Thursday, July 16, 2015

Just one of the adorable small towns in France you’ll visit while
river cruising.
(Photo: Glynnis MacNicol)I love traveling alone.
This wasn’t always the case.
Even though I have never been particularly fond of groups, I frequently
travel in pairs with a few select friends.
And it’s great.
But as I get older I consider traveling alone a real luxury, and one of the
rewards of being an independent woman.
And while I have not yet reached the point where I am attending a ski
challenge in Afghanistan on my own (less out of fear, admittedly, than a real
love of clean sheets and a nice shower), I have done a solid amount of solo
travel and cherish the feeling of launching myself into the world, no social
strings attached.
Related: The Unofficial Solo Female Traveler’s ManifestoThat said,
while solo travel is on the rise for women, it is far from the norm, and I
know many women, friends just as independent and adventurous as myself, who
shy away from it because they are intimidated by the idea.
A selfie of the author cruising.
(Photo: Glynnis MacNicol)Here then let me offer an intermediate option for
those of you considering venturing out alone but unsure of how to make it
happen.
River cruising.
Think of it as solo traveling with training wheels.
I recently spent a week on a Uniworld river cruise through the South of
France, and it was a revelation.
Here’s why:First, the average river cruise passenger is older; most of
the people I encountered were either retired, close to retired, or traveling
with parents who had been long retired.
Wait.
Don’t stop reading.
This was my first great discovery: Traveling with an older crowd, especially
when you’re alone, is the greatest.
Just taking a solo morning stroll in the countryside.
(Photo: Glynnis MacNicol)These people know what they are doing: They are
well-traveled (everyone I met had been on at least one Uniworld river cruise
prior), have done their research, are organized, are unfazed by things such as
daylong rainstorms, and are good conversationalists! They’ve had long
and generally very interesting lives.
They are not just interesting but interested in you.
And not just pretend interested; these are people who can do what they want
with their time and have chosen to leave their homes, get on international
flights, and travel around.
They want to know things.
And this is not unwelcome attention, as is sadly often the case for women
traveling alone; this is nice attention.
Moreover, I was, simply by dint of being younger and alone, an object of
fascination.
Everyone can use a dose of that from time to time.
Related: The Smartest Ways to Travel Solo With Your ToddlerThey also want to
make sure you’re OK (and possibly set you up with their sons, until
they find out you are not, in fact, 25 … which, by the way, is a side
bonus: Everyone thinks you are much younger than you are).
Second, and this is a big one, I never had to eat alone.
The idea of eating alone can be, for a variety of reasons, intimidating for
women.
Presumably in part because it can leave a woman feeling vulnerable —
there still persists the annoying assumption on the part of some that
consuming food solo is code for "I’m lonely, please proposition me.
" On this river cruise, where the passenger capacity was a reasonably intimate
159, I could eat alone if I wanted to — and often did in the mornings
— but at dinner I was almost always invited to join a table, which was
very enjoyable (see above re good conversationalists).
The result was the best of both worlds: time alone wandering and discovering
— or going on excursions; I toured some lovely Rhone vineyards one
morning — and time among a friendly, safe crowd.
And how about a solo bike ride.
(Photo: Glynnis MacNicol)Third, speaking of safety, on a river cruise you get
to be on the move but also have a place to come back to at night and a staff
that is on the lookout for you.
One day I reserved one of the onboard bikes and spent a glorious morning by
myself biking around the French countryside, all the while confident that an
entire shipload of people knew I was doing just that.
Another day I got up early and wandered around a tiny French village on my
own, making it back to the ship just in time to catch the last servings of
breakfast.
Related: 6 Romantic Places Where You Should Travel SoloI’ve said this
before about cruising, but the best thing about it is you get the experience
of traveling to a variety of places but only unpack once.
I have a long-standing rule that when I’m traveling alone I aim to
reach my destination before dark so I can get situated before the sun goes
down.
I implemented this rule long before the age of the iPhone, but I still try to
stick to it.
However! Totally unnecessary on a river cruise, where you just make sure to
be back on the boat before it sails and wait in your freshly made-up room for
dinner to be served.
Let World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Hang out with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,
and Pinterest.
 Check out our original adventure travel series, "A Broad Abroad.
" 
Learn more about our travel policy.
Traveling alone a real luxury, and one of the rewards of being an independent
woman.
.
These people know what they are doing: They are well-traveled (everyone I met
had been on at least one Uniworld river cruise prior), have done their
research, are organized, are unfazed by things such as daylong rainstorms, and
are good conversationalists! They’ve had long and generally very
interesting lives.
They are not just interesting but interested in you.
And not just pretend interested; these are people who can do what they want
with their time and have chosen to leave their homes, get on international
flights, and travel around.
They want to know things.
And this is not unwelcome attention, as is sadly often the case for women
traveling alone; this is nice attention.
Moreover, I was, simply by dint of being younger and alone, an object of
fascination.
Everyone can use a dose of that from time to time.
Related: The Smartest Ways to Travel Solo With Your ToddlerThey also want to
make sure you’re OK (and possibly set you up with their sons, until
they find out you are not, in fact, 25 … which, by the way, is a side
bonus: Everyone thinks you are much younger than you are).
Second, and this is a big one, I never had to eat alone.
The idea of eating alone can be, for a variety of reasons, intimidating for
women.
Presumably in part because it can leave a woman feeling vulnerable —
there still persists the annoying assumption on the part of some that
consuming food solo is code for "I’m lonely, please proposition me.
" On this river cruise, where the passenger capacity was a reasonably intimate
159, I could eat alone if I wanted to — and often did in the mornings
— but at dinner I was almost always invited to join a table, which was
very enjoyable (see above re good conversationalists).
The result was the best of both worlds: time alone wandering and discovering
— or going on excursions; I toured some lovely Rhone vineyards one
morning — and time among a friendly, safe crowd.
And how about a solo bike ride.
(Photo: Glynnis MacNicol)Third, speaking of safety, on a river cruise you get
to be on the move but also have a place to come back to at night and a staff
that is on the lookout for you.
One day I reserved one of the onboard bikes and spent a glorious morning by
myself biking around the French countryside, all the while confident that an
entire shipload of people knew I was doing just that.
Another day I got up early and wandered around a tiny French village on my
own, making it back to the ship just in time to catch the last servings of
breakfast.
Related: 6 Romantic Places Where You Should Travel SoloI’ve said this
before about cruising, but the best thing about it is you get the experience
of traveling to a variety of places but only unpack once.
I have a long-standing rule that when I’m traveling alone I aim to
reach my destination before dark so I can get situated before the sun goes
down.
I implemented this rule long before the age of the iPhone, but I still try to
stick to it.
However! Totally unnecessary on a river cruise, where you just make sure to
be back on the boat before it sails and wait in your freshly made-up room for
dinner to be served.
Let World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Hang out with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,
and Pinterest.
 Check out our original adventure travel series, "A Broad Abroad.
" 
Learn more about our travel policy.
Traveling alone a real luxury, and one of the rewards of being an independent
woman.

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