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Author Topic: Solo Travel. Tips? Advice?  (Read 696 times)

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Offline HemingwayTopic starter

Solo Travel. Tips? Advice?
« on: June 15, 2012, 08:25:05 PM »
I love to travel. I mostly travel in the company of my family, but I feel I'm getting too old for that. And besides, my family has nothing planned for this summer, so it wouldn't matter anyway.

There are places I want to go, and I have the time. Unfortunately, the only friend I have I could see myself traveling with doesn't want to go the places I want to go, or do the things I want to do. For that reason, I've been thinking of just going alone. It's a slightly intimidating idea, but also a very exciting one. And the more I think about it, the less intimidating it seems. I did, after all, manage to find my way around New York City two years ago.

I've spent the past few hours surfing the web, browsing travel sites and reading the advice people give. Still, I'd be very interested to know if anyone here has any experience or advice they'd like to share for someone considering traveling to a foreign city by themselves. I'm particularly interested in advice people might have just generally on being social and meeting people. Staying at hostels and that sort of thing. This is sort of important to me because probably the greatest appeal of travel for me is meeting people from other countries ( be they visitors from elsewhere or locals ).

In case someone's curious, or if it helps them add anything, the city currently at the top of my list is Dublin. Budapest is also a city I'd consider, mainly because I've been there many times before ( and speak the language well enough to get by from day to day ) and in general it would be an easier transition, though a less interesting one.

Offline Shjade

Re: Solo Travel. Tips? Advice?
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2012, 01:19:01 AM »
The only advice you need (pay attention, this can save your life):

Bring a towel.

Offline Maccus

Re: Solo Travel. Tips? Advice?
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2012, 01:26:55 AM »
If your driving audio books do wonders, if your flying always show up way early.  As far as dublin...go to pubs and I mean alot of pubs.  Everyone seems to hang out there and if your looking for the locals trust me they will be there.  And as Shjade mentioned.... BRING A TOWEL!

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Re: Solo Travel. Tips? Advice?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2012, 05:28:37 PM »
     I like traveling solo.  I wouldn't say I am great at socializing while doing it, exactly.  Still, staying in hostels can boil down to meeting people by default.  Unless it's totally slow season or out of the way.  Maybe it's more a question of what you do with people after you meet them?  Having some idea what you'd like them to do, or not, might help I suppose. 

     You can choose to stay or go in any given place more or less as the mood strikes you.  If you wish: You can do crazy things with the complete thrill of going at only your own risk.  Say, getting smuggled up the Li River in a locked boat cabin, and biking home in the dark around potholes galore in the rain...  Whatever suits your fancy.  A full entourage may not be so willing.  You only want one free seat on the bus, which is not only less than two -- that is far less than the two consecutive seats you would prefer (but which are often harder to find).  If it's a plus, some people will approach you for a chat who otherwise might assume you're "busy."  And you order just what you like for supper -- or whichever random thing you prefer to point to, if you're out of your language range.     

    Downsides: What to do with your luggage when you are in the restroom?!  Aside from the flippant answer, "travel light," you can trust the nearest shop keeper etc. if it's not too big, or you can just take it inside.  I pull out a novel and use my bags as a seat/footrest in train stations, but you might miss having company there if you're used to taking shifts guarding the baggage.  There's only one of you to look out for times and places you should get off the bus, wake up early, turn the corner, avoid stuff, etc.  Personally, I am notorious for squatting down with a map for two minutes on every second street corner.   ::)  Again, only one if you manage to wander into unexpectedly hostile regions.  Or say, if there is still any of that game of "let's try and intimidate night rail travelers into paying up some bribes" going on in Eastern Europe these days.  I don't know if there is.  It's also harder to sample a wide restaurant menu with only one person paying.

Offline Envious

Re: Solo Travel. Tips? Advice?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2012, 06:02:04 PM »
When I travel by myself, I bring a backpack and a side bag. If it doesn't fit there, it doesn't come. It's so much easier to travel light. Have some moist towelets and snacks in there at all times. Always, always, always follow your instinct. As soon as it feels wrong, err on the side of caution.

Online Oniya

Re: Solo Travel. Tips? Advice?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2012, 02:39:18 PM »
I've done lengthy bus trips solo (well, lengthy time-wise, at any rate).  Not to a foreign country, but I once surprised a friend of mine when she was at William and Mary, and I was across the state in Staunton; and I took a bus from Staunton to the D.C. area on a whim to get to a Halloween party.  (Bus travel is like molasses in January, let me tell you!)

Travel with what you can carry, and bring a little extra emergency cash that you keep away from everything else.
Double-check your luggage tag if you have a checked bag and connecting flights!  When I went to Dublin, my luggage (with all my clothes) went to Belfast.  It caught up to me in Cork.
While I wasn't on my own in Dublin, I did find the people there very friendly, even to obvious tourists.
If you aren't arranging your overnight accommodations ahead of time, start looking for that before you start looking for dinner.  Then ask the people there what a good place to eat is.

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Re: Solo Travel. Tips? Advice?
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2012, 03:14:39 PM »
If you are staying in Hostels, go to - it's the biggest and by far the best online booking system for hostels. Read the reviews there and on Tripadvisor. Having worked in one, I personally wouldn't stay in a hostel that ranked below 85% overall and below 90% in cleanliness. The first reviews I'd check would be the negative ones - see what they complain about and decide how old it is (a lot can change in half a year) and whether you can live with it if the same thing happened to you. First mention of bed bugs (and they are unfortunately quite common in hostels) has me drop the place completely, no matter how promising it might look.

Also, you want to have a look at the price and particularly what it includes - sometimes it includes linen and/or towels, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes you can choose.

Always book in advance. Even if the place is overbooked, they are bound to find you a place to sleep of the same or higher quality, even if they can't provide one themselves. You can either book through Hostelworld or through the hostel's site, sometimes that will get you special offers like a breakfast included or a one way transfer from/to airport, depends.

If you are going to use the taxis, ask the reception what the rate should be to make sure you won't get ripped off. Sometimes they can provide transfers to and from places for a slightly higher rate than a regular taxi, but a fix/guaranteed one.

Never change money on the street. They have a very alluring rate, but you'll often end up with worthless money. In Prague people often end up with Forints, only a 100 forints is worth 10 crowns. :-\

Offline HemingwayTopic starter

Re: Solo Travel. Tips? Advice?
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2012, 11:37:21 AM »
Massive thanks to everyone who's shared so far! It's a great encouragement - which I need as well as advice. ;D

Offline Major Major

Re: Solo Travel. Tips? Advice?
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2012, 06:37:19 AM »
One piece of advice I can give you is always make sure you book accomodation in advance; back in '07, I was in the UK with my family for a couple of months, and every other week or so, I went off on a solo trip to explore my various interests. One of these trips was to York, and on the spur of the moment, my brother came with me. It was... awkward; I'd forgotten to book any rooms, so we ended up tired on a cold spring evening, bitching at each other as we looked for somewhere to stay; by luck, we managed to find some at a pub, but the room had only a double bed, so I spent the first night on the floor, with only my jacket and a towel as a blanket.

That was my biggest regret in my time over there; that, and I didn't stay in the "Garden of England" long enough to pick up a copy of the Kentish Express, which had a small article in it about me, the week I was there.

Offline Valentinian

Re: Solo Travel. Tips? Advice?
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2012, 07:15:19 AM »
In Europe, don't be afraid to look for accommodation outside the capital cities - you can often find bed & breakfast type arrangements that are more comfortable and interesting than a stay in a cramped hostel. Most public transportion is geared towards getting people to the main city quickly, might as well take advantage of that.

If you're feeling particularly adventurous and like unexpected social interactions, consider couch surfing.

When arriving solo in a strange city, consider putting an emergency cache in a vault at the airport/train station - an extra credit card, some clothes, copies of your documents, prepaid SIM etc. That way a loss or theft is not immediately disastrous (trust me on this - I've been without money and papers in Prague, getting things sorted through the consulate is a pain.)
« Last Edit: July 05, 2012, 07:16:33 AM by Valentinian »