Being single no excuse for not seeing world

Last updated 00:00 02/10/2007

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Flying solo can be a daunting task. Escorted travel provides the reassurance of safety in numbers but can be packed with couples and 20-somethings.
The Wanderer blog: Travelling solo

When the kids are all grown up and all your friends have a partner, seeing the world can seem a bit out of reach.

Introducing specialised travel for singles.

Liz Stockdale, 58, is well seasoned on the single travel experience.

Stockdale, from Victoria, is packing her bags for her fifth excursion under the guidance of singles travel site, Destination World Travel.

However, she says, it wasn't easy to get the ball rolling.

"I was a little bit apprehensive," she says.

"It was with great trepidation that I joined the group and I couldn't be more delighted."

The desire for companionship drew Stockdale to the site and her trust in the guide and site founder, Judith Hards, has kept her there.

"If you travel in a group when everyone else is a couple. . . they don't mean to, but you get excluded," she says.

"All I had to do was turn up at the airport. . . we don't have to worry about anything."

Hards says that the bottom line of the site, launched in 1999, is that it's not a dating site.

People are not encouraged to pair up. Quite the contrary in fact.

By singles, in this case, Hards is referring to people who are travelling on their own.

Single parents are welcome to bring their children and one half of a couple is free to join.

In fact, Stockdale was so impressed with Hards' services she is taking her two adult daughters to Egypt with Destination World Travel.

On another trip a single parent brought her 12-year-old son and even couples have joined in on the singles' party.

"We can't just say 'you are not allowed to join the trip'," Hards says.

"They're welcome to join. It's not the norm but certainly they are more than welcome to join."

"But the majority of trips go out with all singles."

Hards adds that from the get-go all team members are advised of any non-singles travelling in the group of 10-15.

It is the intimate size of the group that adds to the appeal.

"It feels like you are travelling with a bunch of friends," according to Hards.

When people book a trip at Destination World Travel, with their permission, email addresses are exchanged so the members can touch base before leaving.

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Stockdale says that the online relationships that are built provide people the opportunity to meet and greet before they take off.

Singles site www.rsvp.com.au boasts over a million Aussie singles on its database. Since its launch on Valentines Day a decade ago, rsvp.com.au have been instrumental in 2500 weddings and 350 babies.

Nine months ago they extended the website to include singles getaways.

"This is still a toe in the water for is," says Lija Jarvis, marketing director for the site.

In an online poll of about 800 singles, rsvp.com.au found that people were interested in booking singles trips within a specific age group, they wanted an even ratio of male to females and wanted a variation on the theme of the trips.

These three factors are the foundation of the rsvp singles trips.

"The common thread is that they're single. It's a nice, easy opportunity to mingle with people like you who are hopefully geographically near you," Jarvis says.

Users hop online and can check out holidays in their age bracket. Whilst still mostly domestic trips, the travel facet of the site is getting a revamp next month.

They will be tripling the amount of trips available, offering about 30 a year, the age brackets will be diversifying and they will be extending the destinations on offer.

Each tour welcomes up to 60 people and guarantees a 50/50 male female ratio.

The tour is packed with a full schedule of completely voluntary activities.

"It's very much set up so you're looked after and have company the whole way through with time out and flexibility," Jarvis says.

Harvey Braun is a 46-year-old single who signed up to a Whitsundays flop and drop long weekend with the site.

"When you're single it's hard to find people to travel with," Braun says of his decision to go.

"Most of my friends are in couples."

Brisbane resident Braun says that with such a large group of people on tour there is always someone to have a chat with.

He says that it is all about "meeting a bunch of like-minded people who want to have some fun".

As for finding love: "For numerous people there are romantic connections."

"You have a much higher chance of finding that in a bunch of singles and it would be nice," Braun says.

"If you're inclined to make friends, I'd recommend it to anybody. You've got to go and have fun. Don't put pressure on yourself to find a long-term romance."

"Both couples and singles enjoy small group tours, however it is single travellers who serve to gain the most benefit," Hards, who has a partner herself, says.

If the only thing keeping you from exploring the rest of the world is a partner in crime, then get online and find a whole troop.

- AAP

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