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Female Single Traveler

Hello fellow travelers,
I am thinking of signing up for Paris and the Heart of France in April 2020. I'm wondering how single female travelers felt about their tour experiences. There are many nights where diners with the group are not offered. How did you manage on these nights? On my previous RS tour, I felt kind of lonesome as all other travelers were couples and I wasn't invited to join them. This was the only negative of my tour.
PS I was the only single traveler on my tour

Posted by
942 posts

I think it's unusual to not have more singles--In 6 tours I have never been the only one.

That said, I have found I need to be proactive and ask other people if they would like company. People on RS tours are pretty friendly and I have always been welcomed. Occasionally, everybody disappears quickly--no problem, I can fend for myself, too.

Posted by
8009 posts

I've done 11 RS tours with 6 of them being solo (the others were with family). I've also done 10 Road Scholar tours, all on my own. I don't mind eating on my own but I know many do.

The time to work out dinner plans is before the group breaks up from the group activity. I do suggest being pro-active on this rather than waiting to be invited. Either mention to others that you are interested in joining someone for dinner OR do some research and ask others to join you.

On one of the Road Scholar tours I had done research on restaurants in the town and knew where I wanted to go so I just did a general invitation to all the other solo women travelers that they were welcome to join me. I had a couple of women join me, some were tired and were going to eat at the hotel (which I was sick of as that was where our group dinners were!), another wasn't interested in trying the Thai place I had my eye on.

Paris and HOF was one of the ones I did solo and I loved this tour! I'd suggest you get to Paris a day or more before your tour starts. Have you been to Paris before? There is SO much to see and 2 days given for it on the tour just doesn't do it.

editing to add: Cross-posting with LizinPA - apparently we are sharing the same brain today, lol!!

Posted by
19 posts

Hi All
Also a single traveler on most of my 16 RS tours, and agree 100% with other posters on being proactive. I’m not shy but I am an introvert, so I did need to get out of my comfort zone and talk things out with others on the tour, especially at meal times or on free afternoons. Offering to share a picnic dinner or lunch after visiting a farmers market is fun too. I loved the Heart of France tour, and also recommend a day or two in Paris ahead of your group meeting. Have a wonderful time!

Posted by
1742 posts

I will add my 2 cents to this. I've been solo on several RS tours, have lost count - I've been on 6 so far. I have found being proactive, as the others have said, is the key to having dinner companions. I try to mingle around and not hang out with the same people/couples all the time. I like to get to know everyone. Sometimes tour mates will invite me or I will invite others to join me. It has mostly worked out well. Every group has a different personality and a different group dynamic.
Paris & the Heart of France was my first tour and I was one of 2 single women. The other lady was traveling with her sister and brother in law, and stuck with them pretty much the whole time. So I was truly a single. Our guide actually gently invited this other lady to mingle around but she would not. I think she was super shy.

For the Paris & HoF tour, I arrived 3 days early and had my sightseeing plans all set. I met some of the other couples in the breakfast room before the tour and got to know them casually before Day 1.

This is a terrific tour, you will love it. As the others have said, be proactive and don't wait for others to invite you. I think sometimes married couples don't realize what it is like to be on your own. So help them out by letting them know you are enjoying their company and would like to join them.

Posted by
3642 posts

We usually had several solo travelers on our RS tours, but we took all of them during the summer months when teachers & college students were off from school.

I took the 1-week RS Paris tour one year when my husband didn't want to go to Europe, and there were several solo travelers on that trip. If it's possible to put people into general categories, we had:

  1. Solos who were very prepared for the trip. They had thoroughly read the RS guidebook, TripAdvisor, etc. to come with their list of sites that they wanted to see during their free time and also restaurants that they wanted to try. Others wanted to join them.

  2. Solos who depended on others for what to do during their free time and didn't have any restaurant recommendations.

As Pam mentioned, it's easier to draw people to you by saying early in the day that you're thinking about going to either "A" or "B" restaurant tonight. Is anyone else interested? Or, even "I'm thinking about renting a bike in the Loire valley this afternoon. Anyone else interested?"

Last year I took my first completely solo itinerary trip for three weeks to Italy (husband didn't want to travel) and had a wonderful time! Determine ahead of time that you will have a fantastic trip (you will!), wander the quaint streets in the evening with a gelato or ice cream, and take your RS book to dinner if you're eating alone to read up about your next day's activities. The next day on the bus, happily share what you did the previous day. Hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
3642 posts

Hi again, also don't assume just because someone is traveling as a couple that they are both going to be doing the same activity. When we traveled together on our RS tours, there would be activities that my husband wanted to do that were different from me. We happily each went our way and enjoyed hearing about those activities when we were back together at dinner. If nothing else, asking if any other women want to go shopping for an hour might elicit some positive responses!

Posted by
599 posts

I have heard that you can call the office and ask if there are any departures with more single travelers signed on. Perhaps if you go on one that has a couple of single travelers for sure you will feel better? It sounds like a lovely tour, I hope you have a great time.

Posted by
3450 posts

I've been on 4 RS tours now as a single woman. My husband joined me for a 5th one.

It's been my observation for all of them that the tours dominated by couples, and especially when more than one couple are traveling together, are exactly as you described. Some couples seem to be joined at the hip and vanish into thin air within seconds of a group activity being over.

It's been my experience that the more single women on any tour, the more likely all the tour members are open to inviting me to join them or to welcome me if I ask to join them. Please note that on all 5 tours, there were no single men traveling totally on their own, even if they did not share a room with their travel partner.

In 2nd place for friendliness and openness were the tours with families with 2-4 members and including at least one older or adult child. Examples include mom + daughter or son, mom + daughter in one room and mom's sister in another, mom + son in one room and dad/grandfather in a separate room -- the possible combinations are endless.

Unfortunately, you don't have a clue as to the demographics of the tour group until it's way too late to cancel, so you may be lucky or not with that.

As for dinners alone, this has never been a problem for me, but if it is for you the planning ahead advice previously given is good. I find that there is so much food on these tours and they are so active that I rarely feel like eating dinner at all. I'd rather have a bite in my room. Dinner out is fun, but it inevitably means not getting back to the room until late and not having much time to sleep before getting up early the next day.

The best part about RS tours for me is that every one I've been on has included unique experiences that I would never have even thought of or been able to do on my own.

The worst part that affects my desire for joining people for dinner is that I don't drink. I have never seen anyone get sloppy drunk on any RS tour, but on all 4 of the ones I've been solo, I've also been the only person who did not drink except for the kids who were below drinking age for the country we were in. Some jokes are just not as funny to a sober person as they are to someone who has 2 or more glasses of wine under their belt before dinner is even served.

Posted by
1131 posts

I agree with the many comments about being proactive. However, this is difficult for me as I am an introvert, even if there are other single travelers. So, I have just determined to eat alone, as I do at home. This usually means a quick bite somewhere, not a full dinner. If I do go to dinner alone, I bring my travel guide to read while I wait between courses. I have taken 6 Rick tours and 3 Rd Scholar. Much of the time it is mostly couples, but sometimes there have been as many as 5 single travelers and I do find the more of us there are, the easier it is to socialize. On my trip to Ireland last year I didn't even attempt to join the couples or families as I was never asked and I didn't want to be proactive. I still had a fabulous time as the Irish are so friendly.

Posted by
8009 posts

People who depended on others for what to do during their free time and didn't have any restaurant recommendations

Jean makes a wonderful point here. I’ve had this happen to me as I’m usually prepared and know what I want to see. In one instance the other single woman had done no research and wanted to join me for sightseeing and meals. After the first few times I tried not to mind but we didn’t have the same energy levels or food needs. I felt like I did a lot of compromising (perhaps she felt she did too) but in retrospect I should have been more clear about what my free time plans were and how much walking was involved. I don’t want this to sound mean as I am generally open to others joining me and am not suggesting anyone here would not have an idea of things that were of interest to them.

I guess what I want to suggest is what is implied above - bring something to the table to share.

Posted by
119 posts

I just signed up for that particular tour leaving 4/17 as a single. I've been on other tours before as a single and never had any issues with finding people to have dinner with. As many of the previous commenters said, it's helpful to ask around before the group breaks up for the day and to have suggestions on places to try or things to do. Don't wait for others to ask - feel free to ask others if you can join them, especially if you've been talking to them during the day. Be a bit proactive and you will be rewarded.

Posted by
1178 posts

Another single that went on the HOF tour and had a great time!

I’m an extreme introvert so am happy enough having dinner by myself. That said, I love the idea of researching restaurants and asking others if they will join. I suggest asking earlier rather than later as people may have formed plans after 2 pm or so.

On one tour there was a couple that made it their goal to have dinner with every single person on the tour. They just worked their way through the tour asking people out.

Posted by
3108 posts

I went on this same tour in June 2018 as my first Rick Steves Tour and a little curious what it would mean to be traveling as a solo female traveler. I would have to say that it was overall a very positive experience. The group was congenial and I enjoyed myself enough that I signed up for another tour this August.

I signed up for the single supplement and I think that is a very good idea! The second night of this tour, you are on your own for dinner. Now, I feel perfectly comfortable eating by myself in a restaurant at home, but I found myself a little intimidated in Paris. I ended up buying a sandwich and eating it in my room. I decided I needed to change strategies. The next free night, I spoke up and said that I would love to join others for a meal if anyone was interested. I never lacked people to have meals with after that. Even if you are an introvert, if you can just let people know you would like join others, I think the issue will be solved.

We had two solo travelers, several grandmas and teen age grandchildren and the rest were couples. The group dinners I tended to get seated with the teenagers which felt a little strange, but I like teenagers and these were lovely people. I don't think most of the couples realized that every time they sat down at a table for 4 with two couples that meant that there was no place for me. I found my way around this by looking for a larger table (seats 5 or 6) and going there first.

I think there is a happy medium where it is okay to communicate that you would love some company for a meal or an activity and also realizing that it is not the responsibility of the others on the tour to entertain you. I suppose a lot depends on the group, but I think that most people are gracious and inclusive on the RS tours from what I have seen on this forum.

For my part, I chaperoned 4 teenagers on a walk that the grandmothers didn't have the energy to make. I think that when each tour member takes just a little effort to think about how they can make the experience better for the others, everyone wins.

Posted by
5649 posts

At the risk of raising one of those red flag issues, I think this is where that first night meeting with buddy intros or self-introductions are a good way to identify people that might be amenable to joining up with.

Posted by
216 posts

I've been on 2 RS tours on my own and am an introvert .

Often in the free time during the afternoon, I've wanted to see something different than the rest of the group and happily did that (for example, on the Barcelona/Madrid tour, after our tour of both La Sagrada Familia & the Prado , I stayed for another hour, whereas most others left.) If there wasn't a group dinner on that evening, I'd pick up a bite to eat on my own, as I didn't want a heavy dinner every night anyway.

I made an extra effort to get to know people by jotting down a few notes on the roster at the welcome intros and trying to sit with different people at meals - both married and the few other single women.

At group dinners, I did not wait until everyone else sat down to find a seat. If there was a table for 5 or 6, I'd sit there. Sometimes that meant 2 other couples plus the tour guide sat there, and I consider that a plus because I like to sound our the tour guide on what we've seen/will see. Other times, I've ended up hanging out with another single woman on the tour, and that's worked fine.

Posted by
1 posts

Hi! I just returned from the Heart of Italy tour as a single female traveler. In the introductions on our first day, I told the group I'd signed up for the tour because I knew I would experience more with other people than on my own. It also helped to have some suggestions in my back pocket, I found people were very willing to join me if I threw out a couple of ideas. If you're the only solo traveler on the tour, keep an eye out for siblings or friends traveling together. These groups are usually eager for an extra person to talk with at dinner. Have so much fun!

Posted by
587 posts

I was recently on a RS tour with a woman who has done many RS tours as a single. She is a very friendly person, and I heard her mention several times that she tries to have a meal with each of the couples /families/singles on the tour. I think it let others know she would welcome joining them, if they were open.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you all who replied. You gave me so many fabulous suggestions that I have now signed up for Paris HOF tour beginning April 17th 2020! I chose this tour as it starts on a Friday which means the weekend markets will be open. And as a result of this feed, I already have touched base with another single traveler on this tour. I'm excited!

Posted by
803 posts

I have gone on 3 tours as a single female, 2 with RSE. I am socially comfortable, but I like a lot of alone time. I especially like to enjoy natural sites and museums at my own pace and with my own thoughts. In my regular life, I perform a lot of care taking roles and I find my now yearly trips to be a great regenerator for that.
I have had 3 terrific experiences on tours. The first tour was with a different company and there were all couples and one other single female. The couples seemed almost horrified that we came alone and did everything they could to include us. There was also 2 girlfriends traveling together in separate rooms and I spent some time with them. The other single female and I were not a good match for hanging out together. It took me a few days to figure out how to manage my activities. I accepted invitations to meals when I wanted and declined graciously when I didn't. When a couple invited me to walk with them at a site, I joined them and then drifted away from them after awhile.
On the RS tours, there were more solos, even a man. It was easy to join people when I wanted company. I tried not to spend too much time with one couple as I did not want anyone feeling responsible for my time. I also go early and stay late. When I was alone it Italy I would eat a nice lunch, preferably at an outside table/terrace and would read or just watch the people going by. Then I would get a deli sandwich and fruit and eat in my room for dinner.
My advice for a first time solo tour traveler would be not to worry because it is likely that you will have all the company that you want. Be friendly and don't be shy about extending an invitation, "Do you guys have plans for dinner, I was thinking of going to X". This gives the person/couple the chance to say they would like to join you, or they are going somewhere else but invite you along, or they could say they have other plans letting you know they don't want company. I would also recommend that you not be too needy. Have a plan B that allows for you to be on your own if necessary. Go to a restaurant by yourself, or get a to go meal and have it in your room or an appropriate outside area.
But, the most important advice is simply: Go! You won't regret it.

Posted by
1684 posts

Which date did you sign up for? My DH and I are also interested in Paris & HOF tour next April. We have not signed up yet, but hopefully next week. We would love to have you join us for some meals!

My DH is very quiet so I love others to talk to! Lol! We are thinking the second tour in April.

Posted by
1742 posts

I arrived 3 days early before this tour and ate breakfast every morning in the hotel. Since it was a small hotel it was easy to chat with several couples who were eating at the same time. We got to know each other before the tour even began. So I recommend doing this as a way to get acquainted. We all went our separate ways during the day. I had made sightseeing plans before I left home so I was prepared to enjoy myself. The next morning we would chat about what we had done and experienced the previous day!

Someone mentioned grandparents and teenagers traveling together. On my Best of Rome tour, there was a grandmother and her 20's granddaughter. The older lady was not up to the walking involved with going to see the Pope at St. Peter's Square. I was going and Stephanie joined me. We had a delightful time joining in with the excitement of the crowd. On another free afternoon the grandmother opted to return to their hotel room and, again, I and Stephanie spent the afternoon to do lots of walking and exploring!

Also, on tours, I will offer to take pictures of tourmates and then email the photos to them, or use their camera. But, my point is, being friendly and helpful helps you to connect with others.