Tips for Traveling Solo
Solo Travel Tips
When traveling alone, think of train rides as an opportunity to meet people
After two days in
The maestro and I had a wonderful chemistry. He was the kind of person I knew I could be great friends with -- and someone I probably never would have met had we not been dining alone that night. The nature of my job means that I spend a lot of time in museums, restaurants, and bars by myself. But that's also the way I prefer to experience
When you're with a companion, it's easy to focus on that person and forget about meeting Europeans and other travelers. Without the comfortable crutch of a friend, you're more likely to know the joys of self-discovery and the pleasures found in the kindness of strangers. You'll be exploring yourself, as well as a new country and culture.
Solo travel gives you complete freedom and independence. You never have to wait for your partner to pack up. You decide where to go, how far to travel, how much to spend, or when to call it a day. If ad-libbing, it's easier for one to slip between the cracks than two.
Of course, there are downsides to traveling alone: Accommodations typically cost more because you're not splitting the bill, and you may be more vulnerable to theft when you're alone. But the biggest struggle is loneliness.
Fortunately, the continent is full of lonely travelers and natural meeting places. Staying in hostels gives you a built-in family (hostels are open to all ages). Small pensions and B&Bs often have owners who have time to talk with you. City walking tours provide an easy opening to meet other travelers.
The idea of eating alone can be intimidating -- until you do it. The key is to keep busy. Use the time to learn more of the language. Practice your verbal skills with the waiter or waitress (when I asked a French waiter if he had kids, he proudly showed me a picture of his twin girls). Read a guidebook, a novel, or the
Consider quick and cheap alternatives to formal dining. Try a self-service cafe, a local-style fast-food restaurant, or a small ethnic eatery. Visit a supermarket deli and get a picnic to eat in the square or a park. Grab a slice of pizza and munch it as you walk along, people-watching and window-shopping.
If you like company, eat in crowded places that force you to share a table, or ask other single travelers if they'd like to join you. Most countries have a type of dish or restaurant that's fun to experience with a group. When you run into tourists during the day, make plans for dinner. Invite them to join you for, say, a rijsttafel dinner in
Evenings can be tough if you're feeling lonely. Use this time to visit an Internet cafe and send travel news to friends and family. Or go out and experience the magic of European cities at night. Stroll along well-lit streets, enjoying the parade of people, busy shops, and illuminated monuments.
If you don't feel comfortable traveling alone, consider joining a tour. With a tour, all of your hotel rooms are reserved, a guide plans most of your activities, and other tour members keep you company. If you're willing to give up the option of having a flexible itinerary, a tour may be the right way for you to scratch your travel bug bites.
I've talked to too many people who put off their travel dreams because they don't want to do it alone. Don't delay. Just think of
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