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Gigi May 31st, 2002 07:20 PM

Experienced solo travelers-any countries that are especially good (or bad) for lone travelers?
Hi, I was reading the "vant to be alone" thread when I thought of this question.<BR><BR>I want to travel for a few months and there's no way anyone I know will be able to join me for that long. I've never traveled solo before. Are there any countries/cities that stand out as more welcoming to single tourists, people more friendly, easier to meet others, etc. Any places you didn't enjoy as a solo traveler?

Wayne May 31st, 2002 07:27 PM

I honestly don't know any places in Europe where a single traveler would be in any kind of danger just because he/she is alone. The only caution I would give is that if you are a woman alone, you should avoid strolling around at night. Generally you can find a companion who would enjoy a night stroll if that's your thing; just don't do it alone. As for daytime, stay where the people are and don't stray far from the madding crowds (have I heard that expression somewhere?)<BR><BR>And although meeting strangers isn't difficult in most of the larger cities, you need to proceed with caution before making any commitments to meet in remote places or in the evening.

David May 31st, 2002 09:55 PM

Last year for my 40th birthday I went to Europe for 8 weeks. I started in France for 2.5 weeks because, gee, I was having a hard time lining up friends to meet me throughout the entire time. You'd think they had kids, family, obiligations, careers or something! :-)<BR><BR>My biggest apprehension was whether or not I would have a good time and be able to entertain myself in a land that spoke another language for that amount of time. I was afraid I'd be in France for a week and be miserable because I was by myself and couldn't communicate.<BR><BR>Well I did OK with my 20 year old high school and college French. I was able to read menus, signs in musuems and even get a bit out of the daily newspaper. From that trip I decided I would only have a good time by myself in a French or English speaking country.<BR><BR>It was an interesting split. The people in rural France were more friendly and more open to my poor French, yet there was less to do in the towns. In Paris there was tons to do yet it is a big city and Parisiennes had less "time" to work with me.<BR><BR>In other words I was able to entertain myself differently and keep busy in either environment.<BR><BR>I enjoyed it so much I went back to France in April for my 41st birthday. Three days in Troyes, one in Chaumont and four in Paris. The same held true. I had a great time for different reasons in each location. In fact I decided that for price/performance I enjoyed haute cuisine more in the countryside. To me, Paris is for museums and brasseries; the country side is for foie gras & rillettes.

Judy Jun 1st, 2002 12:27 AM

I have been travelling solo (except twice with my sister) for the last 1/4 century,usually 5-6 times a year,I don't think there is any country sepecially good (or bad) for lone traveler. I believe it all depends on personal attitude. I have encountered countless kindness in different part of world-sophiscated big cities,rustic third world,wildness...

Gigi Jun 1st, 2002 05:41 AM

That's a good point about how there would be less to do alone in small towns. There might be hiking or walking trails, but then people always say you shouldn't go off alone.<BR>I really hope I'll be able to meet other travlers at least some of the time. I HATE the thought of dinner alone. I've never gone out for dinner alone at home and I've never seen any single diners when I'm out at a restaurant here. I like the idea of sitting on the patio and people-watching while I eat. I think I could handle that.<BR><BR>I don't think I want to stay in a hostel and that's where everyone says you meet people. What other places are good for meeting other travelers? <BR><BR>Congratulations on doing something like that for your 40th David. I did a big trip on my 30th though I didn't go alone that time.

Christina Jun 1st, 2002 09:52 AM

I've traveled solo quite a bit and think things are a little different for women than men, and men can't always even think of that. I have single male friends and when I mentioned that I like to travel to Europe in summer because it stays light so late which really makes it easier to do things at night, he admitted that had never even occurred to him because as a guy he never thinks about walking around alone at night, he just does it.<BR><BR>I think any large city is generally better because there is more to do and they tend to be more sophisticated. Also, I don't quite agree that any place is fine for a single woman; more conservative and sexist countries are not as good for a single woman, especially a traveling one (and American, I've had local men treat me poorly who would not treat local women that way because of their ideas from movies or something about American women, and women alone). There are places I've been where I wouldn't have wanted to be alone, but more in the Mediterranean and Mideast, actually.<BR><BR>So, the best places are places that have more open cafes, in my opinion, where you can be more comfortable dining alone and just enjoy the scenery and activity more than going alone into a small enclosed restaurant with dim lights and everybody else in couples. For example, I much prefer Paris to Nice, and I would not stay in a small B&B in rural France that forces you to eat dinner there and not meet anyone outside the place or have any activity out in the town. I don't much like B&Bs anyway, but I think they are better for couples, whereas in a hotel you may meet people more in the breakfast room, cafe, on the terrace, etc. That's just one example, as I had that choice last summer and chose a wonderful inn over a B&B (smallish and in a small town but not only a few rooms out in the country, like many B&Bs are), and I'm really glad I did.

c Jun 1st, 2002 10:24 AM

I've traveled solo and found for the most part that people are even friendlier when they realize that you're on your own. I've met a lot of other single travelers along my travels (in museums, on buses, etc.) and have met up with them again in the evenings for dinner or a play. <BR><BR>In Scotland and Ireland, pubs are a great place to eat, since I've always found that people are more than happy to ask you to join them for dinner. You'd be surprised at how many people love to meet people from other countries and exchange stories over dinner and a pint of beer.<BR><BR>In Edinburgh, I struck up a conversation with a store keeper one afternoon and she even invited me to a dinner party she was having the next night. It was a great way to meet the locals and get a good feel for the local customs.<BR><BR>Just a suggestion, but I've found that it's nice to have a book or crossword puzzle book in my daypack for something to do while eating solo. I've also found that it's easier sometimes to stop in for an early dinner if you are eating alone since the servers tend to have more time and like to chat and often can give great recommendations for places to see in town.

Larry Jun 6th, 2002 08:15 AM

I have made several trips alone and I found the low countries to be very easy and friendly. Almost everyone speaks english, and if you go into a tarvern to try some great Belgium beer I can almost guarentee someone will start a conversation

Gigi Jun 6th, 2002 04:32 PM

What's a low country? I haven't heard that expression.

David Jun 6th, 2002 06:51 PM

A low country is the Netherlands or Belgium. I believe in French that the Netherlands is sometimes called "Bas Pays" which means low lands. It refers to the fact that they are very flat, low lands near the water. In fact Holland is famous for building dams and pumping out the water to make dry land.<BR><BR>I've also seen the area referred to as "Benelux," Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. I don't know if Luxembourgh is really a "low land" or not. It certainly isn't low in Luxembourg.

Sjoerd Jun 6th, 2002 10:44 PM

The normal name for the Netherlands in French is indeed "Pays-Bas" (low countries). Similar in Spanish "Paises Bajos", Italian "Paessi Bassi", German "Niederlande", Dutch "Nederland" and indeed English "Netherlands".

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