If your year has started out a bit wobbly, dealing with the loss of a relationship, or a lack of one, there’s no better time to invest in some self-love, than now.
Rather than focusing on your relationship status this Valentine’s Day, do something meaningful for yourself on February 14, says Sue Garrett, General Manager for Product and Marketing at Flight Centre Travel Group. “Book that trip you’ve always wanted. There is no need to feel left out when there’s the whole world to explore.”
Travelling solo does not mean that you will be alone. According to the TrekkSoft’s annual Travel Trends Report, 25% of Millennials are planning to travel solo in the next 12 to 24 months. Lonely Planet also estimates that approximately 67% of independent travellers are female.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, here are Garrett’s top destinations to get you excited for your next independent adventure:
Embrace your freedom in Sri Lanka
“Solo travel was once seen as brave and risky for female travellers, but there has been a shift in attitude, and it is now viewed as an adventurous, exciting experience for women,” Garrett says.
“A trending destination for 2019 is Sri Lanka. Guided holidays there are ideal for those who simply want to focus on the experience without all the stress of planning where to go and what to do. Visas can conveniently be obtained on arrival.”
Bonafide tea-lovers will enjoy learning about the region's Ceylon plantations and local culture. “And if beaches are high on your list, you’ll love Nilaveli Beach (a diving hot spot) and Bentota Beach Talalla Beach, referred to as Sri Lanka’s best-kept secret,” Garrett adds.
Help yourself heal in Peru
A broken heart takes time to heal, “but there’s no better place in which to facilitate that process than being outdoors,” says Garrett.
“Get yourself moving forward along the Inca Trail to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu in Peru. An experience for the soul, the final day of trekking brings you to the Intipunku (Sun Gate) for a legendary sunrise view over Machu Picchu.”
Sue highly recommends booking a guided tour through a reputable travel expert. Only 500 entry permits to hike this legendary trail are released per day, with a significant portion taken up by cooks, porters and guides.
Find your independence in Italy
“The most beneficial aspect of venturing out as a solo female traveller is that you can re-learn to embrace your own company,” Garrett adds. “After that, you will never feel that fear of being alone, and possibly even want to travel on your own more often.”
Get completely absorbed in Rome’s ancient history, discover the Amalfi Coast, and curb your cravings with all the wood-oven pizza and pistachio gelato you could ever want.
“Italy is just the place to forget about everything that’s causing you stress and anxiety. It is also a popular place to meet like-minded travellers without even trying,” says Garrett. Europe, particularly around the Med, is a hotspot for South Africans, with a whopping 201,786 Schengen visa applications made in 2017, an increase of 21% since 2016, according to Schengen Visa Info.
Take a weekend off or longer in South Africa
For those short on time or lacking the resources to travel abroad right now, give a destination that's closer to home a try.
“South Africa is not just for tourists, and many of us forget that it ranks high as a top destination to visit in 2019,” says Garrett. You would be amazed at what's available right on your doorstep while discovering more about yourself too.”
She recommends an active itinerary, rather than retreating to a hotel for a few nights, which over Valentine’s Day, is likely to be inundated with couples. Garrett suggests: “Go on a safari in one of the local reserves, such as the Kruger National Park or Hluhluwe-Imfolozi. Stretch your legs on a bush walk, try a guided 4x4 game drive and spend a night stargazing by the boma fire.”
Garrett concludes: “Group travel brands such as Contiki, Busabout, G Adventures and Topdeck are always on the ball when it comes to giving us the latest travel deals. Between these brands, they offer a broad range of trips from Africa all the way to the Arctic, where you are almost guaranteed to learn that, even when we travel by ourselves, we are not alone.”