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What is a solo traveller?

Denver, Colorado
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for Pecs, Budapest
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What is a solo traveller?

Since I started regularly looking at this forum, I'm very confused.

Is it somone who wants a tour or package which a solo traveller can join?

Is it someone who is really looking for another to share with?

Is it someone who travels alone, but wants daily tours to join up with?

Is it someone who really does travel alone?

I'm of the last persuasion. To me, solo really means solo. My physical problems plus peculrar interests pretty much dictate that.

In my case, that either would mean a truly knowledgable travel agent, or doing the research and all bookings, etc myself. As the former (for my interests and destinations) is apparently non-existent, I do the whole thing myself.

I seem to find very few posts on this forum from people like myself. Have I mistaken the forum?

Houston, Texas
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1. Re: What is a solo traveller?

I think you've done a good job of summarizing some of the frustration that the Destination Experts of this board have. I'm with you on definition, my definition is solo travel = travel alone and plan alone (yes, do the research).

Here is the TripAdvisor definition developed in 2008, when this board was formed:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12357-k2413340…

But, there are a whole host of folks that want to discuss "group" solo travel here, too. This is difficult because a lot of trolls will post in favor or complaining about a company, too. I want to hear about the travel, period.

Anyways, back to the question - what I feel my goal is, is to provide good information and links to people who travel alone, so they can choose where to go and how best to book. Then, I believe there is a hand-off to many of the local boards to discover more in depth what to do. Again, that's just my oponion.

Edited: 14 September 2012, 19:51
Somerset
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for Somerset, Solo Travel, Exmoor National Park
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2. Re: What is a solo traveller?

Guess most regulars know that I mix & match. My budget is small but I know where I want to go & what I want to see. Long standing goals. So if I can fulfill my ambitions cheaper by booking with a group I will and use it as a base going of on my own trips. Some places I travel on my own to achieve what I want too.

Having experience of several companies, lots of research into them & planning travelling alone I can sort of see both sides. I also think it gives some people confidence if they have not been abroad and can get the feel for travel if they start with a company.

I think the problem is it is impossible to set up a site that would review travel companies......a legal & publicity nightmare, so there is a whole 'need' there.

You don't have to answer questions that don't suit. But if I can help someone enjoy a trip I will, even if I wish they had done more research before they post :-)

Las Vegas, Nevada
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3. Re: What is a solo traveller?

I think the purpose of this forum should be evangelization, to convert the "solo in a group" people into true "solo means solo" people. That is the way of true travel happiness. Preach on!

Denver, Colorado
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for Pecs, Budapest
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4. Re: What is a solo traveller?

Thanks to all of you.

I admit to being disappointed by the paucity of posts on the forum from people who even want to consider a 'solo means solo' trip. (I first started looking at it regularly because I thought I might pick up some useful tips myself, and because I figured I'd done enough of it over the last 45 years to maybe have a few I could share.

My own interests (ancient and medieval history + RR's+ ....) don't really fit into any sort of travel other than solo, and the chances of finding a travel agent who was even partially knowledgable about either are (I think) vanishingly small. I'm sure that any tour, no matter how flexible, wouldn't fit. The net result has been simply to 'dig it up oneself.'

For example: One thing that worries a lot of US tourists thinking about Europe is the language. As a person whose mind goes blank when required to respond to any question in a language other than English, and incapable of processing any answer, I've had to figure out ways of dealing with this. It's enabled me to viisit a number of places and vistit a number of sites of interest where prople on the respective forums have told me that I won't be able to without at least some of the language. (I've even been told that I haven't been there at all when I posted a trip report.) A tip on how to deal with this might be useful?

Thanks again,

Liz

London
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5. Re: What is a solo traveller?

Hi Liz,

I hardly speak any European language fluently outside English, but I have travelled quite a fair bit in Europe solo and language is not a barrier at all. For a start, many Europeans speak English, and honestly it is not difficult to pick up a few useful phrases in most European countries.

By the way I am with you on the "type" of solo travel - the last one, solo means solo. All the types above are just by-product to me, I can do with or without.

Denver, Colorado
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for Pecs, Budapest
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6. Re: What is a solo traveller?

manchai,

I too manage just fine. It's the people who are terrified I meant to speak to. My most recent tracels have been to Hungary and Slovakia. Unless one was brough up in a hoousehold where either Magyar or Slovak was spoken, I doubt that one would have anything (let alone fluency). Nonetheless, I've managed to get around (well out of the capitals) without any. I figure I could inform someone who is hesitant about visiting either, although a small village wouldn't be my choice.

London, United...
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7. Re: What is a solo traveller?

I agree with some of the earlier comments, the definition of what constitutes a solo traveller is bizarre to say the least. Simple definition is “alone” or “by one’s self”. An organised tour with other single travellers is not solo travel.

The reason I travel solo is because if I say on Monday, 17 February 2014 I will be going on holiday, I know that on that date, exactly I will be departing. I have met loads of people; as I am sure have others; that have said they are also going to do a world tour, visit here there, blah, blah, blah and that’s as far as it gets.

In my mind the whole planning of the trip is the best part of travelling. I am not sure why you would want to consider going on a packaged tour, kidding yourself that you are doing a solo tour. To get someone to do all the arrangements would be like, having someone else warm up your wife, on your wedding night and then you jump in afterwards to seal the deal, so to speak.

But seriously, where is your sense of achievement? Joining a singles tour is just a package tour. No matter how these singles companies try to spin it! A package tour is still a package tour, despite calling it a Singles tours. Being solo is about interacting with people that you meet along the way and this is what makes you, not being led like sheep from one destination to the other.

A Dutch friend, who did a solo South American trek via bus, was very proud of the fact that she was only robbed twice, sleeping on the intercity busses, at night, when the road was blocked and armed gangs surrounded the bus. To her if she can live through that twice what else is there to fear about travelling solo?

On languages: Not being able speak another language should not be seen as a deal breaker, to visiting that country, it’s about exploring new cultures and learning a few basis words, hello - good morning - thank you etc, that is what’s important. When I was first based in Germany I found that if I walked into an office and spoke a few German words Guten Taag or Guten abend the Germans would appreciate this and then we would continue in English.

The woman that was doing the job before me (a Brit) always used to complain the Germans were difficult to deal with and one person she didn’t like dealing with - who later became a good personal friend of mine, one of the worst - but the reason, I later discovered she found them difficult is when she walked into an office she expected them to speak English, even if they could and would never attempt any German.

Kyiv
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8. Re: What is a solo traveller?

Hi Liz :)

As bk said, an excellent question, indeed, and the one we've been debating here on the forum a while ago.

For me personally, the concept never changed. My solo travels have two facets, both are musts. That is no tour company/agents to arrange the trip for me, and no company to join me on making it.

Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
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9. Re: What is a solo traveller?

Excellent question : in my opinion a solo traveller is not travelling with a group. If so it's something different, it's an organized group tour.

Sometimes you have the opportunity to make new friends when you travel, that's why solo travel is great.

London, England
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10. Re: What is a solo traveller?

I am with retrofuturist here. Evangelise!

When this forum started, there was lots of debate about how narrowly we should define "solo travel". I argued that we should take a broad view in hopes that exposure to the various solo travellers would encourage those tied to tours to realise the joys of solo travel.

I sometimes think I may have been wrong and that people who travel in tours often care even more about being social than they do about the destinations.

This is a perfectly reasonable way to view one's holiday, even though it isn't my way. However, I'm not sure though that this is the right forum for such travellers.

On the other hand, I'm not such a purest as Cora and for my trips to Japan, having discovered a specialist agent who can make excellent suggestions, listens to my interests, budget and crochets, and who will find and book wonderful places to stay and give me detailed instructions on how to get to them so I can get on with earning the money to go I book my trips to Japan with Inside Japan.

This doesn't mean not doing research myself, but it does mean not emailing those ryokens with English websites and hoping to get a reply in time to sort out the rest of my trip. (Many don't want to rent to unknown female solo travellers and some of the most interesting don't have English websites)

I find myself in love with Japan and planning a fourth trip despite having just returned from my third.

I also found the advice of a small agency who specialises in travel to slightly off beat places very useful for a safari to Zambia. There suggestions made all the difference between my not being able to afford a safari and having a glorious time.

Of course for something simpler like Europe or North America, a few guidebooks, a novel or two, the internet and trip advisor let me sort out what I want.

I am certainly grateful for Sue's knowledge of mix and matching to get the best deal to suit herself and I can see that for some destinations, a tour may be the only way to go. (The Galapagos Islands, Antarctica)

The trick for this forum is to balance the needs of the truly solo against those who are tempted by solo travel but who see it as a risk.

I am now much less sure that this forum should include those looking for tours for reasons other than budget or destination.

But I don't want to lose newbies who are just getting their feet wet.....

Edited: 19 September 2012, 23:14