July 5, 2009
Those of you who’ve visited UrbanTravelGirl know what a passionate ambassador I am for solo travel. So is Beth Whitman, whose Wanderlust and Lipstick Web site is a treasure trove of info for those chicas who like hitting the road, whether with girlfriends, kids and families, or on their own.
I often am asked by friends—and friends of friends—for tips on visiting foreign countries when you’re female and rolling solo. In fact, I’d planned to write a post with some suggestions… and one of those suggestions is to be open and available to meeting local residents wherever you go. But Beth beat me to the punch, and has a great recent Web site post on “Meeting the Locals: 5 Tips for Solo Travelers.” Be sure to check out her five tips on doing this with purpose—and it’s obviously worked for her, as she’s become friends with folks she’s met on her travels. I’ve done the same, having met and shared my 40th birthday dinner with a charming Irish couple on the French Riviera. I’ve become pals with Parisians I’ve interviewed for travel stories and have developed and maintained real friendships with B&B owners I first met several years ago in Rome.
Of Beth’s five tips, my favorite is her first: “Become a regular.” As she says, “If you’re staying in one location for more than a few days, you can often make local friends if you frequent the same place for coffee or meals (or milkshakes!). It should go without saying, but you’ll have a better chance of being remembered if you are warm and friendly.”
My own corollary: Women traveling solo should ALSO make friends with the waitstaff at these spots. Not only will you often receive more attentive service and great tables from male waiters and bartenders (a HUGE self-esteem boost, especially when they’re cute!), but they’ll look out for you and “protect” you from potentially annoying men who might approach a single woman dining or drinking alone. They’ll stop by your table and chat, making you feel less lonely and loaning you some “street cred” with other patrons, wondering who YOU are to merit such special attention!
During my two trips to Villefranche-sur-Mer, for example, I’ve become friends of a sort with a gorgeous Gallic waiter (mentioned several months back in a previous post!) at Le Cosmo. I’ve struck up fun and flirty conversations with café baristas near Rome’s Piazza Barberini—one of whom became particularly friendly upon learning I was staying at nearby B&B for several days. And during my early relocation days in Florence, Italy, I made sure to visit the same nearby ristorante and got to know the friendly waiters (while being comped a glass of good Brunello di Montalcino from time to time). They took good care of me every time I stopped in.
If nothing else, you’ll have someone to say bonjour or ciao to when you walk by that restaurant, café or corner market on your way to the next sightseeing adventure… and that CERTAINLY will help you feel much more at home, no matter where you are in the world.
Filed under: Uncategorized