At OAT, we understand that people choose to travel solo for different reasons—whether they’re widowed, or married to someone who doesn’t share their travel interests, or enjoy exploring the world with their sisters, brothers, children, or friends, or just want to meet new friends. And for many, deciding to travel solo for the first time can be a very difficult step. That’s why we want to share stories from our travelers to give you peace of mind: Our solo travelers feel safe, welcome, and they enjoy a sense of camaraderie and friendship on their adventures with us.
Read what some of OAT’s solo travelers are saying about their adventures with us …
China Beyond the Wall and Behind the Walls of Locals
Janice Waugh, Solo Traveler blogger, 1-time traveler, Toronto, Canada
Originally published in Solo Traveler, reproduced with permission
There are places where tourists go. All tourists. Those traveling independently and those traveling in groups.
In China I was traveling in a small group with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) and such places, like the panda sanctuary and on the Yangtze river cruise, I would see independent solo travelers and slip away from the group to talk with them. I wanted to compare notes. I wanted to see how they were experiencing China compared to my experience of it.
In the end I drew a surprising conclusion. As one who, with the exception of a couple of trips in my teens, always traveled independently, I determined that there are countries, like China, where taking a tour makes sense.
Traveling with OAT, I spent less energy on logistics and more on trying to understand this amazing country. And one of the big benefits of OAT, which specializes in small groups, is that we got to go beyond the usual sights like the Great Wall and behind residential walls to meet people in their homes.
Recharging My Batteries in India
Kathleen Brose, 6-time traveler, Seattle, Washington
I lead a pretty busy life: As the mother of an adult child with high-functioning autism, and sharing the responsibility of caring for my mom with my sister, most of my time is devoted to others. I love my family, but sometimes the task of caring for them can drain my body and my mind. Because our business doesn’t allow for my husband and I to take many trips together, he encouraged me to take some time away for myself and travel somewhere I’d always wanted to go to recharge my batteries. I wanted adventure and to get lost in another culture—and I knew India would provide me with both. I also wanted to explore a destination that would give me an attitude adjustment: to remind me to be grateful for what I have, and not what I wish I had.
Since I normally travel with my family, I didn’t realize that this adventure gave me the opportunity to be completely selfish—something I don’t normally get to be when I’m at home. I almost forgot what it felt like to not have to worry about anyone but myself.
Did India help me to recharge my batteries and remind me to cherish what I have? Absolutely. I came home with a fresher mind: I wasn’t on edge and didn’t get upset about the little things.
Today, when I find myself trudging through the mundane tasks of everyday life, and I begin to feel drained, I remember strolling down that Varanasi street sipping chai tea … and I remember how lucky I am that I was able to experience such amazing memories, and to cherish the wonderful blessings I already have.
Keeping My Husband's Spirit Alive in Peru
Jean McGurn, 2-time traveler, Glen Head, New York
In 2005 my husband and I were signed up on your Real Affordable Peru trip. We were scheduled to leave in May. Unfortunately Bob passed away that same month (I had canceled when I knew he would not make it). In October of that same year, a friend asked me if I still wanted to go. So we signed up for the next May. From our guide Enrique to the sights and experiences to the other group members, the trip was wonderful. I honestly felt that Bob was there with me at Machu Picchu. It was a special time, as I learned I could still enjoy traveling even though Bob couldn’t be with me. Since then, my friend (and her husband this time) and I went to Chile and Argentina with Grand Circle. On that trip, I learned that I can enjoy traveling as a single, too. Again, everyone was so friendly and warm towards me. I thank OAT and Grand Circle for giving me the opportunities to learn more about other cultures, and about myself as well. I look forward to traveling with OAT again soon.
Trekking Through Africa with Mom
Susan Giaccotto, 6-time traveler, Farmington, Connecticut
My mom and I always travel together. We’ve been on five OAT trips, including three to Africa. We are best friends and share the same adventuresome spirit. We love to travel “off the beaten path”—and that’s why we continue to travel with OAT.
We feel that traveling with OAT enables us to feel a part of the places and people we visit. In our small group, the possibilities for adventure and unique experiences with the locals are great, and wildlife encounters rate high on our list.
We really enjoy all of the learning and discovery opportunities when we can interact with the local people—playing “Ring Around the Rosie” with youngsters in Namibia, learning about the ways of life in remote Zimbabwe from village elders, teaching schoolchildren who are learning English the song “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” and relating to and laughing with teachers (I taught second grade for 33 years and am now retired).
Traveling with my mom has brought us closer together as friends. We have always been “two peas in a pod” because of our looks, sense of humor, and enjoyment of being around and interacting with people—however, traveling and sharing the same unique adventures has given us such unbelievable moments to share with one another.
Because of the experiences and memories that my OAT travels in Africa have given me (and my mom), we are easily able to understand why so many travelers have fallen in love with this continent, for we have experienced the people and places of Africa and are forever changed.
Bringing My Husband to Vietnam
Barbara Herman, 2-time traveler, Fairfield, Connecticut
My husband and I have always loved to explore the world together. We reserved a trip to Vietnam several years ago after hearing our friends rave about how wonderful the country was—but shortly after we did, he was diagnosed with a heart condition that left him unable to travel.
My husband didn’t want to hold me back from my love of traveling and he encouraged me to make the trip to Vietnam anyway. He said, “Bobbie (his nickname for me) … just go. You shouldn’t be deprived of traveling the world.”
So I went … and what an amazing experience it was! I had traveled alone once before with OAT—which I was hesitant to do because of poor experiences during several previous solo trips I’d made with other tour groups. But once I was in the company of my 16 other group members, I really felt as if I was part of a family.
And as with all families, I grew close with one of my fellow group members. Evelyn and I were both traveling alone and realized that we shared a love of shopping and exploring. We spent our time together laughing and enjoying as many unique experiences as we could to tickle our adventuresome sides. One afternoon, Evelyn and I, along with a few other group members, trekked to a mud bath outside Nha Trang. We had such a great time relaxing and enjoying the joyousness of the moment, as well as the Vietnamese people.
I returned from Vietnam refreshed and full of memories that will last a lifetime—and stories that I was excited to tell my husband about. In sharing my special moments—like sailing along Halong Bay under the starlit Vietnamese skies, being humbled standing in the presence of the magnificent Angkor Wat, during my post-trip to Cambodia, and engaging the sweetest and gentlest people I’ve ever met—I hoped that my husband may experience these moments as well. And although my husband can no longer travel, I hope that I can help him to explore the world with me … even if he’s not able to step foot on the plane.
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