The first tentative steps can be terrifying, but this seasoned traveller revels in the ‘addictive’ sense of freedom gained from being a party of one
• 20 of the best group trips for solo travellers
Standing in a fug of heat outside Cairo airport, taxi drivers shouting at me, night falling fast and without a single coherent idea about what I am to do, I stare into space, resisting the urge to turn around and buy a one-way ticket back to Heathrow. I have left England only once before, on a school trip. In my pocket I have £300 and the Nairobi address of a distant relative I’ve never met. This is supposed to be my great African adventure. It doesn’t feel that way.
It was 1982 and if anyone had asked me on that night, “What are the pleasures of solo travel?” I might have burst into tears. What I did was take a bedsheet from my backpack, creep to a dusty space under some trees, lie down and hide beneath it, pretending to be asleep. Solo travel, it seemed at that moment, was the worst of all possible worlds.