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40 year old solo travel

Old Jul 9th, 2015, 09:44 AM
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40 year old solo travel

I am feeling the travel bug! I would like to do something in Europe, probably not Paris London Italy ideally. I'm a little bit chicken to do this on my own for the first time. I do not want a crazy tour riding in a bus all day. I have looked at the Rick Steves tours but would like some other options of tours to look at. I feel like I would like a shorter 8-10 day tour to see if I like traveling solo or not!
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 10:19 AM
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Are you only looking for a group tour or would you consider traveling independently?
Kathie is offline  
Old Jul 9th, 2015, 10:25 AM
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There are a whole lot of options besides Paris/London/Italy

Most places in Europe are super easy to do independently but a few might be better for a first timer to go w/ a group (Moscow/St Petersburg, maybe some parts of eastern Europe or Turkey - though even these are very doable solo)

So which places most interest you? Even going solo -- you can still take local day tours.
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 10:47 AM
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I would MAYBE consider traveling independently but I am overly nervous about getting around and feeling confident in traveling. I just thought maybe I could actually find a good tour group that would be fun for the first time. The Rick Steves tours look great but a little spendy and honestly nothing truly fits my plan right now. Would like to go Novemberish, have thought about Amsterdamn, Prague, anywhere in Germany, Switzerland, Austria. Obviously not all in one 8-10 day trip but those are what I would be mostly interested in...
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 11:28 AM
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I agree that traveling solo nowadays is very easy. You can do so much over the internet. I think Rick Steve's "Europe through the Back Door" is a great resource for new travelers. It has loads of information and also includes a section on various popular tourist destinations.

I began my travel back in the 60's, when it wasn't so easy as it is now. You can buy plane, train and bus tickets, find a hotel and check trip advisor to see what others think about it, and you can find day tours at your destination.
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 11:35 AM
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One problem -- especially if a Rick Steves-type tour is outside your budget -- most inexpensive tours cater to either young adults/partiers (like Contiki) or are mostly for pensioners and you would be the youngest in the group.

You have picked some places that will be cold in November - is that OK?

Travel from city to city couldn't be easier -- trains for the most part or budget airlines for more distant destinations. Once you are IN any city you can always take local tours, not just day trips, but also 2 and 3 nighters
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 11:40 AM
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Depends on what you mean by "cold". I was in Paris in April quite a few years ago and it was cool but definitely nice for those of us from North Dakota! So if you had to choose 2 cities from any of the above mentioned places where would you go. Keeping in mind I don't want it to be work to read street signs and I want to be able to find people who speak a little English if possible.
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 11:48 AM
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Well - they won't be North Dakota-cold -

London is always on my go to list for solos but since you mentioned you didn't want to go there . . . from your list and w/ only a week and a half -- you could make a terrific trip out of Amsterdam/Prague, Amsterdam/Berlin, Amsterdam/Munich, something like that. Finding English Speakers in those places - especially Amsterdam and most parts of Germany won't be a problem at all. Almost everyone in A'dam speaks fluent English -- better than a lot of America teenagers.
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 11:54 AM
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Amsteradamned would fit the bill. (I love your typo..., forgive me, I'm an nasty Belgian and love to laugh about my neighbours).
Since nobody understands their language (and even if you do, they still answer in English unless you're a truly native - did I say I'm a nasty Belgian ?), they nearly all speak English. Lots of musuems, nice city. Food is average.

Or you could go to Barcelona or warmer places (october can be nasty : not that cool or cold, but still it can freeze or be windy rainy and miserable).
I've got no exp of group tours - did it on honeymoon, never again, thanks, not for us.

Or you could go to Edinburgh -place is beautiful, would love to go back there and they speak some English...

Just my opinion of the moment after a glass of excellent Rasteau 2005.
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 12:43 PM
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Gah, I saw my typo right when I hit submit. I figured someone would call me out on that! Do you have any ideas on websites that are good to book through? I find lots of good stuff on but most 2 city trips are only 6 days and that seems a little quick.
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 04:00 PM
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>>Do you have any ideas on websites that are good to book through? >I find lots of good stuff on but most 2 city trips are only 6 days and that seems a little quick.
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 04:12 PM
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You might want to look at a package - for instance from Gate 1 - versus an actual tour. With them you can pick your cities for any number of days you want, pick your hotels (based on location and cost) and then combine that with airport transfers and whatever day trips you might want to sign up for. But you are on your own for whatever days you don;t sign up for a tour either in advance or on the spot.

Frankly if it were me I would just organize it myself - but this gives you an options slightly less structured than a full bus tour - with 7 am starts, long days on the bus and hotels at the end of hell and gone.
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 04:51 PM
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I'm another solo traveler who finds it easy to do so. If you want some insights and inspiration, here's a thread that might include some useful info:
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 06:23 PM
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"I find lots of good stuff on but most 2 city trips are only 6 days and that seems a little quick."

The packages offered by can be extended to as long as you like, and they will just charge you for extra hotel days. If they are to two cities, you can add days either at the beginning or at the end or both to spend more time in either or both cities.
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 07:02 PM
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Spend some time reading guidebooks and travel forums and reconsider independent travel. I wanted to spend 2 months in Europe and just assumed I couldn't do it on my own but couldn't find any friends to join me. During the time I was waiting for the right gap in my life to spend 2 months away I did a lot of reading and realized I would have no problem going on my own. Love him or hate him, the Rick Steves books (Europe Through the Back Door) gave me a lot of confidence by describing the mundane, yet sometimes intimidating, details of travel to an unfamiliar country (e.g., exactly how to buy metro tickets, how to find a toilet, self-guided tours of neighborhoods and museums, etc.). Independent travel is incredibly easy in the internet age. But I would recommend scheduling a few "walks" or tours during your trip as a way to get good context of the city/area, as well as spending some time with other travelers, even if only for the duration of the tour.

But if you find great tour options, come back and share!
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Old Jul 10th, 2015, 03:40 PM
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Solo! Italy is so easy to navigate on your own, it was my first solo trip, planned with the help of people here and guide books. You can click my name to see my TR back in 2007.
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Old Jul 11th, 2015, 06:10 AM
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I think Peg's point is it is a lot easier to book things on the internet than in the old days when you had to write letters or call and just have guidebooks for info (I actually made some hotel reservations by mail when I first started).

However, I don't think traveling solo is easy-peasy, a piece of cake for everyone. It can be stressful and things can go wrong, and there is a lot to handle. I'm used to it now and have done it 30 years but I still get stressed sometimes when problems develop, etc. But I know some people who literally could not do it and it isn't helpful just to say, of course it's easy, of course you can do it. No, they couldn't. These are people who have not traveled much at all on their own, live in small towns, are not familiar with public transportation, etc., and may not even know how to use an ATm card or research things on the internet.

And I don't think there is anything wrong with going on a tour your first time or two, that's exactly what I did (course back then, as noted, it wasn't easy to book things yourself). And I enjoyed them a lot. And tours do have some advantages, someone handles all your luggage for you, mostly, that's nice. And you can get some places easily you couldn't on your own (without a car, and I wouldn't add that to the mix).

There are some tours that are more packages, maybe you could find that, they handle most of the arrangements, but you are mostly on your own when in a place. There may be some concierge-type trip person to answer questions and help, that could be ideal. The problem is a lot of tours DO go to a lot of places, people want to see a lot of stuff usually. One I did was Dublin-Scotland-Lake District, then London, and it was probably only 10-12 days but we had at least 3 days in each major city. And the bus from Edinburgh down to London (stopped for the night in Lake district in the country, couldn't have done that on my own) was very pleasant. That was an escorted tour, though. But it was a tour that didn't include everything do much (meals in cities were not included, just breakfast, so you were on your own most of the time).

gate1 travel is one packageer I think does a good job, they have both types of packages. Untours is one where you sort of stay in a place a while, not sure it would be right but you could check. they do have some for only a week.
Christina is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2015, 07:03 AM
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I think the danger of solo travel is you end up being on your own, which can be a little chilling.

Maybe the way to resolve this is to book on some courses while you are away of do some short tours mixed in with a solo tour. Novemeber can be a bit difficult as it is part of the lead up to Christmas and the weather is so cold but don't ignore ideas like, cooking courses or art courses in odd places.

In terms of finding English speakers there are so many places where English is easy to find. Very high density in UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and then Switzerland and then major tourist sites in France, Spain Italy.

If you want to stay even vagualy warm you need to go south, so Coastal Spain, Coastal Portugal, Italy and Southern France. Coastal Turkey and Greece can still be warm but it varies.

In the winter in Europe I tend to focus on where it is easy to get to and east to find accomodation so I tend towards Morocco, Canary Islands, Majorca etc. But I speak some French which makes parts of North Africa relatively easy.
bilboburgler is online now  
Old Jul 11th, 2015, 07:36 AM
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<if you had to choose 2 cities from any of the above mentioned places where would you go>

From your list I'd pick Amsterdam and Switzerland (Lac Leman area) but that's mostly just because those are two places I have been solo and enjoyed very much on my own.

I think the Rick Steves' trips would work for you if you want to do a group. They are more expensive exactly because they aren't a big bus typical kind of group tour.
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Old Jul 11th, 2015, 07:42 AM
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Getting around in Europe for a solo traveller is pretty easy. The train/Metro systems does not go everywhere, but just about everywhere most first timers would want to go. Most countries have joined up public transport Apps so google can combine the data and give you sensible plans. I'm going to assume you are not coming skiing as Dakota has the odd snow fall. Christmas markets are good, with chill in the air, the odd street drink and cinammon based nibble goes down well. Prague has a fair number of musuems to visit, theatre etc and will be a bit quieter than normal in November (Prague is never quiet now), any good German city would do well.
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