Embarking on solo travel is like stepping into a world of endless possibilities, and Rachelle Mackintosh knows this better than most. A seasoned award-winning travel journalist and photographer, Rachelle has traversed the globe from Siberia to Antarctica, capturing incredible wildlife and stories along the way.
An advocate for solo travel, Rachelle loves sharing the magic and freedom of exploring the world on your own terms. We sat down with her to dive into her solo travel journey, from her first solo experience in Thailand to her encounters with curious king penguins in South Georgia with AE Expeditions.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background as a solo traveller
My very first trip overseas was partially solo – I went to Thailand and spent a little bit of time alone before meeting up with friends there. I was out of my comfort zone and very green, but I quite liked the balance of independence and socialising that kind of trip gave me. I like meeting people but being a little introverted I quite enjoy my alone time and doing things at my own pace, without having to compromise. Twenty-five years later, I’ve travelled solo everywhere from Siberia to India, Africa to Antarctica, and while I sometimes do make an effort to go away with friends or my husband, there’s just something magical about calling my own shots that I can’t give up! To be honest – and don’t tell my husband or mates – but I really do just prefer travelling alone. When I’m by myself, life, and the world, feels just so much more open; when I’m travelling with people I know, it can be easy to tune out the world around me, which kind of defeats the purpose of going away!
How do you select your travel destinations, and what factors do you consider when choosing destinations?
I’m not the kind of person to “tick off” destinations, and I don’t keep count of the countries I’ve visited – because some places just keep luring me back, time after time! As a kid I dreamed of both Antarctica and the Arctic because growing up in Sydney’s south-west, these places seemed about as adventurous as life could get, so I prioritised getting there. I think the most important factor in choosing a destination should be how excited it makes you feel – travel should feel like a step away from your everyday.
How do you connect with fellow travellers or locals when you're travelling?
What are the advantages of solo travel compared to travelling in larger groups?
Being slightly introverted, sometimes being with people can be exhausting, so I love retreating to my own space when I need time out, without having to consider others’ feelings. Plus, I never have to compromise my plans to suit someone else’s. And while sometimes I do miss my people back home, I don’t really get lonely because the folks I meet while travelling usually have similar interests – especially if they’re also travelling solo. I’ve made so many lasting friendships on my travels, it really has changed the way I view life and the world in general.
Could you describe one or two of your most memorable experiences while travelling with Aurora?
Walking alone around Gold Harbour, South Georgia and looking behind me to see I had my own personal posse of king penguins following me around. When they saw me notice them, they stopped still and looked away like “do-do-do, nothing to see here…” and then when I continued walking they followed. Heaven! Who needs fellow humans when you can hang with friendly penguins?
Did you have any surprising or unexpected encounters or discoveries?
Only that I need to visit the poles again… and again… ASAP.
What advice would you give to people who are thinking about travelling as a solo traveller for the first time?
Solo Travel Offers
Demand for solo trips is higher than ever, and we’ve listened by removing the single supplement of a range of voyages spanning Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond.
In fact, you can decide how you want to experience the world’s most captivating destinations in our Choose Your Adventure Sale, which puts the power of choice in your hands.
With two enticing offers to choose from – no single supplements* or an air credit* – your adventure of a lifetime is just a choice away.
Looking for solo travel inspiration?
Unleash your inner adventurer on your own terms, embarking on the journey of a lifetime to the world’s most remote and breathtaking regions. Browse some of our favourite voyages below across our 2023-24 Antarctica and 2024 Arctic & Global seasons that you can enjoy with no single supplements* for a limited time in addition to savings of up to 20%*.
Welcome to AE Expeditions’ Antarctic Peninsula In Depth expedition. The ultimate expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula that seeks to include visits to some well-known locations and opportunities for surprise discoveries. Enjoy...
From USD $13,676.00/pp
Sail the legendary Beagle Channel and marvel at the snow-covered peaks of rugged Patagonia. Zodiac-cruise through fjords flanked by glaciers and watch as the captain skillfully navigates narrow channels while...
From GBP £9,985.50/pp
Welcome to our South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey expedition.This voyage encompasses the best of the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia. Discover historic Stanley in the Falklands~Malvinas and stand in awe...
From USD $21,516.00/pp