I've always been a solo traveller, though it didn't start by choice.
Ten years ago when I first moved to Europe I had planned a weekend getaway with friends only to have them bail last minute. Faced with the choice of do I cancel as well or carry-on on my own, I decided to pioneer ahead. In that choice I found a lifestyle that I wasn't expecting; solo travel was actually pretty awesome.
Back in New Zealand, while I still travel with friends here and there, I often go away for trips on my own. If there is one thing I've learned over the years, it's that solo travel is for everyone, and if you're interested in exploring New Zealand on your own too, here are some of my best tips.
1. It's not actually lonely
I think the biggest misconception about solo travel is that it's lonely. The truth is that it's only as lonely as you make it. I find that I meet more people when I travel alone because it forces me to be outgoing if I want more than my own company. When you travel in groups or as a couple, you don't really have to make friends or talk with other people in the same way. Solo travel in New Zealand is fairly common and people are friendly, making it an easy place to meet people on the road.
2. Stay in communal places
You don't need to sleep in a 16-bed hostel dorm room the whole trip, but I find when I travel alone I often look to stay in places that have great communal or shared spaces so I can interact and meet new people. Whether I am tramping in the mountains and stay in a big hut, or I get my own private room in a lodge or hostel with a cool common room, I want to have the ability to meet people, and luckily New Zealand has great communal accommodation options.
3. It's pretty safe
I think one of my favourite things about solo travel in New Zealand is that it's so safe, especially compared with the rest of the world. It's consistently ranked as one of the safest, and I've never had a bad experience. You don't have to worry about many of the issues you would face in other countries.
4. Join in on group activities
For the most part I like being alone when I travel. I unashamedly enjoy being in charge and not having to compromise. But I also really enjoy doing activities and learning new things on the road that are often only possible in groups or are more rewarding when shared with other people. Whether you are after a group adventure activity like rafting or going on a wine tour, there are heaps of options for group excursions available.
5. You can budget how you like
If you travel alone then you can make all the decisions regarding expenditures on your own. Normally when I travel around New Zealand I pick up groceries and stay in places where I can make my own meals to save money, except for my daily flat white. While you can't share in the same way as if you are travelling with people, I've found that when I'm careful I tend to spend much less money when I travel alone than with friends, mostly because I can control how social I am and how much I splurge.
Have you ever travelled to New Zealand? Now that you’ve heard how easy it can be, do you think you’d consider a solo trip? Let us know in the comments section.
Written by Liz Carlson. First appeared on Stuff.co.nz.