To Solo or Not To Solo? That Is The Travel Question!

Photo: Daniel Foster flickr/DanielFoster

Photo: Daniel Foster
flickr/DanielFoster

I’m reading a fantastic article on BudgetTravel.com called  “Flying Solo: Everything You Need To Know About Traveling Alone.”  If you fear getting on a plane and traversing off to some foreign land, this article is for you.

For years, friends have asked me “How can you travel alone?”  For years, I replied, “How can you not?”  Sure, having friends or loved ones with you as you experience new cultures and sights can be amazing, but meeting new people along the way to share those experiences with can be just as amazing.

I’ve traveled to Norway, Spain and Mexico with friends and had a blast!  I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.  However, I have also traveled alone to Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, France, and Italy.  And I had just as good a time.  On some of the adventures I made new friends.  On some I was completely solo enjoying the sights and photographing until my heart’s content.

The BudgetTravel.com article has some great advice, but here are my 5 WAYS TO CONQUER YOUR SOLO TRAVELING FEARS:

  1. You’re traveling solo, but you’re not alone.

When I travel solo, I like to people watch. Chances are another solo traveler is not too far away and could be looking to meet someone as well. Even better, sometimes small groups or couples may be eager for you to join them on a tour or at an event when they realize you are alone. While whale watching solo in Hawaii, a group of travelers nearby asked me to join them seeing that I was alone. It was incredibly fun to share that experience with them.

 

  1. To find people, be among the people.

I love to check out local guide books for festivals or other events taking place that attract a lot of people, especially outdoor events. In Paris last summer, I happened to be there on June 21st for the annual La fête de la musique, or The Music Festival. All across the City of Lights musicians gathered in the streets, bars and cafes to play to the masses. The city’s Le Marais district was packed with locals and tourists, so I threw myself in the mix and was soon dancing with an incredibly fun group of young Parisians. That was a night to remember.

 

  1. Find the local “Happy Hour.”

On a quick trip to Los Angeles not long ago, I had some free time and figured there’s no time like cocktail time. I knew from having previously lived in LA that The Abbey in West Hollywood was a place to not only grab a great cocktail and mingle, but also to check out the California eye-candy. I find it easier to meet people over cocktails or a beer. The alcohol lowers my inhibitions making it easier to start up a conversation, but I always count the drinks because no one likes a drunk tourist.

 

  1. Seek out people like yourself.

I’m a gay, so when I travel, I like to go to the places where gay locals in my vacation city will be. While in Barcelona I checked out one of the cities famous gay beaches, Platja de la Mar Bella, on the northern end of Barcelona’s seafront. The beach was filled with people and since I was alone, people nearby began to chat me up. They were a fantastic source of information for other great places I should see besides the local tourists haunts.

 

  1. Once you make a friend, keep a friend.

Meeting new people is one thing. Staying in touch with them is another, but it’s important to do. Remember that beach trip in Barcelona? I met two great guys from Dublin, Ireland there. We exchanged What’sApp contact information, friended each other on Facebook, and last summer while in Dublin, I had two great friends already there. In Paris, I met my friend, Loïc, at a local bar. We stayed in touch as well and when I visited again last summer, he was not only the perfect person to join me at Disneyland Paris (he’s a Disney freak), but he also served as my interpreter! These new friends welcomed me with open arms when I ventured to their cities and I look forward to welcoming them to mine (and helping them make new friends).


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