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Thread: Traveling alone

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    Traveling alone

    Has anyone of you traveled alone? How was it? Do you recommend it or not? Anything one should keep in mind?

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    Has anyone of you traveled alone? How was it? Do you recommend it or not? Anything one should keep in mind?
    Often! I don't prefer it, especially if driving is involved, but one can certainly have a good time without a traveling partner.

    It works best if using train to get around, I think. Make sure someone knows where you ought to be, and will check in on you if you disappear for a while. Hiking and biking are activities best done in pairs, but fishing or city crawling, especially museum-crawling, I actually find more enjoyable alone. Common-sense things that a prudent traveler should always do - know where your embassy is, stay hydrated, bring a little first aid kit along - become more important when traveling solo. Speaking of water, dehydration and sunburn are more dangerous when alone, as timely self-diagnosis can be difficult. So lead with prevention.

    One thing you'll find about traveling alone is that it is paradoxically easier to meet new people and form friendships along the way. Hostels and smaller inns can be the solo traveler's friend, partly for this reason. Being part of a group is comfortable, but sometimes insulates you from having truly new experiences.

    On all of the above, your mileage may vary; everyone responds to social situations in different ways. Traveling alone can also be a good lesson in what your personal preferences and boundaries actually are.

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    My partner is typically my travel companion but I don't cancel trips just because she can't join me on the adventure. I think it mostly depends on your comfort level when doing things by yourself. I've been backpacking alone for up to 4 days in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. I've taken trips to Holland, Scotland, Spain, and Ireland alone. I'm very comfortable when traveling outside of my own country and actually love the time to myself. You only have to consider what it is that YOU want do and what YOU want to see. One of my favorite things to do in a new place is find a dive bar or local pub, sit at the bar, and start asking the bartender what he/she enjoys doing. You'll find the best food and drinks that way.

    As Politesse says, at the very least, make sure someone knows your plans and a basic itinerary. If traveling to another country I always try not to act like a tourist even though that can't avoided from time to time. If you look lost or confused it could open you up to being taken advantage of. I think it helps that I'm a 6 foot tall, 190lb, heavily tattooed male with a shaved head and beard, and I certainly don't act "American" when in foreign countries.

    Be respectful of the culture wherever you go and show a real interest in learning what the people of that place enjoy and it will be much more fun than just doing touristy site-seeing stuff.

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    For anything more than a day trip it's not my thing.

    I normally hike with groups but if there isn't a group doing something I want to do I'll go out alone. I make sure my plans are known and I carry a personal locator beacon. If I did it a lot or went into areas where I was truly alone I would upgrade that to a inReach. (Beacons are slightly more reliable but they only have a "help!" button, you can't communicate the nature of the problem (injury/medical issue that requires evacuation ASAP? A rockfall has left you with no way to get out but you're unharmed?) and you have no indication it's working--tree cover can block them. The inReach gives you slow two-way text messaging but has a monthly fee.)

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    Veteran Member PyramidHead's Avatar
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    It's my favorite way to travel. When you travel with a friend or family member, you bring yourself with you (your personality that is tied to the context of whoever you're traveling with). When you travel alone, you can leave that at home and be more open and spontaneous.

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    It depends on what you're looking for.

    I did a week in Cuba in 2010 by myself and enjoyed it, but if I did that now I'd be pretty bored. Somewhere in there I transitioned from thoroughly enjoying solitude, to appreciating a little bit of company, so it really depends on you. If you like being alone, no reason not to.

    That said, I do still enjoy doing things alone for a couple hours to a day, but for weeks it'd get a bit dry.

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    I love being able to breeze through, say, a museum display at exactly the speed my interest dictates.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PyramidHead View Post
    It's my favorite way to travel. When you travel with a friend or family member, you bring yourself with you (your personality that is tied to the context of whoever you're traveling with). When you travel alone, you can leave that at home and be more open and spontaneous.
    That's a great point. Both physical and social environments shape and constrain what aspects of you are heightened or suppressed. The more you change both, the more likely aspects of you that are normally subdued will come to the fore.

    On a related note, I find you are more likely to have a sustained interaction/conversation with the locals and they are more likely to initiate an interaction with you if you are alone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by PyramidHead View Post
    It's my favorite way to travel. When you travel with a friend or family member, you bring yourself with you (your personality that is tied to the context of whoever you're traveling with). When you travel alone, you can leave that at home and be more open and spontaneous.
    That's a great point. Both physical and social environments shape and constrain what aspects of you are heightened or suppressed. The more you change both, the more likely aspects of you that are normally subdued will come to the fore.

    On a related note, I find you are more likely to have a sustained interaction/conversation with the locals and they are more likely to initiate an interaction with you if you are alone.
    That is largely why I enjoy spending time alone in my day to day life. It's about autonomy that can't be had when in the presence of other people.

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    Thanks for the replies.

    I suppose as long as I would stay within Scandinavia, the associated risks of travelling alone would be rather small.

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