TRAVEL | How I Plan My Solo Travels & Road Trips. 5 Microadventure Planning Considerations

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If you think the adventures of travel and outdoor bloggers look like effortless fun, the reality can be a bit different! Read on for 5 of the things I consider when planning a new microadventure.

solo travel
I love traveling on my own!

A proper holiday is great, but not always viable when annual leave is limited, so I’m a huge fan of microadventures. I think it’s important to always have something in my diary to look forward to, and having something to get excited about keeps me going.

I’m rubbish at resting, so I tend to plan most of my spare time and I rarely have a truly free weekend, you know the kind when you just potter around at home binge-watching box sets and catch up on household jobs? I maybe get just 2 or 3 weekends like that a year.

Snorkelling in the Maldives, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu
Not all of my travels are quite so exotic…!

If I’m not actually doing stuff, I’m usually planning what stuff I am going to do in the near future, and the last couple of weeks have seen me finalising plans for what has become my annual Easter road trip.

Having a full time day job and very limited leave means I have to be smart about going away, so I usually maximise my weekends by booking a day or two, or even just half a day either side of a weekend or a bank holiday to give myself a little more time. When it comes to traveling 400+ miles though, it’s not something I tend to do for just short stay, so each Easter for the last few years, I’ve used the bank holidays to my advantage, allowing me to minimise the annual leave I need to use up to get a decent 5 day break in.

Catbells Cumbria summit
Nothing quite beats the satisfaction of reaching a Trig point!

The longer duration means I’m happy to spend all day driving as there is still plenty of time to rest and have fun once I arrive. So this year, just like the past 2 years, I’m heading up to Scotland, to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, an area I’ve come to know and love. Last year I went glamping near Loch Tay and whilst there I walked up Ben Lawers, and went kayaking on Loch Tay on a gloriously sunny day and I had a total and utter blast.

This year, although I’m going back to the same national park, I’m going to be visiting a totally different part and have been planning what I’ll do whilst I’m there. It goes without saying that whatever I do, it has to include walking up a mountain. I see a peak and feel compelled to reach the top of it, and as I’m staying right beside Loch Katrine, I’m hoping to get out onto the water too.

Away in the South of France 2019

I still haven’t invested in a rigid kayak but I’m seriously tempted. I do have an inflatable kayak which seemed like a great idea, but I find the logistics of inflating it using my car pump and then attempting to carry it difficult. Dragging an inflatable kayak in the same way you can with a rigid really isn’t a good idea, so for solo adventures, I don’t find it very practical.

This leads me to the realisation that once again I’ll probably end up hiring a kayak, but the appeal of having my own, permanently at my disposal and not having to clock watch to see when my time is up does appeal massively.

Cooling down in the Ardeche, South of France

Sometimes when we travel bloggers write about our adventures, they might seem spontaneous, even effortless, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! For solo trips that involve traveling long distances and especially when I’m planning big walks on my own, an awful lot of research and preparation occurs.

So where do I start when I’m planning a trip like this? How do I decide where to go, when to go and what I’ll do when I get there? When it comes to organising a short break in the UK, my planning process goes something like this…

5 Microadventure Planning Considerations

1. How much time is available?

The  number of days I have available determines how far I can go. To get up to Scotland or down to Cornwall it takes the best part of a day driving, so I’ll only consider clocking up serious miles for a 3 night or longer stay. The Easter break provides the perfect opportunity to book a longer than usual 4 night stay without having to use too much of my precious annual leave.

2. What’s the time of year?

The time of year largely determines my accommodation choice. On solo trips, I’ve got to be honest, the convenience of glamping, especially in the colder months is a big bonus for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love camping and spend as much time as possible in my tent, but when it comes to a break at Spring, clement weather is no guarantee. The convenience of heating and electricity means I can stay connected to the outside world when I want to and I’ll be warm and dry, so for solo adventures in early Spring, glamping is usually my first pick, but I’m also a huge fan of snowboarding in Spring too.

Snowboarding in La Plagne France
Solo snowboarding trip in La Plagne, Spring 2019

I love boarding on bluebird days in the Alps at this time of year, though there’s a bit of a balancing act to be done in terms of ever increasing temperatures and rapidly melting snow, so be careful where you choose and make sure you head somewhere with a really good snow base first.

Read about my recent solo snowboarding trip to La Plagne with Will I Ski.

When I need to limit booking annual leave and don’t want to stray too far from home, then Easter can be hit or miss weather wise here in the UK, especially when it falls early like it did this year, so as well as affecting my destination and accommodation choice, it also determines my packing list.

3. Where do I want to go?

I have a long list of places that I want to visit in the UK, but I’m always drawn to mountains, lakes and the coast. This makes places like Wales, the Lake District and Scotland perfect for me. I usually decide loosely where I want to visit and then start looking at accommodation and things to do in specific areas which ultimately determines where I end up visiting.

 Castell Dinas Brân
Me walking at Castell Dinas Brân whilst on a solo glamping weekend away

4. What do I want to do?

The things I enjoy doing are pretty easy to plan for, and include something water based (kayaking, wild swimming or a boat trip), something land based (usually a hill or mountain walk) and ‘something else’ (usually something touristy, like visiting a local attraction). A decent day-hike to reach a summit is always a must and takes the most thought though.

I don’t have great navigational confidence, so I select my summits with great care, ensuring the route is as idiot-proof as possible. Once I’ve decided on a few possible options, I then research them, starting with my own walking books and looking at walking websites to view existing planned routes, looking at route images and watching videos to get a real feel for the walk. Finally, once I’ve decided (I’m hoping to tackle Ben Lomond this time), I use my OS Maps app to download a map of the area that can be used offline.

In the mountains again!
Me, in the mountains again!

5. What’s my budget?

Luckily when it comes to UK based short breaks I rarely have to worry too much about budget, but I do like to try and ensure my accommodation costs are ‘reasonable’. For a solo stay I tend to not want to spend any more than about £60 per night for glamping accommodation.

After factoring in 2 full tanks of fuel at £140, food, kayak hire, car parking and so on, a short break can quickly get very expensive, so if I scrimp anywhere it’s usually on the accommodation.

Over to you

How do you plan your own travels and solo adventures? I’d love to hear from you!

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TRAVEL | How I Plan My Solo Travels - 5 Microadventure Planning Considerations

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Shell Robshaw-Bryan
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