Over the years, I have traveled with my husband and children, other relatives, friends, commercial tour groups, company convention trips, and on my own. All trips were enjoyable but at this stage of my life, as a single retiree, I am very happy traveling on my own. Some people look askance when I say I am traveling solo to Istanbul, for example, but I assure them that solo traveling gives feelings of adventure, confidence, and freedom. My daughters also advocate solo traveling and provide encouragement. My first solo trip was an eight day stay in Paris during April of 2002. Since then I have gone on my own to London, Vienna, several sites in Spain, Rome and some cities in the US.
All travelers must take precautions regardless of the number of companions. The security of valuables is a constant consideration. Plenty of bottled water and care of diet will help to avoid unpleasant illnesses. Purchases require a prudent evaluation of price and value.
A single woman needs be particularly wary especially in the evening. It is a good idea to know the exact route to your destination, perhaps writing out the directions on a small card before leaving the hotel instead of repeatedly pulling out a map. Also take a business card from your hotel especially in non English speaking countries. Modest dress and a formal attitude will also guard against unwanted attention.
Many people dislike dining by themselves in a restaurant. If you do, take a book and note pad. An elegant lunch is a grand idea. May I suggest in a museum dining room?Some hotels have roof top terraces where it is pleasant to sit in the evening and eat snacks purchased at a nearby market or grocery store.
I have found that other travelers are friendly and happy to begin a conversation. I met an adventurous woman from Australia at breakfast in Rome, spent an enjoyable day at St. Peter’s and several dinners with her and now we are friends on Facebook. Something else I enjoy is asking attractive or interesting nationals if I may take their photo. The response is usually positive, they pose nicely and those photos become my favorites.
The primary advantage of traveling solo is that you can spend as much time as you like at the places that are meaningful to you. If a famous site is crowded and noisy from large tour groups, you can just skip it or come back later. You may find that time spent in small, quiet spots which you discover become your most memorable experiences.