Saturday, February 20, 2010

Solo Travel – inside view

OK… I haven’t been totally honest. Truth be told, I ADORE my solitude. It’s my loneliness I hate. But I have been described as the most gregarious introverted hermit you will ever meet. I do well on my own and when people ask me for advice on traveling alone, I tell them I’ve learned that you damn well better like your traveling companion for you are stuck with yourself a long time.

I’ve been doing this for over 30 years now. And, apparently, I’ve become a bit of an authority on this type of travel as I get asked to speak on it often, to advise perfect strangers on their trips and even to teach a class on solo travel for the 50-something. It still utterly tickles me that my own travel agent calls ME to get advice for her clients on how to get around in Greece.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned so far…..
1. Walk like you know where you are going.
2. Be prepared to laugh at yourself – a lot. Often.
3. You meet way more people traveling alone than with a friend, lover or – god help us – one of those tours.
4. Ask for help, directions, advice, and see Number 2.
5. Speaking of Number 2, always use the bathroom whenever you can. Be prepared.
6. Screw the diet. In Greece, one MUST eat the 10% m.f. yogurt. You can diet when you get home or walk off the extra slab of cheese or baklava.
7. Revel in your aloneness – it throws them off: I swagger into a restaurant where everyone is in couples and loudly and laughingly demand the MOST romantic table for one – it cracks everyone up and gets me great service.
8. Don’t assume. Anything.
9. You ain’t in Kansas anymore Dorothy – be flexible and respectful. Mind your manners.
10. Forget your little maple leaf pin or patch on the backpack. You stick out like a beacon anyway unless, like me, you are a Greek goddess.
11. Always have small bills and change.
12. Learn about archaic plumbing and adapt (more on that later)
13. Lose the attitude. In Greece, at least, crime is low and no one is trying to steal your money/screw you/ kill you/mug you/ or otherwise take advantage of you. Of course they will try to get the best price for their product. Wouldn’t you? That’s just business. They ain’t running a charity.
14. Make friends with yourself, give yourself a break and learn to appreciate sitting still with your self. Talk to someone new every day.
15. See Number 2.

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