Going it alone: Diane Bull

After losing her husband, Diane Bull went to India with Just You and hasn’t looked back

I went on my first solo trip in 2005. I’d lost my husband in March that year, after 30 years together. I’d never done anything by myself, so it was a really big question: could I manage?

My husband and I had been on a holiday with Travelsphere, and so I looked at Just You, which is their sister company. He had been to India for work, and we’ve got Indian friends, so I thought I’d like to go. I saw a Just You trip that went there, and I just went ahead and booked it. My daughter, said, “Why on earth are you going to India by yourself, mum?” And I said, “Well, if I can do that, I can do anything.”

Before I went, I was very nervous. Arriving at the airport, I was apprehensive, thinking ‘Am I going to get on with people? Is anyone going to talk to me? How am I going to get on with this different culture?’ There’s a picture of me sitting on my suitcase looking dejected, but that soon changed!

I went to northern India, the Golden Triangle, and I’ve been back there five times since. The sounds, the sights, the smells – it’s an assault on the senses, India. I love it, it’s a wonderful place. At the end of the holiday, which was a week, I didn’t want to go home! I didn’t want to come back to Coventry and face reality to be perfectly honest.

It was very empowering – it gave me a lot more confidence. I thought, ‘Great, I can do this’. Since then, I’ve been on 13 trips with Just You and have another three lined up! They’ve got such a good selection of tours and the tour managers are excellent – they make sure no one is left out. If you want to be by yourself you can be, if you don’t want to be, there are always people to talk to.

You might be alone when you go to the airport and I appreciate that people can be anxious about that, but, once you get there, you meet other travellers, the tour managers and airport rep, and then you’re not travelling alone – you’re with a group of people who will soon become your friends! On my first trip, I met a lady called Margaret, who is from Bradford and who became my best friend. I see her a couple of times a year, and she came with me to Vietnam a few years ago.

I still travel alone, but often book trips where I know people from previous holidays. Just You has a community [forum.justyou.co.uk], where you can meet other travellers online and agree to meet before you fly.

I’m going to China and Tibet next. I intend to do these long-haul trips while I can, because you don’ t know how long that will be. But I intend to do them until I’m bankrupt! It’s extremely addictive!

After my husband died, I became a carer for my mum and my aunt, and it was a really difficult time. It was these trips that kept me focused and stopped me falling into a black hole. My advice to people who are apprehensive about solo travel is: pick somewhere you want to go and then just book it! If you don’t you’ll regret it. As soon as you get home you’ll be booking your second holiday!

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