Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Solo Travel: Pros, Cons, Tips

A friend was recently planning a trip to Southeast Asia and his travel partner bailed. Then a second partner started to waffle. I suggested he skip the nonsense and take the trip himself. But traveling solo can be a scary proposition. Here's a look at the pros and how to deal with the cons.
1) You can do what you want, when you want.
You can be spontaneous, a spendthrift, and a cheapskate, as your mood and budget dictate.
2) You don't need to worry about matching someone else's vacation schedule.
How many people do you know can take off for two weeks or two months? Of those, who has got the money to do so?
3) You'll meet more people and lose fewer friends.
- Traveling solo will force you to interact with strangers and strangers will also be comfortable approaching you -- for better or worse.)
- For a long trip, you have to pick your travel companions carefully.
That friend who is fun at parties might not be fun 24-hours-a-day or after a 10-hour red-eye. They may kvetch, have weird food allergies, or worry constantly about their house-sitter and sick cats.
1) Loneliness and all its parts.
- It's part of the experience and will come and go. Just let it happen. But, as a solo traveler, you will meet more people, particularly locals, than you would with a traveling companion.
- Some Web sites can help you find a travel companion. I've never tried this, but it's free and worth a look. I performed a quick search for men and women going to Asia and found a bunch. Some were looking for only platonic partners , others were open to a little romance.

- Dining alone: eat at the bar or at an outdoor café as opposed to a fancy restaurant where you'll be at an empty table for two, bring a book or other hobby. For more tips.
2) Safety Concerns
- If you read enough travel literature, particularly government travel sites, you'll never leave the country. Use common sense and check out basic tips at the following sites.
- Women traveling solo need to be more careful
3) Single Supplement:
Some hotels, hostels, and tours may charge additional fees -- up to 100 percent -- to solo travelers. At hostels, I just paid the fee -- it was worth it to have my own room. If you're tight on cash, you can stay in a dorm, which charges by the bed. Some tours will match you with a roommate -- ask.