Solo Travel: Pros and Cons: 2005
Many people are reluctant or nervous to travel alone. Share your tips on traveling alone safely, economically...and without being lonely.
No Regrets on Solo!
Okay - one more time! Solo traveling is nothing more than the best way to travel, bar none. I enjoy the freedom of time, choice of sights, sitting in front of a special art piece for hours, and eating at my pace and what I want. However, I also have the best of both worlds because I usually have prearranged dinners with family and/or friends every couple of nights. I always let THEM chose the place and time - makes for easy relationships! We spend hours comparing notes, laughing, eating, sharing tips, and laughing some more. It is lovely sharing the knowlege we have each gained and planning to meet again for a picnic or concert. We even bring along "new" friends for a real cultural mix and have never been disappointed in the conversation or camraderie. The only "CON" I ever experience is missing my family that did not make the trip. But, I get to see them soon after and it never deters me from grabbing my bag, passport and toothbrush and heading for the airport!!
Winter Haven, FL USA Sat 12/31/2005
Solo travel is great
Solo travel is great! I love not having to wait for someone to get ready in the morning (It takes me about 20 minutes from waking up to getting out the door when I have a new city to explore and it makes me crazy to wait!) You can do what you want to do when you want to do it. If you have just had it for the day, you can go back to your hotel or hostel, or just grab a beer, glass of wine or cup of tea. One of the best things to do if you are lonely or overwhelmed is to find a bookshop with an English section and browse for a while. No, most don't have comfy chairs like Barnes and Nobles, but you can usually make do. As for an itinerary landing in Amsterdam, you are just a few hours from Brussels, Brugge and Paris, or you could go the other direction and into Germany. It really depends what you like....
San Diego, CA USA Sat 12/31/2005
I'm actually traveling solo the month of Feb (first time in EU). Am I making a huge mistake?
Landing in Amsterdam and have a month. Any itinerary ideas?
Montgomery, AL USA Thu 12/29/2005
Thinking of soloing
Thinking of giving a solo trip a shot. I have some vacation that I have to use in mid-January and way to many frequent flier miles. My wife refuses to travel (won't leave our 2 1/2 year old), but thinks soloing is weird. I'm thinking of Berlin, Munich or Paris, have been to all of them with my wife, but didn't get to see everything to be seen. Any recommendations for a nervous first time soloist with regard to dealing with the solo stigma and location? Thanks!
MN USA Wed 12/28/2005
I really admire you solo travelers. I have done a few solo's but always wind up missing my wife.
I went to Nepal and trekked in the Himalaya's and have done some solo backpacking in the US.
I am hoping to get to the Alps [Germany, Switzerland] for a hutt to hutt adventure in 2007. I may be solo on that trip. It sounds like an adventure!
Any suggestions on the hutt system in either country?
Sacramento, Ca USA Fri 12/23/2005
Solo female in Ireland
I went to Ireland solo for two weeks in June/July and had the time of my life. This was the first time I've gone anywhere alone and being a youngish (26yrs) female I was definitely nervous before arriving. But the minute I touched down all of that went out the window. Ireland is the friendliest place I've ever been. Never once did I feel concerend for my safety. I stayed at hostels and a few splurge hotels when I just couldn't take sharing a bathroom any longer and at the urging of the staff I ventured out alone at night many times. I even went to pubs alone. And alone in Ireland never lasts long. I found myself engaged in wonderful conversations usually within 10 minutes of entering a pub. Yes there were plenty of men hitting on me, but it was so harmlessly good natured that I ended up chatting the evening away with them after turning down the initial advance. All I can say is have a sense of humor and some common sense and Ireland will blow your mind. People actually want to show you around and make sure you have fun. I had my choice of lovely unofficial tourguides who talked my ear off trying to impress upon me the wonders of the Emerald Isle.
I even went to two U2 concerts and a Coldplay concert by myself. This was the main reason for my trip and I figured it was a once in a lifetime chance, so why be embarassed or worried about going it alone. I came back more confident and totally empowered. Not to mention so incredibly stoked about the amazing concerts. And, I must say I am still more nervous walking around San Francisco alone after dark than I was walking around Dublin alone after dark. To beat the lonliness bugs, I hung around public places, spending my afternoons in parks or walking around areas where locals took lunch breaks. You'd be amazed how many locals were looking for some random platonic company and I had some of the best conversations with them. Most people thought I was local myself until I opened my mouth. The key is to act like you belong and don't be afraid. Really there is nothing to be afraid of. Plus spending some time getting to know yourself by being quiet and trusting your intuition is good for us young women. I'm proud of myself for being able to say I had the best time of my life and it happened "alone".
Santa Cruz, CA USA Thu 12/22/2005
My two cents
When ever travelling solo the only dissapointment is, is that you are never in your photos. My recomendations is, when asking someone to take a picture of you in front of somthing, always be sure to ask another tourist and be sure they have a better, more expensive camera the yours therefor you are sure not to get yours stolen.
B.C Canada Thu 12/22/2005
Another helpful website for women travelling solo
I did some of my research for my July 2005 trip on the Journeywoman.com website. This site has excellent information about all aspects of women travelling solo, including appropriate clothing, helpful hints on accommodation, dining and sightseeing.
Ontario Canada Sun 11/20/2005
long-term solo trips
I love traveling, and most of my travels have been alone- all of my major backpacking trips. I think some people prefer to travel that way, other people just prefer to travel- by whatever means possible- and end up traveling alone! I'm actually studying the matter, email me for details. -just travel!
New York, NY USA Fri 11/18/2005
Celebrating 65: 6 months solo in Asia
I recently returned to the US after 4 months solo back-packing through India, and 2 months travelling through Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Solo doesn't mean "alone" because you're always meeting people. My entire journey, including transportation, cost me less than $6,000--cheaper than living in the US! My only redo would be to leave half the stuff I left with at home, and find a laptop weighing less than my 3.5 lb. Dell. Access to Net Cafes is great, but nothing beats a computer-companion for keeping a daily diary--and for sharing a "slice of life" from home with new friends.
Evanston, IL USA Tue 11/15/2005
I love traveling alone. Of course, I'm male, 6'1" and weigh 235 lbs, but I still have to be as careful as most. I have almost been mugged once and attacked with a sword another time. These days, I recommend solo travelers find a group they'd like to travel with, then partner up with another solo from that group. Destinations should be secure and populated. That may not be appealing for the seasoned solo traveler who wants new horizons, but it's realistic. If you insist, though, I recommend any place off the beaten path in Europe that Rick recommends. I have always benefitted from his advice. But try Croatia; Zagreb is nice and Pltcvick Falls is a beautiful place. Try Bosnia; Mostar is nice.
RANCHO MIRAGE, CA USA Thu 11/10/2005
It was not my first choice to travel alone, it just happened that way--so off I went this past September. 30 days through Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm. Helsinki, Tallinn, Ireland, Greece, Turkey....whew.... Yes, a lot of distance covered but the cheap budget airlines of Europe made it a breeze and I really didn't feel rushed. A companion may even have been a burden at times on such a trip. A wonderful kaleidoscope of people, places, adventures. Being solo it much easier, with no conflicts in what to do and see. This was my fourth big expedition to Europe and I had some trepidation about going alone, I had absolutely no idea how it would be. It was WONDERFUL! I did not have one moment of loneliness or misgiving. Europe is made for the traveler, whether with people or alone. It is easy to connect with locals or other travelers if you just make the effort to strike up a conversation. Becoming best friends with someone for an hour, or a day, or two. Exchanging email addresses to connect later, and then onward. Going it alone was a personal quest of sorts, and I grew and expanded in many different ways within myself. I learned and experienced so much. I returned home with added confidence. I did it! And loved it.... Heading back again in May.
Bellingham, WA USA Wed 11/09/2005
solo is more fun in warm weather (not hot) London is great Solo city lots of Plays, Museums and English language
seattle, Wa USA Sat 10/29/2005
Travel solo, you will not regret it.
I took a trip last September by myself to Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland and had a great time. My very first day I went to Stirling, Scotland and wanted to see the whole "Braveheart" area. I walked up to Stirling Castle and could see the William Wallace Monument and looked like a far walk, but I had to do it. So with two backpacks and not so great shoes on, I started to make the trek. Well I got lost on a tiny little peninsula where there was no bridge and I would have to backtrack at least a mile. I saw a woman sitting in a car and decided to ask her for directions. Long story short, I ended up getting a tour from her and her husband of the outside bowling club they owned and also a car ride tour of Stirling and dropped off at the base of the monument. I spent about 2 hours with Ian and Bunty Wilson. I wish I would have gotten their address to send them a thank you card.
Like previous posts, yeah you can get sad when you can't share an adventure with someone, but you will meet tons of people, see the things you really want to and what a sense of accomplishment. 4 months before this trip I was in Salzburg, Austria and decided to take a drive to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I had no map, no knowledge of the language and no idea where I was going. I spent the day there and was happy I did. The reason I took the drive... No one ever comes back to the states and says, "I went to Slovenia." Any questions or comments.... email me
Pittsburgh, PA USA Mon 10/10/2005
Solo traveling is great!
I've just come home after 21 days in England, all on my own, and I had a ball! I met so many nice, nice people (and I'm normally not terribly outgoing) -- you can't be afraid to approach strangers for information or directions. I was lonely at times, wanting someone to talk through the events of the day, but the luxury of seeing what I wanted to see, and spending as little or as much time as I wanted in any given place, more than made up for the occasional solitude. I will definitely travel alone again, and would recommend it to anyone who has the chance!
Plainfield, VT USA Sun 10/02/2005
Meeting people while traveling alone
I just got back from a solo trip to Europe, 12 nights. I talked to lots of people and even met up with a travel partner for the end for a few days thanks to a posting on the Rick Steves "travel partners wanted" board (something I will take further advantage of in the future). I also met an American couple who invited me to dinner one night, and I talked to numerous English-speaking tourists on trains and in restaurants. So you don't have to spend every minute of your trip alone, and if you use the internet ahead of time you can even plan to meet people as you travel.
Portland, OR USA Wed 09/28/2005
I just bought my ticket to Madrid and Instanbul. I am planning on staying as long as my budget allows travelling solo (32 yr, female) and I must admit that I am quite nervious about it. I hope to be in Portugal, Turkey, Spain and Milan. Any tips are welcome.
Lima, Peru Mon 09/26/2005
St. Petersburg, Russia, B&B
I just returned from a trip to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Kiev. The Hotel Iskra in St. P'g is a nice stopping place for anyone looking for safe lodging and decent accomodations. I was traveling alone, a woman. The hotel is within walking distance of the Peter/Paul Fortress and one Metro stop away from Nevsky Prospekt. Nice residential neighborhood, quiet at night, and I always felt safe. For a double, 80 euros a night plus breakfast. Hotel staff speaks some English and is very helpful. No problems traveling around the city, either.
Washington, DC USA Sat 09/24/2005
You don't mention if you will have a car and I think that makes a big difference. Some of the smaller towns in Tuscany are not that easy to get to via bus or train, versus, say, going from Florence to Pisa, especially since you only have about a week. Without a car you could use Siena or Florence as your base and take advantage of hired day excursions in the region. Hostelbookers is just one of the sources my daughters and I used, online. But- IF you want your own bathroom and some peace and quiet and your own space at the end of a long day of touring, I'll bet you can find a hotel in the "budget" listings in Rick's or any other guidebooks within your budget. I found that the hostel sites were NOT always accurate (either by accident or design!) when describing their distance from the nearest train or bus station- a couple times we walked at least twice as far as the online map indicated...lastly, what if you stayed in each of two cities three nights- one of my daughters enjoys being in a new place each night and the other prefers a home base and not re- packing dialy. Which do you prefer for comfort? And then go with that. Happy travels!!!
USA Tue 09/20/2005
Numbers Game a Success!
I just returned from Europe and I smashed through my goal of having a conversation with 100 people - the final count was 141! Even though I had been to Europe 7 previous times with friends, I found traveling solo to be one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. I talked to people from 19 to 75 including many Americans, dozens of Brits, scores of Australians and a few locals in every city I visited - especially in Belgium.
Folks, unless you're a complete hermit, traveling alone is not as hard as it looks. If you're not a natural extrovert, the first couple of nights will be a bit hard, but open up, play a little numbers game and before you know it, it will start to get easier and by the time your two weeks are up, you'll be talking to strangers as if they were long lost friends!
Irish pubs and cafes are a great place to meet people. If you overhear a conversation on the street and feel you can relate to it chime right in. Some of my conversations last just one minute or less. Others opened up into us becoming buddies for the entire evening. Don't worry about where the conversation will lead - you just never know.
The special bonus is that not only are you meeting people, you get to do your own thing the rest of the time without compromising with another traveler, and then when you're done, you're actually ready to get home back to the friends and family you've missed (only a little bit) in the time you have beeb abroad.
Good luck and have fun!
Washington, DC USA Tue 09/20/2005
Play a Numbers Game
I am on a 2-week tour of Europe. I have been to Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Bruges and Brussels; Today I am in Luxembourg and wind up in Paris. I am playing a game - have a conversation with at least 100 people. The conversation can be of any length (several hours to a minute or two) but must involve some personal conversation - business transactions and giving/asking directions don't count - unless an actual conversation results. Good news - so far I am up to 87 people - from all over the world and many locals. Special bonus - one of them was RICK STEVES! He and his crew were in Edinburgh filming their special for that city for 2006 - and they filmed a literary pub crawl I went on - what a treat!
Washington, DC USA Mon 09/12/2005
Finding a travel buddy
Came across this site and thought it might be helpful: TravelersMeet.com
USA Tue 09/06/2005
19 year old female, first solo adventure in UK
Train travel solo was pretty easy; since everyone in England speaks English, I could simply ask for help whenever I needed it.
I only got really lonely once, in a big city where I was overwhelmed by all the stuff going on (a huge international festival with hundreds of events), but I figured out ways to keep a grip on things. The time difference prevented me from calling home most of the time, so it was a little hard not hearing the voices of home. But I used emails when I got the chance.
I didn't stay out late most nights unless I had a friend with me. Instead, I hit the sack around 10-11 p.m. and got up early to get the most out of my day. The one time I found myself downtown in a high-crime city at a late hour, I put up the money for a cab home rather than walk through a bad neighborhood I'd been warned against. Good thing my accomodations were near town.
USA Wed 08/31/2005
Solo in the fatherland
I recently got back from a 6 month solo backpack trip of Germany, form the north sea to alps, and everywhere in between. you'd be surprised how may other people are out there backpacking the same routes. i traveled with an Australian guy for a few weeks, and a canadian for about one week, both were experienced travelers. almost everyone i met was friendly and helpful, except for a man in a dark alley in Hamburg. i won't elaborate on it, but a word of advice: buy some sort of protection as soon as you get there, you'll feel a lot safer, you probably won't even need it. i do regret not getting a eurailpass, i would have saved hundreds of dollars. well, overall i had the time of my life and am saving up for another trip next fall, hopefully for a longer one.
Fort Walton Beach, FL USA Sun 08/28/2005
Alone in Italy
I went to Italy in late October 2004 for 10 days alone and had a blast! I landed at Marco Polo Airport and traveled by water taxi to Venice, then by train to my grandfathers home Felonica Po, then to Florence, Rome, and finally Genoa. I followed Rick's recommendations regarding preparation, planning, back street hotels and restaurants and had a great experience. I went with no reservations or hard itinerary - just a general idea and an "open jaws" round trip plane ticked.
I can't stress enough how enjoyable packing light (carry on bag with back pack straps and rolling wheels) made my trip. Also, staying on the island of Venice over night is a must. The hotel I stumbled into close to the train station was only $70 per night. It was small, but clean and efficient (with a bath room). Wandering through the streets of Venice after dark in a light rain is surreal, like going back in time to the renaissance. I wandered into, of all places, an Irish pub close to the Rialto bridge. I sat next to a German congress member, three guys from Ireland, and a stewardess from Delta airlines. It was great!
Florence and Rome were also a lot of fun. Back street restaurant seating is so close that many times you're included in conversations from adjoining tables. By the third course, you're on a first name basis with everyone around you. Don't be afraid. Everyone I met was very friendly and communication isn't much of a problem. If you listen to some basic language tapes and carry a small translation book, you'll be fine.
My grandfathers home, Felonica Po, provided the biggest suprise. The people were extremely friendly. One gentlemen I met in a coffee bar offered to drive me around to try to find relatives! As we toured the small town, total strangers invited me into there homes for wine and conversation. It was a real slice of Italian life.
One recommendation, get hotel rooms with a bathroom. Drop down a star if you have to: it's worth the extra few euros.
Atlanta, GA USA Fri 08/26/2005
Idea for Sally and her solo daughter
For Sally, if you are still looking for suggestions- I just saw your post and with two daughters currently traveling have a thought: is there a volunteer program (if you don't have a religious affiliation that sponsors that kind of service trip) she can join? She'd be with a supervised group that way. Or- once 18, for example, Sierra Club has trips to Central and South America, and again, she'd be with a group and folks who know the area. For my oldest daughter's 18th birthday we "gave" her their Hawaii whale service trip, but she went again with them a couple years later for three weeks to Peru. I was nervous to have her fly alone to South America, but once at the airport she was not ever alone again for the duration. Just a thought- it could be a graduation present instead of a nagging argument all senior year! Best wishes!
USA Thu 08/25/2005
Traveling solo and having FUN
Solo travel ANYwhere is great! As so many have mentioned in previous comments, your travel time is YOUR time to come and go as you please and to see what you want. I have used Rick's guides on all my most recent trips (1 to London and Paris, and 1 to London, Amsterdam, Rome, Munich). The hints on saving money and the "best" places to see (often away from crowds of bused-in tourists) are worth every penny you pay for the guides. Planning ahead is helpful, particularly when a major event is happening where you want to go (Oktoberfest in Munich, for example), but a spur-of-the-moment detour can also be culturally rewarding. NEVER stay or eat at a place where tour buses pull up--find those out of the way places to enjoy the local ambience. Lastly, get your EurailPass--it is the most convenient way to get around since the rail system in Europe is so efficient and frequent and you can often use it on regional transit services and special tours, like the Romantic Road. I will be leaving for another 2 weeks in Europe in about a month, and I've been planning and prepping since April for it, getting great hotel/pension rates in the cities I will be visiting (London, Paris, Berlin, Cologne, Munich). Good traveling--and know Steve is on the right "track" in all his guides.
Juneau, AK USA Tue 08/16/2005
1st trip to Europe - going solo
Hi everyone. I am planning a trip next May to Europe for 3 weeks. I'll be graduating from medical school and want to take some time off before I'm spending 80 hours a week in a hospital. I'm planning on spending a week in Ireland, then heading over to Germany to meet distant family, then down to Italy. I'd like to do this as economically as possible (trains, hostels, etc...) any suggestions from the more traveled in the bunch? thanks!
Philadelphia, PA USA Sun 08/14/2005
Sr. Solo Travel.
I'm a 69 yr. old widow getting ready to leave on a 5 1/2 wk Solo trip to Germany, Prague,Budapest, Austria, & ending up at the Oktoberfest. My sister will meet me for a week in Budapest. The key to travelling Solo is Travel Light, Prepare: - hotel reservations, check train schedules ahead & plan your sights. Winging it can be frustrating & waste a lot of time. I make up spread sheets for the whole itinerary. My daughter calls me once a week - 10-10-297-011 + # at a pre-determined time & hotel,to check up on me & fill me in on news from home. Preparation instills confidence. If I can do it, you young people can do it. I only take public transportation - no taxis. Hotels are located close to train station or Metro/bus stops. Have fun!
San Antonio, Texas USA Mon 08/08/2005
Advice for Solo Woman in Ireland
Hi, I'm a 24 year old who's planning a solo trip to Ireland in the spring of 2006 and I was wondering if anyone had any advice for me. I want to backpack and see as much as possible. I've never been on a trip by myself before, but I want to strike out on my own before I settle down into what my family calls "real life."
Ridgeway, SC USA Sun 08/07/2005
Sally , are you paying for trip or is she?
I personally would not let my daughter go solo. Travel requires a lot of common sense and a bit of street smarts, a young girl on her own is bound to draw some attention.
I strongly suggest you tell her that she finds a buddy to travel with, or no trip. You are the mom, so tell her it is a safety issue, not a trust issue. I am sure she is a smart girl, and that she would most likely make many good choices, but it only takes one lapse of judgement and she could get into a situation that is trouble.
Needless to say, S A is not like Europe either.
Canada Thu 08/04/2005
Solo is great!
I just returned from 5 weeks solo travel to UK and Ireland. I have been happily married for 25 years, and still am- although many people questioned my traveling alone. I thank my husband for encouraging me to take this trip, and know I'll go again. Traveling alone really puts you in touch with who you are.
Grinnell, IA USA Wed 08/03/2005
Solo travel - daughter
My 17-yr old daughter tells me she is planning to travel (solo if she can't find a partner) to somewhere in S. America next summer. We have traveled a lot as a family (Europe, Asia, North America) but the idea of her traveling by herself like this has me a bit frantic. I know she is very smart book-wise, but I fear she is very naive people-wise. She spent a year abroad last year in Europe (student exchange thing). Anyone have thoughts, words of wisdom, advice?
USA Mon 08/01/2005
Live every day like it is your last
There is nothing liberating, courageous or brave in travelling by yourself. People who choose not to wait for a friend, partner or husband to come along are people who are LIVING. There is no guarantee that life is gonna wait for you to sort yourself out before it starts bestowing its blessings. That's why you often hear people who have survived cancer, turn over a new leaf. It's because their illness has brought the fragility of life into perspective. I travel so much by myself that I don't even care for company execpt for evening dining, which is always a bit difficult espcially with the language barrier thrown in for good measure. My first solo trip was across the channel to Paris shortly after my father died. I couldn't believe how different my life could be (even for a few days) by taking the step of booking a weekend trip. Walking around the Latin Quarter and eating cakes and pastries was so enlightening that I never looked back. I pity those people who live their life around someone or something else. Do you know how many married people don't go on holiday because one of them doesn't like travelling. I'm convinced that they secretly admire we solo travellers.
London, UK Thu 07/28/2005
Young single women ? - Wear a wedding band
I wear my late mother's engagement ring and wedding band when I travel solo (particularly in Europe). It's amazing how those Roman guys think we tourists are after their bodies. Amazingly, they resepct married women and will not pester you if they see rings.
London, UK Tue 07/26/2005
I have travelled to Mexico, New York, Barcelona, Paris & Rome by myself and I regret that I am so used to it that I prefer it to travelling with friends. You can do what you like when you like and can please yourself. Like most travellers the most difficult thing is eating alone, particularly dinner. I find that going to tavola calda's in Rome eased the problem. They are usually located in areas where there is a lot of office workers. It is self service so if you don't speak the language, there is no problem. You can have a slap up three course lunch of very good quality. If you are in Paris, try the large department stores who also have a multitude of good hot dishes at a fraction of restaurant prices. Afterwards, I go back to my hotel for a siesta and maybe go to a deli in the evening, stock up on goods for a picnic in my room. Try to travel with a small bottle opener (especially in Europe) where wine is cheap and you can have a nice drink either in your room or when you are on the go. If I really want to get out and have an evening meal in a restaurant, I often get there as they open and before the "couples" and crowds come out for the night.
London, UK Tue 07/26/2005
I am a 51 year old married female, I just got back from 2 weeks traveling solo in Paris, Amsterdam, Bruge. Wonderful, perfect trip!
USA Fri 07/22/2005
Madrid on your own
I just completed my first trip to Europe (Spain) by myself. And let me just say it was GREAT!!!! I got to do the things I wanted to do when I wanted to do them. The people of Madrid are very welcoming and willing to help you out. I met wonderful people eating alone at Tapa bars, that were willing to let you join them for eats and drinks. I met a great guy (Gabriel) who not only got me riding the Metro like a true Madriano, but joined me at the Prado Museum and gave me my own private tour of the place. By the way the Prado is a must to see. I felt very comfortable touring the city alone and never felt uneasy about entering any one particular place alone. Great tip if using taxis in Madrid, use the official taxis which are easy to spot (white with a red stripe on sides). Avoid exchanging money as much as possible, by purchasing everything you can with on a debit card. If you need money withdrawl from ATM machines (which are in every corner of Madrid just like Starbucks). You'll get a better exchange rate as well.
los angeles, ca USA Thu 07/07/2005
Some of my fondest memories of traveling are times I spent alone. Having the freedom to wander around a city at your heart's content is magical. I have studied abroad in St. Petersburg Russia for two summers and Krakow Poland for a year (and traveled throughout Central/Eastern Europe during these times). When you live or study abroad, wandering around alone comes with the territory. Finding your favorite cafe for studying, your favorite food shop or pastry shop for snacks, and buying groceries at local markets on your own are very liberating experiences. When I travel to Europe now with family or friends, I always make sure I spend some time alone shopping, visiting a site or just taking a walk around the block of my hotel. It's my time to be the "temporary local".
Seattle, WA USA Wed 07/06/2005
22, Female, and Solo
I am a 22 year old female planning a trip to France, Benelux, Spain and Italy for 6 weeks. I am going solo but determined not to be couped up in my hotel room all night! Any tips on where not to go (safety wise)? And is it true that most crimes are nonviolent- i.e. pickpocketing, purse snatching etc. What about muggings?
San Francisco, Ca USA Mon 07/04/2005
Another voice for going solo!
I've travelled solo in Europe several times, including a 4 month trip about 8 years ago, and 2 weeks in Italy a couple of years later. I have to echo everyone's comments that its so worth it!
Yes, it was scary at first but the fear wears off. And you do meet people who become great temporary travel partners (even if just for a tour of a museum), and you're not obligated to be joined at the hip forever!
I'm getting the Europe bug again, and looking hard at 10-12 days in Tuscany next spring. My biggest challenge is that I've been diagnosed with progressive MS since my last trip to Italy, and walking/fatigue can be a big problem. Handling a cane and luggage is something I'm going to have to get good at! Not to mention, I reckon I'll have to pick which hill towns to explore pretty carefully!
I'm itching for Rick to add Italy to his accessible Europe book!
Mt Vernon, IL USA Wed 06/29/2005
Just got back from a week plus in Rome and had a GREAT time, many thanks to Rick Steves for his Rome Guide which helped make my trip easy! Traveling by myself (a single woman) was no problem, I never saw any pickpockets or scams (that I know of!). The most common thing I saw were women with young babies walking between rows of cars stopped at traffic lights begging, and being approached by aggressive Asian women selling shawls who wouldn't take no for an answer, I finally just got up and walked away. I took Rick's book everywhere with me and used it for finding my way around, descriptions of museum pieces, and tips on avoiding lines - I got into the Vatican Museums in less than 10 minutes, getting there right when it opened on a Wednesday morning. People were friendly and helpful to me. After traveling to Europe by myself I feel like I can do anything - it's a confidence-building experience. If I can do it you can too!
Seattle, USA Thu 06/23/2005
solo travel recommended
I spent ten days traveling solo in Ireland this spring, primarily in smaller non touristed towns and making connections mainly by bus. I really enjoyed being able to absorb the experience and connect to people at my own pace. small hassel with gypsy folk on a crowded street in Dublin, but awareness of surroundings helped. wasn't lonely at all, really -- too much to think about and reflect upon!
USA Thu 06/16/2005
No cons of solo travel, only pros!
I'm a 29 year old man and I traveled alone in Rome for 2 days. Honestly, I feel sorry for those who never got the chance to visit Rome by themselves. You'll see way more of the city on your own and will have a far more memorable experience. No one to please but yourself!
Traveling solo was especially great when I was at the Vatican Museum. It saved me almost 2 hours when seeing the sistine chapel (it was a monday, the busiest day).
Anyway, as you exit the vatican museum court yard and begin the indoor marathon to the Sistine chapel, you're one person in a procession of thousands enroute to the chapel. The signs make it seem like once inside, the chapel is right down the hall, when in actuality you have almost a mile of hallways to walk (not an exaggeration, the place is huge).
If you just walk along either wall at a faster pace than everyone else you'll end up saving yourself tons and tons of time and enjoying your day that much more. The hallways are so wide that even on the busiest day you can zig zag through the crowd and not seem pushy at all.
Believe me, I am the biggest fan of museums and make the most of them when I'm there, so I'm even a bit ashamed that I'm recommending hurrying through a museum. But you'll see, by the time you pick up the pace, you'll have seen more art in your life and you won't think twice about breezing past a few pieces(only the Louvre is bigger than the Vatican Museum).
Also for the vatican museum I also highly recommend a tour guide, just split off as the group makes its way to the sistine (tell your guide your leaving).
Enjoy your trip.
Chicago, IL USA Wed 06/08/2005
Back from my trip
About a little over a month ago I put a question about traveling alone. My parents didn?t agree with my plans and I was having a really hard time deciding if I should go. Two days ago I just got back. It was one of the MOST AMAZING experiences of my life. I?m hooked. As my friends say I have the traveling bug. I think traveling alone allows you to so many more opportunities. Mind you I?m a rather shy girl, but I found myself going up and talking to people and coming out of my shell. I met so many amazing people. I wouldn't travel with friends for extended periods of time after this trip. I like the fact that I could make my own decision without having to meet someone halfway. Because of traveling alone I was able to change my plans and got Morocco!!! I don?t think traveling solo is for everyone but I do think it?s a good idea for those that want to experience life outside of their comfort zone. I discovered so much about who I am and what I am capable of. Sure there were hard times and of course there were good times. But I realized I can survive on my own. It was one of the most important things I?ve learned on this trip. I?m all for traveling solo!!
Albany, NY USA Sun 05/29/2005
I agree evenings are the most challenging part of traveling solo. But I don't think staying in your room alone is the answer! I just returned from two weeks in Austria and Germany, where I've been on twice before; I'm also in my mid-40's. I can't honestly say I've ever felt unsafe out alone in the evenings. For dinners, I take two or three engaging books and several New Yorker magazines. But I also look for things to do after dinner - concerts, opera, even movies! This has allowed me to see a side of Europeans that I would have otherwise missed and given me some of my favorite travel experiences. For example, seeing The Magic Flute at the Staatsoper in Berlin made for an evening I can only describe as, well, magical. Sometimes I book in advance - cultural websites have a gotten a lot more English-speaker friendly - and have tickets held or mailed to my hotel. Othertimes I get the tickets the first day I arrive at a destination. Churches and castles often have concerts posted on flyers around the town. Movies in the original English - "version orginal" - attract a well-educated, and oviously English-speaking, audience, similar to art houses here. I saw one of the Lord of the Rings movies on a winter evening in Vienna and ended up going out for coffee afterwards with the young man and his girl friend who sat next to me. Can't ask for better than that!
Hartford, CT USA Sun 05/29/2005
I'm a 45 year old female and I just returned from a two week trip alone to London, Paris, and Rome. I had absolutely not problems at all. I used common sense and did not go out at night alone. I stayed away from dark back alleys etc. I also made all my reservations ahead of time so I didn't have to stress about finding a hotel when I arrived. I also took the Women traveling solo class from Rick Steves. Very good safety information. It can be done! You just need to use common sense. I would travel alone again.
Puyallup, WA USA Fri 05/27/2005
Italian Language School
I am planning a trip solo to Italy, Bologna to take 2 week Italian language course in October and stay another week traveling the area. About a year ago, I lost the love of my life and the best traveling partner in the world. We had been to Italy a number of times, this is my first European trip without her. A part of me, wants, needs to go, and yet, a part of me is uncomfortable going solo with so many memories. I have decided to go to Bologna and the Emilia Romagna region to study and visit. I figured the language course I would meet other people. I guess i shall see how it all pans out.John Jptravels4fun@nyc.rr.com
New York City, NY USA Mon 05/23/2005
Finding your way
Get a hand-held GPS! you can get them for $120 from LLBean.com and they are the greatest thing ever! The reasonably priced ones don't have maps, so you will have to find all the attractions in other ways, but you can use the GPS to mark the trainstation you arrived at and the hotel where you left your luggage. When you get lost, use the GPS to find your way back to your hotel or the train station. Carefully read the instructions that came with your GPS so that you can use it to it's fullest potential. The first thing you should do when you arrive in a town is to mark the train station at which you arrive on your GPS, and then do the same when you pick a hotel. It saved me a lot of trouble in europe!
Louisville, KY USA Mon 05/23/2005
Luggage and Short Distance Trains
I found the biggest difficulty with traveling alone was managing lots of luggage getting on and off trains - often ones that only stop for a minute or two.
I spent a six-month internship in the Netherlands. On the day I arrived at Schipol airport, I had two large heavy (60 lb+) suit cases, a carry on bag, and another large duffle bag, and a purse. When the train to the Hague arrived I hastily, tried to load all my bags on. This was made very difficult by having to weight for others to get off, and other people also attempting to board. Luckily I was assisted a nice man who took pity on me and helped me with my bas just in time for teh door to close. Then came teh arduous process of attempting to find a seat, and lugging my luggage down the narrow aisles. Then doing the whole thing in reverse when I got off the train.
Luckily by the time I began traveling, I had discovered the luggage carriage, which is a carriage on a train - and they often have them on buses and trams as well - where the space is wide open for people traveling with luggage, wheelchair and baby stollers. The particular carriage will be noted on the outside of the correct carriage or area of teh tram, with a picture of suit case on or near teh door. Look for this sign - it will make you travel life - and those other the other passenger around you - much simpler. The luggage car on such trains is usually located toward the back of the train on small trains, and on large trains there is usually one every 5 cars or so.
Hartford, CT USA Tue 05/17/2005
Always wear and use a money belt. The silk ones do not make you sweat. We have been advised to use only ATM - Check Cards and take Credit Cards to use in case of an emergency. Read the "Tourist Scam Alert" here on the GrafFiti Wall.
Boca Raton, FL USA Tue 05/17/2005
Learn about yourself
The only bad thing about traveling alone is eating alone. Getting over this is easy though. Whenever you met another solo traveler, especially one the speaks good english, go to dinner with them. Whenever you are alone, eat at a deli or a street vendor. One of the best nights of my life was having a beer alone and reading by candle-light in a bar in Brugge. Books that make you think are the best to travel with, I recently traveled with "Lies, and the Lying Liars who tell them." One night in Luxembourg City, I had dinner with a Japanese, a Finnish, an English, a Luxembourgish, and me, an American. Traveling alone is the best. My first night alone in Amsterdam I learned more about myself in 12 hours than I have in the last 12 years.
Louisville, KY USA Mon 05/16/2005
Solo and nervous
Freddy, what a great laugh! In a few days, I'm flying to Europe for five weeks solo. I'm getting nervous and your story cracked me up. I'll think about that when I'm wondering why I ever decided to journey alone!
OH USA Wed 05/11/2005
I think before you can enjoy and embrace traveling solo you need to be comfortable and enjoy doing things by yourself in your own home town! If you wouldn't dream of going to a movie, the mall, out to dinner alone at home-solo travel probably isn't for you--at least not solo on an expensive European trip. I'm sure some people will disagree but...Some people enjoy being alone, and some can't handle it. Of course you can learn to enjoy it, but maybe you should start small. Also, as evidenced by one comment here, it's always a good idea to have an input/knowledge into what you're going to do once you get there, in case your 3 friends strand you!!
USA Wed 05/11/2005
To Gabrielle-traveling alone
Gabrielle-Just like the 40 year old man who's Mom still worries about him, so does my Mom. I'm 45 and have lived in 5 foreign countries so far, and traveled to many more. Currently I live in Germany. I feel safer in Europe than the US! Yes, I still use common sense and I can't say there haven't been times when I've been a little "concerned". However, I think if you have common sense, know when to turn around from a poorly populated area, know what kind of places to go to to get help (nice hotels, restaurants) you'll do fine. Just don't stand outside a nice hotel in Florence at 10PM or you may get unwanted attention-and I'm definitely not a beauty queen. E-mail them often, let them know where you are, consider getting a phone they can call you on. They're going to worry, tell them you know that, and do all you can to allay their fears. Don't try to play up your looks either by way of hair, makeup or clothes and you should do fine. Yes this site and others here at RS talk about bad things happening in Europe, but they happen in the States too. Have fun and good luck!
USA Wed 05/11/2005
Woman alone in Italy
Last year I spent 5 weeks travelling alone in Italy, and it was a wonderful and challenging experience. I was 22 at the time and am female, so I was very nervous at first. There were some quasi-dangerous moments, but most of which I later saw as my lack of planning. I would recommend solo travel, like most here, to ANYONE! You really learn what you're made of, and meet great people along the way. I would also recommend a more flexible schedule. I had only one reservation the whole trip- for the first two nights. Finding places to stay is relatively easy if you e-mail or call a few days in advance, and really made for some wonderful moments in my case. Also, if you're going to be travelling around a single country only, skip the Rail pass... especially in Italy- I saved so much money by buying along the way. Do it, be brave- GO!
CO USA Mon 05/02/2005
Train Travel while solo
After reading the posting below, I realized why I prefer train travel to flying around Europe. My main way of meeting people and having real conversations is to ride trains, usually in second class. When I return home, my best memories are of the people I met and the talks we had. I agree that solo travel makes it easier to connect with Europeans and other travelers.
USA Thu 04/28/2005
Even though I have many friends to travel with, I perfer to travel alone. With others, there is always that awkward time 3 times a day about "Where do you want to eat?" or "What do you want to do?" You get the picture. When I travel alone, I get up when I want to, go where I want to, eat where I want to, etc. PLUS, the best reason to travel alone is that you are more likely to meet and get to know other people, other than the ones in your party. I have many friends that still communicate with me in e-mail that I have met in past travels to Italy and other places. I do enjoy sharing my experiences with friends that have been to the same places and we compare notes.Most people do not like dining alone, and I enjoy also dining with others, but I use that time to look over travel brochres and maps.
Memphis, TN USA Thu 04/28/2005
Travel on your own
Some people will be genuinely concerned for you, but most people are just asking if you're scared as a way of saying, "you're brave-I wish I had the guts to do it".
Some of us choose to travel alone, some can't find the travel partner they want. By having the planned, not-really-alone part of your trip at the beginning, you're easing into the adventure. You will feel a little intimidated and culture shocked the first few days, but that's just part of the journey; by the time you get to your solo voyage, you'll have settled in and be ready to make your own choices.
You can talk to people staying/eating/touring where you are, or you can read a book on the train and stay incognito-what freedom!! If you get really lonely and tired of making all the decisions, you just pop into a hotel or TI and sign up for a day trip or city tour where you can be part of a group.
WI USA Thu 04/28/2005
I've travelled to Ireland and Scotland by myself on a few occasions while I was studying abroad in England, and I'd recommend solo travel to anyone. In fact, I'm going to be going to Paris/Prague in June completely alone.
It is somewhat daunting to arrive in a city not knowing anyone and then find a hostel room loaded with strangers, but most occupants are not creepy older men but young backpackers like you and me. I've met dozens of friendly, safe people in hostels--many are American, Canadian, or Australian, but people from all over are friendly--especially if they're travelling alone, too. My advice is to lock up your luggage in the hostel safe--at least the pricey stuff. And maybe put any jewelry, credit cards, etc. in your pillow case when you sleep. If you try a mixed dorm and really feel uncomfortable, just splurge and ask the hostel if they have any privates available.
USA Tue 04/26/2005
I backpacked for 4 weeks last year. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do and see, but I figured I would not set up some crazy itinerary and just go with the flow. It was a lot better that way. You will get a feel for places you want to stay longer at and places that you see what you want to and head out. I started in london, brussels, amsterdam, berlin, krakow, prague, munich, vienna, budapest, venice, verona, rome, florence. There were a couple of side trips inbetween, but I stayed in places for 2 days at the max only because I wanted to see as much as I could in my month abroad. I wanted to see the major attractions, and get a quick feel for the culture. Some people would rather spend more time in one country so it all depends on what you are interested in. Im guessing you want to travel alot since you have a eurail pass!! Good luck and have fun!! I wish I could do it all over again!
USA Tue 04/26/2005
Reply to Jennifer
Reply to Jennifer--my father was just informing solo females of travel alone to Capri, Italy. He is deeply concerned of other women going to where I was and getting assaulted like I was. I am not hiding under the covers like your post. From what I experienced...I would watch out for Bussola di Hermes...not because of the owner. Rita is as sweet and accomidating as they come...Watch out for Churo...her husband. He does not own the hotel/hostel. He is just a worker. Bussola is a great place-Rita is wonderful. Crap happens...people move on...but I am not by any means hiding under the covers when it comes to traveling!!!
Camano Island, WA USA Mon 04/18/2005
Go! Go! Go! The most important thing is to enjoy your own pace. Tired and frusterated trying to find that one particular church in Prague's wonderful, (but quite confusing) streets? Take a break and have a cup of tea in a small cafe. Don't let your desire to see everything decrease your pleasure in what you do see. In cities, people are generally extremely willing to speak English....I've found that all respond well to the request "May I speak English?" spoken in the language of the country. If it's your first time, I reccomend booking hotels or hostels before you go, it takes a little pressure off.
LA, CA USA Sat 04/16/2005
Don't Let One Bad Apple...
For Hanni, I'm very sorry for your experience. It just illustrates that creeps and predators exist everywhere. But you can't stay home with the covers over your head. I'm a woman, and I go to Europe, alone, once or twice a year, and I've never had an incident as serious as you describe. I did get robbed at knifepoint in Santa Fe, NM, however, and I was with a friend! While I truly believe that the pros of traveling alone outweigh the cons, I also know that I can never completely let my guard down. I find that I'm able to use caution without sacrificing fun. Follow the safety tips offered by Rick Steves, as well as your own good common sense, and let the exploration begin!
Richmond, VA USA Sat 04/09/2005
Safety in Southern Italy
Our 23 yr old daughter was traveling alone in Southern Italy recently when an attempt was made to sexually assualt her by the husband of the hotel owner. The Hotel Bussola Di Hermes in Anacapri, Isle of Capri, should be avoided. My daughter learned that this man attempted the same thing on a Japanese guest last summer!
Camano Island, WA USA Mon 04/04/2005
Solo Travel is the best but it spoils you!
The freedom of traveling by yourself is so addicting that I recently had a hard time traveling with others. I was so used to the happiness of doing what you want, when you want, for as long as you want! Instead no one would actually make a decision because they were afraid that wasn't what everyone else wanted. Also one persons dislikes or bad mood could ruin the whole day. By myself, locals seems to want to interact but with a group they feel like they are intruding....you are more likely to get an invitation to join a local celebration-wedding party-harvest celebration or just for a cup of tea on your own. They seem unwilling to take on a crowd. As a SWF, traveling SOLO has been one of the best things in my life!! Working on my Round The World trip and I can't wait!
Park City, Utah USA Thu 03/31/2005
When I went to Spain as a 16 year old and again this past summer when I was 18 my parents were also leary of letting me go. Regardless that I was staying with someone I knew, they questioned what my safety would be. The way I look at it is that you could be in danger anywhere. I don't mean to sound pessimistic, but you never really know. You are more likely to die in a car accident than in a plane. If traveling is what makes you happy and you have the means -- then go.
As far as a European dislike for Americans, I would have to disagree. Most Europeans do not like the American goverment. They realize, like in their own country, that the government does not always do what its people wants. There is no need to be overly worried about anti-american sentiments, but avoid politics.Happy Traveling!
WI USA Sun 03/27/2005
Parents always worry
I am a 40 year old 6 foot 250 llb male and my mom still worries about me when I go to Europe. I'm about to go to Venice by myself next week. I just got off the phone with my mom telling me to be careful. This is my 7th trip to Europe by myself too. What I do to make my mom fell better is e-mailing back pictures. It lets her know I am OK and having a good time. Go have some fun.
Falls Church, VA USA Sun 03/27/2005
To convince my parents I'll be safe for five weeks alone in Europe this spring, I took their concerns seriously, addressed each one with intelligent answers and beat them to each punch: what if's, where's, how's... I would do it without their approval, but now that they understand my position, they're encouraging and I'm even more excited. Good luck!
Malta, Ohio USA Sat 03/26/2005
I have been in the same situation as you. I am a 22 female and I have done a lot of solo traveling in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and in a month I will be traveling to the Middle East, and most of these trips my parents didn't approve of. What I find helps is plan your trip out as much as possible and give your parents names and numbers of places you are planning on staying. This will show them that you have thought out the trip, plus it helps make your parents feel a little bit better since they have a way of getting a hold of you if needed. But even if they do not agree with going--just go--you will learn so much about yourself by traveling alone.
USA Sat 03/26/2005
To Gabielle- Go on your trip and send postcards back to your parents.My husband was against my 19 year old daughter traveling alone for 3 months,but after receiving all of the postcards he realized she was safe and seeing so many awesome sights!They will be proud of you.They may want to read some of these postings about people traveling alone and how the Europeans don't hate us. Bon viaggio!
Lihue, HI USA Sat 03/26/2005
Traveling Solo? Douts?
Hi I'm a 20 yr old female and I'm traveling alone in Spain, France and Italy. This is the trip of my dreams!!! My parents are completly against it and everyone I talk to says I shouldn't go because American's aren't liked much and because something bad might happen. I really want to go, I already have my plane ticket and eurorail pass and I'm paying for it on my own, but I hate the fact that they are so against it. Any advise on how to convince my parents that its okay?
Albany, NY USA Fri 03/25/2005
Stay in hostels and start talking to the guys that work there- they can help you get the ball rolling. Paris can be a tough place to meet people. Just have fun seeing all that there is to see there and the rest will follow... good luck
USA Thu 03/24/2005
Solo travel jitters
I've travelled all sorts of ways. Travelling solo and backpacking are the only way I'll travel any more. Europeans backpack into their 70's. I'm 64.
Folks are more reluctant to talk to travel groups or pairs. And with a travel mate you're stuck trying to keep them happy. They may drag you away from a museum or other fun learning experience.
You'll buddy up with other travellers for just long enough. Go and do it on your own terms.When you have a tv in your room, still watch in the tv lounge. That's where you'll meet and learn from other travellers and folks of different nationalities.Don't talk about the US unless asked.
"Foreigners" are sick to death of that! They think its bragadocious. We are guests, not missionarys! And ya can't learn anything while your mouth is running.We yanks are terribly naive about the real world.
Don't guess at someone's nationallity. When I did it, I'd invariably guess their traditional enemy. "I'm a what?!"Just ask, what's it like where you grew up? Then just sit back and listen. They're always thrilled to know there's a yank who gives a damn.
Have a better trip experience. Listen.Like Rick says in ETTBD,"The more you spend on a place to stay, the more it removes you from the Europe you went to learn about."THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, RICK!You got me on the road again.
Austin, Tx USA Sat 03/19/2005
I know it's hard, but this is the time to push yourself to talk to others--you're not the only one alone. I'm shy and know how hard it is, but it's worth it! Hostel and hotel breakfast or TV rooms are great places to meet other travelers. Talk to people in line at museums or other events, or share a comment with someone else enjoying the same view, event, etc. Not everyone responds, but some do and it's a good way to meet people and feel less alone. This might be a good time to remind yourself of the wonderful things you planned to do--and then do one of them. Pick an activity that seems easist. And perhaps keeping a journal might help--it's a way to "talk" about your day's experience--and later share with your friends what they missed. Take care and I hope your days brighten.
USA Mon 03/14/2005
hey everyone, i am currently in london traveling solo and finding it hard. i was supposed to go with three other girls but two had emergencies at the last minute and the other one got here and decided she wanted to go home the next day. i left the coordinating up to another girl and now that i am here alone i havent the slightest clue on what to do. ive been spending most of my days wanting to cry. i leave for paris tomorrow and im praying that it doesnt end up the same. i thought that i would be meeting tons of people and i havent met a single person yet. any tips on meeting people? thanks, jenae
grass valley, ca USA Mon 03/14/2005
In about a month, I'll be making my third trip to Paris but only my second solo trip. While I was a bit concerned (well, if I hadn't already paid the money I would had stayed home) the solo trip turned out to be grand! The worst part was not having someone to share with. Every time I go, my French gets a bit better but I still can't carry on a conversation. The French people treated my very well. I learned that they respond positively to any attempt to use french, no matter how butchered. In my ecperience, the reports of pickpockets and other crime you see on the Grafitte Wall, unintentionally exagerate the level of crime. In almost 20 days in Paris, I only had two experiences that might have been scams. Once a waiter tried to keep the change and another time a man tried to convinve me he was a cop and needed my help. The way to have a safe time in Europe is to be alert and careful. Be aware of everyone who comes near you but don't asume they are thieves. Wear a neck wallet or mony belt. Don't wear expensive jewelry, and don't set things down. Remember that any offer that is "too good to be true" is a con. But most of all, relax and have fun.Bon voyage!
Placerville, CA USA Sat 03/12/2005
I have travelled alone to Bangkok, London, Amsterdam, and around the US. This Spring, I am spending three weeks in Paris, Florence, and Rome, by myself. I think the hardest part of travelling solo was just shaking off the romantic, farfetched notions we young, single women have from reading novels and watching movies, lol. I may not end up having a torrid affair with some foreign knight i nshining armor, but I can enjoy myself none the less. I am determined not to let two movies, "Summertime" (with Katherine Hepburn in Venice, one of my favorite movies), or "Under the Tuscan Sun" color my expectations, hehe.
San Francisco, CA USA Fri 03/11/2005
Cold Feet - Damn the Torpedoes
I went to Paris by myself last April for a week and had a great time. I knew very little French and got around fine. Learn the basic phrases and the rest will fall into place. You can order Museum/Metro Passes online and have them sent to you before going. I setup my trip to Normandy online too. Follow Rick's hints to protect yourself and you should be fine.
Falls Church, VA USA Thu 03/10/2005
Cold Feet - Go for it
I understand the apprehension, but please use this site to you advantage for being better informed. Please, also realize that this site represent a very tiny minority of travelers to Europe. Most of the good experiences we have, are usually not part of the majority of the posts here. I?ve been traveling solo for over 25 years. Europe is not the same place it used to be even a decade ago. English is spoken everywhere in large to mid size towns. Europe is also very had become very multicultural, with diversity in it?s people and foods. A good phrase book will be very helpful, where language becomes an issue. If all else fails, in most of the European countries have American joints, such as KFC and Pizza Huts. In Paris, pointing to bread, cheese and meat in a bakery will get you what you want for a picnic. Look at a street vendor?s food and just point. Usually every thing has a price marker on it. Most of the museums carry English brochures and guides. The first time takes come courage, but once you land there, it starts coming together fairly quickly. It might make you more comfortable to start in UK, and then move on to France.
Ga USA Thu 03/10/2005
Okay, I am beginning to get cold feet. I have been planning to go to Paris, Normandy, and England by myself. Now I am beginning to feel most unsure. I know no French, though I plan to learn a little. I am worried about eating out---feeling alone, lonely. Knowing what I am going to eat when I can't speak French! Things I have read have me afraid of pickpockets, getting taken. And yet, the idea of strolling along by myself sounds okay.
USA Thu 03/10/2005
Rock On, Solo Travelers!
I have to agree with most of the posters here. Solo travel is fantastic! I love strolling around a city doing exactly what I want to do without worrying about someone else's boredom or disinterest. It is a great self-esteem booster to actually get what you intended to order in a restaurant or to figure out how to ask for tampons in a language you do not speak. Each little accomplishment gives me such a rush! For Shea, who wrote that she only enjoyed her solo trip to Paris when she found someone to hang out with the whole time, I think you missed out on a great opportunity. Paris is the QUINTESSENTIAL city for solo female travel. They are used to women dining alone in cafes and treat you very well. You can stroll for hours, take photographs, sketch or write, or just soak it all in as you wend you way throughout the city. Of course, like others here, my friends and family fail to see how traveling alone can be fun. I just turn a deaf ear to their negative comments and HAVE FUN! Hope everyone here will do the same at least once in their lives.
Richmond, VA USA Tue 03/08/2005
Tips - Travelling Alone
I travel alone to Italy quite often, through Paris usually. I have been "stuck" in Paris a few times, alone at Christmas and New Year's Eve, out and about in high and low tourist season, etc. My best hint is: learn some of the language. People respond so well to even minimal language attempts, especially if you are alone.
I have found that generally as a single, older woman restaurant and hotel personnel, shop keepers, taxi drivers, etc. become somewhat protective of you, especially if you understand the difference between the formal tense of words that translate into "I would like" and "Thank you (formal)", a sign of respect.
While I've been "taken" a few times, it's usually been accomplished with such gracious behavior that it made me smile. I've tried not to over-react and have found that being respectful generally helps to turn around difficult situations. Having said that, you still need to know (and it's allowed) when to be assertive - it's not much different than when you are at home. Once again, armed with a few phrases to establish your boundaries (Rick's phrase books are great for that), you can send a clear message to avert the unwanted attentions of others or insist upon getting results. There seems to be more respect for a refusal in the native tongue, as well as insistence on resolution of problems.
Meanwhile, I'm planning my 9th trip to Europe as a single traveller to Barcelona and I am seeking all advice for that trip!
Oakland, CA USA Sat 03/05/2005
Solo in Paris
I just came back from a solo trip to Paris. I had a blast. I found people to be very friendly and helpful. I also found that there are a lot of women traveling alone--specifically women from 30's to 50's -- women who have found some sort of libreating freedom in being able to hope on a plane to Paris and just relax and enjoy a weekend.
Paris was my second solo trip overseas. I had been wanting to go there for years and not really having anyone to travel. Then I realized that there would never be a perfect time to travel with someone so I bit the bullet and booked a flight to Paris. I am more on the quiet side so I did't have dinner alone in fancy resturants but I did go to cafe's and watch people. I spoke to locals and got lots of info from the Concerige at my hotel. Most people that I ran into, specifcally couples, said "wow aren't you courageous for traveling alone." Courageous hmmm I don't think so. Just a person who does what she wants. As I was walking around the city and riding the metro and feeling the pulse of the city and gasping at the sights I saw, I realized how privileged I was--that I could decide at a moments notice that I wanted to take the metro back to the Trocadero to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night in the pouring rain...and I did. I was excited and happy when I was sitting on a suburban train to Epernay to visit a champagne house when I wasn't even sure where Epernay was...but would I have done that if someone else were along with me. I don't know. Traveling alone is not for the light hearted --its for people who have passion and want to have experiences and not be limited by others. I recommend it. Do it--go on the trip alone, if you want, and don't worry what your friends aor parents think. Have fun!
New York, NY USA Tue 03/01/2005
I have traveled to Europe several times solo. I love the freedom to (as others have mentioned) wander, spend three hours looking for things in my area of interests, people watch in a cafe, etc. I SWF and I have never had a problem. I live in a big city and use the same skills I would here. I meet new people and pursue my own interests. My parents always sound a little sad when I say I am going alone, but it is a guilty pleasure I simply love. Go, explore, it's your trip--spend your time how you want.
Chicago, USA Thu 02/24/2005
alone but not lonely
Im Sean T from angeltoursrome.com we meet many solo travelers, they are alone but not always lonely, anyhow if you are in Rome and just need adice or a chat or a drink meet us in the Irish bar were all the guides meet each night we love your stories.good luck this year
Rome, USA Tue 02/01/2005
I spent 6 weeks going around Europe by myself. It was my first time overseas at all and the first time I have gone for an extended period of time without knowing some people. Anyway, this board has pretty much all the bases covered but what I cannot stress enough is the freedom that solo travel allows. I met plenty of people traveling as couples or small groups who were bickering over not seeing such and such a thing or that this thing that someone wanted to do was a waste of money, etc. I linked up with people as I went and if they didn't want to see St. Peter's first thing in the morning or wanted to ski instead of hike through the Alps, no harm done, didn't know them that well anyway, maybe meet up with them some other time - this attitude works especially well if you take the hostelling route with its emphasis on backpacking community and common spaces. But back on point, I was able to just wander the streets of so many cities without worrying "will the person I'm with think this is a waste of time/money?" I really cannot recommend solo traveling (at least once) enough. The only wall I hit was the occassional bout of loneliness. When you're on your own for 6 weeks, it's bound to happen sooner or later.
Chicago, IL USA Wed 01/26/2005
point A to point B
Going solo isn't easy, but definitly worth it. I can't say I've been completely alone while in a forgien country, I have always met friends who live there. Still, traveling from point A to point B alone isn't always smooth sailing, especially without a close friend there with you. From my experence as a young solo female traveler I've learned a few things...
-always appear confident as if you know where you are going... even if you don't
-ask questions! It never hurts to ask!
-be an extrovert sometimes! Keeping to yourself may be nice for a reflective journey, but you will miss A LOT if you don't get to know the people of the country.
My favorite thing about traveling is meeting people. The last flight I was on I met a girl from spain about my age who was traveling to meet her father, from the US, whom she really didn't know. On the other side of the isle was a guy who was returning from his daughters wedding. So,the best thing about traveling solo is that you won't be tempted to just talk to the people you came with. It forces you to get to know the new faces around you.
WI USA Sat 01/15/2005
I just got back from a two week trip to England by my self. All my friends and family couldn't believe I was going ALONE. I really enjoyed being able to go where I wanted and when I wanted.. I could spend as much time as I wanted at what I wanted. I didn't feel like getting up early one morning (wasn't feelig well) and so I slept in.. if I was traveling with someone else I would have felt bad for wanting to do this. I was able to meet people from England better cuz I had no one else to talk to so I would start talking to them. I spent a good hour on a train talking to two English guys who were finishing at the University about what it was like and they were eager to know what the states was "really" like. I met people in the hostels I stayed at who I email. The only difficulty I had was trying to get pictures of myself at the different places. I usually solved that by finding a family or a group who would like a picture with EVERONE in it so we would trade.. I take their picture they would take mine. I found that would sometimes lead to a converstation and so I met people from all over the world. If you want to go somewhere and have no one to go with... JUST GO!!! You will only regret not going.
tx USA Tue 01/11/2005
night clerk at the hotel is your friend
I very much agree with the comments offering that taking the train in Europe is key when travelling solo. On every trip I met people who helped me at my destination with directions, advice, etc. Since I tend to stay in small hotels I usually try and make friends with the night clerk as well. Asking this person for advice on where to go out when travelling solo worked out well for me several times.
NY, NY USA Sun 01/09/2005