We love getting to know our adventurous Trafalgar guests and when we heard about Jeannette’s happy single retirement and love for solo travel we had to find out more.
Jeannette, from Ottawa, Canada, took her first transformative solo trip to Europe in 2012 and will be taking her fourth solo Trafalgar tour later this year. Hooked on travel since her first trip to Hawaii in 1978, the 63-year-old can’t wait to visit more destinations soon – Ireland and Australia are high on her bucket list.
While Jeanette has travelled with friends and family around the globe in the past, we wanted to find out more about why she chooses to travel solo now, what it’s like to be single on the road and how other travellers can enjoy a happy single retirement.
What’s the best thing about travelling solo?
The best thing about traveling solo is the freedom to decide which activities to take part in and also when I just need some time to explore on my own.
There is a sense of freedom, yet I feel totally safe and cared for by [Trafalgar’s] Travel Directors. I like knowing that they are there to take care of anything I need, big or small.
On my very first trip with Trafalgar a few of us on the coach weren’t feeling great, and the next thing we knew our Travel Director had gone to a pharmacy and purchased medication for us without anyone asking. It’s that level of care and attention that makes Trafalgar such an amazing company to travel with.
When did you embark on your first solo trip?
My first trip was in 2012. I believe it was called European Splendour – it started in Rome, then on to Tuscany, Venice, Lucerne, Paris and ended in London. It was my first time in Europe so I wanted to see a few countries to get a feel for them.
I celebrated my birthday on that trip and – despite never mentioning it – our Travel Director made it memorable for me. My favourite memory from that trip was an amazing dinner at a winery in Tuscany. It was such a fun evening. I also remember being mesmerized by the real statue of David in the museum in Florence.
I loved sitting by the river in Lucerne and watching the swans – it’s nothing glamorous, but it was a lovely and relaxing time after a boat trip on the lake. Venice is a sight to behold and just wandering the alleys and going for a gondola ride was amazing. I loved absolutely everything about Paris.
GET INSPIRED BY: European Splendour
What did you learn on your second and third solo trips?
My second trip was to Ireland with Travel Director Bernard. I absolutely loved Ireland and cannot wait to return. We traveled from Dublin up through Northern Ireland and then down the west coast and back to Dublin. What amazingly warm and friendly people the Irish are.
When I returned everyone kept asking what I liked the most and I kept saying the people. My only regret is that the day we went to the Ring of Kerry it was so rainy and foggy we couldn’t see anything. Honestly, I don’t know how the driver got us back in one piece that day! Bernard was full of all kinds of fun, telling fascinating stories both historical and perhaps a little fantastical with stories of leprechauns.
My third trip was to France and Spain with Marie. What an amazing trip. We started in Paris and ended in Barcelona. I don’t even know where to begin… or end. My two favourite places were Carcassonne and Monte Carlo.
Carcassonne is a step back in time and absolutely stunning. Being in Monte Carlo the week of the Grand Prix was something I will never forget and I had a number of jealous friends and relatives. Doing other fun things like going to the Moulin Rouge or a boat cruise on the Seine at night [were highlights]. The Eiffel Tower lit up at night is spectacular!
GET INSPIRED BY: Irish Experience
What lessons have you learnt about yourself while travelling solo?
I learnt that I love meeting new people from many different countries and backgrounds and hearing about their homelands. Although, it has added a number of new places to my bucket list.
Why do you choose to travel with Trafalgar for your solo adventures?
I feel so safe and well taken care of. The Travel Directors and drivers are amazing and always helpful and friendly. They go out of their way to make sure everyone is on board the coach (there are always a few stragglers) and that we get to where we need to be safely and on time.
All of the additional historical facts and stories that they share along the way makes the long drives much more enjoyable.
What is it like to join a tour group as a solo traveller?
It can be intimidating at first but all it takes is a few conversations with the other people on the tour and then everyone relaxes. On my first trip I was sitting with an Aussie family and they were just wonderful at making me feel a part of their group and not totally alone.
After that first trip I understood that if you are open and friendly with the others on the trip that feeling is returned.
GET INSPIRED BY: Wonderful France
Do you have any tips or advice for people travelling solo for the first time?
Don’t over pack! Even though the luggage is delivered to your room and picked up outside your door for loading onto the coach, don’t bring everything you think you want to wear. Bring clothes that are washable, dry quickly and can be mixed and matched. And comfortable shoes! That way, there is plenty of room in your suitcase for souvenirs.
Don’t be afraid to speak with the other travellers. Everyone is there for the same reason – to experience new adventures and have fun. But, please be respectful of everyone and their boundaries.
Always be aware of your surroundings. It’s easy to get turned around in an unfamiliar place and get lost. Try not to be late back to the coach as it affects everyone, not just you. They have a schedule for a reason and if everyone does their best to honour the timelines then everyone, including yourself, will have a much better time.
If you’re worried about finding a happy single retirement, make like Jeannette and join Trafalgar tours solo! Let us know where you want to go in the comments…