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Christina
08-04-2012, 11:55 AM
Oh go, go! I've traveled quite a bit by myself, before there was a Mr. Christina. I've found that if I speak the language I'm much more comfortable. I went through Germany for a week before going to Dortmund in 04, and besides the pickpockets in Cologne, it was great. Not speaking German was only a problem sometimes, and my phrase book helped out a great deal. I also met up with two English women in Dortmund who were sitting in the row behind me at Worlds, and we hung out for most of the week.

In Nice in 2001, I met up with another American woman and we went on some sightseeing trips around the skating schedule as well. I was more comfortable in France (Paris, Nice, Lyon) than in Germany because I could have short conversations. I would definitely take that into account if this is your first trip alone.

Also, I second the hotel suggestion once in a while. Most hostels you can walk up to and get a dorm room (or at least you used to), but hotels need a reservation. I like to make a hotel reservation in a different city or place every four days or so, and nothing for the time in between. That way I'll stick to my schedule of moving between cities or areas, but I can take my time (or not) as I'm doing things. Does that make sense?

cruisin
08-04-2012, 03:16 PM
I went to Italy with my best friend about a year and a half ago. Had the time of our lives! Left the kids and husband home. It was easier, since I'd been to Italy before, and knew my way around. But, it was such fun!

DAngel
08-05-2012, 08:40 PM
A question to anyone who has backpacked/traveled to multiple countries on a long trip lasting a couple of weeks or even months.. How detailed did you plan the trip? I have heard of people backpacking through (multiple cities of) Europe for more than 40 days :eek: That sounds like a lot of planning :yikes:

PrincessLeppard
08-05-2012, 10:17 PM
I went around Europe for a little over a month.

Um. There wasn't a lot of planning. If I wanted to go somewhere, I went. At the time, I was under 26, so I could use the Eurail Youth Pass (I think I had the 15 days in 30, and saved the UK for the end since it doesn't work there, anyway. That was the extent of my planning.)

:)

smurfy
08-06-2012, 01:23 AM
I have travelled a lot solo, and find it fun. Can't always find someone with the same interests or time. On my own, I have traveled to:
Canada - BC, Cruise to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
Cruise to Grand Turk and Bahamas
Europe: Ireland, N Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Spain & Italy (Rome, Florence and Venice - not southern).
I think travel in western Europe is super easy one your own. I love cities, architecture, art museums, castles - and are super easy solo.
Like others said, Europe has 'single' rooms, or B&Bs that are per person, so penalty is not that bad for solo travel. Trains, buses etc make it very easy to get around.

I think I get more immersed into a foreign country when traveling solo. When I have traveled with others, it seems a lot less time is spent on the random conversations with the locals. Also, whenever a local highly recommends something (a site, food or shop) - do it. I have always followed this rule and have never been disappointed.

But also be careful. I don't let people know I am traveling on my own - I am meeting someone, I have a ring that I can move to make it look like I am married. Don't wear expensive jewelry, pay attention. As I have gotten older, I like reservations for lodging before I leave home. But when I was younger I would wing it, but also make sure I arrived in a new place in daylight.
I have found whether I am staying in a lovely little B&B or big hotel, chatting with the front desk/concierge/owners is smart. I always let them know where I am going. I am pretty sure some of the B&Bs I have stayed at, if I never came home, they would have done something.

I did go to Europe in 1990 for 10 weeks. I wonder how I did stuff without the internet. I had a very general itinerary, which allowed for spontaneity/new things. Usually I had several days to a week in the future planned. Except for the first place, I had notlodging planned until I arrived at a town and used the Tourist Info offices for finding lodging. Worked very well, was in the fall, so off season.

jl22aries
08-06-2012, 01:40 AM
A combination of pre-booking and leaving it open works best for me. I do, however, have a general scope of the areas I want to go to (some light wikitravel/lonely planet reading) and a general idea of the route. But aside from that, I trust that there is time during the trip to continue reading about places, planning the details along the way, and changing them up inevitably as you get inspired by the moment or the people you've met with their many recommendations. And also, it's nice to have the freedom to extend a stay in a city if it's just going grand, or likewise get the hell out if you find yourself saying "gotta gooooo".

In Southeast Asia I booked my first two nights in the big city starting point, and didn't really plan too much else. Subsequently during the trip, if I booked at all it was usually only a day or two ahead of time (for overnight train rides and the like). I also liked getting into the rhythm where I would book things through the hostel for the next stop, or purchase my outgoing transit tickets the moment I arrived, while I was still at the station. Some locations are prime for spontaneous travellers who like to just arrive at destination and visit hostels where you can negotiate the rate of stay and also request to inspect the room before you book anything.

In Europe, I booked all the transit legs as it's often so much cheaper to book flights/trains/busses in advance, and I definitely booked the first night or two in each new location as it's one thing arriving in Luang Prabang and heading straight to a street of hostels to pick out the one for you, it's another thing arriving in Paris to find that everything in your $ range has been booked out. I highly recommend hostelbookers/hostelworld for prebookings, where customer reviews rank up there in my ultimate decision.

And I completely agree with so many posters, having failed to mention in my first post, that a couple nights in a private room is sanity saving after 5 nights or so in a hostel dorm.

smileyskate
08-06-2012, 04:05 AM
Some great info here. You guys are inspirational. Another tip might be to meet with a travel agent if you have access. They may have some good input and also can act as a contact person (back where you live) should you need one for unforeseen problems with the lodging/travel, etc.

jenny12
08-06-2012, 05:30 AM
Istanbul. :swoon: My first husband was Turkish, so we spent some time there. I went about quite a bit by myself, always dressed in locally purchased shoes and clothing, and covered my head with a scarf. Not necessary for a female to cover the head (1980s, things might have changed since then), but my Turkish mother-in-law said that I would be treated with respect that way. It really helped to be able to speak a few words and understand quite a bit too. As Allezfred said, shagging a native really helps one learn the language. :D

Go! I hope you have a wonderful time!

I went to Turkey with a tour group (although I was alone) just this summer (in June). The tour is called Globus and it is pretty affordable for what you get. I had a fantastic time and got to meet a lot of new people. It still is not necessary to cover your head and many Turkish women (especially in the big cities like Istanbul and Ankara) don't cover their head at all. I went all over (Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Troy, Antalya, etc) and it was spectacular. I got to see everything from ancient ruins to the beautiful Bosphorus, the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Spice Market, etc.

susan6
08-06-2012, 05:38 PM
Has anyone ever done an organized bike tour in Europe? I vow every year when I watch the Tour de France that I'm going to do one (just in the flat parts of France, none of that crazy Alpe d' Huez stuff). There are companies that supply the bikes, plan the route, book the hotels, and in case you're exhausted or too wimpy, supply the broom wagon (which also carries the luggage). I will be alone, but it still should be fun.

Peaches LaTour
08-06-2012, 07:16 PM
Hi,

I'm seriously considering taking a vacation by myself, I really need to take my mind away from work and it's been a long time since I've had a real vacation, my family stopped having them when I was in my teens and after that it never really happened (lack of money, company, you name it).

What are your experiences in this regard? Where in Europe would you go? What would you avoid?

Let's see if I actually get to do it and don't chicken out as usual. ;)

Forget Europe and go to New Zealand, instead! It's a great country, they speak English, their money is in dollars, the people are friendly, the geography is very diverse and the weather is mild.

I spent six months there and I loved every moment of it!

Ajax
08-06-2012, 08:56 PM
Another good trip for solo travel is to check out couchsurfing.org. It's a free service which connects travelers with locals who are willing to host people (for free) at their homes. It might sound unsafe to stay at a stranger's house but the site has a lot of safety features such as picking female hosts or those whose address is verified by the website etc. I have only hosted, never stayed at someone's house myself. But I have tons of friends who have done it, always with satisfactory results. A couple of them spent two months in Southeast Asia just moving from host to host and never paid a cent for accommodation. It's a great way to meet locals. If your hosts have free time they might take you around, invite you to events etc.

Even if you don't feel safe staying at someone's house, couchsurfing lets you contact locals and ask them to meet for a coffee/dinner, to show you around etc. There are couchsurfing communities in most big cities who organize local events that all travelers are invited to. For example the Boston couchsurfing community meets every Wednesday for drinks and anyone can drop by. The boards usually also have people looking for ride shares, travel companions, activity partners etc. These can also be great options to meet people while traveling solo.

Garden Kitty
08-06-2012, 09:28 PM
Has anyone ever done an organized bike tour in Europe? I vow every year when I watch the Tour de France that I'm going to do one (just in the flat parts of France, none of that crazy Alpe d' Huez stuff). There are companies that supply the bikes, plan the route, book the hotels, and in case you're exhausted or too wimpy, supply the broom wagon (which also carries the luggage). I will be alone, but it still should be fun.

Have you visited the Team Estrogen website? (http://forums.teamestrogen.com/forumdisplay.php?f=77)

Lots of useful info focused on women's cycling including a sub-forum on touring. If you can't find a thread on your topic, I bet you'd get useful info if you started a thread. That site tends to be more welcoming and helpful than a lot of other cycling forums.

Allskate
08-06-2012, 09:58 PM
A question to anyone who has backpacked/traveled to multiple countries on a long trip lasting a couple of weeks or even months.. How detailed did you plan the trip? I have heard of people backpacking through (multiple cities of) Europe for more than 40 days :eek: That sounds like a lot of planning :yikes:

I once went to Europe for six or seven weeks. As long as you're not going somewhere that has difficult visa requirements, not much planning is required beyond choosing where you're going to start and where you're going to end, so that you can book the necessary airline tickets. I think I might have booked a place to stay for the first night. Other than that and plans to meet up with a friend in London towards the end of my trip, I don't think I had much more than a general idea of where I was going to go or for how long and I left it very flexible. But, I didn't go during the summer, so I generally didn't have to worry that all the hostels and hotels would be booked. The only time I ran into trouble finding a place to stay was when I arrived in Munich during Oktoberfest. A little planning probably would have helped there.

I love New Zealand and it's a very easy place to travel independently. However, IMO, now is not the best time to travel there because you can't get to Fiordland and other places due to the weather. I'd much rather travel there during their summer, especially since I'm not a skier.

genevieve
08-06-2012, 10:50 PM
Another good trip for solo travel is to check out couchsurfing.org. ....

I joined couchsurfing last year in preparation for my trip to Europe (after learning about it in an FSU thread!), I had some incredible experiences couchsurfing in Barcelona, I go to local CS events periodically, and I've been hosting others this summer - on the whole it's been pretty great! But one warning - it is NOT for people who just want a free place to stay and to just come and go as they please; it's about interacting with your host and often being flexible about your schedule. It's not a free service, it's a community.


Even if you don't feel safe staying at someone's house, couchsurfing lets you contact locals and ask them to meet for a coffee/dinner, to show you around etc. There are couchsurfing communities in most big cities who organize local events that all travelers are invited to. For example the Boston couchsurfing community meets every Wednesday for drinks and anyone can drop by. The boards usually also have people looking for ride shares, travel companions, activity partners etc. These can also be great options to meet people while traveling solo.
^ I highly recommend this part of couchsurfing. it's really fun to meet up with locals and other travelers while in a new city :cool:

smurfy
08-07-2012, 01:33 AM
Just remembered! Train travel in Spain. May need to make reservations. I had them for day trips and legs between major cities. I did go to Toledo for the day from Madrid and had a reservation to get back to Madrid. I decided to go back earlier, and when I got to the train station, all tickets were sold for the rest of the day. so glad I had my reservation, just couldnot change it.
Other than night trains, I had never made reservations, nor had trouble on the trains in Europe. The long legs I had in Spain (Seville to Granada, Granada to Barcelona) were not that crowded, but the shorter trips were busy.