solo for the first time, Alison was keen to reassure by saying, “I mean, you’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about– just do it! You’re on holiday – what’s the downside? All I think about is how I’m going to get myself to the destination airport and find the leader – then I just feel like I can switch off and relax because it’s so easy. “
We asked if she felt that security was also a major benefit of travelling solo with us, and she commented, “Yes definitely, I’m sure some people worry about that. I may take it too much for granted but I don’t really worry about it at all. It feels like you’re constantly looked after every step of the way.” Alison continued, “The trips I’ve had so far, you can feel that your local guide is looking out for you and that you’re in a safe pair of hands. And because they are from that country, they just instinctively know what’s going on around them. I don’t think you worry about security when you’re in a guided group in the same way you would if you were travelling on your own. As a solo traveller, you’d probably be sitting at a restaurant constantly checking your bag, your pockets and things like that. You also don’t need to carry a lot. The beauty of it is you just need a little day pack, as you’ve got a base, like the hotel, where your valuables are secure. You can even leave your things on the bus, so it’s never been a concern of mine.”
When it came to mealtimes during her solo trips with Exodus, Alison commented, “I’ve got to say every trip I’ve been on so far has been really, really sociable – and our guide has always come out with us every evening. Everyone tended to be quite happy where we ate. The joy of having a tour guide is that they know the best local restaurants in the area or have great suggestions of places to go out if you’re looking to try X, Y and Z if that’s not on the menu. They can translate and recommend great local dishes too. On all the trips I’ve been on so far, we’ve been happy to dine together or pockets of us headed off to another restaurant, it’s very relaxed and flexible. Your guide will also let you know what general areas are best to stay in to get a flavour of the local nightlife and restaurants. If they’re not too far away, what’s the harm in exploring?”
“I’m a pescetarian and I had a great experience with the food on my Sri Lanka trip with Exodus. I was quite surprised by Sri Lankan cuisine, as I assumed because of its proximity to India it would have a more Indian influence. Instead, the dishes tasted similar to Thai cuisine, which suited me down to the ground. I mean, I like spice, so everything was pure joy. I miss their sambal – I even brought some local spices home with me. But I’d definitely recommend that if you have dietary requirements chat to the Exodus team before you go.”
Alison wrapped up the interview by reflecting, “Everyone I’ve met on an Exodus trip has had a really pragmatic view about going into a new country” and that’s exactly what travel is all about, experiencing unique cultures that are completely different to our own and returning wiser, bursting with fascinating stories to tell. She said, “I haven’t travelled with any of the other small tour providers, so I can’t compare, but every experience I’ve had with Exodus has been just top-notch.”
If Alison’s experience has inspired you to travel solo together with Exodus, take a look at our trips here.