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There are several reasons why you might travel alone. Maybe you can’t find a suitable traveling companion or maybe, like me, you simply enjoy solitude during your explorations. And why not? With no one else’s needs to worry about, you control your itinerary — where and when you eat and sleep, how long you linger in a museum or coffee shop. And you’re much more likely to meet interesting new friends along the way than if you were with a pal.
Visiting Rome this month, with COVID restrictions lifted and travel being easier, I was thrilled to have planned to be on my own for the first few days of the trip. It was uncomfortably hot and crowded, and the jet lag kicked me hard. But because I was solo, I could schedule activities with only my needs and desires in mind.
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I’ve also traveled alone in the Cook Islands and Tahiti in the South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia and all over the U.S. I once spent two months in France with just Noelle, my Jack Russell terrier — but we met another woman solo traveler from Los Angeles, Naomi, and her dog, Seymour, so had buddies when we needed some company.
I’ve had some less-wonderful experiences traveling alone, of course, and am still learning how to do it right. Years ago in Italy, for example, I was happy to learn that many hotels have rooms specifically for single travelers, and reserved one. I ended up with a tiny twin bed squeezed into what felt like a closet. I found out quickly that I would be smarter to opt for rooms described as “doubles for single occupancy,” which are larger but not much more expensive. My last trip to Italy I was in this type of room, and it included breakfast — a bonus that offers yet another chance to meet fellow travelers.
More tips for successful and satisfying solo travel:
1. Research and plan your trip thoroughly before you go. While it can be more exciting to adapt your itinerary on the fly, I try to have at least some, if not all, hotels reserved and transportation arranged. It’s worth it for the peace of mind.
2. Look for solo-friendly deals. Many cruise lines charge a “single supplement” — that dreaded extra fee charged to solo travelers using a double room, which can be more than 120 percent of the regular fare. But more are embracing single travelers as valuable customers. Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America Line, for instance, both offer solo cabins priced for one.