Solo Travel: Pros and Cons: 2010
Many people are reluctant or nervous to travel alone. Share your tips on traveling alone safely, economically...and without being lonely.
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Heading to Hawaii and more with Solo Travel Club!
I belong and help run a singles/solo travel club called Singles by the Bay.
They are a ton of fun and membership is free. Heading to Hawaii, Morocco, Kenya, Alaska and more next year.
San Francisco, CA USA Mon 12/13/2010
Hi. This solo traveler went to Sicily last September (Palermo, Castel di Tusa, Taormina, and Ortygia/Siracusa). Full trip report (the good, the bad, the ugly) at: http://www.travelmusings.net/sicily-2009/ p.s. The Rick Steves Sicily podcasts were very helpful
Chicago, IL USA Wed 09/15/2010
I first traveled solo when I turned 18 as a way to cure myself of the fear of being alone. They always say that facing your fears is the best way to get rid of them, and they were right. I spent three weeks in the south of Germany and it was by far the best trip of my life. I got to talk to locals and spend as much or as little time as I wanted walking around. When traveling with people I always find the problem that they want to spend way too much time at the "famous" places, whether I enjoy more walking around and feeling the city. I like to feel that I belong there. Traveling solo gave me that opportunity. The first few days were kind of rough because I was really scared, I thought that being a young girl at 5'1" would mark me as a an easy target and through my first trip I realized that you are only a target if you allow yourself to be one. Something I do when I feel uncomfortable in a place, mainly bus stop or train station, I put on my ipod and pretend to read a book that way people won't approach you because you are "busy". Another thing that I do just to be careful is to not open maps in the middle of the street, avoid looking like a tourist. I either write the directions on a notepad on my phone so I can follow the directions or go to a store and open the map there. That helps you avoid unwanted attention. Also when men randomly ask me if I'm traveling alone (specially in the hostels) I always tell them that I am visiting a friend in town but HIS apartment is too small so I rather stay at the hostel. I think the rule to follow is trust your gut feeling and follow your common sense. If something tells you that a person is friendly approach them, if it tells you to walk the other way do so. Nothing can ruin a trip worst that an uncomfortable/unwanted experience. After I came back from Germany I have done some more solo trips both in the US and abroad. Boston, Tennessee and London among others. I do not turn down people when they ask me if they can tag along but I get really excited when I get to do it on my own. It is definitely a freeing experience and I believe something everyone should experience at least once.
Miami, FL USA Sat 09/11/2010
Booking reservations for the Borghese in Rome.
Go to this website, click on the "Click here Free Call", enter your phone number, and you will get a call directly from them, immediately!
Toronto, ON Canada Tue 08/17/2010
The Art of Sleeping Alone... in Airports and other public places
I've been travelling alone since I was 17- probably because I have very little patience for friends who have to blow dry their hair every morning! As a young woman, I find that it's best to have a plan when backpacking, at least in terms of where you're sleeping at night. But what if that plan includes (thanks to a super-early flight out of Gatwick) a night at an airport, or an evening in a train station during which you might accidentally doze off? If you're traveling with someone, you can try to keep an eye on each otherís stuff. Most "group" backpackers I've seen in airports commandeer corners of the terminal in which they build little forts. If you donít have this luxury (or inconvenience, depending on your point of view), itís best to stick everything valuable into your sleeping bag: passport, phone, camera, wallet/money belt, etc. I also hook everything I have together: clip your backpack to your carry on, your carry on to the zipper pull on your sleeping bag, etc. This may sound a bit paranoid, and Iím not sure if itís completely foolproof, but itís worked for me for eight years and counting! (Check out www.katrichterwrites.wordpress.com for my adventures in Europe).
Philadelphia, PA USA Sun 07/18/2010
Scotland Sept 2009
Thanks GC for your response. It has made me rethink my travel plans for next spring. Am thinking of renting a car either in Aberdeen, Wick or Inverness. I want to go to Castle Mey, the Ornkeys and highlands.
atlanta, ga USA Wed 07/14/2010
Loneliness while traveling solo
Loneliness while traveling solo is only a problem if you let it be one. I always travel alone, and there are times when I wish I could share my experiences with someone, but I'm a friendly person, I usually stay in one place for a while, and I become friendly with people I meet in shops, cafes, and the B+B where I stay. By staying in on place for a while I begin to feel like I live there, rather than just passing through, and I enjoy experiencing the daily life of a place. But when loneliness strikes, it's usually an indication of fatigue, and I retire to my room and relax, read for a while, do some laundry. I like to pick out one cafe or restaurant near my B+B for dinner, and I'll take my journal to write in or spend some time weeding through my digital photos I've taken so I'm not sitting there looking pathetic and expectant. Plus, with social net-working sites such as Facebook I can post updates on my trip and keep in touch with the folks back home. I'm currently planning a two week trip to Hallstatt, where I've found the perfect B+B room, and I'm really looking forward to experiencing such a lovely place by moving in for two weeks! Most B+B owners seem to like long stays, and it's fun to feel like part of the household.
chicago, IL USA Tue 07/06/2010
I echo the post below: driving in the UK countryside is a blast, even when alone. You can save soooo much time versus public transport (in areas not well served by it), and be free to change plans on a whim. The people are friendly, the roundabouts are fun, and the radio is entertaining -- they gave a Cricket update in which I barely understood a single word. Oh, and the mirror-image driving sure keeps you alert! Good thing all those roadside shrubberies didn't scrape my rental car too badly.
Traveling solo, I have one personal rule that saves me a lot of worry: I don't bring a camera. I'd be constantly focused on protecting it; friends have had cameras stolen, and nothing ruins a trip quite like that. I used to buy the disposables, but no more... Without fellow travelers in my pics, they'd be mostly of the sights, which a beautiful book of professional photography does far better than I ever could. The memories are in my mind, and that's fine with me.
Princeton, NJ USA Sat 06/12/2010
For Diane who desires to go to Scotland alone
Don't know if you ever went to Scotland, but I have always travelled alone and, on one trip, spent a week driving around the Scottish countryside. I had the time of my life and it was probably the most fun I ever had on a trip. There were places I planned to see and places I found by just following the brown signs that point out points of interest, where I met many locals enjoying a day out. Sometimes you have to be quick though because the sign is right where you need to turn.
Driving on the other side of the road was no problem at all. However, knowing that most cars there are NOT automatic, I specifically asked for an automatic (or my travel agent did because I didn't want to screw it up) when the reservation was made. Gas, or petrol, there is expensive, but it's absolutely worth the freedom the car gives you.
I know many Americans are not used to the round-a-bouts. I got so used to them that I missed them when I came home! They are a BREEZE! There are very well-placed, clear signs before you come to the round-a-bout, so it's easy to read and remember which turn-off to take. My heart skipped a beat once when I encountered a double, or two-lane, round-a-bout. I found myself in the inner lane but just went around with the traffic and slowly made my way to the outer lane and turned off. If you have to go around more than once - so what?
I also encountered a number of roads that were clearly made for ONE car. Haha. There are spots along the side of these roads that are "passing places" which made me laugh - a lot. They work really well provided two cars meet where there is a passing place. If not, one car ends up making its own passing place. Hahaha! If you can't make your own passing place, one car will have to back up to a passing place. I never learned if there were any rules regarding this. The first time I was WAY off the beaten path, and I just sat there like a moron, completely clueless as to what to do. The other driver moved onto the shoulder and flashed his lights to let me know he was letting me pass. After that, I just moved off the road a bit, unless the other person did it first. I think it's just a courtesy thing.
Really the car is the best thing and I think you can get a cheaper rate if you rent by the week. I know Rick says you can hitch a lift with the postman on his tv show, but I imagined that figuring out when the postman was going to come through a village, might be a bit difficult. I researched it and found that buses between even the larger towns were rather scarce compared to the regularity of buses I was used to in major cities. I didn't want to be "stuck" anywhere. I had nearly been stuck in the English countryside once on a previous trip. Even though the people in the village were very nice and incredibly helpful in sorting things out for me, it still felt a bit scary.
Honestly, if you haven't gone - GO! I started (mentally) planning my next trip as soon as I got home from the last one. I can't wait to get back to Scotland - and yes, I'll be exploring more of the countryside!
Chicago, USA Tue 06/08/2010
My husband and I give each other solo "days" when we travel. Sometimes we even overnight apart and meet up the next day, in the next town or city. On those days, I don't mind eating a quick breakfast or lunch alone, but dinner can be uncomfortable. To combat this, I'll often cobble together a terrific meal from the local markets and street vendors, then I eat in my room. It gives me time to do some evening sight seeing, since restaurant service seems to be slower at dinner. When we meet up the next day, we're back in a restaurant sharing our crazy stories and photos. Truly the best of both worlds.
Pacifica, CA USA Mon 04/05/2010
Compromise or companionship?? Yes, it can be a tricky balance. But, if you are always planning your next trip, nothing will keep you off of that plane. Bravo to all of the travelers who stay in hostels and to the marrieds that are willing to go it alone. I took my "Grand Tour" of Europe solo when I was 23 years old in 1976 and it changed my life. In the past 5 years, I have been to Europe three times (twice with my son, last time solo). Each time I have gone with a small tour group that does not take you through shops and tipping guides is forbidden. I extend my trip before and after the exact tour dates. Most tour days end at lunch time and then you are free to explore on your own. I have met fabulous people on all of my tours. I am surrounded by new friends that share my same interests and passion for travel. I have the advantage of both companionship and freedom.
Orange, CA USA Mon 04/05/2010
I am married but enjoy traveling alone once in while. It gives me freedom in decision making and the getup-and-go kind of unattached feeling. My solo trips are usually roughing it and not ideal with a comfort seeking spouse. But I love it (once in a while)!
NYC, NY USA Sat 04/03/2010
The Joys of Traveling Solo
I'm single, female and 54, and have extensively traveled solo throughout Europe and Asia with no problems--and I don't speak any languages. I did carry a phrase book, which helped immensely, and I made an effort to approach locals in their own language, but lots of people speak English.
For those who worry that they might be lonely, I have found that traveling solo throws you into situations where you meet people you might never have met had you not been alone. In London, I chatted with a Scottish member of Parliament and his wife at a small cafe, and spent an evening drinking and laughing with a German couple in Fethiye, Turkey. I've met people from all over the world--both locals and other travelers--and have never felt isolated or alone when traveling.
And best of all, traveling solo gives you total freedom to go anywhere and do anything you want, whenever you want. You can change your plans and change your destination at a moment's notice. There are a few drawbacks. It's more expensive. A single room costs more than sharing a double and there are less of them available, and if you choose to rent a car, you're forced to bear the full cost yourself. But by and large, I wouldn't trade my solo travel experiences for anything!
Cincinnati, Ohio USA Thu 03/11/2010
I "discovered" traveling solo last year while on business travel in the Chicago area I opted to stay a few more days and enjoy the city. I loved that I could change my plans at a moments notice, that I set my own pace, and was more open to talking with locals. I find eating solo really boring so I tend to sit at the bar at most eating establishments. Strike up a conversation with the bartender or fellow diners. I used this opener "I'm here for a day what would you recommend I do while I'm in town?"
I also have used craiglist ads to ask locals what they recommend. hahaha I did get a few VERY forward emails but I ended up really getting some great recommendations on where to go and where NOT to go!
KIRKLAND, WA USA Thu 02/25/2010
Considering Solo Travel outside the US
Thank you everyone for your posts. I have also traveled alone several times, but always in the US. I LOVE it (and I also love my husband, but sometimes it really is nice to do your own thing!) but have been a bit unsure if an overseas trip alone would be a good idea. I'm now thinking that it would. As for those of you who do not like eating alone, I was very scared the first time I did so--I even remember the meal (at a fancy restaurant on Martha's Vineyard--I was there for a month taking a writing course) and it was fine--quite liberating, actually. If it makes you a bit queasy at first, just try imagining that your dining partner went to the bathroom...surely you've done that and not felt odd!
Macungie, PA USA Tue 02/16/2010
travel by motor bike
hi i am 44 years old and i am going to ride around the world if kills me i would like some tips where to stay away from and where it is safe thanks
melbourne, vic australia Tue 02/09/2010
To Cheri of CO. Having traveled to Paris solo a few years ago, I realized I could do it. I have gone to the Christmas markets several times in recent years, but always with a travel partner, my husband or my mother. But I think it would be very enjoyable by my self. There is a festive feel about the bigger cities near Christmas that seems to help when you do feel a little lonely. The stores are decorated, food is easy at the stalls of the markets or at the cafes on the top floor of the department stores. I plan to go solo in the next few years. As much as I love to travel with someone, I would rather go alone than not go at all.
Danville, USA Wed 01/27/2010
Solo vs. Group
I plan to go Busabout and stay in the hostels they use. I'm going alone but would welcome a mate if I can find one! My plans right now are to go in Sept. 2010 on the North Loop, which also goes into the Czech Republic. All the other trips I made to Europe were with AESU & Contiki, and I just found it exhausting to stay in cities one or two nights then move on. I'd rather linger a bit. To be honest, I think solo travel is better than the group thing; the guides tend to recommend places where they get kickbacks, and they always urge you to take as many 'optionals' as possible to make your trip more 'authentic'. The optionals are usually costly & boring.
Winston Salem, NC USA Sun 01/10/2010
I've been traveling on my own for many years, I like the independence, the choices.
Wiilmington, NC USA Sat 01/09/2010
Mature age backpacker in the Greek Islands
Hi ,in 2007 I backpacked in the greek islands, I travelled alone ,my first mistake as I found I really needed company and someone to share my adventure with. I stayed in hostels and found these to be very clean,safe and cheap upto 20euro a night.I would like to go again this year and am planning to do this. If you would like to know more pleas email
Melbourne , Vic Australia Mon 01/04/2010