Independent travel is empowering, liberating and builds confidence by the bucket load. When you are travelling alone there’s no: tour guide acting like your mom, telling you what to do, where to go and for how long, irritating friend who was previously up for anything but now seems to prefer staying indoors, group weirdo who wants to be more than friends for the entire two week trip, despite your efforts to explain how that isn't going to happen. Ever. You can spend whatever you wish, your itinerary is your own and spontaneity is your middle name! But it can also have its downsides, and after a while, wandering as lonely as a cloud can make you feel like a real ‘Billy no mates’. So here’s my tried and tested list of ways to instantly banish the ‘toute seule’ seclusion, the ‘peke yako’ blues, the ‘all by myself’ moments.
What do you do with twenty-four hours to kill in Dar es Salaam? The pseudo capital of Tanzania doesn’t normally feature on the tourist trail other than an entry, exit or transit point, a small blip on the itinerary in between safaris, summiting and sunbathing. It’s a dirty, hot, humid, chaotic conurbation; one of the world’s fastest growing cities. But behind this facade what does the metropolis offer the stranger on a layover? I’ve taken on this challenge many many times, so here are just a few suggestions of how to turn Dar es Salaam into a highlight of your trip.
What is the most romantic food? Is it falafel? One of the show’s characters came over to ask us for our opinion as we settled into our seats, taking notes of our suggestions. This was just one of the interactions we had as part of the Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF). It has been a cultural catalyst since 1978 and attracts over 200,000 visitors to the city every July. For two weeks there are over 200 amazing events in Galway including theatre, music, dance, opera, comedy, drama and street extravaganzas. It features international and local acts, many critically acclaimed artists, writers and performers, and has helped the town win European Capital of Culture in 2020.
The t-shirt printing store boasts tops with the slogan ‘Westport - voted the best place to live in Ireland’. However, it failed to declare by whom and more importantly, why? We were keen to investigate this further, so when we saw an advert for ‘Ireland’s best loved heritage attraction’ it was our first port of call.
What is a single supplement and why do we have to pay it? It seems so mean. Some travel operators, (for example accommodation providers and cruise companies) impose an extra charge to people who travel alone. Their argument is that a single person does not spend as much as two people on additional revenue generating services such as food and drinks and therefore the lone occupant has to make up that shortfall. However, the percentage of single travellers is increasing, and the traditional industry providers are changing due to the introduction of new competition from innovative demand based start-ups. Here are a few top tips to use if you are unattached and itching to see the world!
Texel was chosen as one of the top places to visit in 2016, but they got it wrong, my Dutch friend said. Apparently, Schiermonnikoog, which is also one of the West Frisian islands, is way better and also her favourite place in the Netherlands. The rest of the Dutch population agree; it was voted their best loved nature spot. I was sold. However, she warned me that we should also be prepared for an adventure, as when she has missed the last boat before she slept on the floor of the ladies room of an empty ferry and at the foot of a desolate sea dyke. I wondered, how remote is this place?
When was the last time you felt like the coolest person on the planet? How about at an exclusive, brilliantly executed, all-inclusive festival in the wild plains of Tanzania?
Who can resist decadent dining, exclusively exploring the seas of a tropical island, topped and tailed with a soupçon of safari? Not I for one! A convenient long weekend, a friend with a tank sized car and a couple of helpful directions later meant I was living that dream. Woop!
Ireland’s fair city, Dublin, is one of twenty officially recognised UNESCO cities of literature. Overflowing with associations to well known bards of the written and spoken word it is an ideal place for contemplating their compositions and appreciating literary wonders.