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February 24, 2010



Thanks for the link to Ms. Dembling's article. I found it fascinating, though possibly not for the reasons you did. From reading most of what's written about solo travel, it's easy to get the impression that it's suited only to extroverted women. Their innate ability to seek out new friends and temporary travel companions wherever they happen to be lets them readily overcome many of the inherent disadvantages and difficulties of solo travel. People like me, who are neither extroverted nor female, are presumably condemned to a miserable lonely experience when traveling alone, or at least a severely diminished experience.

But the article made me realize that extroverted women are disproportionately over-represented among the people who write enthusiastically about solo travel, whether in books, magazines, blogs, or forums. That's not surprising, since their extroversion makes them not only enthusiastic but inclined to share their delight with as many people as they can! So it's a real eye-opener to read about an introvert who clearly enjoys solo travel, even without the continuous temporary social support network. Solo travel really is for anyone who would rather go somewhere interesting than stay home waiting for a travel companion who may never become available. It might be easier and possibly more satisfying for extroverted women, but that doesn't mean everyone else can't enjoy it in the fashion that suits them best.

Like Ms. Dembling, I'm not one to approach strangers for conversation. I particularly have no interest in bars, clubs, and other places crowded with strangers. If the Fundamentalist Christian view of the afterlife is true, the Hell to which the wrathful Deity will surely condemn me is an eternity on a singles cruise, sharing a tiny cabin with an Assigned Roommate From Hell. But I certainly do welcome conversation from the (rare) stranger who approaches me.

Last year I stayed in a B&B for the first time, not counting the ones in Europe when I was a teenager on summer vacations with my parents. This was actually a "boutique hotel" in San Luis Obispo (the San Luis Creek Lodge) that happened to include a full communal breakfast. Their Web site touted it as a "perfect romantic getaway." Normally, anything like that would make me click the BACK button in my browser immediately. But the place got so many consistently high ratings and rave reviews on Trip Advisor (including some from solo travelers) that I decided to try it anyway.

I'm very glad I did. I found the communal breakfast very enjoyable. There actually were some solo travelers, most likely there on business. I didn't talk to them, because they insisted on sitting by themselves pounding frantically on their laptops or reading the newspaper. But the couples I sat with were quite friendly, and didn't seem to care whether I was alone. An entirely enjoyable experience. But this probably wasn't the typical B&B. I'd suspect that the sort of costly, frilly Victorian accommodations that abound north of San Francisco specifically as romantic getaways for couples probably wouldn't provide such a friendly experience for a solo traveler.



Glad you could relate to the post I referred to. Everyone has his own style of travel and ways of enjoying it.

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