Should single women travel by themselves?
Beth, 59, e-mailed: "One of my dear friends is getting married this summer. Her parents are celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary, and their family is going on a cruise to Alaska. My friend will be married on the cruise. She asked a few friends to come. Most will be couples.
"[It's always been part of] my dream list . . . to go to Alaska, and here is my chance to be with people I know. BUT, alone in a couples group? Travel to Seattle alone? In a cabin alone?"
Beth asked for my opinion on whether or not she should go.
I told her that if she can afford to go, she should go. Being single should not keep people from living life. Think of the millions of singles without partners. Does that keep them down? No. And I respect them for having the nerve to get out there. Besides, there are plenty of advantages. As Jane says, "I'm more open to meeting others when I travel solo."
When singles take trips, they need to plan ahead and be travel-savvy. For one thing, they pay almost double compared to when sharing a room. Gail says: "I went on a two-week cruise from Venice to Barcelona. I booked a single room and paid thru the nose." Still, Gail feels that her trip was worth the money.
As an alternative, solo travelers can shack up with a roommate -- which can be good or bad. Joanne from Los Angeles says, "The person I was teamed up with was a nut who wanted to borrow money. After a few days, I paid the upgrade and had my own space -- much better, albeit lonely."
And speaking of roommates, what if they snore? Or you snore? When sharing a room, bring earplugs.
Gayla recommends "traveling with a tour group for safety, comfort and lots of fun. Pick a tour that interests you, and you'll meet people with similar interests. Plus, your itinerary is planned."
To avoid loneliness and to enrich their trip, singles traveling solo must take the initiative to meet people. While cruising, Gail meets others by "taking late dinner seating and requesting singles at my table. I attend the dances and other activities geared toward singles, hopefully segregated by age."
When my mom was widowed, she went to Paris alone. At her hotel, she met the librarian of the Philadelphia orchestra and his wife. Mom says, "We had many meals together, and their friendship and kind gestures made my time in Paris beyond anything I'd dreamed possible."
Staying at a bed and breakfast is more intimate than staying at a larger hotel and is a good way to meet people. Most singles don't enjoy eating alone, and at B&Bs, you're seated with others.
Janet says, "Strike up a conversation with the person seated next to you on the plane, train, bus or bar stool, and you'll meet people who know places to visit and things to do."
There does seem to be a gender imbalance among single travelers. Ivory from Georgia e-mailed: "Single men don't travel alone. The cruise lines hire dance partners for single women. Sometimes, a single guy will bring a woman to avoid being alone. This is no help, as no one knows she's a stand-in. Why bring sand to the beach?"
Proving Ivory's point, Terry is one man who says that he always travels with a woman: "I'm 62 going on 25. Still, I don't like to travel alone."
"More single women travel than single men," says Burl. He recommends that single guys go on cruises or to Cancun, "where single women go with the hope of meeting someone."
Singles need to be careful and avoid dangerous situations. Be aware of local conditions. When I visited Belize City, Belize, the hotel warned everybody -- not just singles -- about the danger of walking more than a few yards from the hotel at night. Linda advises: "Leave good jewelry at home, use ATMs, only take a couple of credit cards, make two copies of your passport, license, credit cards, etc. Leave one at home, and put one in a suitcase."
Don't walk around reading a map, as it's a dead giveaway that you're a tourist. Sandi also says: "I take a backpack. It's easier to keep all of your stuff together and lighter than a purse. In London, there are a lot of pickpockets at night, so I carry it in front."
Remember to inspect hotel minibars before unpacking. Report any discrepancy to the hotel immediately. A four-star hotel in Ixtapa, Mexico, tried to charge my partner and me $300 for minibar use and we hadn't even opened the door. A small bottle of water in a Madrid hotel minibar cost us $5.00.
Will singles find love? Chances are they won't. "I met a nice man on a trip who was an excellent dancer, and we danced the cruise away," says Sally. "I saw him a couple of months later, but it faded away."
Jim says, "Travel is a great way to enrich one's life, but not the best way to meet single people."
"I went by myself on a 21-day river cruise through Germany and established a friendship with a widower from Oregon," says Susan. "However, a romantic relationship has not blossomed yet."
June says, "Shipboard romances don't last. Don't have high hopes after docking."
When traveling, remember that no trip goes perfectly. Keep your wits about you and have fun. We look forward to hearing how Beth's cruise to Alaska turns out!
Tom Blake is a syndicated columnist in Southern California.
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch. Powered by YellowBrix.
Source: Relationships & Love