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Traveling Alone or Family Travel Whether you want to travel alone, or travel with the kids, parents, or granny, this forum is for you!

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Old 04-21-2006, 12:05 AM   #1
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Hey,
I just came back home from visiting with my friend in Phoenix (what she calls the hottest armpit in hell)...She was telling me some of her concerns about my solo travels beginning next month. I will be going to northern Italy, budapest, Prague, and maybe somewhere else. Monica (my friend) basically was just telling me that she was concerned about my safety. I am a shy, somewhat "meek" (as she puts it), and not intimidating in the least bit (5 foot 1, heh). How concerned should I be? What precautions should I take? are there any hints/tips that other solo travelers suggest? Is it weird to go into a bar by yourself (a question she posed to me)?

I am also anxious about the hostel situation. How friendly do fellow hostellers tend to be? I will be alone, and am pretty shy, like I have already said (except when drinking).

Another friend said (and I'm not too worried about this, considering that he's not the biggest traveler in the world) that he just thinks that I am going to be bored. I like to do many different types of things (occasional museums, clubs, bars, shopping, people-watching. Did any of you find yourself bored out of your mind?

I understand their concerns, especially about the safety issue, and basically just would like to know, from other peoples' experiences, what I should watch out for, or how much I should worry.

Thanks
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Old 04-21-2006, 12:43 AM   #2
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You've got absolutely nothing to worry about.

If there's any one proponent of solo travel out there, that'd be me. I preach it, I live it, and as much as I love my friends, I would rather travel without them. Sure, they're cool for a few days, but I feel liberated when I'm forced to take matters into my own hands. Not only do I get the freedom to do what I want, and not only am I free of other people's issues, but traveling alone makes me come out of my shell.

So to answer your first question: Don't be concerned. I'm hardly intimidating myself, at 5'7, which is pretty short for a dude. And I've seen far less imposing girls traveling alone, none of whom had any problems either. Relax, and tell your friends to do the same.

Is it weird to go to a bar by yourself? Not if you're an alcoholic. Seriously, though, it can be a bit weird going into a bar - or restaurant - and ordering for one, but there's no shame in it. Sit down, have your drink, and maybe chat up a local if you've got the nerve. More than likely, the bartender or someone near you will start the conversation anyway. A couple of drinks later and it's like you're surrounded by friends.

The same thing goes for the hostels. Yeah, you might feel a bit awkward yourself, but you don't have to. As soon as people walk into your room, introduce yourself. "Hi I'm Mango... from California. And you?" Then the typical hostel talk of "How long have you been here?" "How long are you staying?" "Where have you been?" will ensue. That's when you can slip in, "Oh, it's my first night here. Know anywhere good to go?" That often ends up in an invitation to hang out.

Yes, sometimes you'll get stuck with a group of cliquey people around you. No worries. That's what hostel common rooms are for. Or the breakfast room. Or just about anywhere else. I don't care how shy you are - say hi to everyone, and you're bound to find people to hang out with. I'm personally pretty shy, but I throw it all out the window when I'm traveling. No one knows you, so you can't even embarass yourself!

As for boredom - yeah, once in a while I do find myself bored. But never as much as I would at home. There's too much out there to explore and look at. Hell, walking outside your hostel and trying various street foods or leafing through foreign magazines at a news stand can be an adventure in and of itself. You can create plenty of fun for yourself. And if you can't, just remember that you're on holiday, and you can sit back and do nothing all you want, too.

Safety is a reasonable concern, but you'll be fine. Just keep your common sense and your wits about you - just as you would hanging out alone where you live - and you'll probably avoid trouble. If a place gives you a bad vibe, don't go there. If a person gives you a bad vibe, don't engage him/her. Watch your belongings, stick to recommended places, and try to blend in when you can.

Just go out there and have fun! Traveling solo is, I think, one of the greatest joys in life. Hence this overly long response. Be smart, be yourself, and above all, be open to all the great things you'll experience that you can't at home. Then you'll come back with some great memories and make all your worry-wart friends jealous.
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Old 04-21-2006, 01:28 AM   #3
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never listen to concerned friends. I'm going to berlin on an open-ended ticket to see a guy that i was with for a week last year, you can imagine how some of my friends feel about that... you'll have no trouble meeting people, and once you've made some friends, you dont have to worry about being on your own. You'll notice that these friends who warn against you going by yourself dont actually go anywhere... have you ever heard a fellow traveller tell you not to travel?
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Old 04-21-2006, 07:41 AM   #4
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People that tell you not to travel solo HAVE NEVER TRAVELLED SOLO! I did my first solo trip last winter and had some of the same concerns as you (minus the safety concerns associated with being female). Remember though, that a large percentage of the people at hostels will also be solo, and thus will be looking to meet people as well. It's the perfect situation for making friends, even for people who are naturally shy.
Another great thing about traveling solo: You have the opportunity to reinvent yourself at every new hostel! Seriously, I had a lot of fun presenting a different version of myself at different hostels, just for shits n giggles. Mostly it's in the first impression, as later you inevitable slide back into your natural self, but it's still fun. You might learn something about yourself too.

DON'T WORRY!!!
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Old 04-21-2006, 08:13 AM   #5
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I can't add much to the above except to agree 100%. While it's very kind of your friends to be concerned for you, they're obviously not speaking from experience.

As for boredom, you will only get bored if you allow yourself to do so.

Good luck! You'll be fine!
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Old 04-21-2006, 10:09 AM   #6
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I wouldn't worry. You obviously have the confidence in you to go on your trip, or you wouldn't have booked it solo, and that's awesome.

I haven't travelled solo before, but the people we've met travelling solo seem to be having a great time too. That's just the atmosphere of hostels, etc.

Have fun!!
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Old 04-21-2006, 11:16 AM   #7
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if you survived this hell hole (phoenix) you can get along anywhere.

But give a shout out next time you're down and we'll get some drinks!
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Old 04-21-2006, 11:51 AM   #8
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Ive been doing just the opposite as your friends. My roommate is a tiny, sweet girly girl and she's packing off solo in spain this summer. Omi's advice is perfect. When you've been around for a while you'll realize that by and large, most people in the hostels are a lot like you. Though perhaps from different places.

I have to throw my hat into the "I LOVE SOLO" ring. Honestly, I travelled with my very best friend in the world for a WEEK and we nearly killed each other. Solo is very liberating, its like nothing else you've ever done. Best of luck to you!
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Old 05-17-2006, 09:21 AM   #9
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Yeah everyone is giving you spot on advice here.
Travelling on your own rocks, just make sure you always have access to cash and your favourite music, and everything else will work itself out.

and i have to agree with omisan that there is no greater feeling of liberation than being liberated from your friends, or 'the comfort zone' as i call it.
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Old 05-17-2006, 10:29 AM   #10
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Travelling solo is great and not everyone has the courage to do it. I read a good point about it before taking a solo trip, that that it makes travellers more approachable to the local people when you aren't with a friend.

About the bar: After going to a bar with people I was travelling with for two nights I went back to it in the afternoon by myself. I felt uncomfortable being the only patron but the bartender sat down next to me so I asked her what an interesting thing to see was and she suggested a place I hadn't seen yet. I didn't go that trip, but I went back to see this site. It was an astonishingly beautiful place that changed my perception of where I was all because of going into a bar.
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Old 05-17-2006, 11:12 AM   #11
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yeah, bars are cool.
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Old 07-01-2006, 01:06 AM   #12
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yeah, um i'm scared too. i'm a female, traveling alone for a month around spain by myself for a month (landing in mallorca) and i'm going to say it. i'm very little and pretty and i'm SCARED! i might as well write "target' on my forehead. i think i'm scared of rape almost more than just death by whatever. and the hostel thing..is it safe for a girl alone? i'm sorry, i was raised uber sheltered with people who like to point out every single thing that could go wrong in a situation. dont mean to be a downer. advice? i'm bringing mase.

Quote:
Originally posted by mangojuice@Apr 21 2006, 07:05 AM
Hey,
I just came back home from visiting with my friend in Phoenix (what she calls the hottest armpit in hell)...She was telling me some of her concerns about my solo travels beginning next month. I will be going to northern Italy, budapest, Prague, and maybe somewhere else. Monica (my friend) basically was just telling me that she was concerned about my safety. I am a shy, somewhat "meek" (as she puts it), and not intimidating in the least bit (5 foot 1, heh). How concerned should I be? What precautions should I take? are there any hints/tips that other solo travelers suggest? Is it weird to go into a bar by yourself (a question she posed to me)?

I am also anxious about the hostel situation. How friendly do fellow hostellers tend to be? I will be alone, and am pretty shy, like I have already said (except when drinking).

Another friend said (and I'm not too worried about this, considering that he's not the biggest traveler in the world) that he just thinks that I am going to be bored. I like to do many different types of things (occasional museums, clubs, bars, shopping, people-watching. Did any of you find yourself bored out of your mind?

I understand their concerns, especially about the safety issue, and basically just would like to know, from other peoples' experiences, what I should watch out for, or how much I should worry.

Thanks
[snapback]113835[/snapback]
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Old 07-03-2006, 04:24 AM   #13
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5'4", sheltered little girl - who fortunately has the coolest parents who recognized that sheltered little girls have to live and experience their own lives... I traveled on my own for 3+ months, never had a problem that finding a crowd of people didn't cure. Most people are basically good, and I can't count the number of times strangers helped me out - I can count the number of times I encountered icky types (2) and again, finding a big crowd of people solved the problem both times.

I was uncomfortable eating alone (I didn't go to many bars, it's not really my scene), so I just learned to take along a book, postcards & pen, or journal and kept myself busy while I ate. Sidewalk cafes are a little more condusive to solo dining than full scale restaurants.

With regards to going to bars solo, I'd just advise a little caution there - sure have a drink, but don't leave it unattended and don't have so many that you are unable to recognize trouble when it heads toward you. One of my two incidents was a guy in Poland who kept trying to buy me drinks, asking to see my passport and what not. I wasn't about to show him my passport, and had already bought myself a cup of tea so I could reasonably turn down the drinks offer. He still insisted on buying a bottle of champagne, but I didn't drink any. When he went to the loo, another guy in the bar came up and in halting English explained, "This is bad man...gangster." I thanked him hastily and left for my train before the guy got back. In other words, don't court trouble!

But you know, those two incidents are the kinds of things that could happen in your home town on any given Friday night - not as bad, most likely, as some of the things that might happen...

Whatever common sense has got you through the past however many years of your life safely will still apply when you're overseas, and you'll gain so much confidence in doing things for yourself and taking the risks involved in living life (you know, getting up in the morning, walking across the street, getting on a bus, meeting other people...) that you'll soon find yourself amazed at your ability to do things, and you'll realize that the people that have been so "worried" about you were really just voicing their own fears, and trying, in a small way, to control you.

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Old 07-09-2006, 07:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by mangojuice@Apr 21 2006, 02:05 AM
Hey,
I just came back home from visiting with my friend in Phoenix (what she calls the hottest armpit in hell)...She was telling me some of her concerns about my solo travels beginning next month. I will be going to northern Italy, budapest, Prague, and maybe somewhere else. Monica (my friend) basically was just telling me that she was concerned about my safety. I am a shy, somewhat "meek" (as she puts it), and not intimidating in the least bit (5 foot 1, heh). How concerned should I be? What precautions should I take? are there any hints/tips that other solo travelers suggest? Is it weird to go into a bar by yourself (a question she posed to me)?

I am also anxious about the hostel situation. How friendly do fellow hostellers tend to be? I will be alone, and am pretty shy, like I have already said (except when drinking).

Another friend said (and I'm not too worried about this, considering that he's not the biggest traveler in the world) that he just thinks that I am going to be bored. I like to do many different types of things (occasional museums, clubs, bars, shopping, people-watching. Did any of you find yourself bored out of your mind?

I understand their concerns, especially about the safety issue, and basically just would like to know, from other peoples' experiences, what I should watch out for, or how much I should worry.

Thanks
[snapback]113835[/snapback]

I'm going to Sweden to live for a year, but while there I plan to travel around Eruope... alot... and mostly by myself. I've never done solo travel on foot before, but Iím psyched!
My mom on the other hand isnít. So I told her that before I went anywhere Iíd email her with some details. Iím obviously not going to email her my complete schedule or itinerary. Where is the excitement in that? But Iíll give her a few details, like area and the hostel I would be at. Plus at least someone knows where you are at if something were to happen. You could try that with your friend.

Also I found that going to your local library and checking out books about solo travel is really inspiring!!! My two favorites are Sand in My Bra and A Woman Alone: Travel Tales From Around the Globe. Sand in My Bra was funny, but Woman Alone will put some worries at ease. These women go places that arenít always recommended!
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Old 07-09-2006, 08:14 PM   #15
 
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Dude if only when having some drinks you kill the shyness, dude do the smart thing, DRINK! Naw, but really don't follow my example (hehehe) just work on your social skills practice a bit the langs that way you can meet easier with locals and not have an issue within places! I guess it's all about opening up a bit & (Shit I almost fell on my back in this chair for streching) relax, what's the worse that can happen for being less shy?
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