Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Travel Tips & Trip Ideas (
-   -   Once again traveling alone (

TRAZ11 Feb 4th, 2007 01:50 PM

Once again traveling alone
Well here I go again traveling alone. It's not so bad but it does get old. I am pretty lucky and get to travel alot for fun but the problem is my friends only have so much time off. Where does a single guy go. That's the question. I am not going to pretend that finding female companionship is not a plus but at the same time I do not want to end up at a strip club. During the day when site seeing being alone is actually ok. At night however it sucks. Dinner, bars, shows, etc become such a chore when you are alone. What do you think?

JBHapgood Feb 4th, 2007 06:24 PM

While traveling alone is an excellent alternative to staying home alone, it does have its disadvantages and problems. As you note, they're most apparent when the sun goes down and you have to face going to dinner, shows, or whatever alone. Unless you're naturally extroverted and gregarious and you actually find venturing alone into a crowded bar or club a stimulating and exciting challenge, evenings on a solo trip can be downright depressing.

I don't have a generalized answer for you. I do a lot of photography on my solo trips, so I tend to spend my evenings going over my pictures. Or reading books that I don't normally have time to read, watching junk TV that I never have the inclination to watch at home, or spending quality time with my iPod or the portable shortwave radio I always bring on trips. That's much easier than going to bars or clubs, especially since I'm not looking to meet strangers when I travel (and just about anywhere else, a solo male is more likely to be seen as someone to avoid than as someone with whom to strike up a conversation). But that may not be a satisfactory solution to the problem if you really are looking to meet new friends (or more).

I find it's easy to get burned out on solo travel. That's about where I am now. I've been taking two or three solo vacations a year for the past five or six years, but right now the thought of planning any solo trips for this year isn't appealing at all. That might change if I find somewhere that excites me enough to overcome the burnout, but so far that hasn't happened yet.

I think the important thing to recognize that if you genuinely want to travel to some interesting place, you can't let the lack of available travel companions force you to stay home. Nor should the prospect of evenings alone. Perhaps we men can learn from our sisters who seem to be more genuinely enthusiastic about solo travel than we are. They seem to have fewer hangups about just enjoying their own company (but they may also have an easier time meeting other travelers, solo and otherwise). But that may be easier said than done.

The real answer to your question of where does a single guy go is "Anywhere he wants!"

toedtoes Feb 4th, 2007 09:47 PM

Someone suggested that taking a pub walking tour was a good way to enjoy some nightlife without having to "hit the bars" alone. I think there's a lot of merit to that idea. You're going with a group of people and as you tour, you can strike up a conversation so that by the time you're in the bar they don't think of you as a total stranger. You probably don't want to do the same tour every night for a week, but for a night or two it would get you out of the hotel room.

You could also look for places with live music - even if you're alone, at least you'd be able to experience some live music once in a while. I think a smaller club is better. I went to one where I was the only person who didn't personally know the band. Their friends invited me over to the table to join them and I had a great time. I am a woman, but I think they would have been just as friendly if I had been a man traveling alone and heading out for some local music - there's something more "normal" about going to hear great music versus hitting the bars alone.

I do definitely think that men have a harder time with this than women because of the whole "predator" label. Unfortunately, 95% of men AREN'T predators, but it's hard for a woman to know which ones are in the 5%.

TRAZ11 Feb 4th, 2007 11:22 PM

When I stay in the Hotel room at night I feel like I am missing out on the rest of the trip. At night you get a totally different perspective on the area you are visiting. What cities in Europe would you say would be solo traveler friendly in mid April?

suze Feb 5th, 2007 02:55 PM

When I travel solo I don't bother with shows or fancy restaurants, but I do have dinner at casual neighborhood kind of places or stop into local bars (sit at the bar not a table to possible talk with others).

Join any kind of tour that matches your personal interests... 1/2 day city tours, walking tours, historic tours, guided museum tours, pub crawls, free entertainment, community events of any sort, wine, cooking, etc. Get a local weekly entertainment guide for venues for live music that would be the kind of thing you'd check out at home.

If you can't find anything specific, just walk around after having dinner in an interesting neighborhood. Stop in to a couple different bars that look appealing to you. You may not meet women, but at least you'll be out of your hotel room, and appreciating the city you are in.

April isn't so great weather-wise but I liked both Amsterdam and Paris just fine solo.

suze Feb 6th, 2007 06:35 AM

If you want to make the effort and arrangements, there are ways on the internet to make dates with people who will be in Europe ahead of time. Either other travelers or locals.

quietplague Feb 17th, 2007 04:52 AM

i have to admit that traveling on one's own can be lonely at times in the evenings. i usually go the backpacker route. i stay in hostels where you have a chance of meeting up with a fellow traveler. i talk to the locals on my trip. i join day tours and carry on conversations with my fellow travelers and eventually meet up with them later. i even got picked up by a fellow traveler and wandered the streets of barcelona. sometimes i meet up with locals where i am traveling. the point is to do the work.

i recommend cities where they have a safe and interesting nightlife. that way you can wander the streets without feeling that you are missing out.

i lately have not felt lonely since i've learned to be comfortable in my own skin.

TravMimi Feb 20th, 2007 04:11 PM

Traveling alone is great, most of the time. Even when I travel on a bus tour I usually wander off on my own. I've found that taking local city tours like with Viator are great to get just a bit of company (with the same interest) while traveling. They offer lots of evening tours when traveling alone can get boring. Like Rome by night with dinner.

nelle_1234 Feb 24th, 2007 02:13 PM

I would like to hear some advice/tips/tricks from other females traveling alone.

I am 31 and as of last year I've begun traveling alone. Not becuase I want to but because other people either cannot afford to travel or have husband/family obligations and cannot travel.

I usually book myself with a tour group but the nights and scheduled down time are always a bugger.

I have a desire to travel to the "You are going where?" locations of the world so sometimes it is not safe and/or smart for me to wander alone. (i.e. Egypt)

So if there are any hints/tricks for a solo female I'd love to hear it. I'm leaving in a couple of months for another trip (Amsterdam/Tanzania) again solo and as much as I am looking forward to my vacation I am dreading the down time (especially the nights).


toedtoes Feb 25th, 2007 11:43 AM

Nelle - I just topped two prior posts that can provide you with some general tricks about traveling alone and safety. You should get some good info from them to start with. If they don't answer your questions enough, then it will give you a starting point for the areas that you're most concerned with (i.e., hotel room safety, meeting people, etc.).

For things directly related to your destinations (i.e., which places to avoid), you will likely get a lot of assistance on the destination forums - just start a post called something to "places to avoid in xxx for solo traveler" and they'll let you know.

travisblue Feb 28th, 2007 11:50 AM

Actually I find myself 'traveling' alone here in my own city. I live in Los Angeles, and all of my friends are married and have small children. So I go out ALL the time here in LA alone. Tomorrow I'm going to a movie after work, then dinner, then to the Lila Downs concert. Yup, all by myself. The reason I mention this is because when I travel, I'm so used to doing these types of things on my own in LA, that it is so 'natural' for me to be able to do these things when I'm traveling in another state/country. I think the more you do these types of things in your own hometown, the easier it becomes to do it any place else.

toedtoes Feb 28th, 2007 01:37 PM

I completely agree Travis. I started with the movies and then worked my way up to dinners alone. Now, there really isn't anything I won't do because there's no one to go with me. If you never go out alone at home, then it's going to feel awkward when you have to do

toedtoes Feb 28th, 2007 01:39 PM

I completely agree Travis. I started with the movies and then worked my way up to dinners alone. Now, there really isn't anything I won't do because there's no one to go with me. If you never go out alone at home, then it's going to feel awkward when you have to do it.

I've been forcing my nieces to speak up at restaurants, etc. so that they will be comfortable with it by the time their adults.

JBHapgood Feb 28th, 2007 06:03 PM

travis, I also live in Southern California. I find it easier to do things alone while on vacation elsewhere because I'm not suffering with the horrible traffic!

That said, I really do need to spend more time exploring Los Angeles. I haven't seen much of it despite living here all my life, mainly because I commute every day to work and don't have much desire to do it on vacation. Maybe MetroRail is the solution.

travisblue Mar 1st, 2007 01:53 PM

Oh definitely use the METRO! Last Saturday, I felt like mexican food, so I hopped on the metro in Hollywood and went to Olvera. After lunch, I thought, gee I haven't been inside the Watts towers. I got back on the subway and headed to Watts. No WAY would I have driven on a Saturday morning to Hollywood/Highland to shop for an hour (I took the bus there), then drive downtown to Olvera, got there about noonish by subway, ate, then headed to Watts about 2 p.m. I do so much more by using public transportation. Now mind you, you have to put up with people who don't smell so good, buses run late, people are sometimes rude and loud...on the other hand, sometimes people are friendly, you can read and listen to your IPOD to block out the noise, but best of all, you don't have to drive. Oh, and I got lost in WATTS, a nice woman going in the opposite direction, walked with me to within about 3 blocks to the Towers. My sense of direction (yes, even with towers that stand 30 ft high) is BAD!

jbtan Mar 7th, 2007 05:27 AM

Hi TRAZ11, this is one sister (thanks, JBHapgoood) who is used to traveling alone -- for business or pleasure. So, the question: what to do at night? Well, I usually have lots of paperbacks with me. I'm simply not the bar-hopping type (thanks for being allergic to alcohol; yeah, I know, I'm no fun at all ;-))... The more tactful ones would say that I'm a cheap date... Usually I try to find out if there's special exhibits in museums (some open until 10pm) or if there's any night tour (safety in numbers). Or I do my planning for the next day (boring, right?) And of course, sort out the photos, and if I get a great room, soak in the bath-tub and read.

Dinners -- well, I'm kind of used to room service during business trips. Have no problem dining alone. I usually grab my paperback or travel guidebook along... I have had guy(s) sitting at the next table saying, "Oh, you read Michael Connelly/Lee Child. Isn't that more a guy's read?"... (that's a new pick-up line to try the next time you see a girl reading suspense/thrillers BTW) Anyway, I digress. I find chatting with the service stuff or cafe/restaurant owners or fellow diners a fun experience. At the very least, I obtain some insider's perspective of the area. I even got free dessert from the proprietor/proprietress!

Two of my brothers travel solo as well and they also find dining alone a chore. I have heard lots of complaints from them. So I definitely understand the problem.

Wish you a better experience this time. Keep your fingers crossed... you may meet someone like me who often take the initiative to talk to solo fellow travelers...;-)

eigasuki Mar 10th, 2007 04:23 AM

Travisblue, I guess you are a guy. I'm interested in your comments about using public transportation in LA as I am planning to visit in September and have been constantly told that one needs a car to get around LA, yet all the stories about traffic etc sound horrendous. Doubt I'd be trying it at night but its reassuring to hear of people finding it a convenient alternative.

On the topic of eating out alone, I find the most intimidating part is actually walking in and getting a seat. I'm usually OK then but find that first step difficult I guess the solution probably is to make a booking. I usually resort to having my major meal at lunchtime (makes me stop and sit down too) then just have a snack or take out or something fr dinner (I don't usually stay in the kind of places that have room service!)

I actually find it easier to do things like go to the theatre when I'm travelling because I don't have the worry of seeing people I know and feeling like a loser that I'm solo.

tzarinna Mar 10th, 2007 02:41 PM

Wow,it's really a shame that men seem to have this hang up about dining alone. I had it out with a guy I was out with for brunch,he decided to have a few drinks before we met at 11 a.m.
Next to our table was a gentleman eating alone. The guy I was with made comment about how he hates to see that and that it's so sad or something. Then he's like no offense I know you do it all the time. So not only did he offend me but he was being rude because there is no possible why that that guy couldn't hear the comment. He didn't get why I was mad and I didn't want to have to explain for the whole restaurant to hear. Needless to say I don't talk to him anymore. I can't stand rude and thoughtless people. <):)

Sorry I just wanted to share that.
I'm a sol female traveller. I also find that staying in Hostels you'll meet a lot of really cool people to hang out with. But it seems my snoring has gotten a bit worse and no one should have to suffer. So I've been staying in guesthouses and hotels or getting a private room at hostels.

I think everyone has given some really good advice. I hope you find comfort in your evenings out. :)

JBHapgood Mar 10th, 2007 06:47 PM

eigasuki, public transit in LA can <i>sometimes</i> be a usable if not necessarily convenient alternative to clotted freeways. It just takes a bit of planning and research.

If you can get from where you're staying to where you want to go on the &quot;glamorous&quot; light rail lines or directly on a single bus line, the trip can be convenient and even pleasant. The unpleasant inconvenience occurs when you need to make bus connections. You could end up spending hours standing on nondescript or even dodgy street corners. Part of the reason is that the buses are mainly used by people who have no other choice and whose time isn't considered particularly valuable (I can state with absolute confidence that no corporate CEO or large campaign donor ever rides a Metro bus). But in all fairness to the MTA, the same traffic congestion that makes driving such a horror also makes maintaining bus schedules a serious challenge.

That's why guidebook authors invariably insist that visitors should use mass transit only if they're on a very tight budget but have lots of time to spend waiting for bus connections. That said, riding the bus has the advantage of giving you a glimpse into the &quot;real LA&quot; that you won't see as a normal tourist idling on a clotted freeway. Unfortunately, you won't be able to strike up a conversation with the people on the bus unless you're fluent in Korean or one of the various Central American dialects of Spanish. Los Angeles is a veritable United Nations, and if you're truly fearless you can take a tour of &quot;Central America&quot; and &quot;East Asia&quot; without suffering airport hassles by visiting the appropriate ethnic enclaves. You can sample authentic ethnic cuisine and not worry about Montezuma's Revenge-- just look for the health inspection placards with the letter &quot;A.&quot;

Also remember that &quot;Los Angeles&quot; is actually an enormous sprawl that effectively covers three counties and about 80 separate cities. If your itinerary calls for widely-dispersed sights you'll really need a car. Buses are hit or miss in suburban or outlying areas, and a trip that involves connections between different transit agencies <i>will</i> require you to spend <i>many</i> hours waiting for those connections. When I was in college, as an academic exercise, I consulted the local transit authority about what would be involved in going home for the weekend using mass transit, since I didn't have a car then. As I recall, that 35-mile trip would have required five (or six?) different buses and taken eight and a half hours, assuming that the buses actually ran on schedule.

While it's possible to visit Southern California and rely on mass transit (as many thousands of people do every day), it requires dedication, careful planning, and lots of patience. But so does navigating the freeways as a solo driver unfamiliar them.

Finally, I also find it much easier to enjoy a solo lunch than a dinner. So that's what I usually do. There is also the advantage of lower prices and more reasonable portions that save dollars and calories, allowing me to sample a higher class of restaurant than I otherwise would. I prefer to book a hotel room with a fridge and microwave, so I can have a picnic dinner available when I'm tired and don't feel like waiting in a queue behind couples and families.

clarasong Mar 10th, 2007 08:34 PM

I am not single now, but spent 15 years as a single person, and there were lonely times;one day I thought to myself &quot;if I am lonely, so must others be, so I'll say 'hi' to at least three people today&quot;. When strolling in the park, I made eye contact with a nice looking woman on a bench and started to chat. I was surprised how easy it was and how glad folks were to talk&quot; Now I talk to everyone, and DH says I am maybe too forward, but what the heck? If they don't like it, they will turn away, and if they do, well then, youve made a new friend.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:46 PM.