Dear Miriam,

I am a woman in my early 30s who works in the agri sector. I have a good job and I really love to travel. In my 20s, I enjoyed lots of sun holidays, city breaks etc with my friends. COVID-19 obviously put a stop to that for a while, but while we are free to travel again, I find that I have no one to go away with this summer, as most of my good friends are now in couples and planning trips with their other halves, while I am single.

I know this probably sounds like a very “first-world problem” in the grand scheme of things. But, unless I go away with my parents, I probably won’t get a sun holiday this year. As much as I love my parents, we would have very different ideas of what makes a holiday. I enjoy getting off the beaten track, doing more adventurous activities etc.

Last summer, I did not get a real break away bar a night here or there with a friend in Ireland. I’m really craving a proper holiday now, but it’s almost like unless I find myself a man, it’s not going to happen. How can that be the case in 2023.

I know you are not a travel agent, but would you have any suggestions as to what I could do?

Sinéad, Munster

Miriam responds

Dear Sinéad,

Thanks for your email. You’re right, I’m definitely not a travel agent, but I don’t think you are the only person who has experienced this issue. Often, the whole holiday industry can seem very focused on couples and families, so it can be hard to see where you “fit in” so to speak. But there is a big, wide world out there and lots of adventures to be had, so please don’t let the fact that you are single at the moment hold you back from indulging your wanderlust. In fact, one big benefit of travelling solo is that you don’t have to compromise. Whether you fancy a day at the beach or in the museum, you decide.

How would you feel about a solo weekend away to dip your toe in the water? I know that this can seem really daunting, but I think there are ways to balance out the fear factor.

If I was thinking of a trip like that, I would choose an easily accessible, walkable city like Malaga, where you have the beach, lots of museums, activities, great restaurants and shopping, so you would certainly not feel bored. You could put a bit of time into researching a well-reviewed hotel in a safe and central location, which I think would be an important factor in feeling comfortable as a solo traveller. However, you could then look at joining something like a city food tour or cycling/walking tour, where you would be in a group setting, but in a very organic way.

Another option might be to join a group adventure tour/holiday. There are lots of travel companies that specialise in these sorts of trips in amazing destinations; all the logistics are generally taken care of, so you just get to focus on having a good time with like-minded people. A quick Google will bring up lots of options, eg from cycles and scenery in Croatia to rainforests and retreats in Costa Rica. However, it might be worth talking to a travel agent about the companies that they would recommend for your age group (if that’s important to you) and interests. For example, some tours will focus on more cultural interests, while others will involve more adrenaline-pumping activities.

Another more long-term strategy is to think of what you enjoy doing in Ireland and join a group based on that interest. If you like hiking or cycling, often these clubs will organise trips away for their members. Lastly, it might be worth sending a message to your friends along the lines of, “Thinking of heading to X for a long weekend/week this summer, any takers?” You might be surprised who comes back to you.

Just remember the world is your oyster. Happy travels.

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