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Solo Traveling

Hello,
I was considering doing a RS tour as I am now single and the last time I went to Europe on my own and it was lonely to visit museums alone and have dinners alone. I actually do like to have alone time and can be somewhat introverted, but also want to be with other people to chat and share new experiences. I'd like to know anyone's experiences doing a RS tour alone and whether other people were welcoming to singles during the free time periods to include solo folks, or whether couples mostly go off on their own. Also have a question about the chosen hotels and street noise as I am sensitive to noise and have trouble sleeping if it is too noisy.

Thank you!

Posted by
50 posts

I've done three of the tours solo. On one I shared roommates and the other two I paid the single supplement. Of course there were a few couples that went off on their own but on the whole I was able to always find someone or a group to join for meals and to explore. I'd say that most of your tour mates will be welcoming.
On the whole I'd say that the hotels were fairly quiet. Only on my first tour (I've done a total of nine) was there a lot of street noise - I think from a bar or nightclub. That was in Vienna. But I do use earplugs as well as an eye mask since light really bothers me.
I also try to join a different set of people for breakfast each morning. Sometimes that leads to joining up for shared interests later in the day.
Have a fun trip.

Posted by
3697 posts

I did a Venice-Florence-Rome tour in October-November and had a great time. There were 28 of us, mostly couples plus three women traveling together. I tried to spend some time with everyone and everyone was friendly and welcoming. Sometimes I wanted to be on my own and that was fine too. I did a lot of the free-time sightseeing on my own because I'd researched and made my own plans (which included several solo days before and after the tour), but it was nice to have dinner with others and I was able to do that most evenings. This has been my only RS tour so far but I've read other threads on this forum that were consistent with my experience. I'd say you have to be outgoing enough to sit down with other people and start conversations, but I think you'll find plenty of company if and when you want it.

You can't generalize about street noise. I was in four hotel rooms. The first overlooked a square where loud music played the first night but didn't repeat, fortunately. I was tired enough to sleep, and I don't think it went on very late. The second was quiet, the third had some short bursts of hallway noise as it was near the lobby, the last was fine. Double paned windows in all the rooms. I brought earplugs but never used them. Your experience may differ of course. I think the hotels value the RS groups and try to keep their guests happy, though room choices may be limited.

EDIT -- I paid for a single room, which made sleep easier. If you opt for a roommate and there are multiple singles, I believe the practice is to rotate people so no one is stuck with a snorer every night (and the snorer has an equal shot at everyone).

Posted by
1193 posts

I’ve been on 6 RS tours, 3 of them solo and 3 with friends/roommates. 2 times I was assigned a roommate and was very fortunate being paired with pleasant and cooperative ladies. One time I paid the single supplement. For my 7th tour in 2019, I have paid the single supplement. While I have had good experiences rooming with friends and assigned roommates, I do like having my own space to come home to at the end of a day of sightseeing!
Twice I’ve been in hotels, in Prague and Dublin, with outside noise but it was easily dealt with.

Enjoy traveling with RS!

Posted by
818 posts

Wrt noise, does white noise work for you? There is a white noise app (you can go to apps on your phone and search "white noise" and it should pop up first) that offers many many choices for noises. You can play this all night, or time it to turn off at some point. My family always use white noise. My kids have the app on their phone too ;) The noises are things like ocean waves, light rain, downpour, crickets, and so many more as to be silly (my kids also enjoy just scrolling through the choices and listening to the crazy possibilities - who would sleep to that!?). My favorites are "brown noise" - this sounds most like air coming through a heating vent - and "ocean waves". I am someone who wakes up at slight noises (neighbors rolling their trash can out to the street, people talking outside the house), but white noise works like a charm for me, and for traveling it helps me not worry about where we might be staying

Posted by
1432 posts

Try using the search box at the top of this site, type in "Rick Steves Tour solo" and you'll get many answers to this often asked question (my prior answers are included there).

Posted by
4074 posts

cslux, if you are sensitive to noise, consider the benefit of the single supplement. Finding yourself with a roommate that snores is not fun. But the hotels are chosen for location (i.e., close to sights) and not for luxury or comfort. Don't throw away those earplugs. You wont know all the hotels at which the tour stays until a month out, so you can't look them up either.

Posted by
545 posts

I'm an introvert who has done 5 RS tours as a single, and have found they work very well for me. I have always found people friendly and welcoming if I ask to join them. Sometimes I prefer to go off on my own and enjoy that, too.

The one thing I learned on my first tour was to act quickly at the beginning of "free time" if I wanted to have company, or everybody might disappear. 😀

Posted by
1193 posts

I had another thought about traveling solo on RS tours and that is each group has a different personality meaning that some groups are more welcoming to solo travelers than others. Occasionally, a tour will have a group of 2 or 3 couples who are more standoff-ish than other couples. I encountered that on my first tour and because I didn't want to impose on anyone, it took a few days to determine who would be inclusive.

Someone made the comment that breakfast time is good for finding people who might want to do the same things you are interested in for that day's free time. I've learned to reach out which increases my chance of success in getting company when I want it. In general, on all my tours people are friendly and welcome talking to someone new.

Posted by
942 posts

I agree with LizinPA, the key is to ask others if you can join them. As an introvert that is sometimes difficult, but as others have said most folks on these tours are very friendly. I have taken 6 RS tours and also a couple with other companies as a solo. I agree paying the single supplement helps give you enough alone time and group meals and touring gives you time to share experiences. Really they are the best of both worlds.

Posted by
2040 posts

I have taken many RS tours as a single. I also travel easily by myself, without any tour, but do find that a longer trip by myself does get pretty lonely, most every meal alone, etc. So, my practice over the past few years has been some time by myself, before and/or after an RS tour. Always found tour mates friendly and welcoming. Often I spend free time on my own, exploring things I have chosen in advance, but other times I join a few others from the group. Same for meals, although I tend to have adopted a Southern European schedule and eat dinner later, even at 9 pm or so, and others dine earlier.

Posted by
26 posts

I travelled as a solo in October 2018 in the RS Venice, Florence and Rome tour. I arrived a couple of days before the tour started and left a couple of days after it ended. It was like travelling with family. Couples and groups went out of their way to insure that I was invited to join them in all activities. There were several times that I was asked by more than one couple to join them and had to decide. I tend to be an early riser and always was one of the first to breakfast but there was always someone joining me or sitting beside me. After the tour ended about half the tour went to Ostia Antica together. Have a great trip I know you will be happy travelling on a RS Tour.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you so much for the quick and informative replies! I am now definitely considering a tour as a solo. Having traveled extensively already through Western Europe I might try for a more Eastern Europe tour. Most people seem to really enjoy these tours and they seem to have a good blend of organized and free time which appeals to me. I wouldn't like being herded from one place to another all day every day. Spent last summer in historic center of Florence but was disappointed overall due to the crowds and noise which I didn't enjoy. Great sights, art, museums etc. but just hoards of noisy students of all nationalities were roaming the streets every night, drunk and yelling, clapping and singing until 3-4am. Very loud street cleaners and taxis who beeped in the streets. Have been to Paris many times and never had it so bad there. Yes I did use white noise there as well as ear plugs but was still difficult to sleep. I am definitely the type to have a single room and pay the supplement. Thanks for the tip about talking to people at breakfast. It does take some courage to speak to others when you are alone, don't want to impose on people, but I know myself as a former member of a long-married couple that it was sometimes so nice to have another person along with other points of view and new discussions. I'm just amazed at how many of you have taken 6-10 trips with RS tours! I mean they aren't over-priced but also not cheap. You either have a very large travel budget or they are just that good to sacrifice other purchases, or both!!

Posted by
1193 posts

cslux,
I give up a lot in order to go on my RS tours, they are that important to me. I have pared down my monthly requirements so that I can save as much as possible for my travels. I love traveling!

Posted by
469 posts

cslux, my very first solo trip was the RS Eastern European tour and I loved it so much that I would do it again. As others have stated, you will be fine as a solo. You will not regret doing the Eastern European tour, it is fantastic. Go!

Posted by
6440 posts

My experiences have been similar to others. I've done 10 Rick Steves tours, 5 solo and 5 with family. I've also done 10 Road Scholar tours, all solo (5 international, 5 US based).

I do research for the Rick Steves tours for my free time and usually strike out on my own. Others are welcome to join me. What I don't want to do is to be the tour guide for someone else. I don't mind at all sharing what I'm going to do but I hope that others will have looked to see what they want to do as well. I hope that does not sound mean but I've had the experience where someone did not have any idea what they wanted to see so I sort of fell in to being their guide. My fault because I didn't just say something.

Each group has kind of a different rhythm. The most inclusive tour I've been on was the 21 day Best of Europe but we all bonded really well and were together for so many days! The most difficult tour was one where there were 11 of the 25 or so traveling together. That set up a difficult dynamic for the rest of the folks. I was traveling with family on that one but it might have been tough as a solo as the group traveling together was not terribly inclusive.

I have signed up for #11 in April, lol! I've also got #11 for Road Scholar signed up as well!

I always get the single supplement. Most of the other solo women on the Rick tours have been very nice. On one of the Road Scholar tours there was one solo woman who was roomed with another who did not bathe for the entire 2 weeks. I had been doing single supplements any way because I just need some down time but after that....I'll pay for the supplement every time. Since you are a sensitive sleeper, definitely go with the single supplement.

As far as noise...worst was a hotel in England that also serves as a local wedding venue. Was there for a Friday and Saturday night in May. Too hot to keep the window closed, too noisy until midnight to keep it open. Yes, the white noise app worked well.

Have a wonderful time! I find them well worth the money. They usually take me to places I might have trouble getting to on my own and enrich my trip with the information from the guides!

Posted by
166 posts

I went on the RS Munich/Salzburg/Vienna tour on my own in May 2018. I paid the single supplement. Throughout the 8 days I sat with many different tour members at meals. I never felt left out in any way. I did make a concerted effort to learn the names of other tour members.

Posted by
2323 posts

I went as a solo on a tour last June. It was a very positive experience. I paid for the single supplement and found that it was great to have a place that was "just my own." at the end of the day. People were welcoming. You do need to step up to the plate a little and join in with others. 1/2 the dinners are group dinners. For the other 1/2, if you really want to join someone else, you need to speak up and let people know that you are looking for a dinner partner.

As far as chosen hotels, it really is going to depend on the tour that you are on. I was on Paris and the Heart of France and I was not bothered by street noise (or significant noise) at any of those hotels.

Posted by
6440 posts

I like Carol's point about speaking up and asking others about dinner plans. Also...if there is a group event that day, try to make connections before the group goes their separate ways. Sometimes you will see people you know everywhere you turn, sometimes not.

Posted by
2940 posts

I've only been on 3 RS tours so far. The first my husband was along. The other 2 he opted out.

That first tour only had 1 single on it. She was my buddy, and very independent. My husband and I frequently joined different people at breakfast and at the planned dinners. We often sat separately from each other and always asked for permission. I'd say that with a couple of exceptions, people on that tour were polite, but not very friendly. It was only a week in Istanbul and many on the tour seemed intense rather than relaxed.

What a difference on the other 2 tours! I did those solo, with a single supplement and throroughly enjoyed them.

Tour #2 had a totally different demographic. Somewhat younger, more women than men, lots of single women, no discernible clicks. Everyone was welcoming, friendly and funny. This was Village Italy.

Tour #3 had both male and female singles as well as couples. Most people were retired or had enough vacation time that they were very laid back. I think I talked to everyone on the tour at least once, either sitting with them at meals or just hanging out. That was Best of Scandinavia.

Even though I live in the desert where I rarely hear anything at night except an occasional coyote, I don't have an issue with noise interrupting my sleep. Typically, I stay up late and rise early. The one place I did wake up earlier than normal was due to the morning call to prayer in Istanbul. I found it beautiful.

In all the lodgings on the other tours, I really don't remember any noise. Maybe I was so tired at the end of each day that I didn't notice it.

Posted by
517 posts

I'd like to know anyone's experiences doing a RS tour alone and whether other people were welcoming to singles during the free time periods to include solo folks, or whether couples mostly go off on their own.

I've done a few RS tours solo and I'd agree with others that the group dynamics can vary. On one tour there were 2 couples travelling together as well as an extended family of 7 people. So almost half the group were people that tended to socialize primarily with each other although they were friendly people.

To address your specific question above, I was seldom with other people on the free time. A time to join others was in areas where we would hike. People would form groups based on which route they wanted to take and everyone was welcome. Another shared time might be lunchtime. If we had a few free hours in a town starting at lunchtime it was easy to join a couple or two to get lunch, or if the free time straddled lunch and I was off on my own I might run across another couple who would say they were about to get lunch and ask if I wanted to join them. But then after the meal we'd head our separate ways. For dinner it varies tour by tour; on a some there were people who would collect a handful of people and head out to dinner. But I'm also introverted and realize couples have spent a lot of money to go on the tour and on the free dinners they might want to just enjoy each other's company, so I did not invite myself to join other people. Outside of these scenarios, typically if we had a free day or afternoon I would be out on my own, although I might run into others on the tour.

I also want to be with other people to chat and share new experiences.

There is plenty of time for that at the group meals and on the bus. I made it a practice to sit in different parts of the bus each time

Posted by
4 posts

I am a recent widow and my husband I traveled the world together. I signed up for a solo 7 Day in Rome tour, remembering how inclusive our two Rick Steves' Tours were to the solo travelers. We all got along so well and it was fun being together. This will be my test on how well I can do this on my own. I am a little nervous that I will be dining alone (I definitely do not want that). I also opted for the single supplement. I will let everyone know how I did. I go in March.

Posted by
545 posts

Francine,
You will be fine! I lost my husband 6 years ago, so, sadly, know where you are now. Walking into a restaurant by myself the first time was really hard, but it turns out it's not that bad. RS tours have really worked well for me, very comfortable and friendly.

Posted by
1193 posts

Cslux,
I had another thought about connecting with folks on a tour: offer to take pictures of people who are traveling together, most people appreciate this. I like to take photos and I have found this to be a good conversation starter with others. You will have your own ideas about how to become part of the group.

Remember that others might be nervous about being with strangers on a tour so you might make someone grateful that you reached out to them, I mean other solo travelers. And, every tour group has a different personality, this is life and traveling is about stretching ourselves, too.
Enjoy!

Posted by
135 posts

My husband and I have been on two RS My Way tours and are leaving in 16 days for our next adventure - the Sicily tour bookended by a few days in Rome and a few days in Catania. On both of these tours most of the couples in the group reached out immediately to the singles and made them feel welcome, drew them into conversations, asked them what their plans were, etc. On our My Way Alpine Tour in 2017 we had six female singles - they had so much fun together that they ended up asking the rest of us us to join them for various activities! I just received the roster for our upcoming tour and we have four female singles from various parts of the U.S. I say good for them - I am looking forward to our time together, and good for you, for considering a RS Tour. It's true that each tour group has a different dynamic, but if I suddenly found myself single, I would not hesitate to go. You should go, too. Cheers!

Posted by
242 posts

I booked very early, booked the first tour of the season, and I think I received another discount for paying in full early. Anyway, the discounts added up to an amount that almost paid for the solo premium.

Posted by
2323 posts

Francine,

I too am a widow and you have my condolences. I know it is hard. You also have my admiration for stepping up to the plate and redefining how you can continue to go on, live, and enjoy travel. I practiced eating alone here at home before I went on the tour. Turns out I really didn't have to eat alone unless I wanted to, but just build up your confidence level a little bit in advance.

I think you will enjoy the tour and be glad that you went.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you so much for the various replies to my post! I am now totally encouraged and motivated to do an RS tour as a solo. I know a couple who went on the Sicily tour and loved it, for the person here who is going. They said the group was so much fun and very interesting things to see. Now the main issue is deciding which tour. Perhaps I will make it an annual thing, like many of you seem to. Thanks again!!

Posted by
6 posts

Francine,

I have done 3 RS tours with a friend. The one I did as a solo did not have any other solo women. I am going solo in 2019 and wouldn't mind if I am assigned a "roomie." I am also introverted, but I really work at initiating conversations. Other tour members have always been very friendly and asked me to join them. I never ate a meal by myself. Since I am not a big shopper, I sometimes go off by myself even when I traveled with my friend.
The Bulgaria tour is really awesome and not a country many people think of visiting.