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Favorite Tips for Handling the Difficult Parts of Solo Travel

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As many of the folks on this board are aware, there are many advantages to solo travel, but as many of us also know, there are some difficulties as well. This is especially true for those of us who are traveling alone, not because it is our preferred mode of travel, but because it is the only way that we can continue to indulge our love of travel when our preferred travel companions are not available due to widowhood, divorce, or just conflicting schedules. I thought it might be helpful to people who are in this situation if some of us who have developed some solutions (or at least ways to approach) some of the tough parts of traveling on your own can share some ideas.

One of the things I find most difficult (and it may not be an issue for everyone) is the potential for being lonely or feeling isolated. I began traveling on my own after being widowed, so I found that being alone in my hotel room, sitting alone at dinner, or riding alone on trains or busses gave me too much time to be sad about being there on my own. Here are a few things I found that help me:

Electronic voices...
I am one of those people who tend to have the TV on at home just for the voices as some background "company". I found that taking my compact DVD player and DVDs of some of my favorite TV shows and movies allows me to have some familar voices in the room when I return to my room in the evening and while I'm getting ready to go in the morning. This has been a little bulky but has been an emotional life-saver for me. It may be better since I've just purchased an Archos MP3 Video player that is only slightly larger than my i-pod and has 30GB memory so I'm hoping that I can load on my favorite videos for much less weight and bulk.

I'm a reader and like to be able to lose myself in a book, but I don't want to necessarily do so at the expense of seeing what's going on around me and appreciating where I am (I can read a book in my own living room!) so I load several audio books on my i-pod and can "read" while I ride on the train or even while walking around town that doesn't keep me from enjoying the scenery.

Eating Alone...
I know that many of us tend to get out our books and read at the table as a way to cope with our discomfort about eating in restaurants alone. The problem is, reading a book requires most of your attention and keeps you from soaking up the ambience of the restaurant and potentially from striking up a conversation with others around you. I've found that for me, I can get the best of both worlds by working on a puzzle (ie Sudoku, crossword, etc) that I can attend to or not as I choose. I always take a Sudoku puzzle book with me but tear out the pages and keep a few in my purse or backpack. I can work on them or look around the restaurant, or chat without the bulk of a book.

Any other good ideas out there?

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