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Solo Travel - Solo Evenings

My Writing Keeps Me Company

Sandra Gulland

I'm 51 and often travel alone in order to do research for writing And face it: travelling as a fifty-something "lady" is a great deal easier (harassment-wise) than as a twenty-something young woman. Personally, for me, this is a much-welcomed freedom.Here are a few quick thoughts regarding my own experiences travelling solo...

I love travelling by myself, but I've come to acknowledge that the evenings are bound to be a challenge.

At dusk, men's eyes take on a hungry gleam. Too, although I actually enjoy eating alone, I don't like eating in a restaurant that feels romantic. Being a single amongst lovers is depressing. And besides, what can one do? Stare into the candle? For that reason, I look for restaurants that feed their guests communally, or, alternatively, are bright enough so that I can read (or write) while eating - which I very much enjoy. I also make a point of eating early.

I've given a great deal of thought to the type of accommodation that feels right. A bed and breakfast feels more secure, I think, for a travelling woman; at least it does for me. I also try, if at all possible, to rent a room with a kitchenette, so that in the evening, retreating from the streets, I don't feel "caged." Too, because I work as I travel, it helps to have a table to put a laptop on.

No matter what your age, travelling as a woman alone, it is important, I think, not to deny one's fears (the intuitive alarm system). Best to respect them -- but also to work around them. Think: what will make me comfortable? For example, in Paris I insisted on moving my room to a higher floor--in the heat, windows wide open day and night, I felt too accessible on the second floor. The manager, a woman, thought I was being silly ("It's not like that here!"), but I stuck to my guns. My emotional ease, however irrational, was a priority.

I travel with pajamas I can answer the door in (i.e., not sexy, one looks "dressed" in them). I'm fond of a dark green silk three-piece (bottoms, camisole top, long-sleeve top) that pressed, can double as an evening ensemble. They're light to carry, and good for both warm and cool climates.

Finally, always remember that it's important to relax. Therefore, leave the treasures at home so you don't have to worry about them. And, dress down when you venture outdoors. It's a lot more comfortable and "nasty types" will never pick you out in a crowd.

(Sandra Gulland, author of the novel --The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B., is an excellent traveller. She has spent much time researching her interesting subject in France .)

I Try To Be Creative

Evelyn Hannon

For the past sixteen years, I've happily travelled solo around the world and loved it. The following are my thoughts on how women can enjoy spending their hours after sundown....

Women rightfully tend to be more cautious about going out after sundown. However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't go out at all. Simply take precautions: for example, in planning an evening at the symphony, arrange in advance to have a taxi take you there and back; in deciding where to eat dinner, choose a restaurant that is close to where you're staying.

Since it's always interesting to experience the sights and sounds of a place after dark, consider joining a sightseeing group. Check with the local tourism centre for any appropriate tours or cultural events that are available. Make sure that your tour bus picks you up and drops you off at your hotel or hostel.

Alternatively, you may appreciate matinee performances, which are far less expensive and may give you an opportunity to meet others.

If you're not comfortable eating alone in the evening, have your main meal at lunch-time when even the finest restaurants offer their specialities at more reasonable prices.

During the day, why not stop in at a market or supermarket and shop alongside the local women? You can learn about the food specialties of the area and put together a meal to eat as a picnic in your room. Even with wine, it's less expensive than eating out every night.

Finally, understand that in some parts of the world "respectable" women don't go out alone in the evening. In these places, a flagrant rejection of this custom could very well put you in jeopardy. Instead, after a long day of sightseeing, get into something comfortable, welcome the opportunity to rest, relax and rejuvenate yourself, so you can be ready to enjoy another full day of new experiences.

(Source: Her Own Way -Advice for the Woman Traveller)

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