Solo Travel: Pros and Cons: 2006
Many people are reluctant or nervous to travel alone. Share your tips on traveling alone safely, economically...and without being lonely.
Alone is great!
I am going on my second solo trip to Europe this Feb. Last February's trip to Paris, Amsterdam and Brugge was AMAZING. I was a little apprehensive, reserved and shy at first but I eventually opened up by the time I got to Brugge. I met so many nice and interesting people there - it was the highlight of my trip. This year I am going on a tour of Germany and I expect it to be an absolute blast now that I now how to open up. I think part of it was that there didn't seem to be any other English speakers at my Hostel in Paris and in Amsterdam the youth "activities" (cannibus) didn't fit with my hobbies. In Belgium, however, I met some Columbians and some Aussies that spoke English and had a great time hanging out with them. What people have said thus far is correct, do not be afraid to talk to people, especially if they are a solo traveller to. In most cases, they are just as shy as you! I agree with eating alone can be hard, as can seeing some of the more romantic sights (especially if you have a significant other at home), but all in all it is an amazing experience. You will learn so much about yourself! Also... I should point out that Feb. in Europe is very cold, but there are no lines and touristy crowds to deal with. I walked straight in the Lourve without a line!
San Antonio, TX USA Thu 12/28/2006
The only way to go...
Travelling alone is great! You can go anywhere you want, sleep late, change your plans - all without consulting or negotiating with a travel companion...
Annapolis, MD USA Tue 12/26/2006
Ah Morocco. It has some of the most amazing medieval Islamic cities anywhere! But, in response to the previous post about wanting to go in July; I'd try and pick another time. I went in July and the heat was unreal and caused me to need to spend the afternoon in my hotel room. A/C is not a norm in Morocco and many places have siesta from around 11am-4 due to the heat.
However, if you still want to go in July; take plenty of water and have juice.
The best of Morocco I saw was Essaouira, amazing medieval coastal town. Fes, intense medieval city full of surprises. And Marraech with its markets and Jemma Al Fina square...captivating at night!
As for Casablanca, it's ok; but I'd give more time to other places. Rabat and Maknes are ok also, just like smaller versions of Casablanca and Marrakech.
Dont miss Chefchouan and the Atlas mountains.
Philly, PA USA Thu 12/21/2006
Surinam??? The country is located in South America, not even close to Asia.
Seattle, WA USA Mon 12/11/2006
Amsterdam can be overtly anti-Asian at times, particularly in its large Surinamese immigrant community.
Los Angeles, CA USA Fri 12/08/2006
Has anyone here been to Morocco? I am considering it as a travel destination next July (yes, I know about the unbearable heat). I will most likely be traveling solo (this will be my second solo trip). I plan on visiting my brother in France, and then heading south down to Spain, and then into Morocco.
San Francisco, USA Wed 12/06/2006
Dining experience for Asian American Solo Traveler
I don't know if other Asian American solo travelers have the same experience as I do. I, a 35 years old Asian American, often need to travel alone due to work related reasons. I have notice one common patterns over the years when I travel alone in Europe or the UK, some nice restaurants will not seat me and often claim they are full while over half of the tables are empty. It just happened again today in Amsterdam. I walked into this nice looking restaurant named Oz Nazar in the De Pijp area, and the waiter refused to seat me while over half of the tables were empty.
I figure this is due to either 1) didn't want to do my business because he can make double of the money for a couple instead of single person, or 2) didn't like to serve an Asian American (but he probably didn't know I'm American)
Either case this has generated alot of headache for me when I travel alone, and when I want to eat at a not-too-fancy but a nice restaurant.
Seattle, Wa USA Sat 11/18/2006
4 weeks of independent travel
As long as you don't always need to socialize and you have good travel sense, I definitely advise independent travel. This summer after university I traveled for 2 weeks with a friend to Italy, Greece & Serbia. Then I traveled for 4 weeks by myself (I'm 20 years old), continuing through Eastern European countries, and ending in France before flying back to London. There were many times that I did not have anyone to speak with because I could not speak the native language, but I was able to enjoy the culture even more. I would attend church services in German, Hungarian, or French. Ending my travels in French speaking countries was good because I could have broken conversations with the people. The only time that I didn't feel safe was in an all female dorm room in Luxembourg. I was worried about my things being stolen be another roommate who I soon found out had some mental problems. So even if you normally don't use a travel belt, there are some situations which it is nice to have one. Also be sure to bring two different size locks b/c lockers vary in size. If you really want to travel & don't have anyone to travel with, try independent travel! Even if it's not your favorite type of travel, you will definitely gain more experience.
Ohio USA Sat 11/04/2006
Leave me alone!!
I am a 25 year old female and was reluctant to travel alone. I had wanted to backpack Europe like a vagabond for over 7 years and lack of a travel companion was not going to keep me from doing it!
I never felt unsafe on my 9-week trip. Solo female travelers need to be smart and aware, but should never feel afraid. Avoiding eye contact will usually deter most pushy men. A sharp sounding "No!" or "Leave me alone!" is typically a little more forceful.
Many male vendors near tourist sites were extremely overbearing and pushy. Outside the Basilique du Sacré Coeur in Paris, there were a number of men trying to sell friendship bracelets. Not interested in their wares, I refused eye contact and continued to walk towards the street, ignoring the nearest one. Undeterred, he grabbed my arm in an effort to get my attention. I do not mind if someone attempts to talk to me, but I will not tolerate a stranger touching me. Since so many of them can easily spout off a verbal lashing in English, I learned how to say "leave me alone" in a foreign language [foreign to the country I was in, too]. It worked like a charm! I swiftly yanked my elbow out of his hand and growled, "Lasciami sola!" and, instead of dealing me an earful of expletives in English, he bellowed all that he knew in French. I did not understand a word of it and, since it was in French, it sounded kind of pretty, too!
If I had to choose between a verbal lashing in English or a language I don't understand, I would choose the language I don't understand any day. It doesn't make me nearly as mad.
Leawood, KS USA Thu 10/26/2006
travelling to London Solo
I traveled to London for 3 days last April and had a wonderful time. I stayed in Knightsbridge in a beautiful quaint attic bedroom in a lovely townhome conversion close to Harrods. It was the neighborhood Princess Diana shopped and lived in. I walked everywhere and dined at the lunch counters in Harrods and Harvey Nichols. I took the Big red tour bus and went to a play in the theater disctrict and saw the Producers. One evening I dined at the Capital and had an exquisite 2 star Michelon dinner. The wait staff were incredible and I was treated like a queen.The entire experience was extremely sucessful. Exploring solo and doing exactly what I wanted was an experience I will never forget. London is a woman's town. Go and explore and have a brilliant time!!
Marian Del Rey, ca USA Sun 10/22/2006
Thank you all for sharing your solo trip enthusiam. It has convinced to go for it - I'm ready and I'm able and I'm not waiting for someone else. I'm planning to visit London for 3 days and do a one day Eurostar trip to Paris in December. Any advice you may want to share I would be ever grateful - but thanks to Rick and all of you - I think I have a good start. Thanks again to all of you!!!
Ocean View, NJ USA Thu 10/19/2006
Thanks to Rick for the inspiration!
Thanks bunches to Rick and Co. for inspiring me travel to Europe...now I'm hooked! Extremely helpful guidebooks aimed at more inexperienced travellers with many helpful details on how things work in Europe. Ordered my rail pass and Eurostar ticket from Rick as well as a nifty money belt, thanks again! Also found the forums on tripadvisor to be most helpful in answering specific questions, especially the London forum. I'm a 40-something female that went on my first overseas trip last spring. Five weeks, it was wonderful, no robberies or other major problems, of course got lost a few times, but that was fun too! Four days in Bruges, BE, 4 days in Amsterdam, 10 days in London, 1 1/2 days in Bath, 3 days in York, then driving around various parts of Scotland for 9 days including Orkney mainland, and finally 5 days in Edinburgh. Total cost was about $6700. Focus was historical sites and art. Solo traval is great, I'm not that social to begin with, certainly not very outgoing- imagine if YOU are and if you'd care to, you wouldn't have trouble meeting people along the way. Also, I would think if you intend to travel to resort/beach/spa type areas it would be even easier to meet people. Was a bit worried about driving in the UK on my own, but it went really well (avoided city driving)! So to anyone thinking about it: go for it! When you're 80 years old you'll have those memories to look back on, won't regret NOT doing it. It's not going to get any cheaper or easier than it is now either. If you wait around for someone to go along that wants to go just where you want to go and do the same types of things, has the same time off from work and the budget when you do...well, you could wait just too long!
WA USA Wed 10/18/2006
Had a great solo trip!
I just did my first solo trip in Sept to Amsterdam, Bruges, and Paris. Everrything was fabulous! Even when I twisted my ankle in Arnhem NE, although slightly unnerving, it just added to the story! It helped alot to be able to connect with friends and family via email. I definitely will go it solo again.
Dayton, OH USA Sun 10/15/2006
Traveling the World for One Year
For Taylor who wants to travel the world for one year.
There's no way to tell just how much this would cost for you as the comfort level you require will be different than others' and there could be wide swings between how much hotels (even cheap ones) cost from country to country. My suggestion would be to get guide books (try ones from your local library, to start) and start factoring costs including transportation to and from your destinations, within the countries, food and lodging. If you can stay in one place and pick up some work at a youth hostel or restaurant, you'll be ahead of the game.
Sounds like a fabulous trip!
Seattle, WA USA Sun 10/15/2006
Flying by the seat of your solo pants
Don't be afraid to go alone. After 18 years of waiting for somebody to go with, I decided to just do it for myself! I am so glad I did. My tour family was there for me if I needed them and I could be alone if I wanted to. I loved it. This trip was also a great deal when you figure hotels, bus travel, museums, extra guides, food, etc. I'm already planning a solo ETBD trip to Greece next fall!
St. George, Ut USA Wed 10/11/2006
I'm 17 and I traveled solo this summer for a month. It was incredible having the freedom to do what I wanted and go where I wanted. It was kind of strange not having anyone else in my age group, but I'm used to it. I met so many people and went out every night and toured every day. I loved it because I had no obligations to anyone. I can't wait to go back over christmas break, when I backpack solo again, it will be amazing...
I seriously suggest going alone, even if it's only for a short period of time, you will love it.
Atlanta, GA USA Thu 09/21/2006
Around the World solo journey.
I am planning to take a year off and travel around the World. I have been going to Europe at least once a year since 2001 and I love it. However, I want to experience all the World has to offer. I'd like to get everyone's perspective on how much this would cost and your travel itinerary suggestions.
My plan would be to start in London where I have friends and begin my journey south to Morocco, then to Cairo, Istanbul, Prague, Moscow and take the Trans Siberian Railway to Beijing and then come back through S. Asia. I don't plan on going to Australia and I am not taking a flight from E. Asia to N. America so it's not a TRUE around the World journey but pretty close.
I don't care about staying in hostels, that's ok. I don't need to eat a lot. I just want to experience as much as I can in one year for as little as possible.
Your thoughts please??
NY, NY USA Mon 09/04/2006
Solo Traveler to Czech Repub was looking for info on nigh trains. I've taken many night trains (and buses). They're great for saving money since you won't be paying for a hotel. Be sure to have your luggage as close to you as possible and locked to something stationary (the bench or luggage rack). Also, keep the zippers locked together on your bags. When you sleep, keep your daypack wrapped around your wrist. True, someone could always slit your bag open but any first line of defense is helpful. Align yourself with a family or small group of trust-worthy looking folks who can watch your things when you go to the loo or are sleeping.
Seattle, WA USA Mon 09/04/2006
My two rules
John, you're absolutely right. England is a great first solo destination. I went last year and loved it. I'm leaving on Nov. 4 for 2 weeks in Italy with friends but an already planning for a solo trip next spring to Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Probably for my 57th birthday! Have a great trip and a fantastic birthday!
Lexington, nc USA Sun 09/03/2006
As a single woman in her twenties, I must say that I love traveling solo. I have done this often, but most recently was a tour of Northern England and Scotland. I stayed in hostels, stopped in at pubs, ate alone, hiked out in the foothills . . . basically, I just did what I liked. Of course, you really need to show some good sense. Stay out of 'iffy' areas and be careful where you go at night . . . but for the most part you will be rewarded so fully for travelling alone. There is no one to 'hide' with, and for that reason you will really have the opportunity to meet so many different people and have so many wonderful experiences, whether you want to or not. :-)Don't be afraid! Go boldly into the world!!!!
Stevensville, MT USA Thu 08/24/2006
Don't try to be a Hero
I love traveling alone and have have found that when you don't have someone else to react to your drama, whatever hassles you may encounter somehow work out easier than you might think. But my tip is this: don't try to be a hero. I budget and plan for taking cabs whenever neccessary, like to and from the airport, when you're tired and frazzled and perhaps feeling overwhelmed. Don't over-do the night-life; as single woman traveling alone, I like to be in my room and in bed by ten, so I can get up bright and early for a good breakfast and a full day. I usually take my journal and/or guidebooks or tourist info to a pleasant cafe or restaurant to look at or write in while I enjoy a drink before dinner instead of just sitting there, looking anxious and expectant. I have found that the proprietors of the small B+B's i like to stay in are always very, very warm and friendly to a solo traveler and it's really great to consider your room as your little home away from home while you're there. Tell the proprietor where you're going, what your plans are - it's likely he/she will have some helpful or interesting ideas to share. Be warm and genuine with people you meet and they will respond in kind.
USA Sat 08/12/2006
I consider traveling by myself wonderful. I have been going to Europe since 2000 twice a year and love being solo. The tours never seemed to fulfill my expectations and I am always the last one on the bus. I love the research and finding all the places tours never go. I usually drive, at first it was pretty scary in Ireland and England but it only takes a few minutes to get use to it. I am leaving Aug 29th for Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Ireland. I decided to try traveling by train for the first time in Poland & Czech Republic since the miles between cities would take more time than I want to spend. Two of the train trips are night trains, I have booked First Class single compartments to be safe, and hopefully this will help. If anyone has any experiences with night trains please let me know. I use Rick's books for booking B&B's,I wouldn't travel without checking his books first.
Littleton, CO USA Sat 08/05/2006
My First Alone
My husband and I went to Europe at least 10 times and always had a blast particularly because he was good with languages. I lost him two years ago and decided to go by myself this year. I went to Dublin since I wanted to be comfortable with the language thing. What fun I had walking around, shopping when I wanted to and spending time touring the city on the Hop On Hop Off bus. I found myself talking to people and sharing tables. I'm of Irish descent and was often asked if I'd come home for good. The key I found was to smile and be open to trying different things. I liked it so much I'm headed to Paris in September minus any French language skills.
Tucson, AZ USA Sun 07/30/2006
My two Rules
My two Rules on single travel 1 London is great, plays,walking tours ,lots of museums you can talk to any one (for one language speakers like me)2 It is lots more fun in warm weather just watching people in the square and hanging out can't go in warm weather??? See rule 1 --I leave (solo)12 nov for london Frankfurt and Delhi what a 60 birthday party
Bellevue , WA USA Fri 07/28/2006
Solo Again in September - Istanbul and the Balkan Countries
I will be traveling to Europe for the 9th time in 10 years this September - solo for the third time - and I cannot wait! I'm going to Istanbul and the Balkans this time. Last year, 2005, I traveled solo to Edinburgh, the Low Countries and Paris. I made a game of meeting as many people as possible (over and above business transactions and asking for directions). My goal was to meet 100 people...I actually met 141...two were people I arranged to meet off this message board and one was Rick Steves himself (purely by chance on a pub crawl in Edinburgh)!
Solo travel means meeting more people and being closer to the culture.
Washington, DC USA Thu 07/27/2006
I prefer traveling solo to be honest. I like the freedom to meander through museums reading everything I want to read rather than being bored if my partner wants to see something I'm not interested in and vice versa. A great example of this is at Dublin Castle in Ireland, I lingered after the tour to finish reading the display in the last room of the tour, and the guide noticed my interest and took me to the chapel and gave me a private tour of the building, spending a lot of time answering my questions. Had I been with someone, we may have just left at the end of the tour and I might not have had that special experience.
I also like the ability to change plans at the last minute to accommodate what I want to do. I decided to leave Dublin a day early for personal reasons, and was able to change my air and hotel reservations online without ever asking someone if they didn't mind.
I don't mind dining alone. I don't bring a book to read when I do that, but I do like to buy a local newspaper to read. It might help to blend in a little more but it also gives a good insight into local life and news. If I don't want to dine alone I grab something at a take away or supermarket and eat in my room. But not too often, that can get boring/lonely.
One drawback is getting pictures taken of yourself in front of monuments, etc. I have a lot of arms length pictures of myself all over the UK. Every once in a while I would ask someone to take a picture of me if it was something I really wanted a full shot of. (St Patrick's Cathedral, Calton Hill, British Museum) You do have to use your good instincts to pick the right person to take the picture of course, the last thing you want is to have your camera stolen on your trip! I tend to pick females who are alone also or are taking pictures of eachother in front of the same thing as I want. (just my own preference, but really trust your instincts) I wouldn't let someone approach ME and ask if I wanted my picture taken with my camera, that sounds like an invitation to disaster.
Here's a tip for meeting new people if you are traveling solo or even with just one person. When at pubs or bars, pick a large booth to sit in. As it gets more crowded as the night goes on, people will be forced to sit with you and that's a great way to meet people! It's how I met a couple in Edinburgh 2+ years ago with whom I still keep in touch and visit!! Another tip is using MySpace.com or LiveJournal.com to meet people on line who may be in the locations you are visiting. Build friendships online and then meet up in person. (in public, be safe about it) You can often meet cool people and get to see things a tour would never show you. I wouldn't have climbed Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh if I hadn't had a local friend show me how to get there and walk up with me and take my picture at the top- and I met him on LiveJournal.
Remember not to get down on yourself if you get a little lonely or bored. Have a good cry in your room, wash your face and then just go out the front door to see what awaits you! You will emerge from the experience so much stronger and independent than when you started!
Oakland, CA USA Wed 07/26/2006
For Lisa- but you're not really going "in the winter" for the whole trip! September and well into October is still optimal European travel time with warm weather but far fewer tourists to jostle you. I would suggest starting in the south (say, Greece or southern Italy) where the weather will be lovely and ever-so-slowly making your way north. By the time you are reaching Paris and London towards the end of your trip, you'll be able to stay out of the cold weather in all the museums!
USA Fri 07/21/2006
India and Europe
SWF ! Just go for it ! I traveled to south and north India part of the time alone. The locals were great and they loved to help you out. I also went to Paris, Austria and Venice a year ago. I just loved it. However, it was very cold when I went to Europe... being from Florida I wasn't quite prepared. My advice is to get a good pair of warm boots !
Destin, FL USA Fri 07/21/2006
Overcoming the Fear of Dining Alone
One of the biggest fears people seem to have about solo travel is dining alone. I travel solo in Europe at least annually and dine solo as well. I've learned to overcome the natural discomfort by just pretending I'm a woman of mystery -- you pick your own role -- because I'm convinced no one is really thinking about me; they're too busy thinking about themselves. ( I do admit I usually bring a book. )
What we all imagine they are thinking: "Look at that pathetic lonely woman who is so socially inept she has no friends."
What I imagine they are thinking instead: "Who is that mysterious woman confident enough to breeze in and dine alone? I wish I could do that instead of sitting here with my boring partner."
What they are probably actually thinking: "Where's my main course?" "My feet hurt" "Hmmmmm....la la la....mmmmmmm"
Go solo, enjoy.
Princeton, NJ USA Fri 07/21/2006
Traveling Alone? Stay at a Hostel
If you're getting ready to take a trip by yourself and you're worried you'll feel lonely, consider staying at a hostel.
I'm getting ready to take my sixth solo trip to Europe. I've stayed at hostels on all my trips and every time met fellow solo travelers who were eager to have a traveling partner--even if it was just for the day.
Many hostels have areas where everyone staying at the hostel can gather. The setting makes it very easy to strike up a conversation and make friends.
I'm sure some of you out there are thinking "hostels are for kids." Not so. I'm in my 30s. There's usually a wide age range.
So there you have it, try staying at a hostel.
Washington, Dc USA Wed 07/19/2006
rent apartment to avoid dining solo
I've traveled to Europe several times with groups and several other times by myself. Everyone has pointed out the advantage of traveling solo, so I won't be repetitive.
When I travel by myself, I always rent an apartment or stay in apartment hotels. Doing so allows me to experience a tiny slice of what I call "real life" because I go to the grocery or the market just like people who live there. It's simply another way of experiencing the culture. I don't cook every night when I travel, but at least a few nights. Cooking a few dinners is also budget-friendly! There are lots of short term apartment rental agencies -- just use your favorite search engine. For example: "paris vacation rental"
ATLANTA, GA USA Fri 07/14/2006
Travelling solo through Italy for 3 weeks was the best experience of my life. I loved the luxury of no role to play-not a wife, not a mother, not a daughter, not a teacher, not a sister, etc! My advice is to plan accomodations and train travel details before you leave and enjoy spontaneous, self-discovering moments during the days.
Memphis, TN USA Thu 07/13/2006
Backpacking in the Winter
I recently purchased my ticket for a 3 1/2 month backpacking trip through Europe. I've since read that a lot of things close in November and December. My trip will be Sept. through mid-Dec. I wasn't nervous about traveling alone (I'm a 25 yr old female) until I realized that I may be stuck with nothing to do, bad weather, and no other backpackers...any advice?
CA USA Sat 07/08/2006
I just got back from my first trip to Europe alone. It was actually my first time abroad, and so at first I hesitated, but it turned out to be the most fun I've ever had. I'm 18, so I recommend being at least that old before you travel alone, just because you won't find any other solo travellers under 18. As long as you're staying in hostels where you can meet other travellers, than you'll have a good time. During the day you follow your own itinerary and go as slow or as fast as you want to. At night, you can always meet other people to go out and have fun with. It's not necessarily awkward being alone, considering a lot of Europeans are pretty reserved themselves. There are however some places in Europe where it might be better to be with someone, but you can always meet up with other lone travellers. I don't think I'd ever want a travel partner for the entire length of a trip.
PA USA Fri 07/07/2006
My first solo trip to Europe was back in 1982. In Sept. I'll be in Germany on my seventh solo. Next to putting myself through college this is the most rewarding thing I've ever done for myself. If you have any desire at all to visit Europe but nobody else in your life shares in this dream then by all means cultivate your sense of adventure and some courage and book a flight to a European gateway city. don't worry if you have a fear of being alone, being lost or disoriented, or being exhausted. Like me, you will experience all of these feelings. Thats part of what makes it an adventure, because after a long hard day after you've checked into the hostel, taken a shower and a nap you will more than likely meet fellow solo travellers who will relate similar adventures and lots of laughs and smiles. Or you will meet other travellers who are tethered to total slugs who will marvel at your tales of adventure and fantasize that they could be like you.
sheffield lake, ohio USA Fri 07/07/2006
Re: One-way air tickets around the globe
Hi Jesse -- Try Trailfinders in London. They are on the Web. They did a great job with both prices and advice for my round-the-world trip.
Baltimore, MD USA Mon 06/05/2006
Travel Alone with Confidence
I am a middle-aged female who just returned from a delightful 3-week, solo trip to Switzerland and Italy. Much of the success of my trip can be attributed to what I learned from Rick Steves and the confidence it gave me.
I did travel alone; however, I also spent time with friends in a village near Zurich and another friend in Florence. And I took two adventure tours -- 1) walking/cooking through the Chianti region of Tuscany, and 2) biking/sightseeing through the N. Italian Dolomite mountains in conjunction with the Giro d'Italia pro cycling race.
I was alone on the planes and trains, in two hotels for nights preceding the tours, and while I explored Florence, Trento, and Milan (Italy) on foot.
Before leaving the USA, I studied the Rick Steves' web site, and his CD on Italy, maps, and travel books (Europe through the Back Door, Italian Phase Book). I faithfully followed his advice, and as a result, stayed safe, had fun, and avoided negative incidents. European train travel was new to me, so Rick's advice really helped there, too. (I took 3 'day trains' - night trips seemed too risky for a female alone.)
I 'packed light' going with only one Rick Steves' rolling, carry-on luggage and a generic over-the-shoulder bag. (I packed the R Steves' microfiber citi-backpack in my suitcase and used it on walkabouts.) This worked perfectly, and I silently thanked Rick many times as I carried my bags onto trains, buses, and planes.
I was also pleased with the Rick Steves' waist & neck money belts, travel alarm clock, tiny flashlight, reversible skirt, clothesline, Italy CD, and compass (the little chain fell off, but the ring worked fine).
. so, listen to Rick and travel alone with confidence! Thanks, Rick!
Durham, NC USA Sun 06/04/2006
senior solo in England
SENIOR SOLO TRAVELER...just back from 3 weeks in England...week in london, train pass to Blackpool, York, and Nottingham...this is my third solo trip and i love it....BUT i think a criteria for doing this is that you are independent, confident, and have spent a lot of time reading/watching Rick' messages....in the 3 weeks did not have one bad incident..hint, on eating...try and eat your big meal late lunch when restaurants are busy and a single person is not even noticed....also, i like to eat where places are busy with local people....good food at reasonable prices....will answer e's...
west palm beach, fl USA Fri 06/02/2006
Solo in London - and loving it!
After having been to London on my own a few times, I recently experienced travelling there with family. As with most things, there were advantages to both situations. What I liked best about solo travel was not having the pressure to constantly try to please the wishes of another traveller. All of us tried to guess what the other person really wanted to do, instead of stating exactly what we wanted to do. We did find a nice compromise: doing something together in the morning, splitting up after lunch, and regrouping in the evening. And although I had seen many of the sites before, other people pointed out many things that I had never noticed.
The other thing I liked I really appreciated was that when I was by myself, I felt the freedom to stop and take as many photos when and where I wanted, without constantly having to catch up to my companions. There are so many streets to explore, it is nice to wander them by yourself, stopping here and there at will.
Philadelphia, PA USA Fri 06/02/2006
I just got back from my first solo trip to Europe, and I had a wonderful time. I had traveled to Europe before, so I wasn't reluctant to go solo this time. It it a joy not having to coordinate meeting times and plans with fellow travelers in your group; you are the captain of your itinerary, and you can change it on a whim! The Rick Steves guidebooks are excellent tools to have, and, as a fellow poster had commented, they tend to elicit comments from others which gives you opportunities for meeting fellow travelers.
San Francisco, CA USA Wed 05/31/2006
I am writhing in hopes of getting some advice regarding one way tickets around the globe. Has anyone heard or used one before? I am planning a solo trip in the fall to several destnations, was wondering what steps must be taken to plan a trip effectively. Any thoughts would be great. Thanks
Newport Beach, CA USA Tue 05/30/2006
meeting other tourists
Carry your Rick Steves' guidebook in your hand where other tourists can see it. You will meet the nicest people who are also using the Rick Steves guidebooks.
I had a great chat in Bergen last week with some Rick Steves fans from Seattle.
Hancock, MA USA Thu 05/25/2006
I too found travelling to London a bit lonely, particularily at mealtime. I had the chance to dine with someone but felt too jetlagged and shy to ask. I enjoyed the freedom, and sometimes simply ate me meals in my hotel room. The next time I go I will join a tour group for a daytrip [PREMIUM TOURS] or will make phonecalls. My advice is to enjoy the freedom once for a day or two, then try to join tour groups. I felt silly dining alone, but sometimes even worse alone in my hotel room. When I went to the internet cafes I found myself chatting with people, that is supposed to be a good thing as it encourages you to open up to people more.. I even met other canadian tourist. Maybe I will even travel with a partner one day.. so far I have travelled across CANADA and England alone, usually enjoying doing things my way.
CANADA Mon 05/15/2006
I found solo travel in london to be a very lonely and depressing experience. I think that solo travel would work best for those who are confident and outgoing and female.
UK Sun 05/14/2006
I'm 22, female and about to set off on a two month trip around Italy. It's my first time travelling and I was a bit nervous doing it alone till I read some of the messages here. Thanks for the reassuring messages and tips.
USA Fri 05/05/2006
The Joy of Going Alone
I'm 52 and every trip I've ever taken has been solo except for the one I just got back from (one week in a Southeastern U.S. city). I never realized how much better going alone can be until this last trip. Especially if you're going somewhere far where you're unlikely to return, there is nothing better than being able to do exactly what YOU want to do. It is also no fun when you find yourself with someone who had absolutely no interest in finding out anything about the places we visited or the history of the place. For me, that is essential homework to be done before making any trip. I had considered taking an overseas trip with this friend, but I think not only would it spoil my trip but maybe even our friendship as well. Only solo travel for me, from now on!
VA USA Sun 04/30/2006
I traveled to Europe last fall for the first time ,I will tell you I was very apprehensive,looking back I dont know why every day i met people some people will approach you just to speak some English i was there for two weeks my favorite day was in Cologne on my way to Amserdam (Ams) for my flight home the following day. I met a couple Misha and Saskia returning home to Ams from thier honeymoon we road the train and talked the whole way went to dinner at there favorite restaraunt when we arrived at Ams and then went to thier favorite bar,which has the oldest liquor liscence in AMS, where I met so many people it was rather overwhelming ,the following morning we had breakfast before I needed to depart for the airport.Since that special day we have been in contact with each other and they will be coming here for the Kentucky Derby next week.The best thing I can tell you is be yourself and just let things flow Europe is safer than it is here.
Kentucky USA Thu 04/27/2006
I have spent two summers in Europe backpacking, once alone and once with a couple of friends. Traveling alone in Europe is not scary or difficult. The best thing to do while traveling alone is meet people at your hostel or hotel. My first night in Rome I met a great group of people that I ended up traveling with for quite a while. People will join your group and leave too. It's a great way to meet travelers from all over.
Traveling with friends is also a good time, however you don't have the flexibility offered by traveling alone. My piece of advice if traveling in a group is don't be the plan maker, leave that to someone else.
Either way you're going to have a good time in Europe. Don't be afraid to talk to people or eat alone. Most travelers travel to experience new things, how else will you if you don't try them.
Seattle, WA USA Wed 04/26/2006
first time traveling alone
I will be traveling to Italy by myself in May and hope I do as well as all of you have. Eating alone seems to be the biggest fear. And I wonder if as a single male, it's harder to meet people than as a female. But I will be forced to meet people and I'll have a great time!
Los Angeles, CA USA Sat 04/22/2006
I just want to thank everyone for all the tips of traveling solo. I'm a 20 yr old female student and about to leave for a 5 week backpacking trip. I planned it all myself and I'm going where I want! I got some pretty harsh reactions from family and friends when I told them I was going alone, but just reading all your comments has made me feel more confident that I made the right desison. Good luck to all those other solo travelers and I will see you all soon!
Vancouver, USA Fri 04/21/2006
Can't imagine travelling any other way but solo!
I LOVE the freedom that comes with traveling on my own. There is no wasted energy on negotiating anything. I go where I want, eat where and when I want, meet the locals with ease, hop on and off trains at my whim-i.e.once I had a ticket going from Cinque Terre to Venice, but when the train stopped in Verona I felt this sudden urge to jump off and so I did and had the most magical time in Verona-if I had to discuss it with another person, the train would have left the stop long before a decision would have been made. The spontaneity rocks! I don't understand how anyone could be lonely when surrounded by the wonders of traveling. I am a woman and am often approached, but I have a confident sense of myself and thus feel safe-even when I got sprayed with bird shit in Rome. Just part of the adventure! Just do it! Your self-esteem will soar.
USA Thu 04/20/2006
firt solo trip ever -
last week i returned from a 7 night vacation in tuscany. i had a great time, though, by the 6th day i was actually ready to come home. i planned the trip by myself and did 4 seperate day tours. my base was in florence, and i traveled to pisa, siena and the chianti region. chianti was my favorite. beautiful countryside! as rick steeves pointed out in his florence/tuscany 2006 book, pisa is definitely a touristy quick stop. and siena was quite nice though only had a a couple of hours there. while on the day tours, i made friends for the day which made the trips that much more enjoyable and pleasant. this is the first trip i had taken by myself and definitely the first overseas. of course my parents were worried, nervous and scared (even though i am 24). but i allievated their worries with daily phone calls. also, i had every possible important document copied for them for the trip in case i did get into trouble they would know where to start. i really enjoyed traveling by myself for the obvious reason of being on my own schedule and not have to worry with anyone else, which was great because one day i slept in till noon! i wore the suggested money belt and carried a purse which sat just under my arm and had absolutely no problems at all. felt very safe and secure. the purse held my daily journal for notes, my camera, extra film and a few smaller items. in my moneybelt, i carried enough cash for the day, international calling card, my passport and airline ticket. so thank you very much to everyone on here for the tips regarding packing, travel safety and for giving me confidence that i could do this alone.
ga USA Wed 04/19/2006
I love to draw and find that sitting and sketching attracts people like flies to honey. One lonley night in Paris, I sat down to draw a sculpture of Charlemagne and didn't even complete the outline of his nose before being approached by a curious (and handsome) Frenchman. Learning the local language is much easier when alone, too.
Toronto, Ontario Canada Sat 04/08/2006
The iPod - My New Best Friend
I've traveled a lot by myself, and while I'm a pretty social person and manage to make friends often, I've found that eating dinner in a restaurant is not usually the place to do it. For the past few years, when I have found myself eating a meal out alone, I like to listen to an audiobook on my iPod. It's great entertainment and company, and much less obtrusive than a book. I really enjoy these nice meals out with the companionship of a good book well read, especially since I don't often eat out at home. So, I enjoy the meal and I can get absorbed enough in the book (without the awkwardness of reading an actual book!) that I don't feel odd at all about dining alone. Then, if I choose, I can go to a place more conducive to meeting others, like a pub, cafe, or bar in a piazza.
Most other advantages of traveling alone mentioned by others are ones I heartily agree with, like being able to choose the itinerary, not having to wait on others--being able to please oneself, in short, an advantage many of those who must travel with others will envy at some point :-).
Hays, KS USA Wed 03/22/2006
I, too, prefer traveling alone. Some have mentioned a problem of being alone in the evening, but I haven't found that to be too big a problem.
London is the best for a single woman traveler. The theater is such an important part of the London experience. Heck I go to the theater alone back home. Also, I love the London Walks Pub Crawls. I don't normally do tours, but these are great fun. Also good if you are hesitant to go solo in a pub, yet want to experience this integral part of British life. Met great people. Mostly solo travelers. Many on business who said they took the Pub Crawls everytime they visited London.
The other advantage to traveling alone in Europe is the lateness of the hour that people have dinner. Just dine late like the natives. Linger over dinner and your after dinner drink or dessert and you will be ready to go back to your hotel and get ready for your next day.
Columbus, OH USA Mon 03/06/2006
For T/C - Enjoying Europe
Personally for me I didn't find Amsterdam the most exciting European city. There isn't much to do and see after Anne Frank house, the diamond factories and Rembrandt museum. Decent food places are a bit hard to come by as well. Move on after two nights.
If you are thinking of going to Spain, then I can't recommend Barcelona enough. It is jam packed with culture, art and architecture.
In Italy please do not miss Rome. The Vatican, Colosseum, Roman ruins, Sistine chapel etc is priceless. The food is great especially the ice cream. Dependent on time and money you can take the train from Termini and travel around Italy. Naples is a short train ride and Positano is expensive but a sight to behold at night with the mountains lit up with twinkling lights from peoples homes. I befriended a nice Italian woman who lived next door to my hotel in Positano. She invited me to dinner that night on her patio. I still keep in touch with her !! I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets in Positano.
There are no words to describe Paris. It is pointless me starting because there isn't enough room on this forum. I know people rave about the 7th arr but you have to book a hotel in St Germain in the 6th. From there it is easy to navigate all the major sights. Get a good map and study it beforehand and you will see what I mean. The 6th is the belly of Paris whereas other arr's are way too commercial and touristy. Rue Dauphine takes you over Pont Neuf which is the most beautiful bridge in Paris, from there it is a short walk to Notre Dame & Musee D'Orsay. Walk in the opposite direction and you end up in the Luxembourg Gdns, pick up foodstuffs from a deli and have a picnic there. It is easy to get about with metro stations all over the city and the food...................
Enjoy, you are not making a mistake. Email me if you need any advice on Italy, Paris or England
Miss B Carr
London, UK Sun 03/05/2006
Second European Solo
I'm making my second solo trip to Europe in early June. At first, the thought of traveling solo could be very scary but once you get to your destination, that feeling is out the door. Also, you can manage your time to suit YOUR needs, it is easier to talk to the locals and make lots of new friends. I'm heading to Belgrade to visit with a friend I made in Munich last year and then back to Germany to cover places that I missed last year. Solo Travel - a very good thing.
NJ USA Tue 02/28/2006
My first trip!
I've travelled all up and down the United States east coast by myself over the years, but this September I'm going overseas solo for the first time. I'm going to England (with a day trip to Paris thrown in) for a little over a week, and I can hardly contain my excitement. Like many of you, people don't understand why I could see the idea of travelling by myself as fun. The way I look at it is this... I won't have to deal with companions getting tired before I do and whining constantly about it, I won't have to deal with travelling with female friends who only want to go shopping and have no interest in actually seeing the country, I can change plans at the last minute without asking anyone's opinion on the matter, and I can leave my hotel and come back to it whenever I want. How can that not be fun? :) I've always been a bit of a loner so loneliness isn't even an issue with me. I can hardly wait. I've arranged it so I'm arriving in London on the morning of my 28th birthday, and I think I'm going to make going somewhere on my birthday a yearly tradition from now on.
Greensboro, NC USA Mon 02/27/2006
Nothing like travelling by yourself.
Hello! I travelled alone in Europe for 2 months back in 2004. I was 19. It was the best experience I've ever had. It's a great way to meet new people and also to do your thing and go wherever you want to go. I won't say I'm a bit of a loner, but I definitely enjoy the time I spend by myself, especially while on the road. :) I can't wait to go back! The whole "I miss my family thing" wasn't a problem for me because I don't really get attached to people (but I do love my family). That's just the way I am. Plus, travelling like this you meet lots of people everywhere. It'd be kinda hard for me to travel with somebody else because I went to Europe (I thoroughly toured Germany and Czechia) to learn more about the different cultures, meet people, go to museums, learn more about history, see historical sites and visit little towns. (and improve my german while at it). I wouldn't have wanted somebody with a different take on things to go with me and try to get me to do things that wouldn't have been what I would have liked to do. It really helped me to travel by myself at that age because I experienced freedom and independence like I hadn't done before. I didn't even recognize myself after that experience. It changed my life and who I was until that point completely. I went back home (to Mexico, where I was living at the time and where I grew up) and 4 months later I left my house and Mexico behind and came back to the States (where I was born) by myself to start living on my own. Moving to a different country by yourself is quite an experience when you're 20 years old. Without having spent that time in Europe I'm not sure I'd have been able to do it. I was eager to experience different cultures and learn from them, see something else from the world and I'm happy I took the decision to go through that alone. By the way, if there's anybody in the Portland area who would like to sit down sometime and share travelling experiences, please, do not hesitate to get in touch with me. Take care.
Portland, OR USA Fri 02/24/2006
First Time SoloTo Europe
I'm also going to be a first time solo traveler this May. My wife can't go on a trip long scheduled. I'm excited and nervous. Positive was I modified trip to see things she care to. Negative, besides the reaction that I'm still going, will be dining alone. I'm a very social person and travel a ton domestically for work so I hope I'll quickly find a routine. Reading everyone's comments is encouraging!
Chicago, IL USA Thu 02/23/2006
I have 1 tip if your mate or family is nervous about you traveling solo, call them every day. it's cheap, buy a phone card when you get to your specific destation,call talk just a minute or 2 to let them know where you are and as long as they here from you that should satisfy them. thats what i do. I put those phone cards in my budget, like my food & rent.
Beverly, NJ USA Tue 02/14/2006
I think the best reason for travelling alone is the freedom. You get to leave when you want, go where you want, without dragging anyone where they don't want to go. A great thing for a woman planning a family too, it might be your only time alone again for years.
It tends to cost more though, when you take a taxi by yourself [no one to share the fare] and you will be charged a supplement fee for a single traveller.
The worse part can be loneliness. which can be combated by joining certain tour groups [Premium Bus tours in London is a great company], or Haggis tours.
If you wear a pin [the canadian flag,
for example] then sometimes other
tourists will approach you for directions or companionship. Keep in
touch with family through email accounts [yahoo has some for free]
and take many photos with a digital
camera, then you will have something
to email loved ones back home.
LADNER, B.C. CANADA Sun 02/12/2006
My strategies for meeting people, and not feeling so lonely
I'm a 26 yo woman, and I'm planning for my third solo European trip this year. I really appreciate travelling on my own during the day, but the evenings can be harder for me. So I've developped a few techniques for making it easier.
- The first five words are the hardest. You just have to force yourself through the first sentence, and usually people will start responding positively.
- Stay in hostels even if you can afford hotels. (I favor those with single-sex dorms; they tend to be more friendly) They're often very well located so you can go out at night without walking through seedy areas, and you'll meet a lot of people who feel as lonely as you do.
- Plan for a good deal of activities instead of just sight-seeing. Eg: Attending a religious service instead of touring a famous church. Even if you don't speak with anyone, you'll feel part of a community of sorts. Plan for concerts and shows at night.
- Listen to your instincts, but don't immediately say no to invitations from locals or other travellers. In London, I went to the pub with a group of women I'd just met at the Globe theater (standing next to one another by the stage for a couple of hours creates bonds :) ) and had a blast. My sister once went on an impromptu date with a young Venetian man, and had a great time (obviously, she followed all the usual safety practices any woman should follow on any date with a stranger, and she made it clear right at the beginning that she wasn't looking for a one-night stand.)
- Accept to have some quiet evenings at the hotel, and use that time to write in your journal, email your friends, etc... I usually take my "splurge meal" of the day at lunch, when it feels less awkward to be on my own (and it's cheaper too).
Any other specific strategies for safely meeting people when you're on the go?
Montreal, Qc Canada Fri 02/03/2006
not in winter!!!
Traveling alone in winter not as fun as warm times the parks the cafes the parks work for me alone during warm times and not as well in cold times, just my opion have traveled many times solio Think About it
Bellevue, WA USA Mon 01/30/2006
Shy people must travel solo
I took a month-long solo trip to Europe last spring, and had a blast. I'm 33 and have always been a bit shy. Going solo forced me to get out and meet people. TIP: don't wear headphones everywhere, only when you want to be alone. I found the trains to be the best place to meet people. Another easy way to meet people - you hear people speaking english, and just walk up and say something along the lines of "hey, finally someone I can understand, how you doing?" Invariably this leads to where you're from, where you're headed. The trip made me much more social than I ever was before.
Phoenix, AZ USA Wed 01/25/2006
Todd in Whitehorse...
I think if you read the comments on this list, people will say that travelling alone in Western Europe is fine and many of us love it. If you constantly need to be around others and hate doing things alone, perhaps you won't like travelling alone, but I would hate for that to make you miss a great travel opportunity. If you have the time and money - GO (and have fun!).
Toronto, ON Canada Sat 01/21/2006
I was planning on going to amsterdam with another person but i think they may have backed out . . . and i am not sure if i will go ahead with the trip alone or not. . . any advice . . email me
Whitehorse, Canada Wed 01/18/2006
Like many other people, I recommend solo traveling as well. I went to Europe a few years ago. I spent a few days exploring York, England by myself before meeting a friend in London and doing the continent with her. I actually discovered that I met more people on my own because I was forced to talk to them and not just my friend. You are free to do what you want, when you want without the fear of ticking off another person! The only part that sucks is eating alone...but it's a small sacrifice in my opinion! I am headed to Scotland to visit my grandparents this May and have decided to take a side trip to Stockholm on my own...can't wait! Happy travels everyone.
Toronto, Canada Wed 01/11/2006
Are you making a huge mistake? This may be one of the smartest ideas you have. If you are someone who needs a group, this will make you find yourself. If you're independent, this will only make you stronger. Have fun!
Puyallup, WA USA Tue 01/10/2006
I am a single female in my 30s, and have traveled alone several times. I would echo what others have said. I love sitting in a cafe people watching when I have had enough culture, castles, or history. I don't need someone's opinion on how I spend my time. I can talk to anyone, and am, by nature, a very social person, but I love my solitude. I traveled with girlfriends (in the US) this year and although I had a nice time, I felt tied to a schedule of what everyone else wanted. When I wanted to go off alone, I got a "why"--just different styles I guess. I use the same common sense safety ideas I use in my hometown of Chicago.
If you have an open mind and spirit, you will surely meet others (if you want) and will find great ways to fill your time--but that's probably true of anywhere you go.
USA Fri 01/06/2006
Solo Travel: Pros and Cons
I am a single woman and I prefer to travel alone -- to Europe and here in the states. I have been to Europe twice by myself and found it to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. I find that I can do as I please without having to conform to anyone else's schedule or itinerary. If I want to spend 2 hours in a sidewalk cafe in Paris people watching, I can do it without guilt and without complaints from a travel partner. If I want to spend 4 hours in the British Museum, no problem. While I travel alone, I am rarely ever "lonely." All you have to do is open yourself up to conversation with others, ask them about sites or restaurants or how to find something. I have spend many an hour in interesting conversation with locals and other foreign travelers on my trips.
Of course, there is safety in numbers, so you have to be a bit more careful about where you go and when, but it's a small price to pay for the independence.
I realize solo traveling isn't for everyone -- you have to enjoy your own company a lot. However, the freedom to come and go as you please, to strike up converstions with locals and to change your itinerary at any time makes up for the occasional lonely moment.
Chicago, IL USA Wed 01/04/2006
Yes, solo travel is not fun for everyone.. but for everyone, at least one solo trip is enriching, to learn about the self, the will, the independence..
my grandest time in life was a five-week solo tour through europe. i landed in amsterdam, like you plan too. i was glad to get out of there after a couple days, and found other areas more appealing. but again, it is personal preferences. you will most likely find that you are never really alone .. unless you choose to be. there are many ways to meet others, many you will find listed at this site, and in books. Lonely Planet is a good guide. occasionally, when i felt discomforted, i visited a children's area at a public park for a picnic or nap. sometimes i met people there. usually i made friends as i traveled by train or at the hostel. some were americans - many of those were rick steves fans or groups! you will see the blue books in many places. be curious and courageous, most importantly, be polite and considerate to others. take good care of yourself physically as you travel, be sure to rest enough and eat well. drink plenty of water! follow your interests and your heart as you travel (listen to your head), and you will be fine and will find that you are not alone. if you feel bad sometime during your travels, hop on a public computer and visit this site or e-mail some buddies. don't forget why you went there once you are there! happy trails!
USA Tue 01/03/2006
It So Depends...
As has been mentioned before, whether you'll like solo travel is such an individual thing.
I went "solo" to the UK last year... and I overall thought it was a bit of a downer.
I really do think the true question is this:
If you go alone, can you happily and willingly put yourself in social situations where you'll be able interact and learn?
If you can, you'll be perfectly fine and will have enough interaction despite being "solo."
For me, I couldn't... which is why I decided to do a Rick Steves tour alone this year! The perfect combo of group time and "me" time! :)
Albuquerque, NM USA Tue 01/03/2006