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Suggestion for First timer solo woman traveller

Los Angeles...
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Suggestion for First timer solo woman traveller

Hi all. I am a 41 years old Asian-American woman planning to travel internationally on my own. Can I have suggestions for travelling solo on a budget to Europe or Latin America or Africa? I only speak English, and can only spend about 7-10 days for this travel. Thank you for your help.

P.S.: I am doing this for personal growth and do not have any remote interest in travelling in a group travel / joining a tour.

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for Kent, Solo Travel
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1. Re: Suggestion for First timer solo woman traveller

BPT.... The three continenets you are considering are vast and have so much variety, that it's difficult to offer suggestions without more information from you.

Seasonal weather will affect your destinations, so when do you hope to travel

Do you want to fly "open jaw", which is where you fly into one airport, but return from another, or are yiu considering a straight return.

What are you interets... art/culture/history/beaches/cities/safari's/guided treks/festivals/sailing/river trips/....etc.

When you say "budget" does that mean that you would consider hostels, bed and breakfast, or high quality accommodation out of season?

Do you want to visit many counties inside your possible choice of continents?

Are there any places that you know you do not want to visit?

How far have you got with your own research so far?

With more information from you, other solo travellers should be able to offer appropriate suggestions and advice.

Destination Expert
for Somerset, Solo Travel, Exmoor National Park
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2. Re: Suggestion for First timer solo woman traveller

Bpt, as mcp said need much more information. You specify half the world, need to narrow it down.

As you only have a short time I would keep it around America for a first go. Without knowing what you like and what the budget is can't make any suggestion.

You might want to look down the threads here for First timer as there are quite a few. May give you some ideas

Edited: 15 September 2013, 11:00
Los Angeles...
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3. Re: Suggestion for First timer solo woman traveller

Thank you Sue and mcp.

My interests are in old architecture, history, nature's beauty (ocean and mountain), local custom and cuisine (but not taking cooking class), culture and art, and volunteering for children/women/humanitarian causes. I am not into crazy parties / night clubbing or cruises.

I am healthy and fit, but not very outdoorsy, i.e.: I can walk / do light hiking all day but not trekking The Amazon alone.

When I said "budget", I am thinking about decent (safe and clean) hostel, B&B, renting an apartment, inn...., and eating where locals eat.

I am fine travelling in shoulder season to keep cost down.

I am planning to travel for 7-14 days, sometime between end of August to early December 2014, preferably avoiding extreme cold (i.e. winter in Iceland) or hot.

I am interested in going to a Latin America country (Guatemala or Peru) and do 1 week of volunteering and up to 1 week of exploring, but I don't speak a word of Spanish (and won't have the time or energy to start learning). So is it even realistic for me to think about travelling alone in Latin America with English only?

I don't want to go to England or Canada (I have done that for business)

I know a lot of people recommended places like Amsterdam, Paris for first time solo woman traveler, but I just don't find these interesting. Is it safe to go alone in Ireland? or Scotland? Any suggestion on one vs the other?

Thank you

Amsterdam, The...
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4. Re: Suggestion for First timer solo woman traveller

Nice plans.

I have travelled solo in Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Laos, Thailand, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Scotland; and with friends in Bolivia, Chile, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Australia (and some other countries).

I don't know how travel savvy you are. I have to say, the Latin American countries do require some streetsmarts. Speaking only English is fine but will make it a bit more difficult to find your way around, but not impossible.

Volunteering with English only will be hard. Plus one week won't really bring those people anything: by the time they have taught you what to do you are already leaving.

I always think it's a better idea to become a volunteer where you live, you could even choose a project or association that has an impact on Latin America or Africa for example (Oxfam Novib? Red Cross?). That way you can really make a difference. And spend your money wisely in the country you're visiting: spend it on small entrepeneurs instead of big international chains.

The main thing is safety though: the big cities in Latin America can be daunting and robberies do take place. You will always stick out as a foreigner.

To a bigger degree that also goes for Africa. You need to know what you're doing.

As for Amsterdam and Paris: I am curious to know why they don't appeal to you, you say that you are into history... well those are the places that go back many many centuries and have loads to offer when it comes to quaint architecture, art, history, music, culture, cuisine (especially Paris). Perhaps you have the crooked image that lots of foreigners have about Amsterdam as being a city of sex drugs and rock & roll. Yes, that is a small part of things you can look for here. But there is so much more, and if you don't like that rock & roll side, it is very easy to avoid (I do and I live here). We have some of the world's best museums with masterpieces in them, beautiful canals over 400 years old, lovely parks, outdoor cafes, nice markets, relaxed atmosphere, international vibe (and restaurants with just about any cuisine you can think of), nice boat tours or bike rides to be done... People always fall in love with the city and want to come back. It's also very easy to do daytrips to other towns or the countryside, or a side trip to Belgium for example.

Anyway: yes Scotland is very very safe to do solo. Just make sure you keep driving on the left. ;-) It is also very pretty with mountainous scenery but has fickle weather. I haven't been to Ireland but from what I hear it is definitely safe.

I absolutely loved Iceland despite being there in their longer winter (in April). I love volcanic activity and it has such beautiful scenery. The towns are tiny and the country is very empty, only 400,000 inhabitants, who are mellow, friendly and speak excellent English. Driving and walking around on my own through that breathtaking scenery was very meditative.

Hope this helps,



Edited: 16 September 2013, 14:33
5. Re: Suggestion for First timer solo woman traveller

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Edited: 16 September 2013, 18:35
Los Angeles...
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6. Re: Suggestion for First timer solo woman traveller

Thank you, Cecile.

Great reminder about the driving. I was hoping to not have to drive in Scotland, just public transportation and walk, walk, walk. Is it possible to do, as long as I don't try to go to remote country-side?

I am interested in a stop over in Reykjavik. Can it be done without driving?

Amsterdam, The...
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7. Re: Suggestion for First timer solo woman traveller

There are lots of organized tours from Reykjavik. And lots of spectacular highlights very close to Reykjavik, one full day will give you a chance to see a lot, two days would be even nicer.

As for public transport in Scotland, it's not so dense and frequent so you'd have to plan well. Walking is definitely possible. My B&B hosts walk from coast to coast in a few weeks every year.

Personally I loved driving in both those places...

Denver, Colorado
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for Pecs, Budapest
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8. Re: Suggestion for First timer solo woman traveller

Two suggestions in no particular order.

1. Rome. Obviously loads of history, architecture, food, etc. One can get by with English only, although a few words and phrases would be helpful. Explore various accommodations for cost. (I've stayed at a lovely B&B in Zagarolo (about 40 minutes by train from Termini) twice for a very reasonable rate. Do a lot of research about getting around using public transport. Yes, there are expert pickpockets, but proper caution can avoid that problem. Otherwise is quite safe for a female solo traveler.

2. Hungary. Far more history than you're probably aware of. (I'd read up a bit on that before going.) Obviously Budapest would be a must, but 14 days would allow you to take one or two overnight or 2-day side trips. Also a day trip to Vienna.

Budapest is more expensive than other places in Hungary, usually by quite a lot. However, it's far less costly than other capital cities. It has a very good public transport system that is pretty cheap. (About $22/week for all buses, trams and the Metro. with a 7-day travel card.) You can get an excellent dinner for under $30. English is fairly common. The scenery is the best I've ever encountered in a major city. *Buda is abruptly hilly, and Pest is flat as a pancake. The Danube and the bridges between Buda and Pest are spectacular. It's also quite safe aside from some pickpockets and odd scams.

My favorite places outside of Budapest are Pecs, Sopron, and Eger. all of which can be reached by rail.

Pecs. Down in the SW corner near the border with Croatia and Serbia. It has a very different 'feel' from any of the rest of Hungary I've visited. Almost Mediterranean. A long and interesting history, with serious remnants of Roman, medieval, Ottoman occupation, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Not too much English, but enough for one to manage if one has done one's research. The historical center is pedestrianized. I'd recommend a 2-night stay there, with the full day not being a Monday. About 3 hrs by train from Budapest. Very safe. Good bus service.

Sopron. Another historic town. A very interesting (and small) medieval historic center. Very 'Austrian.' 2nd language there is definitely German, A visit to the museum in the main 'square' of the historic district would be a 'must.' (I stay at a hotel that's a 12 minute bus ride from the RR station. It's a 4* hotel on the edge of the Loverek forest. I just checked on its rates. If one books 60 days in advance, it's 37 euros/night. and if you don't, it's 44/euros/night, including a buffet breakfast that includes fruit, cereals, cold meats, cheeses, scrambled eggs, two varieties of hot sausages, numerous varieties of rolls and breads, and a coffee machine that makes a quite nice, cappucino. In addition. as it as very few singles, you are likely to get a double room for no additional charge. At least, I always have. On the best trains, only about 2 1/2 hours from Budapest. I'd recommend an overnight stay, but I suppose that a day trip might be possible.

Eger. Another historic town, but one that can be overrun with tourists, particularly during summer.. Accommodation is likely to be higher than in either Pecs or Sopron, but meals cheaper than Budapest. Can be done on a day trip from Budapest by either bus or train.

Los Angeles...
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9. Re: Suggestion for First timer solo woman traveller

Hungary! That's an interesting idea that did not even cross my mind. I will definitely look into it. Thank you.

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for Delphi
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10. Re: Suggestion for First timer solo woman traveller

I have been many times in Ireland (Republic and Northern) as a solo traveler and it is one of my favorite destinations. It is definately safe and public transport is very convenient for a first timer. Trains connect major cities and towns and buses fill in the gaps for smaller places. Of course driving gives maximum flexibility as you may see a ruined fort or a scenic cliff or scenic tiny villages scattered around which you can not reach on pt or simply you'll get a glimpse from your bus window, but I think you can still explore a lot on bus or train (and ferry if you plan to visit for example Aran islands!) and occasionaly a taxi or organised day your here and there.

There is plenty of history, some nice old architecture and some very decent food options on Ireland, hiking opportunities and some great scenery, landscape is actually more diverse that you'd expect if you know where to look for (compare co Clare with co Wicklow for example, completely different setting!).

I might be biased but been Greek I feel quite at home in Ireland. It might sound odd but Irish people have many similarities with Greeks. They are bery welcoming and outgoing in general, chatty accomodating people, most of the times, especially on the countryside, if you enter a pub , in a few minutes people will try to approach you and you'll find your self chatting. laughing and share stories...

I would try to visit sometime on May/June or September although no one goes to Ireland for weather, usually you can experience 4 seasons' weather in a day, even on summer you may get some rainfall for a few minutes, hence all the green grass lol

I believe there are many other countries/areas that would do for what you want too, for example Greece ; ) but if Ireland caught your eye, I suggest to go on related forum and research a bit on this idea, maybe read some trip reports and see what you think.

Whatever you decide, Have a Great Trip !!!!!!