Solo travel is on the up. Abta’s latest Holiday Habits survey reported one in nine people had journeyed alone in the previous year – double the number six years before. Jumping on the trend, in 2018 Lonely Planet published The Solo Travel Handbook, full of advice for lone rangers. The appeal of going solo is clear: freedom, self-discovery, travel without compromise. And while mealtimes can be the loneliest moments, taking a food-focused trip can solve this, either by bringing you together with a group of like-minded gastronomes or inviting you to engage with local chefs and producers. Here are few tasty options…
Solo-friendly foodie tour in Jordan
The way to a country’s heart is through its stomach. At least, that’s the conclusion drawn by solo-friendly tour operator Intrepid, which expanded its range of foodie experiences in 2018 to provide more immersive trips. On its six-day Jordan Real Food Adventure that means joining a Bedouin barbecue in the Wadi Rum desert, drinking sheep’s milk with local shepherds, preparing lamb mansaf with a family at Petra (before visiting the site itself) and whipping up your own dinner at Amman’s most innovative cookery school.
Bedouin driver and cook, Ahmed, pours tea at the Bedouin Roads camp in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Cooking holiday in Bologna
The clue’s in the nickname: Bologna (check out our guide to Bologna here) is La Grassa (‘the fat one’), Italy’s true home of eating, where food always comes first. This makes the gluttonous city an ideal base for a one-week Cooking Holiday in Bologna with specialist company, Flavours. Staying in a converted farmhouse in the Emilia-Romagna countryside with a small group of fellow foodies, you’ll balance time at the stove preparing traditional dishes – minced pork tortellini, crostini romagnoli, fried petroniana – with strolls around markets and medieval streets, cooking, learning, exploring and eating together.
Gourmet Japanese foodie trip
Solo travellers who want just that – to travel alone – might not immediately think of Japan, with its formidably protected culture. However, Hayes & Jarvis’ 12-day Gourmet Japan trips offer both freedom and security. The 12-day tours mix guided and self-guided days, so you get local expertise when you need it – for a tour of Tokyo’s fish markets, Kyoto’s geisha district and Osaka’s streetfood – as well as free time to explore alone. Plus there are chances to chat during a Bento-making workshop, cooking class and tea ceremony.
Solo traveller tour in Georgia & Armenia
Smokey kebabs, golden flatbreads, wood-fired corn, vegetables grilled, stuffed and pickled… Georgian and Armenian cuisines blend Mediterranean and Persian flavours to delicious effect. Titan’s new 12-day tour of the two countries – with a dedicated departure for solo travellers – visits monasteries, mountains and Stalin’s childhood home; it also includes breaking bread at roadside clay ovens, making local dishes at a masterclass in Yerevan and stops at traditional Georgian (read our foodie guide to Georgia here) vineyards to taste the fruits of one of the world’s first wine-producing nations.
Small-group adventure in Mexico
Share a room with a fellow solo and you won’t pay an extra frijole for Explore’s latest Tastes of Mexico tour. The focus of this gastronomic small-group adventure is seeking regional specialities amid the country’s temples. Graze a smorgasbord of street food in Mexico City; try chilli-chocolate mole poblano and pizza-like tlayudas in Oaxaca (Mexico’s culinary capital); eat fresh-fish ceviche on the Yucatán; learn to make perfect tamales; and visit a Maya family for cochinita pibil, a feast of pit-buried roast pork. All washed down with a mezcal or two.
Culinary tour in Cambodia
Cambodia is better known for Khmer architecture than culinary excellence. But Gran Turismo’s eight-night Cambodia Culinary Tour aims to prove the country’s cuisine might just be the next big thing among South-East Asian food fans. As well as a luxe double-room-for-one, this eye-opening food tour includes cooking classes with Siem Reap’s finest chefs and learning how to barbecue Khmer-style in a local home. You’ll also explore markets and street food culture, watch palm sugar, rice spirits and fruit parchment being made and, of course, visit Angkor’s matchless temples.
Foodie photography in France
The pleasure of food is all too fleeting. Unless you master the art of capturing it on camera. Wild Photography Holidays’ Rural Burgundy Life & Food Photography Retreat combines the region’s natural bounty and rural vistas with expert tuition in food photography by Niall Benvie. Trips to medieval villages, markets and chestnut forests will provide inspiration as well as props for sessions back at base, the spacious barn of a French château. Afterwards, enjoy delicious meals prepared by co-host Charlotte, a professional chocolatier.
Small-group culinary trip in Sweden
There’s no surer way to bond with new companions than by exploring, camping, cooking and eating together. On Much Better Adventures’ five-day, small-group Culinary Kayaking Adventure along Sweden’s eastern Saint Anna Archipelago you’ll all be on the look-out for supper, paddling between pretty isles to forage for mushrooms and berries, and sourcing fish, boar, fruit and veg from local producers. Then learn how to prepare, wild style: your guide-chef will teach everything from pit cooking to traditional Swedish husmanskost (homemade food).
Foodie walking holiday in Andalucia
A stay amid the sun-baked Alpujarras offers a fine equilibrium: gorge on Andalucían cooking, then work it off with walks around the white-washed villages and olive groves of the Sierra Nevada.
Based at lovely Las Chimeneas, a rustic hotel with an organic farm and an excellent kitchen, join Ramblers’ seven-night Ambles in the Alpujarras trips and you can intersperse gentle walks with foraging, paella-making and visits to fish markets, cheesemakers and wine bodegas.
Ramblers Walking Holidays’ trips attract a good mix of couples, friends and solos, and lone travellers can save by sharing a room.
Solo foodie trip in Peru
Imaginative Traveller says at least half of its customers are solos – the camaraderie and money-saving room-share option make them a good choice. Not least on its ten-day Peru Real Food Adventures.
Sample anticuchos (grilled beef hearts) and masamorra (purple corn) at Lima’s Central Market before learning to make ceviche and pisco sour. Then it’s off to the Andes to cook in Cusco, stay on a coffee plantation and join a pachamanca, an Incan cooking ritual. There’s time to explore Machu Picchu too.
Words by Sarah Baxter
Images by Edd Kimber, Getty, Rob Streeter, Hiran Thabrew