Kristy, aged 32, had recently separated from her partner and needed to “get away”. All her previous travels had been with a friend and traveling solo was real “out of comfort zone” stuff. Kristy did her research and made some pleasant, surprising discoveries.
Her first pleasant discovery was that many travel organizations now no longer charge a single supplement. Out of a selection, she chose Intrepid because it provided the kind of travel experiences that suited her. I met Kristy on an Intrepid tour based in Lucca, Italy and she was having a ball. She discovered that as a single traveler, it is so much easier to make new friends. Her initial fears had disappeared and she joined in the activities, including Italian cooking classes, cycle rides through the Tuscan hills and winery tours, with enthusiasm.
I was surprised at the number of single women in the group. Most were in the age range between 23 and 50 and all expressed initial fears of traveling alone. Then they discovered 2 huge advantages.
The first was personal freedom and the second, independence. The simple pleasures of YOU deciding where to go, where to eat and where to shop, cannot be beaten. If you want to stop for a while to watch the setting sun change the snow on the Matterhorn from white to gold, you do! If you want to enjoy the peace and silence of St Mark’s Square, Venice in the early hours of the morning, you do!
As a professional travel writer, I frequently travel with my wife, but often we travel alone. It allows me to explore and discover cities and attractions that interest me. My wife Ros, has travel interests of her own. I have a particular interest in rail travel and on a recent visit to England, traveled to York to explore the famous railway museum. She has no interest in “old trains”, so she spent the day in London, visiting museums, galleries and, surprise, surprise, shopping!
Lonely Planet offers the following tips for women travelers:
Try to speak a few words of the local language.
Avoid flights that arrive late at night.
Explore the area where you are staying thoroughly by daylight. It’s important to have your bearings and know any parts to avoid.
If you’re taking a taxi, only use registered or government run ones. If you don’t know which they are, go to one of the upmarket hotel chains and get the staff to call one. Ask them how much you should expect to pay.
Spend a bit extra on a hotel in a decent area. The streets will be safer at night and there will be more security in the hotel.
If you get unwanted attention from men, don’t say you’ll meet them later to try and get rid of them. They will turn up. Say “no” politely and firmly.
Wear a wedding ring and say you’ve got seven kids, if anyone asks. Yes, you shouldn’t have to, but sometimes it’s the easiest way to fend off advances.
Note from Graeme: If you’re only 23, make it two kids, but the message is the same!
Footnote: When our Intrepid tour finished, Kristy, full of confidence, was off on further adventures. She had purchased a Eurail pass before she left home and was planning to explore Italy, France and Switzerland staying in Youth Hostels before traveling on Eurostar to London, then flying home.
She was already planning future trips. Her parting words: “I love walking and plan next year to go to New Zealand to take the Milford Sound and fiord walk.”