Winging It:: How To Travel Alone
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
It's one thing to go out and explore a new city or a new country with your partner or a group of friends; quite another to take on this kind of adventure all by yourself.
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MARTIN: This week on our travel segment, Winging It, we discuss the art and science of traveling solo. Janice Waugh is the author of "The Solo Traveler's Handbook."
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MARTIN: Janice began her solo traveling life after her husband passed away. We called her up to ask for some tips about how to do it. But first, we asked her why she thinks traveling alone has special benefits.
JANICE WAUGH: First off, I've got friends. I've got family. I've got lots of people that I could travel with. But there is something special about going by yourself. There are things that happen that just don't happen otherwise when you're traveling with other people. So, from a practical perspective, you can find out your own interests. So, you discover that, hey, I don't want to read all the time or I do want to read all the time or I, you know...
MARTIN: Maybe I don't actually want to go to those museums...
WAUGH: Well, absolutely.
MARTIN: ...that I think I'm supposed to like.
WAUGH: Yeah. And so you get to play around and try different things on. And another thing that I really love about traveling alone is that I find that, you know, by traveling solo, I'm really open to the world, right? If I'm with someone else, I'm focused on them as well as where we are. So...
MARTIN: And that can be a buffer to the people around you.
WAUGH: Exactly. I find I meet more travelers and more locals when I travel solo than I would than when I would travel with someone else. And the thing about both travelers and locals, of course, locals, you're getting new insight into the destination. But on the travelers, you're not only experiencing the destination but you're experiencing their culture from wherever they're from at the same time. So, you kind of got this dual thing going on.
MARTIN: What about safety? I mean, this is kind of a practical concern but, especially as a woman, are there countries, are there cities where you will not go? What kind of precautions do you take?
WAUGH: I have no desire to go to places that are, you know, really in strife - absolutely none. I do want to go and explore parts of the world that are maybe more challenging than others. So, I spent four weeks in India last year. And I spent, you know, three weeks in Chile the year before.
MARTIN: Are there one or two tips that you could give our listeners around traveling solo?
WAUGH: Sure. Definitely travel light. I only have a carry-on bag. I have a backpack that's carry-on size and I have a roller bag that's carry-on size. If you're concerned about loneliness, plan a tour or, you know, take a class, a language class or build things into your day so that it has a good flow to the rhythm that you want.
MARTIN: Do you have any recommendations for a destination for someone who is new to this whole thing of solo traveling?
WAUGH: Absolutely. I mean, one has to think in terms of, you know, travel experience. So, are you traveling for the first time or are you traveling solo for the first time? If you're traveling for the first time, to stay pretty local. Go down the road to another town, to another city and just feel what it's like to be by yourself and navigate in a new place. But if you're got some travel experience behind you and you're just venturing out on your own, solo, for the first time, then you can get a little bit more adventurous, for sure.
MARTIN: Do you think you should go somewhere where you speak the language?
WAUGH: Personally, I don't think it's a necessity, but if you have any anxiety whatsoever, I would. All right. There's the U.K. It's wonderful, lovely there.
MARTIN: The U.K. is fabulous.
WAUGH: Yeah. And one of my early trips was to the Lake District. And here's a piece of advice: is if you go and you settle yourself for four days a week, two weeks, whatever, make sure you keep on going to the same places, right? So, go to the same pub - make sure it's a local pub. You know, one of those small, really British pubs as opposed to the pubs that are there for the tourists, and keep on going. And by the third or fourth night, people will be talking to you. You'll be, you know, within no time you're one of the regulars and they love you. So, that repetition is really important.
MARTIN: Janice Waugh. She joined me from the CBC in Toronto. She's the author of "The Solo Traveler Handbook," and the website SoloTravelerBlog.com. Janice, thanks s much.
WAUGH: Oh, thank you very much. It was a joy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.