Solo Travel

I have been on many trips as a solo traveler without a roommate and have had mixed experiences.  On a recent trip as the only one without a partner I was frequently asked to change my place at the table so couples could sit together, and I would get moved down to the far end of the table.   With other groups though, if I offered to move I was reassured it wasn't necessary as they didn't need to sit together all the time.  Groups have different temperaments.  Another time several of the hotels had tables set up for exactly four people and I was pretty much excluded from this set up. Or the  dinner on your own would occur after a free afternoon or siesta time so I was alone because couples, (including) roommates made their plans when I wasn't around so I had no way to ask or be asked to join anyone.  One time we were so many single women that a consensus  was never reached and we just had pizza in the hotel.

I want to emphasize that uncomfortable situations have been the exception, but I always know  that they may arise, and I certainly won't let such occurrences spoil my trip. But also, before choosing a trip, I check how many dinners are not included, and this is part of my decision. Occasionally I  travel with all women, not with Road Scholar, and there the group leader usually suggests a place, and most people including the leader go together. But in my experience Road Scholar leaders generally are not around when plans are being made and are not involved in the process.  

Other than meals, almost everything is done as a group, and the group is usually together just before the free times, so plans can be made with  others.  So I may set out with others, but often prefer to go at my own pace and follow my own interests. Still I never hesitate to travel with Road Scholar as the problems I mentioned are definitely the exception.

  • In reply to slindsay1062753:

    Lindsay, I am in the same situation as a traveler. I was widowed in February this year and my first travel alone is coming up next week. I will be going to the Holy Land--escorted tour with no room mate. I will get back to this discussion after my trip to share my experience with you. My next travel solo is with RS in three months. Wishing you and I pleasant traveling experience.
  • In reply to shelley334080600:

    I'd like to communicate with you and see if we might be roommates on one of the RS trips. Please drop me a line. nandonsky@gmail.com
  • In reply to slindsay1062753:

    I have traveled a few times solo to Europe and Asia, meaning alone in my mid and late 50s without any group all on my own plans and agendas. So many locals or other travellers open up to you since they see I were alone. I felt that they were very curious about a lone female traveler taking the public transportation, walking the streets , marveling at the sites and also inherently people are kind and helpful. I had so many sweet and great memories which would have never happened if I had even one fellow traveler. The best memories I have are those little moments or not- so- little moments when people went out of their way to help me and lift me up. The famous art works and buildings and sites are very exciting, but they all take the back seat to these spontaneous contact with the people. Of course one has to be extremely careful for the safety. First thing to do is have the attitude that no one is going to mess with me sort of confidence, not stiff but gentle and open way. Just writing this article lifts my spirit up remembering all those positive experiences. Actually when I arrived at LaGuardia airport to fly to my home from one month of trip to Europe in 1990's , an American (USA) man tried to have me detained by the airport security who took one look at the situation and left the scene with a wink at me. I am an Asian American, and I believe that he was sort of racist who could not stand that I was so comfortable at the airport by myself. He tried very hard to make his fellow group travelers to denounce me, no one seem to agree with him and left him alone to harass me by himself (It would have been nice any one of them told him to stop his nonsense.) I traveled total of 3 months throughout Europe and 2 month in Asia, and this is the only negative encounter of those trips, that is in my own country.
  • I have taken about 8 RS tours solo. If you have a roommate, chances are you have someone to share meals with, but not always. I like to go off on my own so often have eaten alone, usually something simple like from a bakery for lunches. I have traveled with other groups also - not much difference. Some groups were really great. I am taking 3 tours back-to-back Jan-Feb 2018. Anyone else taking the 2 Winter in Spain trips beginning 1/28 or the Winter in Portugal starting 2/11? I will be assigned a roommate in Spain but have a single in Portugal.
  • Yes it can be tough to be the only solo among couples and people traveling together. There have been times when I was left out for on your own dinners and just made the best of it. If there is a solo, even if I'm traveling with a friend, I go out of my way to invite them to on your own meals!
  • In reply to Carol S. 1021333:

    I have been solo on several RS programs and have always felt safe and included. I try to include other singles when making plans. I have also had a roommate. The first one worked out great, but on another trip the roommate situation was difficult for me. However, the RS director was kind enough to help make the situation better (above and beyond his duties). I like active outdoorsy programs that are not over 10 days and not too expensive. Would welcome a travel friend.
  • In reply to leslye_lounsberry011038:

    to leslye_lounsberry: Yes, a small currency conversion chart (why didn't I think of that?). Yet another excellent idea!
  • In reply to ellenbuckelew010421:

    I learned something during my earliest overseas group trips: sometimes a traveler would pay for others' meals with a credit card, then collect cash for the cost of the meals. (Ms Jones would pay for the Smiths with her credit card, then the Smiths gave Ms Jones cash, often in the local foreign currency.) So I have done it too. If you have room on your credit card and they have the cash, this is a great way to get the local bills and change without having to pay the premium at a money exchange or ATM. Happy and safe traveling, Candy
  • When I travel, I like to find neighborhood restaurants that are not in guide books but I go with a couple of recommendations from websites and guidebooks, just in case. I generally ask the reservation desk people what restaurants in the neighborhood serve fresh local food (then check out their websites) and have gotten some outstanding recommendations. In Dublin, for example, I got the recommendation to such a restaurant. It was so good that I went back the next night, our last on-your-own meal. People heard me talk about this and half of the group turned up that second night, practically taking over the whole restaurant. My meals there were my most memorable meals on that trip. RS now also tends to use hotels that often have restaurants so if you find yourself alone, eat in the hotel restaurant.
  • In reply to zen012501:

    What's the name of the restaurant in Dublin? We'll be there with RS in May/June. Any other suggestions since we are staying in Dublin an extra two days after the tour? Thank you.
  • In reply to whgwood052654:

    Haven't been since I was a teenager. This site rarely disappoints and I have found some interesting things to do using frommers.com. www.frommers.com/.../attractions
  • In reply to whgwood052654:

    I moved after my trip to Ireland with RS and I suspect my notes are in one of my boxes of books that are waiting to be unpacked. Sorry about that. However, I am happy to share with you what I remember. I am quite sure the restaurant near our hotel (Camden Court in Dublin) is called Green Nineteen. I think they serve organic food only. Their (non-alcoholic) ginger beer, made on the premises, is the best I have ever had and others from my group agreed. Other good choices: tapas, fish-and-chip (superior to what you find in other restaurants), and salads. When I find my notes, I will send you more recommendations. Once we ate at a fabulous buffet upstairs in a department store (totally unexpected) and our group leader sent some of us to her favorite dessert place. Both are not far from St Stephen's Green.

    Which trip will you be on? I went on the one called Best of Ireland. I also went in May. The Killarney National Park and Sligo stand out in my memory. As to Dublin, I took the Hop-on-hop-off bus one afternoon to figure out where I wanted to spend more time the following day. The ticket is good for two days. What I remember enjoying most are St Paul's Cathedral, with interesting needlepoint kneelers, and the Hugh Lane Gallery (aka Dublin City Gallery), where you will see art by many Irish artists, including William Butler Yeats' brother and father. Our tour took us to St Stephen's Green, which is a beautiful park, with many interesting statues. Several of us went off to see the Book of Kells but I was more impressed by the Long Room in the Old Library. We also discovered a really unique area called the Iconic Walk. You will see interesting and entertaining graffiti on the walls of several alleys.

    We were told at the beginning of the trip that it is typical for one to experience all four seasons in one day, often several times a day. Well, we never had snow but we did have gale winds, huge downpours, followed by brilliant sunshine, then back to the others in different orders. It was most exciting! So, plan accordingly. Layer and make sure that you have a longish waterproof coat. Umbrellas won't do you much good when the wind is strong but take one anyway. It was cold when the sun disappeared and the wind kicked up in May but it s a good excuse to buy a beautiful Irish sweater. I loved my trip and have my beautiful Irish sweater to remind me of the dramatic weather. The Irish people are wonderful and our leader, a published poet, was great. If you have other questions, please feel free to ask.
  • In reply to zen012501:

    This is a wonderful response. Thank you for taking time to detail your experiences. We will make great use of your suggestions and welcome any others that come to mind.
  • In reply to expose25012208:

    Depending on the the hotel, if I am dining alone I often use Room Service. I bring my own wine so I save big when dining in the room.