It’s easy to assume that all travelers are the same. In reality, this is far from the truth. Some travelers seek to share new experiences with their friends and family, while others prefer to explore new cultures and destinations by themselves. Similarly, some travelers become accustomed to layovers, jet lag, and different currencies, while others have yet to be introduced to baggage claims and customs lines. As a tour operator, you need to understand the unique needs of each traveler to be able to advise them in a relevant manner. This is especially true for inexperienced solo travelers, who often don’t know where to start when it comes to making the most of their experience.
First Things First: Who Is the Solo Traveler?
In order to properly advise the inexperienced solo traveler, you need to first understand who exactly they are. The solo traveler usually fits into one of three distinct groups(opens in a new tab):
- The young 18- to 24-year-old who is single and ready to mingle.
- The baby boomer with ample time and money on their hands.
- The female solo traveler who is searching for a sense of calm and independence.
Although it may seem like these solo travelers are independent and prepared, tour operators should not fall into the trap of believing that this demographic is completely fearless. In fact, research shows that the three main concerns for a solo traveler include their safety, getting lost on their trip, and the stress of planning a holiday. As a tour operator, you should keep this in mind when communicating with the solo traveler, as well as when you advertise and market your services(opens in a new tab).
Helping a Solo Traveler Plan Their Trip
While spontaneous trips have their own benefits, some basic planning is necessary when it comes to inexperienced solo travel. Helping a potential traveler visualize their destination and all it has to offer aids in getting the traveler excited about their trip, as well as preparing them for what they might need during their travels — particularly as someone traveling alone, whose needs and expectations will vary wildly from those traveling in groups or with their families. With most getaways, there are endless possibilities when it comes to adventuring, especially for those going it alone. From marveling at historical sites to relaxing on idyllic beaches and exploring quaint villages, most vacation destinations have a lot to offer.
This is where you, as a tour operator, come in. It is crucial that solo travelers are informed of possible activities ahead of time so that they are not faced with indecisiveness and lack of preparation when they arrive.
By doing things such as sending over a list of suggested activities for solo travelers in their chosen destination, or helping them decide which of your tours will best fit their individual needs, you can help solo travelers feel less overwhelmed by the myriad of options when they arrive at their destination.
It’s also your job as a tour guide to seek out new customers. When your income relies on tourism, you want to make sure your services are available to anyone who may be contemplating acting on a travel whim. Keep your website updated with blogs and pictures of your various tours, and be sure to create and actively engage on various social media accounts, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Those potential solo travelers battling their wanderlust are going to stumble on these platforms, and you want to make sure you convince them to take the leap.
Even if a solo traveler is hesitant to commit and prefers a more “go-with-the-flow” way of traveling, you can urge them to at least plan for their first few nights of accommodation and airport transport. As stated in an article about solo travel on The Blonde Abroad(opens in a new tab), “This can ease a lot of the stress of traveling by yourself for the first time.” Ultimately, prior preparation ensures that travelers do not miss out on the best things their chosen destination has to offer. You can also offer to book on their behalf so as to alleviate travel planning stress, which will help your guests out and may even earn you a great review!
Packing for any trip is always a cause of stress, no matter how many times someone has done it. When it comes to solo travel, packing is slightly different when compared to packing for a family holiday, so inexperienced solo travelers need to be informed of how best to pack for a solo tour trip. For a solo traveler, the key lies in packing light. Packing light comes with many benefits(opens in a new tab), including avoiding excess baggage fees, facing fewer lines at the airport (both at check-in and departure) and a lesser chance of being targeted by a luggage thief.
It is best to advise inexperienced solo travelers to pack only what they need so as to avoid potentially nightmarish luggage situations. Effective tips for packing light(opens in a new tab) include getting the right bag, using packing organizers, carrying versatile clothing, and continually re-evaluating and reducing packing strategies for the future.
Provide specific packing suggestion lists on your website with with other tour information, and be sure to reiterate these lists upon booking confirmation. You want to make sure that travelers new to the solo-travel lifestyle are well-equipped for your tours and can have a smooth and exciting trip — you’re bound to get nothing but great reviews when your travelers are prepared and have no major issues.
Health considerations are extremely important while traveling, and even more so if one is traveling alone. Traveling to an unfamiliar place where the food, water, and climate are different can often lead a slew of health issues that one’s body might not be equipped to deal with, and solo travelers will only have themselves to rely on if health concerns arise.
For example, even before arriving at the destination, the act of flying itself can lead to bodily discomfort. Thus, it is important to advise your potential guests to carefully assess their own health and well-being before they embark upon a solo journey. If they have any pre-existing health conditions that might act up during their travels, advise them to stock up on any medication they might need, as it is unlikely the same medication will be easily available at their destination.
Finally, the general health advice that you should give solo travelers includes:
- Get travel insurance(opens in a new tab). This is not negotiable. Without travel insurance, solo travelers can be a major liability to themselves.
- Carry a fully-stocked travel medical kit, especially because solo travelers may only have themselves to rely on if they get sick or injured.
- Stay hydrated. Check whether it is safe to drink tap water, and if not, remind them to stick to bottled water only.
Traveling can be a stressful process, especially for the inexperienced solo traveler. Therefore, it is important to gently guide and advise this type of traveler through the travel process so that they can truly enjoy their solo travel experience without any major mishaps.
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