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Scotland trip may be cancelled

I'm trying to figure out what to do. My travel partner has decided she doesn't want to go overseas this year. Again... So, do I go alone? Change location to Ireland and see if Dad will go with me, or do I wait until next year? I'm used to traveling alone. I don't know about traveling to Europe alone, but I've traveled all over the US alone. I've gone to Europe with others and ended up alone for a day.
There are good things about having a traveling companion. Sharing expenses is a good one. The cost of a car shared is a lot more affordable even if just for a day or 2. There are also good points about going alone. You can have absolute control of the itinerary. I'm 56, do I go alone?

Posted by
1035 posts

What if your travel partner backs out again next year? I'd say go. Stay in hostels where it is easier to make road friends. It also will save you some money. Good luck.

Posted by
62 posts

Hi Michael,
Yeah, that's a concern. It isn't the first time this trip has been canceled. We've been planning a trip for 8 years. I keep thinking of how many times it has been canceled and I'm leaning towards going it alone. Pam

Posted by
2349 posts

I'm plagiarizing some here, but...how old will you be if you DON'T go to Europe? Right, still 56, but you won't be in Scotland. GO!

Posted by
62 posts

Hi Karen,
Yeah... I know... And I'm not getting any younger. Maybe the question should be to ask about being a woman and traveling Scotland alone. I don't know how many have done that, but what's the experience like? Good, bad, the same, better, worse than going with someone?

Posted by
1003 posts

i say go! I haven't been to scotland but I've been to several other countries in Europe alone and I love it. The freedom outweighs the fact that you can't share the costs, and I also find that I pay more attention to what's going on around me and who is around me when I don't have someone to always focus on. You can probably plan a nice itinerary without having to rent a car, if that's a concern. there, it really does help to have someone else with you for navigation purposes. The way I see it is, if you go, you probably will not regret it, but if you don't goo, you very well might.

Posted by
2664 posts

Go! Scotland is a beautiful, safe country you will have a fantastic time.

Posted by
2989 posts

I would either go alone, as others have suggested, or sign up for the Rick Steves tour of Scotland. You will make instant friends in the RS group, plus your transportation and lodging worries would be taken care of. Plenty of time is allowed for each stop or sight on the RS tours, so you will never feel rushed or hurried. The guides already know the coolest castles and sites to see, so you won't be having to run here and yonder looking for stuff. Also, when your RS tour is over, you can still stay in Scotland or England for as long as you please, and see more stuff. There are plenty of single women travelers that sign up for the RS trips who are looking for a roommate. I think there used to be a place on this RS website to put a message up if you're looking for a traveling companion.

Posted by
110 posts

I don't care if you're 26 or 56 - go, go, go! You have the oppourtunity to go so take advantage of that. If you're leaning toward Scotland you won't have any language difficulties, while I agree travelling solo may add to the cost you get to do what you want when you want. No need to add an extra day somewhere, because ? wants to see a and I want to see b. I'd get a guidebook, a Rick Steves guidebook of course, and start reading. You won't be alone, you'll have your trusty RS guidebook and these forums to help you. Go for it!

Posted by
31521 posts

Pam, Given the fact that your travel partner has repeatedly cancelled the trip for the last eight years, I think it's apparent that he/she doesn't have much interest or commitment in ever making the trip. How many more years are you going to go through the routine of making plans for a trip to Europe, only to see your anticipation of a wonderful holiday vaporize in disappointment a few months before departure? I definitely agree with the others - take the trip even if you have to go alone! Lots of women routinely travel in Europe with few problems (including some that have posted here on the HelpLine). I find that good planning tends to minimize problems. Take the usual precautions that you would at home (and wear a Money Belt), and you shouldn't have any problems. My preferred travel method at the present time is to combine a RS tour with at least an equal amount of time on my own (Incidentally, I'm in about the same age range). Solo travel does have some unique challenges, but it also has some benefits - you can see things that specifically interest you, change touring plans on a whim and I find that I'm much more outgoing when I'm on my own so I meet some interesting people. As I recall, there's a section in Europe Through The Back Door that describes the pros & cons of solo travel. Rather than using a rental car, public transit will probably be more cost effective (depending on where you're going to be travelling, of course). Good luck with your decision!

Posted by
1986 posts

One advantage of going to England/scotland/ireland on your own is that you speak the language and wont have problems asking for help when necessary, or just chatting to someone doing the same thing as you. go and enjoy. You can do a lot of touring by train, with some organized tours thrown in

Posted by
312 posts

Hi Pam, I've had the same problem: friends indicate interest in traveling and back out when I say, "Let's go!" Edinburgh/Scotland/UK is where I've gone on 4 trips .. alone .. alone means me/myself/I, not with a tour (many people can't wrap THAT thought in their heads). I'm mid-40s. Granted, I can't wrap my head around any other Europe location, so I know it's all in the attitude when it comes to traveling alone. The suggestion to take a tour is nice, except that the minute you explore a tour, it will cost so much more!! I've gone on 3 trips for $2300-$2500 each. The one trip of over $3K was the one that included a week city tour of London. Though ... my first ever trip to Europe was as a chaperone for my son's high school tour, and it was at some point in the trip that I had my epiphany, "I could do this!" Scotland has lots of public transportation, including train (get those advance tickets for just ten pounds). I've read that it's doable, but more difficult for Ireland. But then, Ireland has never "called" me like Scotland does (no Scottish ancestry I can find, must have been a previous life :-) If YOU want to go, GO. You may have the slight feeling of wishing for company, but it really is a lot easier to start a conversation with people because they see you alone. Buy your air ticket, now, and then work out an itinerary!

Posted by
2349 posts

Send lots of postcards to your never-would-be travel partner.

Posted by
5669 posts

Go! Most of my trips to Scotland have been solo. I now meet up with friends half way through, but I travel for at least half the trip. Scots are friendly. If you want to talk with people, go the pub and strike up a conversation with someone. The Scots won't push themselves on you, but if you smile and say hello they will be delighted to chat with you. Another way to find people to chat with is to sign up for a day trip or tour distillery. I find it's easy to make friends this way. In Brugges last July I ran into a couple that I ended up doing a buggy tour and dinner with after enjoying a brewery tour. I did my first voluntary solo trip when I was student when I went to France on spring break when I was studying in Germany. On that trip I stayed in Hostels and met people. Now I stay in smaller hotels or B&Bs, but I find I sometimes can meet people as these as well. I'm not so sure why I waited so long for the next solo trip to Europe, I think like you I kept hoping that I would have a travel partner. Wisely, I stopped waiting and in 1997 traveled solo to England and Scotland. I've never looked back. Pam

Posted by
3428 posts

If Dad really wants to go to Ireland- take him. If that is not a priority, just go .... and do your painting/photography in Scotland!!!! I've dreamed of being able to go alone!!! You won't regret it. Don't worrk about driving- you don't have to in the UK- lots of good trains, buses, etc.

Posted by
312 posts

I'm used to traveling alone. I don't know about traveling to Europe alone, but I've traveled all over the US alone. *** Re-reading your thread for the other comments and noting this, this time, I'm chuckling .. my hubby has asked why I'd want to go to the UK on my own and not travel around the US? In NO way do I dare travel the US by myself (shudder). It really is all in the head, I think :-) I really hadn't any interest before seeing this, but then did you see 60 minutes last fall, when the fellows from Top Gear describe their scariest moment? http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6987775n&tag=contentMain&#59;contentBody Yes, that's an extreme, but it does not create any "call" in me, not at all. Another thought .. traveling with family could be worse than traveling alone, unless you are lucky enough to be compatible travelers. Traveling with my hubby one summer across the Northeast (note: not alone), we took my dad along. It's a good memory, now that he's gone. If you have a special dynamic with your dad and won't be at one another's throats during the trip :-) it could be nice memories to make together. But don't let another "no" stop you. As a solo female traveler to another, plus the others noting on your thread, Scotland is definitely a doable trip for you.

Posted by
1678 posts

Another vote for going alone. Life is short! If you can afford to go, then go. If you think your father would enjoy a trip to Ireland (and you can handle traveling with him) then plan a trip there. Either way, your friend should not hold you back from experiencing the joy of travel. Like Ken, I usually do solo travel in Europe in combination with a RS tour. I do some things to make being alone more "manageable" - it can get overwhelming to do everything alone. I do enough research that I know exactly how to get from the airport to the hotel the first day (jet lag alone can be discombobulating!). I make sure to have a list of ideas of things I want to do (even if I don't end up doing them) so I am not tempted to sit in the hotel instead of getting out there. A woman I met on my RS Spain tour always signs up for a cooking class - great way to meet people and have a nice meal with others. The eating alone thing is a drag, but I'm slowly getting better at it or find alternatives that are equivalently enjoyable (to me) like picnic lunches, or even a picnic dinner (half the adventure is grocery shopping - I love foreign grocery stores!). I build in time to rest and journal - my last trip I did a blog and shared my trip with friends back home. My two cents worth - whatever you decide, decide for you!

Posted by
970 posts

If you can pull it off, why not plan two trips? One to Ireland with Dad and one to Scotland with or without your friend. Visting Ireland with your father sounds wonderful. Travel is an opportunity. Better to take it than to wait for someone else to make up their mind.

Posted by
7 posts

Hi Pam..happens I'm 56. Do it, girl! If you are an experienced traveller...it's not like you have a huge language barrier in the British Isles...if you can afford it, it may be your opening to feeling unafraid of enjoying many future trips! And I don't know about you, but when I travel alone, I'm more likely to have meaningful conversations with locals.

Posted by
1994 posts

Pam, I'm in your age range and agree with other posters: go! It's my preferred type of European travel. When on my own, I do things to make it easier: make sure I have lodging reservations in each stopping place, opt for hotels with an elevator, take little luggage, and bring a cell phone. B&Bs would give you more social contact. The only challenge I see would be driving. I have not driven in Scotland but have in Ireland, and driving on the "other" side of the road would have been much more nerve-wracking if I had been on my own, without a navigator. But then again, the signs are in English, which would help. Enjoy!

Posted by
993 posts

Oh Pam. I can't tell you how much I'd like to go to Scotland by myself! If you really want to change to Ireland and ask your Dad then do it, but what ever you decide you MUST go.

Posted by
31521 posts

Pam, Just curious, have you looked at the RS 11-Day Scotland tour? That might be the best of both worlds. It would provide you with a nice group of fellow travellers in addition to some free time on your own. You'd get a really good overview of various parts of Scotland! You could also add some self-guided travel either before or after the tour. Cheers!

Posted by
62 posts

WOW. Lots of great input. I went home last night and Dad said he'd love to see Ireland but he won't fly overseas. We'll just have to keep travelling here in the states with him. I have been alone a long time. Soon after we were married, my ex ended up working nights while I worked days. It took a lot to get used to being alone so much but I figured out I could either keep crying or I could build a bridge and get over it. I love to read and since I always have a book with me, it's nothing for me to go into a restaurant with my book. And sometimes it is the question "what are you reading?" that starts a conversation with someone. In 1994, I moved from NY to PA, for a job transfer. Alone. People would tell me about places to go, things to see or do, and I'd either make notes or I'd be able to say, been there already. In 2002, I packed everything up and moved to Montana to live. Alone. Within a couple of weeks, I was friends with the owners of a restaurant and eating at their "family" table. I had a map in my purse and when they talked about something in the state, I'd pull out my map and say, "show me where that is."
Alone isn't something new, and I don't know why I even hesitate now. There have been times that I wished I was going alone. I guess, I got my wish. The only thing better would be going with Dad.

Posted by
62 posts

I'm working it out now, I'll either go to Scotland alone this spring or I'll take a weekend trip for a pastel painting convention in Albuquerque and go to Scotland in the fall. I'm leaning towards just going in April. I've got all these other plans, so why not.

Posted by
140 posts

Pam (also my wife's name), I had the same problem you are having. I had a fishing trip to Cabo planned with a buddy of mine and at the last minute his wife wouldn't let him go. I went ahead on my own and had a great time. When you make plans with people that are not immediate family members this is not uncommon. We are actually going to Scotland this March during spring break. Fortunately I have a fantastic travel partner (my wife) that all you have to do is say "lets go" ands she is ready. She has some single friends and we always tell them they are welcome to go with us if they want to. It is always nice to have more people to do things with. I was in Scotland many years ago and it was a neat place to visit. I think you will have a great time and there is the potential to meet fellow travelers as well as locals. To me, the
Scottish people were the friendliest out of all the ones I met in England (did not go to Ireland). They will make you right at home - especially if you stay at a B&B. Thanks - Bill

Posted by
62 posts

Hi Ken, Yes, I've been considering a RS Scotland tour. I could save up more money for that trip, the space between the rock and the hard place is that I don't have the 11 days to take off. I could save up the time also, but that will put the trip off into next year. And maybe that's what I'll do. I was going. I wanted to take a shorter trip over Easter and the week after. I get Holy Thursday and Good Friday off and planned to take off on that Wednesday, travel around Scotland until Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week and come home. The RS tour is well worth the money but I'm looking to do much of the same trip for what it costs just for the tour including my airfare. There aren't any tours during the time of year when I get extra days off from work, so it costs me more in vacation days than if I go alone in April. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Pam

Posted by
5669 posts

I've taken a Rick Steves tour and they are great. But you can do Scotland on your own. There aren't any language issues and it's an easy and friendly place to travel. Pam

Posted by
312 posts

Hi Pam, In '08 I stayed a week at the Dene, www.deneguesthouse.com. I arrived Sunday, took a bus service that isn't running now, so I was delivered from the airport to the guest house door without having to fumble my way around. Taxi would be the way, now (costs more, but when you don't know where you're going.... These days I would take the Airlink bus and then a city bus to the guest house). Monday I took a tour with Rabbies Trail Burners, Tuesday with Heart of Scotland tours, and stayed in Edinburgh for museums and walking around Wed-Friday, flew home Saturday. In '09 I stayed a week at an apartment behind Holyrood Palace, http://www.aboutscotland.co.uk/edin/waverley.html. I took buses many more places, including out of Edinburgh to visit the National Flight Museum in East Fortune, www.nms.ac.uk/our_museums/museum_of_flight.aspx, and I tried my first train ride with a train day trip to Carlisle. I noticed the east side of Scotland had more drier days than the west coast. In two trips I carried an umbrella most days, but only used it--and needed it!-- for 15 minutes in '09. Both of my trips were the 3rd week of April. Though the past weather is no guarantee of future(!), the weather is warmer than the Northeast, if 30-40 here it was 40-50 there (this was around Edinburgh, cooler likely in Highlands). The days are a lot longer, and the flowers are gorgeous! http://www.youtube.com/user/thistlelib#p/u/5/_Ol1kaxP4xw The '09 trip built on what I learned in '08. Perhaps you'd like something similar to the '08? You could stay longer in one place for the first trip, when everything is so new. Air tickets purchased yet? Got passport? According to one great quote I've seen online, that's all you need: ticket, passport, and atm card/money :-)

Posted by
37 posts

Hi Pam, I know you have had numerous responses but I wanted to tell you that two years ago I went to Ireland alone and absolutely loved it. The fact is, you are far more likely to meet people and have experiences you wouldn't normally have if you go with someone else. Going alone forces you to be brave. I went to pubs alone and met the kindest people. I got lost only to discover the most amazing sites. I drove on the wrong side of the road, the wrong side of the car on one lane road which, had I a partner with me, never would have thought I could do. Not only was it a great trip but it made me discover things about myself. Even though I have a great boyfriend, I find myself thinking I may book a trip to Scotland alone. There was something life changing and empowering about having done it by myself.
As a final thing to consider, people rarely mention renting a cottage. Rentals are affordable - from $400-800 a week and allow you to have a home base. In Ireland, I did stay at B&B's but I decided the next time I go, I will rent a cottage. It will also cut down on expenses as you can eat meals at home. And, when you rent a car, go small. I had a Ford Focus which was actually large for the roads and have been told Scottish backroads are similar. Go by yourself and while it may be scary at times (driving!) and while you may have moments thinking you wish you could share it with someone, the truth is, you will have the fondest memories which you will carry with you the rest of your life.

Posted by
5669 posts

I wanted to post a trick for driving solo in the UK in case you decide to take that option. The trick is to look at the map and your route. Then, write down the main towns on your route and have that list handy while you are driving. The reason is that UK roads tend not to include route numbers, but do list the next town. So, if you are headed from Edinburgh to St. Andrews you would have a list that possibly included: Queensferry, Inverkeithing, Crossgates, Cowdenbeath, Kirkaldy, Glenrothes, Muirhead, Cupar, Dairsie, Clayton, Guardsbridge, Edenside, St. Andrews. I'm actually not 100% sure that is the way I would actually drive from Edinburgh to St. Andrew's, but is one way to go. The thing is you need a good map and a good idea of your route and the towns on it. It's perfectly possible to do this. You do need to have the attitude now and then that getting lost is part of the vacation. ; ) Pam

Posted by
3696 posts

Echoing others... go and don't wait! Have traveled to Europe alone many times and love it... also love traveling with friends, but there are benefits to being alone. I am a photographer so I see things so much differently when I am completely on my own...just me and my camera!

Posted by
62 posts

Hi Terry Kathryn, I hear you on seeing things differently when you are alone. You aren't distracted by other things going on around you, people talking, asking questions, making plans, etc. As I told my mother & father when I was moving out to Montana, "it gets more beautiful around every bend in the road, and you can kill yourself fast gawking at the scenery!" I'm an artist, I paint and take photos and I'm always seeing things that I want to paint or get a photo of. My #1 hope for a trip to Scotland is that there are places to pull off to the side of the road to get a quick photo or 10. ;-)
I think the hardest thing about taking a trip alone will be breaking it to the family and living with their objections. Of course they will worry, but it's not the first time I've gone off on my own. I'm smart about my safety, I follow all the rules for keeping safe. Pam

Posted by
4373 posts

Go, Baby, Go!!! Regarding expenses, it's possible you will save a bit by going solo - perhaps you really just want to go back to the room, but your partner wants to go to dinner; you're probably going to order something, too. Same thing with museum entrance fees, trains not taken, buying a few postcards because she's buying some, etc. I've ended up with more than a few things that I would otherwise have never even looked at because I was window-shopping with someone else LOL! Granted, these expenses aren't the same as splitting the cost of a hotel room, but they can add up. Ideally, your father will travel with you...and NOT to decrease the expenses ;-) Go, Baby, Go!!!

Posted by
3696 posts

Hi Pam, I understand the family worrying, but I have an at&t cell phone that worked all over Europe and if they feel the need to reach me, it is easy. Also, depending on your plan, I think the international texting is free...I also get emails on my phone, but I did stop that as it was expensive, then reactived it when i returned to the states. With that phone option I feel relatively free, but not completely out of touch. Time to write in my journal and take as much time with my images is a total 'artistic retreat.' I did take my gps the last trip and downloaded the maps and it was so easy, but I have done it many times with just a map.
Have so much fun.... would love to see you paintings after your trip.!

Posted by
26 posts

I am taking a group of teachers to Scotland in July. Go to my website to read about it. We would love to have you go with us. You do not have to be a teacher. globaleducationaladventures.com

Posted by
62 posts

Hi Joyce, Thank you for the invitation and welcome. I'd love to join your group but your trip is during July when I have to be at work. April is a fairly quiet time of our work year. The rate for your trip is wonderful. I wish I could go in July. Have a great time.
Pam

Posted by
312 posts

Hi Pam, Have you bought your tickets yet? Can you fly out of Boston on the Wednesday? Going to Edinburgh, Thurs 21 April to Wed 27 is $906 (as I type) on Aer Lingus. If you can fly out Wed 20 April it's $783. Wow, it's even cheaper to fly to Glasgow on Thursday 21 to Wednesday 27 .. just $779. Aer Lingus, I've read, is having some issues with crew and disrupting of schedules, so it may be not good for someone on a tight schedule this spring, but the pricing is sure great.

Posted by
1 posts

GO! The first time I ever traveled outside the US (besides Canada) was to England, Scotland, and Ireland - alone. I hadn't planned to go alone, but like you, my travel partner canceled. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The freedom of not having to compromise your agenda (doing what you want when you want) and the confidence it gave me were priceless. I love traveling alone now and encourage everyone I know to try it (especially women). When you're a woman traveling alone people tend to "adopt" you along the way. You will probably have more interaction with the locals because you are alone and not part of a couple. Stay at B&Bs, you'll have an instant local family and breakfast with fellow travelers brings welcome interaction. If you like hostels they are a great way to meet people. You may even find a few instant companions for your activities along the way. I really encourage you to go for it; take your common sense and decide that you will have a great adventure. If you have a positive attitude about it you will have a great trip!

Posted by
993 posts

Many years ago on my first trip to the UK we were in Drumnadrochit. We met a boy just out of high school who had been planning this trip to the UK with his friends as soon as they graduated. They all bailed on him. Among other things his mum gave him a railpass and a credit card and sent him on his way. I'm sure she was worried but he was having a grand time.