It takes a hardened solo traveler not to wince at giddy twosomes reveling in the romance of travel—lovers smooching in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, giggling on a chairlift, or holding hands across an airplane aisle—especially on Valentine’s Day. Single and not in the mood for love this February 14th? No worries—it’s entirely possible to get around on the red-letter day without tripping over adoring couples.
The key to this strategy? Planning ahead. Robert Kelley, a 30-year-old single management consultant from New York, recalled being on a business trip over Valentine’s Day and sitting down to a candlelight dinner—with coworkers. “I don’t think we realized what day it was,” he says. As he watched the couples around him, he thought, “I’m never going to meet somebody if I’m sitting here with my work colleagues.”
Restaurants aren’t the only potentially isolating spots. “I found the Bahamas to be a wedding/romance conveyor belt,” says 30-something Maryland resident Patricia Legler. “Every morning we saw flowers on the hotel gazebos—slightly recycled.” And Legler is married. So you can only imagine the irritation of singles when encountering the saccharine, the kitschy, or the overly sentimental.
“I was happy for my friend when we were in Paris together and her boyfriend decided to join her,” says 31-year-old Brooklyn resident Britt Carlson, who usually relishes her single status in the city. “But after dinner, they’d want to go back to the hotel to be alone—and I’d want to go out.”
One solution? Cut couples out of the picture altogether. “Adventure holidays for singles are big,” says Diane Redfern, founder of Connecting: Solo Travel Network, a resource for people traveling by themselves. “With something like weekend cycling or hiking, people can join in on an activity and it takes the focus off of finding a mate.” Some tour operators, like iExplore and Singles Travel International, offer no-single-supplement deals, meaning that solo guests don’t have to pay extra—as they once would have had to—for staying in a double-occupancy room.
Despite what Redfern says is the increasing popularity of traveling solo, perhaps we’re all more uncomfortable by ourselves than we thought?According to the U.S. Travel Association, although 21.8 percent of travelers are single, only 11 percent of the population travels alone (meaning one person by themselves). At the very least, most of us wish to escape the kissy-kissy hordes.
And yet sometimes, despite the best-laid plans, evasion is fruitless. “I was on a flight recently and a couple actually held hands across the aisle for at least the first hour of the trip,” says New York City resident Petra Guglielmetti. “They grudgingly unclasped their handhold to let flight attendants through.”
So, ignore the pair snogging on the train, groping in the plaza, and spoon-feeding each other over the rustic little table—and enjoy a great getaway for one!