WINNER: World’s Best Expedition Cruise Line | 2023 World Cruise Awards

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. 

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.

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?

Expedition cruising makes it easy because that’s what meals and happy hour is for. But if I’m travelling alone in a city, town, or on safari etc, I find that people tend to approach me – many folks seem to be curious about why a 40-something woman is travelling alone (and many of them have told me they’d like to try it themselves).

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?

Don’t hold onto any fear or anxiety. It’s natural to feel a little bit nervous – but think of it as excitement. The fact you’re even considering solo travel proves you have an adventurous spirit and trying to suppress that will lead to a life of not just FOMO, but actual, factual MO. And mate, that’s just too sad – you deserve better! And don’t worry too much about being a solo woman in a foreign place. Yes, it’s on you to be smart, vigilant and protect yourself – but remember that other women make up 50% of the world and the sisters you’ll meet on the road/at sea are often the highlight!

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.

*Terms and conditions apply

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%*.

*Terms and conditions apply

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