Road Warrier Solo #3 ARRIVAL

What to do when you are too tired to enjoy a new city?

I often arrive to the start of a new adventure so tired from planning, preparing to leave and arriving that I cant enjoy day one, can even stay awake and often begin the start of a ‘travel cold’.

Perhaps you are one of the lucky few who get off a plane and start to site see, eat the local cuisine and if you a blogger, begin the first of many posts…..

Well I am not that lucky.  
Even splurging for a very comfortable ride with sir Richard Branson (seats great, food too strange to eat) I barely made the 1hr tube ride into London without dozing off.   I really resent my body when it can not just ‘buck up’ and get out there.   

first day:  maintenance, tube card, endless search for a sim card, tube travel with 1/2 of the worlds population squeezed into a shoebox, lovely street walks with major monuments/buildings within blocks, annual visit to the crypt under St. Martin in the Field for a bite to eat, more tube squeezes, (is this where the phrase squeeze the tube came from?)  and finally to sleep for 10 hrs….

hey what happened to shopping?  the famous British tea or at least CAKE?   I mu

I must get out there today to make up for all of this..

Travel Warrior On The Road

Travel warrior day one!

I have not flown since December and now I know why.   The weather was visually fine but the plane was tossed around ……  what I remember a roller coaster feels like the one time I went on that!
I am in the back of the plane so that I can have room for my luggage to find there are LOTS of vacant aisle seats…   But Delta wanted $25.00 to book me a unavailable seat and another 25 or 30 to give me one in the front of the plane…..perhaps this is why I drive.
I believe my travel in 2014 will be by car, train or boat.  And when I see one of the great deals for business class, I shall take that.    Yes I will travel less but I shall not be crippled when I try to squeeze out of the sea.     If I had only planned better and faster I would have taken a boat to England…..

Next a Virgin flight.  I have heard it is wonderful, but the source travels for business in the front of the plane….  shall let you know.

This is my first time at Boston airport:  wow, bright, clean and wide open spaces but they really missed out on stuff to see, do and buy in the departure area…. cant have everything.

And can you tell me why you NEVER sleep the day before a BIg trip!

Comfort and Flying: who put those words together?

On rare occasions I have been able to use years of saved Frequent Flyer miles to sit in the front of the ‘bus’.    And it is better than the back.

But now I have discovered Virgin Atlantic, premium.    You may have to fly hundreds of miles to an airport that Virgin  but one benefit is only 6 hours in the air if you leave from Boston.
a splurge for premium economy was well worth it, the return will be with the peasants in the back and I shall let you know how that is……..an additional $500+ for a return was NOT worth it.

What a shock when they offered dinner……perhaps I am not cosmopolitan enough, I had to ask what the entrée way and when it was explained to me I could not eat either.
Not a problem, we arrive in 6 hours and no one starved in 6 hours…….and as part of this adventure, can  you become fit, loose weight and still have afternoon tea and cake…..

36 Hours and Still Not Ready

Thinking I started packing far in advance I did not plan for flooding yesterday and power outage.

Not only could I not see to pack or iron BUT I spent 5 hours in the basement when the power returned to remove water.

At 1 am I just gave up to the flood.   Sad to say, the cost to replace the carpet is far less than missing the flights….

So next stop is the airport and the uncomfortable seat that I paid an extra $50.00 for to be ABLE TO SIT ON THE AISLE!

Isn’t travel great?

Cunard Sale? What is the solo rate?

This is a repost, call Cunard for pricing……  did you receive this too?

Not a solo promotion BUT if I have to pay 200% this is not bad for luxury…

As a former passenger on Cunard I received this 
call Cunard to check prices….this is only a repost

After just booking a Baltic cruise for May, I wish I had seen this ‘sale’ by Cunard.   After crossing on the QEII 2 years ago, the prospect of an another adventure on a luxury ship would have been tempting……but what is the solo rate?

CUNARD® Offers
Call Cunard at (800) 728-6273
Mon-Fri, 5am-6pm & Sat-Sun, 6am-2:45pm PT
14-day Europe voyages for less than $100 per day*

BOOK NOW — OFFER ENDS 15 MAY 2013
Stavanger
Fares from
$699*
$1,399*
View Offer
7 days — Fjords & Waterfalls (Q312)
19 May 2013 — QUEEN ELIZABETH
Ports of call: Southampton, Stavanger, Olden, Geiranger, Bergen, Southampton
Alesund
Fares from
$1,199*
$2,999*
View Offer
14 days — Norwegian Fjords &
North Cape Explorer (Q313)
26 May 2013 — QUEEN ELIZABETH
Ports of call: Southampton, Stavanger, Flam, Alesund, Trondheim, Honningsvag, North Cape, Tromso, Andalsnes, Bergen, Southampton
Stockholm
Fares from
$1,199*
$2,999*
View Offer
14 days — St. Petersburg &
Baltic Explorer (V307)
1 June 2013 — QUEEN VICTORIA
Ports of call: Southampton, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg (overnight), Tallinn, Warnemunde, Copenhagen, Kristiansand, Southampton
Todd English
Fares from
$799*
$1,499*
View Offer
7 days — Fjords and Waterfalls (Q314)
9 June 2013 — QUEEN ELIZABETH
Ports of call: Southampton, Bergen, Geiranger, Flam, Stavanger, Southampton
Reykjavik
Fares from
$1,399*
$3,199*
View Offer
15 days — Geysers & Glaciers (V308)
15 June 2013 — QUEEN VICTORIA
Ports of call: Southampton, Stavanger, Eidfjord, Olden, Alesund, Akureyri, Isafjordur, Reykjavik (overnight), Torshavn, Southampton
Tallinn
Fares from
$1,299*
$3,099*
View Offer
13 days — St. Petersburg &
Baltic Discovery (Q315P)
18 June 2013 — QUEEN ELIZABETH
Ports of call: Southampton, Kristiansand, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg (overnight), Tallinn, Southampton
On Deck
Fares from
$799*
$1,599*
View Offer
7 days — Fjords & Waterfalls (V309)
30 June 2013 — QUEEN VICTORIA
Ports of call: Southampton, Stavanger, Olden, Geiranger, Bergen, Southampton
Contact your Travel Agent, call (800) 728-6273 or visit Cunard.com
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FARE DETAILS

*Offer is for new bookings only. Savings are based on a per person discount off Early Booking Fares. Early Booking Fares are initial offering fares and may not have resulted in sales in the past 90 days. Intermediate discounts may have been taken and fares may remain at a discounted level after this promotion. Government fees and taxes ranging from $50-$195 per person are additional and subject to change. Fares apply to minimum lead-in categories (Inside stateroom category IC/ID) on a space-available basis at time of reservation. Fares for other categories not shown may vary. Fares are per person, do not include air travel, are voyage only, based on double occupancy and apply to the first two guests in a stateroom. These fares do not apply to singles or third/fourth-berth guests. This offer is capacity-controlled, is subject to change, and may not be combinable with any other public, group or past guest discount, including On Board Credit. Offer is not transferable and is available only to residents of the 50 United States, Canada, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the District of Columbia who are 21 years of age or older and receive this offer. Fares quoted in U.S. dollars. Cunard reserves the right to impose a fuel supplement of up to $9 per person per day on all passengers if the NYMEX oil price exceeds $70 per barrel, even if fares have been paid in full. Please refer to the applicable Cunard brochure or Cunard.com for terms, conditions and definitions that apply to all reservations. Ask about our applicable air add-on programme. Please reference promotion code: PEC. Offer expires 15 May 2013. Ships’ Registry: Bermuda. ©CUNARD 2013. The CUNARD logo and logotype are registered trademarks of Carnival plc, an English company trading as Cunard Line. QUEEN MARY 2, QUEEN ELIZABETH, QUEEN VICTORIA and The Most Famous Ocean Liners in the World are trademarks owned by CUNARD. All rights reserved in the United States and other countries.

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Speed Travel Planning, Leaving in 7 days

Road Warrior 7 Days Out

No matter how far in advance I start planning for my next trip, it is always  the last week I start to panic.

Planning a multi level trip is like doing a puzzle.   All the pieces have to fit together to make a final product.

Unless you are just going to one location, book one hotel, have one activity  you don’t ‘work the puzzle’ you just book each layer and go.


I insist every trip have something interesting to do, something new to experience and if I am lucky new people to meet.

Since my original trip was canceled I have had 2 + weeks to put together a 30 day event:
6 countries, a stay at a university, with an opera singer in London.   

It may be interesting.   Now to complete packing in 36 hrs…..

The travel warrior

As a Solo Traveler
there is always lots of work to do for a trip. 
when you do not share the project with a travel partner, you do EVERYTHING
When I decided to do a LONG solo trip I knew there would be lots of details but I did not expect a travel agent I have already worked with to tell me,  “look for the sailing you want on our web site (cruise to other people) and I will book it for you.”

As a former commission sales person I would have loved anyone to walk in and tell me to write them an offer on a property they has already selected.  Yes that did happen on occasion but they always wanted it done for FREE.

So after 2+ weeks, a visa hassle that changed my direction and over 200+ hours of searching, I GAVE UP.   I am still taking the trip but will be paying more than I had budgeted for this story.   So I shall amend the story and leave on  the adventure:  21 days at sea, solo and loving it.

With determination in the past two days I booked a 21 day sail, convinced Virgin Atlantic to reinstate my ticket suspended during the hurricane in Oct 2012 (for a reasonable fee), booked connecting flights to catch the transatlantic flight (cost almost as much as the trip to London), booked hotels, booked a stay overnight at Canterbury Cathedrals’ guest house and am now searching for ‘unusual places to visit’.

Too much work…. but no alternative.   I have 5 trip themes to write about while floating along so I hope you will stay with me.

Italy, Go Solo, Enjoy

Solo Travel In Italy

I usually post anything about Italy on http://www.hometoitaly.com, but Solo Travel In Italy some challenges I shall add to this blog as well.

Italy may have more travelers than many other countries in Europe.   After traveling there for years and for 4 to 6 weeks at a time, I fully understand why.
With all those ‘tourists’ being a traveler has some challenges. 

I never thought it was ‘odd’ to travel solo.  I am solo but not sad.  I travel solo because I have no friends who would EVER travel in the style I do.   And the one  perception I continue to receive is that only gay people travel solo.  What?    During my 3 month sabbatical I became friends with two lovely much younger woman who I met at the local Internet café.  While having dinner early in our friendship the both agreed that ‘no Italian woman would this’.  I was VERY surprised.   Apparently it may not have been socially unacceptable but solo travel was NOT something an Italian woman would do…..

There are endless benefits to solo travel but I want to cover a few of the ‘challenges’ solo travel in Italy may present:
1.  With the crowds of tourists in Italy it can be difficult to visit ‘tourist spots’ solo.    Tour buses do not know what to do with a solo.  Other travelers do not want to sit with a solo person….
2.  Reaction of Italians that solo travel is ‘odd’.   In Italy the family has great importance.  It may not occur to Italians to go off by themselves and travel.
3.  Economics:  Italy as other countries are in an economic situation.   A solo traveler may be perceived as wealthy.    On one trip I wanted to compare living costs in Italy with the USA and as I compared the salaries with the USA, I understood this misconception.   Housing is expensive in Italy and this may be another reason family members remain at ‘home’ until they marry.
4.  Travel in Italy during tourist season means crowds on buses and trains.  Solo travel means you have no one to ‘watch your bags’ while you use the WC or even go to an ATM.
One year, before ATM’s were on each corner, I could not enter the money exchange at the Rome termini because they used a revolving door and my bag would not fit in the door!
5.  You spend more time planning and organizing solo, no one to share the work.
6.  For me dining is the hardest part of solo travel anywhere but the USA.  Here in the USA we have so many casual restaurants and my favorite, diners, that you are mostly unnoticed.  The disadvantage is you are unnoticed in some restaurants and service is ‘different’.  I understand the tip will be less than a couple, but I also don’t take up as much time at the table.

In Italy eating is VERY important.  Going to diner is the entertainment for the evening often taking hours.   I only remember seeing one other solo diner in a restaurant in Florence.  And they put us next to each other.   I have had waiters look at me with pity and surprise that I am sitting alone.    Why do people assume solo is sad?

While these may be some challenges to solo travel, some of the perks in Italy:
vendors in markets will often chat with you
You can often observe without being noticed….take a peek into daily life.
You can walk by the same corner countless times while looking for the correct turn and no
             one notices, no one ridicules you, no one gets impatient.
You can stroll the town center without dragging a reluctant companion or child with you.

One of the sadist days in Sorrento was hearing a couple just off the cruise line for the day.
The husband loudly insisted, pick ONE thing you want to see…….implying that that was         enough    and back to the boat.    One look at the woman’s face was enough for me to pledge to always go solo.

Solo Travel: Have You Found A Travel Agent to Work With?

I choose to travel solo and unless a solo traveler is wealthy I expect we all have budgets. 

Each trip has a price and a trip has ‘value’ when it is a reasonable cost per day….no matter if it is a resort or a tour or if the cost of transportation, room, food total an amount that I find has a value.

Road trips are manageable n the USA, some city trips can remain within a budget but long distance, long term travel takes skill and planning.  Cruises (and I dislike the connotation of the term) offer some of the best Values in travel.
Crusies:
Ship travel has proved to be reasonable IF you sail off season, IF you take the cabin at the bottom of the boat and often you may go to locations you are not really interest in.

I know there are room mate matching services but I do not CHOOSE to spend $5,000 or more for a trip and sleep with a stranger.   Get real.

Now I am on my third ‘travel agent’  This year I was told to “search for a cruise myself on their web site”.   So I have searched for days and priced over 250 sailings to find something that offers a VALUE for a country I want to visit.

I prefer to travel often and long and therefore must remain within a budget.  But if I find an exciting location I will go over budget knowing I shall sacrifice another trip later in the year. 
So the search for this trip has taken weeks of entire days on the computer. 

Yes travel agents have programs that can search everything, but their goal is to find, sell, and go to the next one.  Having been in commission sales I understand the need to ‘turn’ clients. So no agent has been willing to do the searches I need.  Last year I was told they had to get off the phone I was asking too many questions.    Apparently they have a quota system.

But what they do not realize is the business they are losing from not doing a GREAT job.  As part of a very LARGE solo travel group, there are thousands of travelers who would travel if they could find a travel agent.

So, where to go in May?  Russia, trans Atlantic, Oz?   So many choices, so little travel assistance……  I know it will be a LONG trip and it will be EXCITING and I shall write about all the events, policies and difficulties a solo mature traveler may find.

More Solo Supplements Waived!

Overseas Adventure Travel Offers Solo Travelers Free Single Supplements on All 2013 Adventures and Trip Extensions

                                                                                                                                                                               Just saw this on line, MORE good news  Note the increase in the number of solo travelrs!   We are everywhere!

Overseas Adventure Travel Offers Solo Travelers Free Single Supplements on

All 2013 Adventures and Trip Extensions

Read more about Overseas Adventure Travel Offers Solo Travelers Free Single Supplements on All 2013 Adventures and Trip Extensions – BWWTravelWorld by travel.broadwayworld.com       Thursday, Apr, 4, 2013; 8:34 AM; – by Travel News Desk
Related: Press Release, News

      To accommodate the growing number of solo travelers aged 50 and older, Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) is offering free single supplements on all of its adventures and pre-and-post trip extensions. With OAT, single travelers can save $500-$5000 over comparable vacations offered by tour operators that continue to charge single supplement fees.  “More than one-third of our travelers book solo these days,” said OAT Vice Chair Harriet R. Lewis. “By waiving the single supplement fee, we’ve made it much more affordable for solo travelers to see the world. Offering free single supplements is just one of several actions we’ve taken to accommodate a fast-growing segment of older American travelers.”

 In addition to free single supplements, OAT offers a free matching roommate program, a free online travel companion program, a Lowest Price Guarantee that refunds travelers if a departure is reduced in price after one books it, and a Solo Traveler Challenge that guarantees the best price for solos for a comparable international vacation. OAT also trains all of its Trip Leaders (guides) to welcome, integrate, and assist solo travelers on every trip and departure.  Solo travelers today make up 35% of OAT’s travelers up from 20% five years ago. In the past two years, 78,766 Americans, aged 50 and older, traveled with OAT. Twenty-five thousand were solo travelers, including 20,000 women.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an American turns 50 every seven seconds12,500 people a day. By 2015, the 50+ population will make up 45% of the U.S. population (AARP). According to statistics from Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research, one-third of adults aged 45-63 are unmarried a 50% increase since 1980, when 20 percent of middle-aged Americans were unmarried.  OAT offers Americans 50 and older culturally-rich adventures in small groups of 10-16 travelers by land and 14-25 by small ship with per diems that begin as low as $93 a day and eight adventures that begin at less than $150 a day. OAT destinations include more than 30 countries, including Botswana, the Serengeti, India, Burma, China & Tibet, Vietnam, Colombia, the Galapagos, Peru,Costa Rica, Israel, and beyond. For more information, please visit

www.oattravel.com.  ABOUT OVERSEAS ADVENTURE TRAVELEstablished in 1978, Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) is part of Boston-based Grand Circle Corporation’s family of travel companies, which also include Grand Circle Cruise Line and Grand Circle Travel. Since 1992, the organization’s charitable arm, Grand Circle Foundation, has donated or pledged more than $92M USD to more than 300 humanitarian, educational, and cultural organizations worldwide, including 100 schools, in 50 countries.

  Read more about Overseas Adventure Travel Offers Solo Travelers Free Single Supplements on All 2013 Adventures and Trip Extensions – BWWTravelWorld by travel.broadwayworld.com

Hire Personal Help at the Airport

Something I saw today on http://www.smartblogs.com/ Smart Brief written for the Business Traveler:

 
written by Barbara Cockburn
 
Would you use a personal assistant at the airport?
 
Sounds like a great idea at some of the airports without English directional signs!

New ‘Airport Butler’ provides concierge service throughout Vancouver International

airportbutlerIII 150x150 New Airport Butler provides concierge service throughout Vancouver InternationalMarch 12, 2013
Negotiating your way through an unfamiliar, huge and busy airport terminal can be a daunting prospect if you’re a child, a senior citizen, a large group of non-English speaking people or a celebrity. That’s where the Airport Butler comes in. A new concierge service available at Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Airport Butler provides real hands on customer service.
Airport Butler ‘s assistant manager, Christine Glen – who says business is going “gangbusters” – explains how the new service works.

Who uses the Airport Butler service?
This is something that is for absolutely everybody. We have lots of VIPS and celebrities who use the service because they just want the reassurance of seeing a face who will help them in and through the airport and know that there’s a porter there waiting for them, somebody who knows their way through the airport.
Elderly people need that bit of assistance, and with the golf cart, they won’t have to walk the whole way through the airport. Parents will want someone to be with their children under 12, when they’re minors, and up to the age of 17. We charge less than what the airlines charge for looking after minors, and we’re with them the entire time.
We had helped a passenger who is visually impaired. We were able to assist him from the time he got to the airport, right to his departure gate and then up to the aircraft doors.
We have also looked after a popular singer here in North America who travels with loads of luggage and her child, and all the stuff that goes with that. Knowing she has some assistance takes a load off her mind.
A woman, who lives in Ottawa, whose father was coming to see her from Victoria, on Vancouver Island, called us to make sure he was looked after, to make sure he got on his flight and assisted through the airport, so that she didn’t have to fly to collect him.
We have looked after a woman who had dementia. Her daughter was concerned that her mother would be left alone and that her mother would not catch her flight so we sat with her mother for as long as needed, even with a flight delay.

What will Airport Butler do to assist a traveler?
We offer three levels of service; gold (without a golf cart), platinum (with a golf cart), and VIP.
We will meet [a traveller] at the curb, or right outside the priority check-in line, help them through check-in, help them with their bags onto the carousel [to be sent to the aircraft] and proceed through security. We will then either take them to the lounge, or assist them through duty free shopping and then to the gate.
For an arrival we’d meet those passengers right off the aircraft at the gate. We won’t fast track them through customs unless a passenger is mobility challenged or if they’re a high profile celebrity and customs has approved it.
We can put them on a golf cart and whisk them down to customs, which is helpful especially as it’s a long terminal. From there, they’ll join the customs line. We’d meet them at the baggage carousel, help them with their luggage and get them out to the ground transportation or we’ll take them gate to gate.
It [provides] a bit of reassurance [to travellers], a nice comfortable back up when you come into the airport. These concierges know what they’re doing, know how long it takes to get from A to B and they’ll do everything they can to help with that.

How would passengers avail themselves of the Airport Butler service?
The Airport Butler concierges don’t have a high visibility profile in the airport. Usually it’s prebookd by a phone call ahead of time.
We don’t get a lot of walk ins, but that said, if someone comes into the airport there is an information desk and there is always someone available. But we like to have as much notice for obvious reasons.
If it’s last minute we need to have someone to meet them at whichever gate and then another person available to assist a passenger in the terminal. If we have a heads up we have time to get someone to assist them.

What do you charge for the service?
x 1 person, gold service starts at $95
x 2 people – $130
x 3 people – $165
x 4 people – $200
Platinum service, with the golf cart, is $160 per person.

Can you share any anecdotes of famous people travelling through the airport?
We’ve had a famous singer on a departure back to Los Angeles. He got held up in secondary because he forgot his Green card. His tour manager was a bit concerned about how long this would take, and whether they would they catch their flight on time. His tour manager phoned the White House, if you can imagine, to help this guy get out. We were there as soon as he got out of secondary, got him on a golf cart and they just made their flight.
It’s an add-on service. Some people like to have a face-to-face service. Airports can be big and daunting but by using our service, they don’t have to worry about that. We can take of them. We call it a premium and personal meet and greet service.

Is the Airport Butler widely available in the airport business?
There are other [concierge] services, such as in Dubai, but this is the first of its kind in North America.We started in September here in Canada, and we are owned and operated by a ground handling company Airport Terminal Services (ATS) in St Louis.

It’s clearly a niche offering. Why don’t airlines provide the service?
Air Canada has one for its super elite passengers. Many airlines provide a concierge service a long time ago but because of cutbacks we’re able to pick up where the airlines have left off.

What challenges did Airport Butler face when setting up operations, knowing how security is extremely tight at airports?
The biggest challenge for us before we could get going, all guns blazing, was to wait for approval with the Canadian government to allow us to take customers through customs.
We don’t fast-track them through customs but we definitely assist passengers. We meet & greet passengers at departures and arrivals. We are all accredited because we have all worked for the airlines. We can go through security areas because we all know the airport inside and out.

What are the opportunities for growth?
Increasingly we are taking care of large groups. We had a group of executives from KIA, the car manufacturer. They didn’t speak any English so we had a pool people, who speak all different languages, to meet them off the flight, walk them through the airport and get them up to the ground transportation.
We can help get groups organized and expadited out of the airport. If there are, say, 46 people coming off the aircraft, we have one concierge per each group of four people, to get them to the baggage carousel.
We can get celebrities out through an exit point that the regular traveler won’t know about, so that’s really helpful, especially if there’s a big fan base that will want to see them, touch them, take pictures of them. We can get them out, quickly, efficiently, and without hassle.

New ‘Airport Butler’ provides concierge service throughout Vancouver International

no Solo Supplement

Solo Travelers Club could be my next
 BEST FRIEND                                    

Solo Travelers Club by Online Vacation Center
Photo: The single supplement has been waived for select AMA Waterways sailings. Learn more: http://bit.ly/16rT6qr   Award-winning river cruise line AmaWaterways has a fleet of 15 custom-designed vessels in Europe, Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Africa. AMA continues to lead the way in river cruising by providing innovative luxurious ship designs featuring step-out and French balconies, premium stateroom amenities and warm, personalized service.
The single supplement has been waived for select AMA Waterways sailings. Learn more: http://bit.ly/16rT6qr  

Award-winning river cruise line AmaWaterways has a fleet of 15 custom-designed vessels in Europe, Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Africa. AMA continues to lead the way in river cruising by providing innovative luxurious ship designs featuring step-out and French balconies, premium stateroom amenities and warm, personalized service.

Solo NOT Single NOT Sad




IndependenTraveler.com had a good review of why and how   Solo Travel.

           Although I rarely think about NOT traveling because I prefer to go solo, others may be thinking of their first trip.    This is a good read from Independent Traveler……………… 
Single Travel: Tips for Going Solo

traveling alonePeople who have never traveled alone often describe their first solo trip as an almost religious experience. To take in new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes or preferences of a traveling companion can be heady stuff. Traveling alone gives you the chance to indulge yourself fully.

Of course, single travel has its perils too — such as safety concerns, loneliness and the dreaded single supplement. But a little preparation and common sense can save you money and get you through the rough spots.

Why Travel Alone?
Solo travel can be the ultimate in self-indulgence; you can rest when you want and pour it on when you’re feeling ambitious. Another benefit is that your mistakes are your own, and your triumphs all the more exciting. There’s no worrying that your insistence on trekking all the way across town to a museum that was closed ruined your partner’s day; it’s your own day to salvage or chalk up to a learning experience.

Also, you can do exactly what you want to do — all the time. Always wanted to try surfing? Sign up for a class and go for it; there’s no one sitting on the beach bored while you have the time of your life. Have no desire to see Niagara Falls? Just drive right by.

Safety First
Perhaps the foremost concern of the solo or single traveler is safety. Without a companion to watch your back, you are more vulnerable to criminals and scam artists, as well as simple health worries. But the saying “safety in numbers” isn’t necessarily true — a solo traveler can blend in more easily than a group, and not drawing attention to yourself as a tourist is one way to stay secure. Here are a few tips:

  • Know how long it takes and how much it costs to get from the airport to your hotel or to the city center. Solo travelers are more likely to be “taken for a ride,” so ask the taxi driver how much it will cost before you leave. If it’s considerably different from what you know to be true, take a different cab.
  • Find out if hotels at your destination are open late, so you don’t end up sleeping in your car or worse.
  • Be your own best counsel; if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
  • Carry good identification, in more than one place.
  • Keep to open and public places, especially at night.
  • Exude confidence and walk purposefully.
  • Avoid appearing like a tourist. Ditch the Disney T-shirt and don’t walk around with your face in a guidebook. (See 10 Things You Should Never Wear Abroad for more thoughts on this one.)
      
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself by wearing flashy clothes or jewelry.
      
  • Lie a little. Not only can you invent your own persona or history, but you can also make your life easier with little white lies. When asking directions, don’t let on that you are alone: “Can you direct me to the museum? I have to meet a friend.”
     
  • Check your maps and transportation schedules before leaving your hotel/train/rental car/tourist office. A solo traveler poring over maps can be a mark for unsavory types.
      
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member at home, and stay in touch regularly via phone or e-mail.
     
  • For U.S. citizens traveling internationally, consider signing up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which could help the State Department assist you in case of emergency. If you’re from outside the States, see if your home country has a similar program.
     
     
    Trust Everyone and No One
    One of the best reasons to travel alone is to meet new people, but this also makes you more vulnerable. It’s okay to hang out, travel and share with new friends, but you might not want to ask them to hold your money. Scam artists can often be the most charming companions you’ll find; you want to be open-minded, but keep your guard up enough to ensure your safety.
     
    senior man cruise ship balconyAvoiding the Single Supplement
    Frequent solo travelers are all too familiar with the single supplement, which tour operators, cruise lines and hotels tack onto your bill to make up for the fact that they’re not making money off a second occupant. The supplement can range anywhere from 25 to 100 percent of the trip cost, meaning that you could end up paying twice as much as someone traveling with a partner.
     
    There are several ways to get around the single supplement. You can avoid it altogether by booking with a tour operator that offers roommate matching, such as G Adventures, Intrepid Travel, Road Scholar (formerly known as Elderhostel) and Holland America Line. By finding you a roommate, they maximize their own profit off each room and save you the single supplement. The catch is, of course, that you’ll have to share a room with a stranger. If you’re concerned, contact the tour operator and see what kind of procedures they use to match roommates. Some pair people off at random, while others will make an effort to put complementary personalities together.
     
     
    If you’re flexible and ready to go at a moment’s notice, you could save money by booking at the last minute. Tour operators who are eager to sell out their last few places may be willing to reduce their usual single supplement. Abercrombie & Kent and Road Scholar are two companies that regularly offer discounted or waived single supplements.
     
    It’s not for everyone, but you may also want to consider staying in a hostel, which charges per bed rather than per room. Hostelling International properties tend to be reliably clean and secure, and they’re open to travelers of all ages.
     
    To keep track of the latest single travel deals, sign up for solo travel newsletters and regularly visit sites that cater to singles. See our resource list on page two for ideas.
  • click this link for page two   http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/specialty-travel/single-travel-tips-for-going-solo#.UT-6ArDV9Jc.blogger 

    Single Travel: Tips for Going Solo | IndependentTraveler.com

    Solo Travelers Club is this the solution?


    Solo not Single not Sad

        Like other Solo Travelers, I look for affordable sea adventures that allow me to travel far and long term.

        Ship travel allows a quick visit to sample countries I might like to return to for a longer visit.

        Not all mature travelers are adventurous and so far, it has been a very safe way to explore on my own.     With the image of reruns of the Love Boat, I began sea travel with a 22 day trip, the longer the better!

    Searching for affordable sailings is a time consuming job checking solo pricing for ever y sailing that is of interest.         I hope the Solo Travelers Club from Online Vacation Center will offer multiple sailing a year to travel around the world…. from an email today*

    “Welcome to the Solo Travelers Club!

    <!––>We thought you might be interested in the Solo Travelers Club. We’ve created a new program dedicated to helping you find the best destinations for traveling independently, give you tips and tricks on safely making your way, and highlight any special solo rates we’ve been able to arrange with our partners.

    Our new newsletter will regularly alert you to these offers so you don’t ever have to miss out on a trip!
    River Cruising with Uniworld

    Uniworld cruises are great choices because they offer an intimate, small-ship experience along with a very high level of luxury. And best of all, they are truly all-inclusive. All river cruises include:

    • All Gratuities (onboard and onshore)
    • Onboard Meals
    • Unlimited Beverages (fine wine, beer & spirits included)
    • Airport Transfers
    • Shore Excursions
    • Internet & Wi-Fi Access Onboard

    Even better for solo travellers, Uniworld is offering waived single supplements on select European cruises. Solo rates start from just $2399!

    Check out our “Deals for Solo Travelers” section to learn more about these rates, and feel free to give us a call if you have any questions at: 800-787-1871. “*


    ONLINE VACATION CENTER | 1801 NW 66TH AVENUE | SUITE 102 |
    PLANTATION, FL 33313-4571

    *See the full story here.
    http://www.onlinevacationcenter.com/newsletter/030613m.cfm

    Solo Supplements: article by S. Rosenbloom


    <!– audioaudio
    videovideo
    –>

    Thank you Stephnie Rosenbloom for this great article on NO SOLO SUPPLEMENTS!
     
    Of course I have added some of my opinions!
    How many trips would you take without a Solo Supplement?

    Singled out for the single supplement

    By Stephanie Rosenbloom / New York Times News Service

    Published: March 10. 2013 4:00AM PST

    Single supplement.
    These two words strike dread — not to mention resentment — in the heart of a solo traveler. Consider for a moment the cost of a superior ocean-view room on a Royal Caribbean International seven-night Alaska cruise. For two adults, it’s $1,539 each. For a single traveler, the cost is $2,843 — an additional $1,304.

    Single supplement? Or single penalty?
    Royal Caribbean is by no means alone. Supplements are a widespread industry practice in both the cruise and packaged tour industries. Travel companies say that these surcharges (which are generally anywhere from 10 to 100 percent or more of the standard rate) are justified because most accommodations, whether in a hotel or on a ship, are priced for double occupancy.
    “To sell that stateroom to only one person,” said H.J. Harrison Liu, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean, “that wouldn’t necessarily make business sense for us.”

    Solo travelers, as one might imagine, tend to have a different view of supplements.
    “It’s the bane of the single person’s travel existence,” said Bella DePaulo, a visiting professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who studies what she calls “singlism,” or the ways in which single people are stereotyped and discriminated against (it’s also the name of her most recent book).

    One experienced solo traveler from New York, Arlene Rosenberg, decried single supplements and in an email asked me how to skirt them.  “I’m really missing out on a lot of travel opportunities because of this,” she said.       so VERY true!
    Supplements have been around for decades, but with each year they become more out of sync with the nation’s demographics as the United States grows increasingly single. According to figures released last year by the Census Bureau, there were 102 million unmarried people 18 and older in America in 2011 — more than 44 percent of adult residents. That’s up from 92 million in 2006, which was 42 percent of residents 18 and older. It won’t be long before half of the country is unmarried.  3 or 4 trips instead of 1 a year, IF YOU STOPPED THIS SOLO POLICY

    Of course, many unmarried people live with a partner, so not all of them are traveling solo; yet married people aren’t all traveling in pairs either. About 12 percent of U.S. adults, married or unmarried, plan to travel solo this year, up significantly from 7 percent last year, according to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. And if companies make it more affordable for people to travel on their own — by dropping supplements and offering deals to solo travelers the way they offer deals to couples and families — that number might climb even higher.

    A number of tour companies — including Rick Steves’ Europe, Backroads and G Adventures — attempt to take the sting out of supplements by offering a halfway measure: They will waive the supplement if solo travelers agree to be matched with a roommate. In some cases, if the travel company cannot find you a roommate, you get the room to yourself. Singles travel companies like AllSinglestravel.com offer roommate matching with that guarantee. No matter what, be sure to read the fine print. For instance, SinglesCruise.com notes that it “accepts no responsibility for roommate matching incompatibility such as sleep patterns, snoring, noise or age differences.”     Those who want to select their own cruise buddy can try sites like CruiseMates.com, which has a message board where users can post roommate requests.   Why would I pay thousands of dollars to sleep with a stranger?

    It’s nice to have these options, but for many solo travelers, roommates are something they left behind in college — and they want to keep it that way. The reasons for that range from the obvious inconvenience of rooming with a stranger to a more profound idea that DePaulo refers to as “single at heart.” It’s the notion that some people are single not because they can’t find a partner but because, as she puts it, “single is who they are” and “how they live their most authentic life.”
    These are people who want “to regulate their own space and time” — all of which is at odds with having a roommate when on vacation, let alone one they don’t know.

    DePaulo thinks charging single supplements is ultimately a silly business decision. If travel companies drop the surcharges, they might lose money in the short term, but in the long run they would gain the loyalty of millions of solo travelers.

    As it turns out, there are a handful of companies that in the past few years have been willing to do just that by waiving some supplement fees (not just lowering them) and by dedicating a portion of their websites to solo travel. In a perfect world, these companies would do away with supplements entirely. But for now, consider this the first of what I hope will be a growing list of solo-friendly cruise lines and tour companies. Intrepid solo travelers, this one’s for you.
    Cruises

    • Avalon Waterways: One way to avoid single supplements on cruises is to book far in advance, a month or so before New Year’s Day or shortly after. For travelers who book their 2013 cruises early, this river and small-ship cruise line dropped the single supplement on a number of departures in Europe, including Magnificent Europe from Budapest to Amsterdam (15 days starting at $4,499 for a single during a recent search) and Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches (eight days starting at $2,849). Information: Avalonwaterways.com.

    • Grand Circle Cruise Line: Over the past few years this company, which caters to baby boomers, has had an increase in the number of solo travelers (particularly women), prompting it to address their needs. That meant training guides on how to make solo travelers feel included in all activities, as well as doing away with single supplements on its new small-ship cruises to Myanmar, the French and Italian Rivieras, Turkey and Greece. (One of those new tours, the 15-day Rivieras: France, Italy & the Isles, begins at $3,895.) There are no single supplements for add-on trips to nearby cities before or after any 2013 cruise either. Why, there is even a “solo traveler challenge” guaranteeing that “you cannot find a lower price for a solo traveler on any comparable international trip for Americans.” If you do, Grand Circle will match that price and deduct $500 from the cost of your vacation. Information: www.gct.com.

    • International Expeditions: In response to the growing number of solo travelers interested in its eco-travel trips, this nature company has waived supplement fees on select cabins on all of its 2013 Amazon (from $3,898 until July and $4,398 after) and Galapagos (from $5,098) small-ship cruises. Information: ietravel.com.

    • Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian was voted best cruise line for solo travelers last year by readers of Porthole Cruise Magazine. Its Epic has 128 studio staterooms designed specifically for solo travelers. The studios (about 100 square feet) also include entry to the Studio Lounge, a shared key-card-access-only area with a bar and television screens. And thanks to increased demand, there is more to come: Two new ships, the Breakaway and the Getaway, will also have solo-friendly cabins and lounges. The cabins will be added to the line’s Pride of America ship too. Information: ncl.com.

    • Vacations to Go: This travel agency offers discounted single supplements for an array of cruise lines like Silversea, Crystal and Paul Gauguin. To find solo travel deals, visit Vacationstogo.com (albeit not the easiest site to navigate) and select “singles discounts” from the column on the left side of the page. That will bring up a list of cruises from various lines along with their single supplements (some have no supplements). A division of Vacations to Go, Amariver cruises.com might also be worth checking out from time to time. For example, the single supplement on some Mekong River itineraries has been waived for travelers who book by March 31. Another division of Vacations to Go, Uniworld.com, is one of the oldest river cruise lines, and it has waived single supplements on several itineraries, which on a recent search included Paris and Normandy (10 days starting at $3,499) and Venice and the Po River (eight days starting at $3,199). Information: vacationstogo.com.
    Tours

    • Abercrombie & Kent: “Solo savings,” a nascent category of departures to popular destinations such as Egypt, Kenya and Tanzania with this luxury tour company either have no single supplement or are reduced by up to 75 percent. For instance, a recent search turned up 25 percent off the single supplement for a 10-day Egypt and the Nile tour in March, making the starting price $1,575, down from $2,100. Information: abercrombiekent.com.

    • Overseas Adventure Travel: Owned by Grand Circle Corporation (the parent company of Grand Circle Cruise Line), this company has no single supplements for any land or small-ship adventures, including the land tour Ultimate Africa: Botswana, Zambia & Zimbabwe Safari (from $5,820) and Ancient Kingdoms: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia (from $3,995). Plus, it has the same “solo traveler challenge” guarantee as Grand Circle Cruise Line (see above). Information: oattravel.com.

    • Tauck: Founded in 1925, this tour company has dropped the single supplement from Category 1 cabins on all of its 2013 European river cruises, like the 12-day Blue Danube tour, from $4,490. And on certain land tours in Asia, Latin America and Europe, the company offers “solo traveler savings,” such as $600 off the regular rates of its popular India tour — but the trip still costs solo travelers a few thousand dollars more. Tauck does get points for its website, which has a solo traveler forum where you can get answers to questions like “Would I feel comfortable by myself?” Information: tauck.com.

    A last bit of advice: Think globally. To avoid supplements and roommates, consider traveling with a company based overseas, like Mercury Direct in London, which has no single supplements for tours of spots as varied as Sri Lanka, Cyprus and Egypt. And the Majestic Line, a U.K.-based cruise company, reserves two cabins for solo travelers on each of its small ships at no additional cost. Information: mercury-direct.co.uk and themajesticline.co.uk.

     


    NO SOLO SUPPLEMENT Italy: Classic Car Tour


                       NO SOLO SUPPLEMENT

    Yle with Yltour in Puglia offers another wonderful event for independent travelers who want
    a unique experience!

          


    CLASSIC CAR EXPERIENCE IN PUGLIA

    May 1 – 6, 2013            

    YLTOUR opens its 2013 season with an exclusive road experience from May 1 – 6 , 2013
    in the beautiful Salento area, Italy.
    This is your chance to explore the area on board  on of these magnificent cars along with luxury catering and accommodation. The car will have a driver.


    YLTOUR offers you, your friends and customers the finest classic car experience in Puglia: a taste of luxury, wine tasting and gourmet dining, a culinary experience, a city tour, visits to local vineyards and five star hotels.

     We will accompany you on selected dream routes, with the wind in your hair while living
    la dolce vitalifestyle in the lovely Salento area. 

    Cost: € 1.600,00 per person no single supplement and include the following: 
    Promotional price until March 10, 2013  E 1.500.00

    – accommodation in 4 and 5 stars stylish hotels
    – breakfast, lunch and dinner
    – a gala dinner
    – rally plates and souvenir plaque
    – comprehensive road book with daily detailed route notes and timed itineraries
    – 1 cooking class
    – 1 city tour

    – 1 wine tasting + meal in a winery    

    – services of a Tour director throughout the tour
    – transportation from/to Bari and Brindisi airport
    – all ground transportation

    All photos courtesy of Yltour and may NOT be the actual cars used for the tour 

    Not included are the following:
    Airfare and travel insurance
    YLTOUR (www.yltourcongressi.com)  can make your plane and train reservations as well.
    Find more on: info@yltourcongressi.com (Yle) or  leelaurino@eartlink.net (Lee)

    No Solo Supplement: Italy, photo evenet

    —                               [Calling all Photographers:

                             A Creative Break in Puglia, Italy


    Take a photography holiday in Puglia and capture the images of our traditional villages and scenic roads off the tourist trail, vineyards, old palaces, farmers on their estates, seaside villages, the countryside and the people of this part of Italy that is less traveled.
    Experienced photographers and non-professional photographers will find Puglia an incredible place.  Puglia has spectacular landscapes and natural light, not to mention the beauty of old farmhouses and country houses with their Mediterranean colors (in the Salento style), baroque details and local villagers, pizzica dancers, intimate details and so much more.   
    Become a photographer and capture the genuine beauty of Puglia through its most hidden and unconventional landscapes and settings.    Our local experts will enable you to take unique pictures and meet inspiring local people: they will concentrate on your particular interests. Prior to your visit we will ask questions to better understand your photo style and expectations, in order to provide you with the very best settings. Each holiday is custom tailored with dedication and focuses on photography.     Yltour knows the best locations but also restaurants where you can taste the delicious local food and wine.

    Our accommodations are off the beaten-path places:  dimore (old houses), farmhouses, villas fully equipped.  We use an air conditioned van or private cars to arrive at our shooting locations and               meals are taken in top places. 
    Partners, who are not photographers, can join other interesting activities:   cooking classes, a wine tour, a bike tour or simply relax by.
    Discover and capture the Puglia we love.
    This unique opportunity is limited to small groups to insure individual attention.
     A minimum number of four bookings are required to run this tour.
                                                                                                               
    Cost:   1,500 euros       Special price for bookings prior to March    30, 2013.
    Creative Break Includes:
    •             7 nights in exclusive properties, breakfast included
    •             5 lunches with wine: at local trattorias and private family farmhouses
    •             5 dinners with wine
    •             2 cooking classes
    •             2 wine tastings at top producers and 1 vineyard tour
    •             olive farm visit with olive oil tasting and tour of the olive groves
    •             a special visit to a private farm with a demonstration on the making of ricotta, a cheese tasting
    •             visit to an open air market
    •             photo tour of historic Lecce, Gallipoli, Otranto, Itria Valley
    •             morning photography unique experiences
    •             air-conditioned deluxe motor coach
    •             a few surprises, as the occasion allows
    Not included:
    •             airfare
    •             meals not listed on the itinerary                                                                     
    •             optional trip insurance
    •             items of a personal nature, laundry, telephone charges
    •             passport fees
       
    This tour is available in June and November

    Email us: info@yltourcongressi.com     ask for promo price listed on solomaturetravel.com                                                                               

    Turn your next vacation in to a travel adventure…..

                                                     

    Rome Solo over Christmass

    5 or my 15  Impressions from my Solo Christmas trip to Rome:    part of a guest post I did for BrowsingRome.com

    Although I travel solo to Italy every year and try to stay as long as possible I have never been Home To Italy during the winter.   Usually by November I head back to the southern part of the USA to wait out the ice and cold across the Northern Hemisphere.
    My December trip was devoted entirely to finding what xmas traditions Italians practicethat Italian Americans also observe.    Therefore my visit did not include museums this year or monuments but rather the seasonal foods, street festivals and markets where Italians were enjoying the holidays. 

    This theme proved to be perfect.     It was easy to do a visual inspection of holiday decorations as I progressed from Zurich to Como and down to Rome, but also the tourists were minimal, locals were more available to chat and the topic of Natale was universal to all.   

    Rome Solo”

    1.      Street lighting:    In every town and city I visited the streets were blazing with Christmas lights.  No plastic snowmen, candy canes or Rudolf but street after street had displays of white lights.  Each street was different.   Some designs, such as the ‘jellyfish look’ were very unique.   I could not find anyone to ask if each neighborhood decides what lights they used nor do I think that question ever came up!

    2.       The Christmas Markets

    I left the USA with a list of markets that would be featured in each of the towns I planned to visit.

    Apparently an outside Christmas market can be found in most Italian towns.   In Florence it was a German market, in Prato they had a Chocolate fair.   Rome has a huge market in Piazza Narvone that goes on for weeks.   I visited several times to try to see everything.
    In addition to the stands offering sweets and snacks the popular items were something like an over sized donut and crepes filled with Nutella.    I enjoyed watching children eating cotton candy for the first time and learning how to eat it.   


                  
    Since an outdoor market is a perfect location for a solo traveler to spend time, observe, interact and not become the object of everyone’s attention I found lots to keep me interested and except for the biting cold, would have stayed longer.

                                                                                                           

        The puppet stand had me transfixed.   Who can you identify?

           There were fortune tellers that offered services in several languages:  when I returned to have my palm read later in the week, they were nowhere to be found.  Perhaps you could only know your fortune on weekends.
     Many stands offered Christmas decorations.   You could find Befana dolls in all sizes. 
    My first time meeting Befana. 

    The amusement area at the market made me stop dead in my tracks. 

    I am from New Jersey where towns along the beach area have a boardwalk and amusement park with rides and games.    What a shock to find the SAME games in New Jersey arcades for perhaps 100 years, here at the Piazza Narvone market.   Do you think Italian Americans brought these games with them when they immigrated?
     


















    3.      A tree with letters to Babbo Natale:  the Italian version of a letter to Santa.  This tree was in the main train station in Rome



     








    4.      Hot Chocolate              so thick it looked like pudding.    So glad I am not a diabetic   And wish I had found this wonderful treat earlier in the trip.

    5.       Food, food, food   Cake, Cake, Cake
    I did not even make a dent in all the wonderful treats available.  The bakeries were so packed there was no way for me to point and ask for ‘one of everything’ which is what I REALLY wanted to do.
    After tasting fresh Panetone I began to think that what we have in the USA is last year’s leftovers….  Olga Stinga at SASL told me you receive gifts of Panetone at this time of year and often pass extra Panetone  on to someone else….….the original re gifting.   
    More solo Xmas observations on part II

    Rome: Art on the streest of Rome

    “The act of painting is catching a fleeting moment in time, never to be repeated.”   Kelly Medford

    Kelly Medford - Biography


     

    I’m a young painter, and until recently only painted landscapes. Last year I completed a 100 day project to challenge and grow myself and my work, to explore what it is I have to say in paint. I also traveled to Alaska, Florida, South Carolina and several other places painting before moving to Rome, Italy this fall.

    The warm light of Rome and it’s vast layers of history compel me to carry my easel with me everywhere I go. I stop to paint the light hitting a building, a square or the remnants of a Roman aqueduct running through busy traffic. The possibilities are endless and I’m not only excited, but honored to have the opportunity to paint the streets and life of Rome.

    Thank you for your interest in my work and for taking the time to visit the site.

     I asked Kelly this week, how many people in Rome stop and stare or chat with her while she paints.  

     “It depends where I am. In the more residential areas of the city sometimes people just look but don’t dare stop to talk and other times people want to talk a lot, I never know what’s going to happen, that’s definitely post of the fun and adventure of painting out in the street. Yesterday while painting the red house no one stopped to talk, but people really stared, I just get used to it, it’s fun!”


     

    Italy for Solo Travelers

    Do you love to travel?

    Is Italy one of your favorite destinations?

    Interested in being more than a tourist?

     

    Think about joining one of these adventures while traveling in Italy….  meet Kelly Medford, American artist living in Rome.

    I met Kelly on my December trip to Rome and she graciously agreed to let me follow her while she painted  in the  streets of Rome.  Thanks to a post by BrowrowsingRome.com http://www.browsingrome.com/    I learned that Kelly was doing a 120 project:   a painting a day.  

    Thinking, if she can paint an entire picture in ONE day, I can do a blog a day on my 30 day trip.
    Well that didn’t happen and I am still writing about the adventures I had on my Solo Christmas trip to Italy…..

    Kelly  just sent me a list of all the workshops she will be doing this year.    Reading the list brings out the artist in me even though I only express myself with photos……I think a workshop with Kelly would make a difference.     Below is a brief outline on events a Solo Traveler will enjoy.    One of the BEST talents Kelly possesses is her open mind.   She had never met me before, nor do I think she knew I was twice her age but she treated me as a ‘real person’ and shared her idea and philosopy on paining in Rome.   She was kind to answer the endless questions a non resident asks without laughing or judgins.     Thank you Kelly.

    It shall be difficult to selct which class to take…….

    Art of the Painted Sketch: August 21-28, 2013
    Umbria, Italy

    Join us for a week of sun, wine, Italian home cooking and painting in a in a restored villa tucked away in the wooded hills of Umbria.

    In this intimate and relaxed setting you will gain a new ease and confidence in capturing  the light and feel of a place by learning the Art of the Painted Sketch

    Your instructor, an American painter who has been living and painting in Italy for the past 9 years, will guide you effortlessly through the process.

    Not just for painters, this setting is the perfect getaway for non painting partners.       Complete with swimming pool, 80 acres of grounds and close to several small Italian villages, this is the perfect chance to relax and enjoy an authentic Italian holiday.

     Details:

    • Cost for single participant in private room is £985 or $1,530.
    • A non-refundable deposit of 25% is required upon registration with full payment due June 26
    • All art materials, meals, airport transfers and local transport during the course is included in your tuition/ just bring yourself and be ready to relax and paint!

        *Cancellation policy details can be found by clicking here
    To learn more about our hosts at Arte Umbria go to www.arteumbria.com

    To learn more about your instructor Kelly Medford click here
    To register and join us  click here

    The Light and Life of Venice: October 12-20, 2013
    Venice, Italy
     

    Spend 10 days in Italy’s most magical and mysterious floating city, Venice. We will stalk the streets, alleys and canals with our easels to capture the most intimate and fleeting views of the city.

    Venice is full of light, color, gondolas, open piazzas and intimate hidden places. To capture them in paint is exciting, fun and the chance of a lifetime.

    This workshop will be filled with adventure, exploration and give you a new confidence to capture the life around you quickly en plein air.
    You will learn to capture fleeting light quickly in paint and have a wide range of completed paintings or studies that you can work from and take back to the studio. This experience, through guided instruction, will grow your speed and confidence no matter your skill level.

    With 10 days we will have time to enjoy  the local wine, food and scenery as well as paint in 2 daily sessions with time for breaks. We will also have a day painting in the unique local fisherman’s Burano island to capture local life there.

    All levels and mediums are encouraged to join us as well as non painting partners. We will be staying as locals in furnished apartments in the heart of the city.

    Working as a team, Helen Beacham will be instructing all levels in both drawing and watercolors, while Kelly will be working with painters in oil and acrylics.

    Details:

    • Cost for a single participant to share a room $1,700 with a deposit paid before May 1. After May 1, total cost is $1,900
    • Flexible cancellation policy- 100% refund before August 1. See full policy here
    • Tuition includes a single bed in a shared room, continental breakfast, 2 dinners, day trip to Burano island, turps and paper towels for oil painters.
    • Bring a non painting partner for just $800 more.

    For more details or to register, click here  click here

    About Your Instructor:
    Kelly Medford is an American who came to Italy 9 years ago to study drawing at The Florence Academy of Art. She has been living and painting en plein air in Italy every since and currently resides in Rome where she teaches painting, sketchbook journaling and shows regularly.

    She has traveled all over Europe and the U.S. competeing in plein air competitions and working collaboratively with other painters. She speaks Italian fluently and is a perfect liason for painters visiting Italy.

    You can see her work and find out more about her on her website at www.kellymedford.com
    or send her an email at paintings@kellymedford.com

    Solo Travelers: would you be interested in a creative break

    CREATIVE BREAKS:

     

    If you enjoy traveling, learning, meeting the locals and immersing yourself in a culture than you need to know about a special series of programs offered by yltour.com in Italy!

     

    Yle Sambati will be offering a great assortment of ‘adventures’ that solo travelers can enjoy.

     

    Check back soon to hear about her photography, cooking or wine events! 

     

    yltourconressi.com   

    I didnt recongnize you until you smiled…

    This was the strange comment I received at the Microsoft store in Atlanta, Ga
    I have the one year training program and I am SURE they do not expect clients to come every week.

    Well they were in for a surprise when I signed on…..

    I am on first name basis with most of the staff but a few are really tired of working with me….

    Too bad…….

    But this week while waiting for a training session,   I was surprised when one of the staff who I had spoken with about Italy (another Italian American I have met)   said ” I didn’t recognize you until you smiled”.     It occurred to me that now that I have reached the age of ‘invisibility’ I don’t make the effort to stand out.

    And how  strange because almost 24/7 I am happier than I have every been.  Happier than when I made enough money to ‘buy things’ to make me happy.   Life is very strange.

    But becoming invisible was one of the big surprises.     Unless you are strange, forceful or wear something outlandish   a ‘mature’ person can travel through the mall, the grocery store or even on a busy street and NEVER BE NOTICED……

    My favorite proof of this ‘condition’ is when I try to pay for an item in a store.  It is almost impossible.    When they ask ‘who is next’ and I have been at the front of the line for 10 minutes, another customer steps forward.   Often I will just leave the item on the nearest counter and leave.
    Treat me poorly and you can NOT have my money…..

    Time for people to notice who and what is around them.  Put the damn phone in your pocket.

    Solo Traveler at the weekend market

    Focusing on Home to Italy I often neglect to share how I solo travel in Italy 30 days or more every year when possible.

    photo is from the website listed below

    And every year I learn more about the places I as a solo traveler can spend the day or a few hours and blend into the crowd. 

    Weekend markets are a GREAT place to meet or just watch the residents of a town or city.  There is so much to be learned from the items they sell at antique, food or even our equivalent to a garage sale.     Along with a trip to the super mercato I often have some understanding of day to day life or at least a list of questions to try to answer before I leave.

    Lesley who has co owns Villa Magnolia  Puglia  
    http://www.villamagnoliaitaly.com,  mentioned that she visits a market EVERY week and shared a wonderful web site with me that lists ALL the markets throughout Italy!    I am in heaven.   http://www.lamescolanza.com/mercatini/puglia.htm.  
    Before my next trip Home to Italy, I will print out a list of all the markets in the towns I plan to visit.

    Leslie also tells me how to negotiate in Italy:

    “Each and every Sunday an Antique Market is held somewhere in Puglia .  We go to the Ostuni Market, the Martina Franca Market and  the Market near Lecce held on the last Sunday of each month.  It is great fun to go to these markets…we have purchased many items for Villa Magnolia eg; rugs, lamps, mirrors, vases, tapestries, furniture &  more.
    Obviously when you are interested in an Item never let the seller know, just offer half the asking price and watch his reaction, walk away then return later with an offer slightly higher, in Italy the art of bartering is fun and the perfect place to do this is at markets. All furniture and accessories inside Villa Magnolia are authentic Italian, most of which date back to 1800’s.”



    Inside and outside Villa Magnolia I can see in her on line photos some of the treasures she has found in those markets.  


                   

    Puglia with Yltour, the best adventure

     

    Nothing Shall Keep Me From My Adventure In Puglia!

    After the turmoil from the hurricane in the North East (USA)  and multiple delays I arrived in Italy this week to be faced with a train strike that might delay my adventure in Puglia that our travel friend Yle has created.  www.yltour.com

    Last year Yle listened to my ‘dream ‘ trip to Italy and created a day that offered me all the experiences I asked for.   So there was no hesitation when I asked Yle to help me create a short adventure that takes me to places I could not find on my own.   And as a solo traveler it is often difficult for me to experience all the adventures I would like.
     
    After years of doing all my own travel planning it is time to ask an expert for help.   Yle will give me suggestions and detailed directions.  More importantly, I  will gain entrance into places I have never been on any of the 15+ trips Home to Italy.
    We are still fine tuning my adventure for December but here is a basic outline:
             Yle has arranged an apartment in Lecce a few minutes from the center of town and the train station.  This allows me to join in the daily live of Lecce and offers easy access to daily train trips.
    Here I can cook if I wish and perhaps invite new ‘friends’ over.

    Day One: 
    Language lessons:

    Ashort re introduction to conversational Italian.     Since i only speak Italian once a year while on my yearly Home to Italy adventure,  it will be helpful to have a tutor to work with me on my language skills.    I have already been told on this trip that i ‘speak Italian con una bambina’.   Not very supportive.

    Yle has planned a detailed walking tour of Lecce for me to begin my photo adventure.   Lecce has wonderful carved stone facades that stop you in your tracks, crannying your neck to see the soaring peaks of a church or the pediment on a palace.   
    The walking tour includes stops at shops selling local hand/craft and art products.
    Yle gives me suggestions on places for lunch OR where I can find items for a picnic and a good place to have a picnic.    
    Day 2:  Language lesson for skills on train travel since I shall be off on the local train later today.
     Day trip to Ostuni, a stop in Alberobella and Martina Franca if there is time.   Wonderful photo opportunities and perhaps some visits to local artists.

    Yle has supplied me with the details on ticket purchase and train schedule.  Off I go, will I find my way back?

    Day 3:  Language lesson will cover simple shopping skills
    A tour of the local markets for fresh foods.  Yle has told me about her program for cooking, shopping and eating healthy foods that improve your life, health and I hope weight!  So this week I shall follow her outline in addition to walking miles each day, let’s see what the result is.
    Eating in Italy and losing weight usually do not appear in the same sentence.
    Yle and I are working on a number of other events I might take part in:   a painting lesson, visiting a local olive farm, wine tasting, learning how artist carve the beautiful stone that is native to Lecce, a visti with some of the ‘mature residents in town, experiencing the local hair dresser.   I have many Italian events I wish to try.
    Yle has fantastic cooking lessons available, however cooking is not on my list of fun events, I hope she can find me an opportunity to ‘eat with a family’ while I am in Lecce.  
    If not I think a restaurant tour would be fun……  
    Each day includes an opportunity to practice Italian, photography the daily life of Puglia and enjoy outstanding towns and cities.  How could this be any better?   Well to have 5 days instead of 3!
     Check back with Yle and Lee to see where we traveled, who we met and what we saw!

    What next? After 40 yeas of flying….

    I am NOT going to Disney World!

    Although I usually post under my Home To Italy blog, Agnes and Amy deserve to be in the Solo Travel site even it I met them on my current trip Home To Italy.
    After changing my travel plans, which included a return sail on the Queen Mary, because of hurricane Sandy I found the only non stop flight available to me was to Zurich and then train Home To Italy.
    I met Agnes at the door to the jet as I boarded the dreaded overnight flight to Zurich.   For the past 3 years I have used FF miles for half of each adventure so that I could sail east or west, depending on the solo deal offered.
    Agnes, who I later chatted with at length, was wearing a corsage and I asked if it was her Birthday.   She replied, no but this was her last flight after a 40 year career as a flight attendant!   Even on her last flight she offered a smile to everyone in the steerage class and chatted with passengers she meets regularly on her transatlantic crossing.  
    The FIRST thing that came to my mind when she said she was retiring was the commercials that ask:  “what are you going to do now?” and the response is I am going to Disney World.   So when Agnes agreed to chat with me later in the flight when passengers had been fed and put to ‘bed’, this was the first comment I made.
    Agnes did not hesitate and replied, “I am NOT going to Disney World”.   This began our chat about working with the airlines for 4 decades, the places she had visited, the changes in the career that found her after she took an au pair position in NYC in her early 20’s.  See later the slogans airlines used since the 1960’s.  She was frank and outspoken.  This was her last day flying the ….skys…..and I am only using her first name, so the chance of retaliation was slim.
    But what was far more interesting to me was how she viewed the next chapter of her life…..   As I travel solo I sometimes meet other ‘next life’ travelers.   Often we only scratch the surface into each others’ lives:  why are you traveling here, why are you traveling solo.     One of their first thoughts are that you must be gay to be traveling alone.  Agnes confirmed this too.   Even though her job constantly sends her off solo..      I loved her (Agnes’) spirit of adventure.  We went over her bucket list and some were USA based sites and others international sites she wanted to revisit.   She has a list of mountains she wants to ski!
    All this points out to me again that I may travel solo but I am not as adventurous as many of the thousands of others out there living every day to the max. 
    Such good words to live by.  So congrats Agnes.   I hope you read this and tell me where you are next and what you find there…..

    Cape Hatteras an alternative hotel

    As a constant solo traveler I continue to seek sources of alternative housing

     
    As a ‘mature’ solo traveler, I no longer enjoy tent camping or low end motels in order to afford the multiple trips I take.       Over the past year I have been searching for alternatives to chain hotels and the road side motels prevalent in the USA.
     
     On one of these trips I stayed in a new cabin offered by the KOA campgrounds.  Large enough to accommodate 4+ the cabin had a full bath, mini kitchen, TV and  wireless Internet.    At the same cost as most of the hotels on the Outer Banks, NC  this was a very comfortable alternative.     The cabin was only a few yards from the beach and you could hear the waves crashing during the night.

    There was a second opportunity to visit this location again last week while driving North along the coast. This time I wanted to try staying in an AirStream, a silver cylinder on wheels. I had never been inside one of the historic designs and was surprised how spacious it was.   I suppose with a family of 4 it could be a tight fit.
    The only room that was difficult to negotiate was the airplane sized bathroom.   But still fun for an overnight stay.  According to one of the web sites for AirStream enthusiasts, these tubes were called Silver Wheels, back in the day.

    

    I was amazed at the compact kitchen with everything I needed: microwave, cook top, coffee pot, fridge

    There were two flat screen TV’s and WiFi internet

    

     
     

    Just a short walk to the beach.  This day there was a HUGE storm and the sand was underwater!

    In the 1950s a family would go road tripping with a caper attached to the family car.    Cars in the 1950s were as big as boats and could easily drag an air stream behind them on the nation’s highways .  Read the story on the history of the airstream at  http://www.airstream.com/company/history/

    I have an ongoing project to travel as much as possible for a daily cost of $100 or less if possible.   This often forces me to travel off season,  ski areas in the summer, beach areas in the fall or winter. 
    But I do not mind the crowds and Americans on vacations are not very tolerant of solo travelers.  
    My stay with KOA at Cape Hatteras met my goals and exceeded my expectations.  

    So why not try a night in a soup can on your next travel adventure?
     

     
     
     
     
     

     

    Another solo friendly travel offer

    After years of being considered a travel group without importance, solo travelers are now seeing offers almost weekly!

    Below is a PR anncement for NO SOLO SUPPLEMENTS for 2013 with Interanitoanl Expeditions.

    Keep the offers coming!

    International Expeditions Waives Single Supplement Fee on Every 2013 Amazon and Galapagos Cruise

    Tapping into the growing solo travel market, natural travel expert International Expeditions is offering cabins with no single supplement fee on every 2013 Galapagos Islands and Amazon River cruise departure.

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    Guests enjoy rainforest walks on the Amazon river cruise
    Guests enjoy rainforest walks on the Amazon river cruise
    Quote startI loved the excellent staff, small group size and no single supplement for this Amazon cruise. I often travel alone and that is a determining factor.Quote end
    Helena, Ala. (PRWEB) September 20, 2012
    Tapping into the growing solo travel market, nature travel expert International Expeditions is offering cabins with no single supplement fees on all 2013 Amazon and Galapagos small-ship cruises.
    “We have seen growing numbers of single travelers looking for safe, escorted travel to the world’s wildlife-rich regions, and in 2012 solo travelers have made up 21 percent of all passengers in the Amazon and Galapagos,“ said IE President Van Perry. “IE has made every effort to make our journeys open and inclusive for all travelers, and that includes keeping single supplements as low as possible and waiving the fees on cabins throughout the year – not just at the last minute.”
    These statistics echo a report released in May 2012 by TUI North American Specialist, a collection of adventure tour companies, which stated that solo travelers accounted for 22 percent of the business for those adventure companies, up two percent over last year.
    Aboard IE’s pioneering journey into the headwaters of the Amazon River, guests travel aboard a classically styled riverboat, the 24-guest Aquamarina, enjoying numerous wildlife sightings. Daily outings on this small-ship adventure take travelers deep into the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve to spot diverse wildlife, hike into the rainforest, and even fish for piranha. During excursions into the narrow river tributaries, guests may spot more than 100 kinds of birds, pink and gray river dolphins, sloths, giant otters and nocturnal animals such as caimans and capybaras.
    “I loved the excellent staff, small group size and no single supplement for this cruise,” said Amazon River cruise guest Justin Child of Valencia, Calif. “I often travel alone and that is a determining factor.”
    Amazon expedition passengers also spend time with Ribereños in remote river villages, handing out school supplies to children and meeting with a local shaman. Ensuring a high level of authenticity, IE varies the villages guests visit during their Amazon expedition.
    2013 rates for the 10-day Amazon River cruises start at $3,898 and include pre-cruise accommodations, complimentary onboard laundry, all excursions, most meals, transfers and tips to porters and waiters for included meals.
    On the 10-day Galapagos Islands cruise, International Expeditions’ 32-guest yacht M/V Evolution navigates to captivating islands, where the small group size allows for easy access to the wildlife and far more personal attention than guests find aboard large cruise ships. Onboard, guests sail in comfort with spacious accommodations, fine cuisine and a host of amenities including an observation deck (perfect for whale watching) and canopied bar, plus complimentary snorkeling equipment, wetsuits and kayaks.
    In addition to daily snorkeling and hiking, other highlights include a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Center, famous for its tortoise breeding programs; an exploration of Santiago Island, a haven for finches, doves and Galapagos hawks; and a sailing to iconic Kicker Rock.
    Highly trained Galapagos naturalist guides enhance travelers’ experiences by sharing their in-depth knowledge and bringing guests within inches of giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, penguins and other animals.
    Prices for the Galapagos Islands cruises start at $5,098 in 2013, and include pre- and post-cruise accommodations, all excursions, most meals, transfers and tips to porters and waiters for included meals.
    For more information or a brochure on 2013 journeys, call International Expeditions at  1-800-234-9620 or visithttp://www.IEtravel.com.
    About International Expeditions
    Celebrating 33 years of nature travel, International Expeditions specializes in small-group journeys to Earth’s most exhilarating destinations. A pioneer of environmentally responsible travel, IE is committed to preserving natural habitats and improving the welfare of the people and communities it visits. International Expeditions has been named to Travel + Leisure’s list of “World’s Best” tour operators & safari outfitters for seven years and to National Geographic ADVENTURE magazine’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”

    Solo and Safe not Sorry

    For solo travelers one ever present concern can be safety.

    Short or long trips, local or long distance, when you travel solo there is no one to notice if you do not return on time from a day of exploring or an evening meal.   Many travelers buy trip insurance to cover the unexpected, but how do you answer the questions SafeCheckin.com posses?

           If you go out alone and something bad happens, will someone notice you’re missing?
              Realizing you are missing, will anyone know where to start looking?
     
    

    Solo travels may need to be more careful that those in two’s or larger groups.   SafeCheckin makes some interesting points:

    You do not need to be in the wilderness or out alone to go “missing”! It can happen on a date, a road trip, out for a run, taking a bike ride, or any activity. It happens EVERYDAY to individuals who least expect it.”

    Children, students, elderly, if you are traveling solo, on a date with a new ‘friend’ you may benefit from having someone watching our back.    This is fee memebership.  

    When you leave for a trip or an outing, members will tell SafeCheckIn when ther are expected to return

    The member will email or text SafeCheckIn when they return.
    What i like BEST is what the company does if you do NOT check back in: 

    • If the member becomes overdue, SafeCheckIn will attempt first to call the individual by cell phone. If we cannot reach the member, SafeCheckIn will begin to notify and inform the member’s primary contacts of the member’s overdue status

    If you are hiking or walking, have car trouble in a remote area and no cell service, off on a solo adventrue, having someone checking if you do NOT return can give you additional peace of mind.
    http://www.safecheckin.com

     

    I am waiting for SafeCheckIn to expand to countries

     outside the USA……  

    Solo Fares on Cunard: Single Occupancy Rates! It is about time…..

    Cunard is Breaking Waves with  Single Occupancy Rates!

    For all my fellow solo travelers who have the time and funds to travel by ship, or what other travelers call cruises, the BEST NEWS was sent to me today. 

    As a former Cunard passenger, I just received notice that there are SINGLE OCCUPANCY RATES on several of their trans Atlantic and New England cruises.

    Here is the email……   Just be sure to leave one cabin for me!

    There are other sailing dates and destinations offered.

    Now what must be done to encourage other cruise lines to offer NO SOLO SUPPLEMENTS?

     

    It is Time!

    Solo Travel with a Purpose

    I have been using a new mantra this year:

    Be a Traveler NOT a tourist
    Learn something new,
    Find a new adventure
    Experience the local life
    In 2008, after many years of trying to do or see everything in the  2 or 3 weeks a year my 24/7 job allowed, I finally took a sabbatical.

    I had been dreaming of moving to Italy for part of the year for a long time.   All my vacations to Italy were wonderful.  My business trips were “interesting” but allowed me to see new parts of Italy.
    But would I enjoy living there?   I am an Italian American but would real Italians accept me?  How do you manage in a town where you do not know anyone and do not speak the language fluently?
    But it was now or never and I closed my business, obtained a dog sitter and took off for Sorrento for 3 months.  I know I would not have enjoyed or on some days survived this adventure without my weeks at Sorrento Lingue.    For all of you who already travel solo, I won’t comment on solo travel, but long term travel opened a new door to my travel adventures.     
    During my months in Italy “living as an Italian, not a tourist”  I searched for ways to enrich my days.
    I spent hours exploring the towns along the sea.  Walking with a view of the sea was an endless pleasure.   But I still looked for a way to fit in, to participate,  not just another member of the expats organizations.

    Tina, a former student at Sorrento Lingue, found a GREAT solution.        She did volunteer work!  See her story below.

                                                                        
    When I returned to the USA I began to search for opportunities that would accept a foreigner, in addition to the expat groups. My vet gave me a list of animal shelter organizations in Italy so that I can find a group that will be happy for an extra hands!

    What ideas do you have for “living as an Italian”?

    You can join Sorrento Lingue in one of their special programs which are perfect for solo travelers.
    You will not be treated as a client but as a new friend….
    Give them a call or send an email.

    Sorrentolingue [info@sorrentolingue.com]