Thursday, April 24, 2014

NO SOLO Supplement: from solo Travelers Club

A new post from Solo Travelers Club

with NO SOLO supplements!


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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Solo at a 'vacation location'

Vacation vs Travel

Most people, whether couples, families or solo go on vacation.

I travel.  So my focus is NOT to do everything at the 'vacation location' in as little time as possible.

This month's adventure is in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Thanks to the kindness of Jimmy B.  I have a condo to rent at a very affordable price.   If you are not a full time traveler with no residence to maintain while 'on the road', the added  expense of a hotel, apartment or even an camp site for weeks can strain you budget.

As I did a 3 mile walk on the lightly populated beach nearby I thought of what activities this solo may not be comfortable participating in at a beach resort.

Golf:   rarely do they allow a solo to play a round of golf.   You are asked to join in with another group.  Ok not so bad, but I have no skills for golf.

Mini golf:   this is more my style and they have offers for all day for $8.00.  But solo mini golf is like solo bowling.

Attending the musical theaters:   you can choose from rodeos, dinner at King's Arthur's court, music from the 60' goes on.  But like Vegas, do you see solos sitting down to eat at a medieval feast?

Hard Rock Cafe:    well I would not eat at the Hard Rock in Florence Italy last fall, so unless they have seating at the bar at 11:00 AM I wont be having a cheeseburger here.

Amusement Park rides:   don't think they will know where to put a solo on a roller coaster

Shag Dancing:  this is a local, popular dance and several locations are well know for skilled dancing late into the night.  Not for a solo.

Live Entertainment:   Many bars and restaurants offer music during the week  IfThe Alabama Theatre, the Palace Theatre (offering Hot Jersey Nights while I am in town), 5 shows in Legends in Concert, The Good Vibrations show are some of the current shows.   The Palace theatre is presenting Illusions of Magic where you can see a 'live human cannonball'.

Dinner Shows:  Eating at a Pirate show, Medival Times dinner and tournament are two events I would enjoy but just thinking of walking in with 500 of my 'new friends' and looking for a solo way.

But there are many activities I can take advantage of here as well as in other cities:

24 hour Krispy Kreme:  just look for the sign to light up, HOT DONUTS, and pull in  for a quick fix.

Shopping at the endless malls, outlets, local shops and the great number of consignment shops.

Movies:  megaplexes offer popular new releases and if you go early in the day, there are lots of seats
Actually one showing had only 3 people and one of the patrons started to snore!  Go during the day when everyone is at the beach.

Sightseeing:  there are several plantations with in a few hours, small,historic towns to investigate,

Walking:   endless miles of flat beach allow you to walk or run or bike for hours

Biking:   along the beach road they have safe sidewalks for biking although the town would prefer you ride in the bike lane

Swimming, body surfing, sunbathing:   Endless free beaches from Cherry Grove to south Myrtle Beach....I estimate 25 miles or more.  

Eating:   not your usual beach front hot dogs and ice cream but countless stores offering bbq, clams and shrimp.   My favorite is the crab cakes:   so far no two locations have tasted the same!   Every morning you can try a different pancake restaurant.  The large portions and the low prices keep the parking lots full.

For me, the beach has always been a place to slow down, to think, to have time to read.
Writing/research/planning:  This is why I am staying here for weeks.   At the home base 'life maintenance' gets in the way of non stop thinking.
This is the year for a min RTW trip.  Not a 1 year adventure but perhaps 3 months.  Long term travel can take as much preparation and planning as short weekend trips.  

Do you plan your trips in detail or do you just let a trip flow after you arrive???

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Familiies can make travel for Solos difficult

Vacationing Groups vs Solo Travelers

I have always traveled off season, not ONLY because prices are affordable but to avoid the crowds who go on vacation and particularly families.   I have no objection to family travelers but the travel mentality of a group is different than an individual.

Groups loose their sense of personal space.  They fill whatever space is available.  Just watch a group walk along a sidewalk.  Try to pass and they are oblivious to your presence.   Groups feel they must walk abreast no matter the width of a path or sidewalk.  
Many simple activities can take far more time when the family vacationers are out in force.
Eating a quick service lunch takes longer when each member of the 'group' is asked  "what do you want?"  and all the accompanying questions on how the item should be garnished or prepared.
Entrance fees for groups is time consuming:  adults, seniors, children, calculating the cost for each group member.

Tours are often filled to capacity during peak travel times and a solo traveler must find a seat with the odd family member of a group or walk at the perimeter of the tour 'group'.  

Most solo travelers will not notice or care about any of this.  One of the big losses of traveling at peak vacation times is that locals have little time or interest in interacting.   I meet many locals and have great conversations when I travel 'off season'.   I might be the only visitor  to a church or shop and the attendant will often take the time to tell me about a town treasure, a shop product or even talk about themselves.

As a solo traveler how do you interact with families traveling on vacation?     Are you 'adopted' into their group?   Do they consider you an interesting oddity as a solo traveler?  Or as often can happen are you invisible to other travelers? 

Finding hotel accommodations can be more expensive during family vacation times.    Hotels and resorts prefer families to solo travelers.   Simple fact, 3 or more travelers SPEND more money. 

Obtaining a table at busy restaurants for a solo is another challenge.   But eating before the crowds arrive or take out meals is normal for some solo travelers.