Friday, February 8, 2008

The single's survival guide to Valentine’s Day

With Valentine's Day almost upon us, it's that time of year when sweet nothings, red roses and romantic dinners become the order of the day. But if you, like me, are unattached then it is often the one day of the year you dread the most, silently wishing you could fritter it away hiding under your doona with your best friends Ben & Jerry close at hand.

Ironically, I’ve just spend the last week writing articles for one of my publishers about romantic spa treatments you can surprise your partner with and unusual wedding destinations where you can get hitched this Valentine’s Day, giving my happily married and coupled-up friends a great laugh at my expense. Unfortunately, I seem to have a six month expiry date when it comes to relationships (even cyber relationships as I most recently discovered!) and somehow with out planning I’ve missed out on celebrating almost all of the hallmark events with a significant other – Christmas, Valentine’s Day; even my birthday!

Personally, I think all my ex-boyfriends out of common curtesy should, at the very least, send me a belated birthday present! But I digress…

The point is, people don’t naturally come in pairs. We come into this world alone (unless you are a twin of course) and, in most cases, we leave it the same way. So rather than mope about not being in a relationship this Valentine’s Day, I say ditch the tub of ice-cream, embrace your solo status and treat yourself to a fabulous single’s getaway.

Fortunately, there are a number of great specialist travel operators offering tours where your single status can be worn as a badge of honour. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Argentina & Brazil
Ever fancied learning how to dance the tango? This has been on the top of my “to do” list for a long time. Footloose Tours combines the passion of Latin America's most vibrant cities, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, with intoxicating musical rhythms, warm tropical coastlines, rainforest and thunderous waterfalls on this fun 12-day tour.You never know, you might strike up a new romance while dancing one of the world's most seductive dances.

Vietnam & Cambodia
Discover the varied sights, sounds and flavours of the Far East on Solo Traveller’s 15-day tour through Vietnam and Cambodia. The tour takes in the temples of Angkor Wat, the Indo-French city of Siem Reap, the floating markets of Saigon and the bustling city of Hanoi. (OK, so this is probably who I should have arranged to go with on my planned, though ill-fated, trip to Cambodia at the end of last year – next time!)

Caribbean cruise
Being trapped on a boat with a bunch of hormonally-charged 20-somethings eager to party with nothing but endless sea surrounding me is not my idea of fun, but there are many singles out there for whom cruising is a passion. So if that is you, check out the range of Caribbean cruises offered by Cruises depart from New York, Fort Lauderdale and Miami and run for around 6-8 nights. All tours include theme nights, pool parties, dancing lessons and even speed dating.

Africa overland
For a real adventure nothing beats my personal favourite tour for singles – the African overland safari (just steer clear of the tour leaders; especially if they are blonde-haired, blue-eyed South Africans!). Dragomon has a great 28-day tour departing from Cape Town which snakes its way across South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana before arriving in Victoria Falls/Livingstone in Zambia. Highlights include quad biking through the Namib Desert, spying wildlife in Etosha National Park and canoeing through the Okavango Delta.

Kakadu & beyond
My final pick takes in a part of my home country which I am itching to see – Australia’s most famous national park; the Kakadu. Australian-based aRendezvous offers a “singles only” 9-day tour through the Kakadu where you'll observe Dreamtime rock art, swim in remote gorges and cruise among the abundant wildlife of Yellow Waters. This tour is operated by World Expeditions and also includes three days floating on the Katherine River.

Have a happily single Valentine’s Day!

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