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  #1  
Old 16 Jan 2009
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Travelling solo - do they know something I don't?

Hello peeps!

In April I'm heading off round Europe on my TA. On my own. Now, to me, this doesn't seem to be too big a deal - I'm only going as far east as Ukraine, bit of a bimble round the Balkans, back in time for the HUMM. Everyone I tell this to thinks it's a great idea, until I mention I'm going on my own, at which point they look a little bit scared.

Last night I met a cop who is biking round the world for 6 months with a couple of mates to raise money for charity. HE said he wouldn't like to do my trip on his own, seemed to think I was quite hardcore. Later conversations with someone else he was discussing close protection work in the Balkans and talking about going to visit a relative who's going to be head of security at Basra airport!

So now i'm wondering if there's some huge troll lurking under every bridge that eats solo travellers (when it can't get billy goats), that everyone else knows about and I don't.

Is travelling alone really unusual enough to provoke that much surprise and awe? I can see why you would and why you wouldn't, but I wouldn't have thought the decision to travel alone would be seen as such a big deal, just another personal choice.

Laura
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  #2  
Old 16 Jan 2009
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Solo

Balkans solo. You'll have a great time. No question. Linzi.
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  #3  
Old 16 Jan 2009
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Hey Laura,

you'll probably be about as much on your own as you choose.

My guess is that people are particularly awed by solo travellers because they are scared to be on their own. In fact, local people take special care of solo travellers.

Have fun.

Lars
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  #4  
Old 16 Jan 2009
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Having done both, there are considerable differences between riding solo and with someone else. There are obviously some advantages of having someone else around say when you break down or are going out to eat (this didn't bother me at all in Asia but strangely I felt more self conscious in Europe) etc but you are much more free on your own, no one rushes you but you can ride at whatever speeds you like, stop when you like etc.

From my own experience, you won't have trouble meeting people (and you'll probably meet more on your own than traveling with others) however the main difference would likely be the pestering from the local guys- but if you can handle that, you can handle anything I'd say!
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  #5  
Old 16 Jan 2009
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Friends and relatives always have a "safe" horizon. Five hundred years ago they'd have told you not to go into Lancashire alone, a hundred years back it'd be France, now they can imagine themselves travelling to Majorca or Florida and not much further. Being alone rather than with a plane load of your mates seems to make it worse to them. The Lancastians and French stopped eating travellers a few thousand years back as did the rest of the world, it just took a while for the word to get to some people.

Your Police contact has the opposite problem. When two coppers get together they talk about murders and rapes not how many tickets they dished out for cycling on the pavement. People listening to the conversation could assume the whole place was full of dangerous criminals.

The Balkans is Europe. Lots of very nice friendly people who mostly obey the laws, pay their taxes and do what they can for a bit of fun. Take the sort of security precautions you would in the UK, use your common sense and you'll be fine.

Like Mike S says, this is southern Europe, so expect a little a more latin spirit from the blokes who fancy you.

Andy
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  #6  
Old 16 Jan 2009
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yeah i get this all the time from family and friends; im off to see the stones/off round scotland/off round vietnam/off out for a few drinks.....'what, on your own???"

I would hate it if i was dependent on people for happiness. if you start off on your own then surely anything else is a plus in life.

I think its more of a social thing then safety.
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  #7  
Old 16 Jan 2009
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Hi Laura

I would reiterate all of the above comments, especially 'Lars'. I would never travel any other way, but solo. In my opinion it is the best way. I recall my first trip overland to India thirteen years ago. According to others, I was going to get kidnapped in Kurdistan and if I survived that, I would most probably get lynched in Iran, neither happened, bar from making loads of new friends. Its amazing how fellow overlanders attract each other, whether you meet someone at a border crossing or you meet someone at a camp site. The beauti of travelling solo is that you can choose whether to spend a few days/weeks travelling with someone else or not. In addition, should you get lost you only have yourself to blame, and if you do not have to considor anyone else when it comes to routes, sightseeing etc.

As for solo riding being hard core, that is nonsense (depending on the trip of course) its no more hard core than if you were travelling with someone else.
I'm sure you don't feel it necessary to pair up everytime you go some where in the UK, why should travelling through Europe be any different.

You go ahead and travel alone, you won't regret it.

Good luck

Mike
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  #8  
Old 16 Jan 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baluchiman View Post
Hi Laura

I would reiterate all of the above comments, especially 'Lars'. I would never travel any other way, but solo. In my opinion it is the best way. I recall my first trip overland to India thirteen years ago. According to others, I was going to get kidnapped in Kurdistan and if I survived that, I would most probably get lynched in Iran, neither happened, bar from making loads of new friends. Its amazing how fellow overlanders attract each other, whether you meet someone at a border crossing or you meet someone at a camp site. The beauti of travelling solo is that you can choose whether to spend a few days/weeks travelling with someone else or not. In addition, should you get lost you only have yourself to blame, and if you do not have to considor anyone else when it comes to routes, sightseeing etc.

As for solo riding being hard core, that is nonsense (depending on the trip of course) its no more hard core than if you were travelling with someone else.
I'm sure you don't feel it necessary to pair up everytime you go some where in the UK, why should travelling through Europe be any different.

You go ahead and travel alone, you won't regret it.

Good luck

Mike
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  #9  
Old 16 Jan 2009
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People do have a funny attitude to solo travelers... thats friends, family and locals you meet on the way. A couple of years ago i spent eighteen months doing London to Sydney on my own and loved it and am currently traveling in Africa solo. You aways meet people on the way, locals, back packers and other bike travelers, also, friends sometimes fly out when you are in a 'nice' place too.

However, there will also be times when you are a little bit lonely, or stuck in a situation where you think another person would be of benefit, but on balance, i prefer solo and when i do hook with others on the road after a while i want to go back to solo, to make my own decisions etc etc

I also think you speak to locals more on your own as they are more likely to approach a lone traveler than two travelers talking away to each other to the exclusion of the people around them, and i like to chat to locals when i can more than anyone else.

The funny thing is, like mentioned earlier in this thread, in Europe I never feel comfortable dining alone, but in eastern europe, asia or africa no problem whats so ever, probably because people are more likely to chat to you there.

Anyway, Its a real horses for courses situation, but i am i believe a solo pony!
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  #10  
Old 16 Jan 2009
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Stay out of bars when alone.
Best!

Last edited by mollydog; 24 Mar 2009 at 18:45.
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  #11  
Old 16 Jan 2009
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Hello,
I can't contribute much that has not been said here already, but actually I'll be doing pretty much the same thing.

Starting from Romania I'll be going to Ukraine, catch the ferry to Istanbul, ride through Bulgaria, do a quick loop in Albania, have a look into Europe's youngest Nation (Kosovo) and then finally hit the Adria and head north, where home is. Most of it alone

So obviously my Advice is don't worry to much. Like somebody stated here earlier people have a horizon and whatever goes beyond that appears dangerous and irresponsible to them.
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  #12  
Old 17 Jan 2009
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Ach, I love this site sometimes. How brilliant to see so many positive responses in such a short space of time.

Lots of sensible advice, too, including the most sensible advice of all... "go ahead and do it."

--Mike
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  #13  
Old 17 Jan 2009
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one ? two ? whats the difference.

If you are going to get kidnapped, (which is highly unlikely in Europe e.g. the Balkan) they can as well kidnap you and your mate. (two persons make about the same impression on a guy with an automatic weapon as one person does.) Actually, if I think a bit longer about it, two persons equals more ransom money, so better travel alone

(/me went solo from switzerland to india. never felt threatend anywhere on my trip)
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  #14  
Old 17 Jan 2009
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Josie Dew has a good book about her travels in Europe and elsewhere solo by bicycle. I think it´s Wind in My Wheels or something. It´s got an account of when something went badly wrong, and her reflections after the event happened. She sums up the risks very well.

If I ever get home I can lend you the book, but you can probably get it in a library or shop.


cheers,
Doug
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  #15  
Old 17 Jan 2009
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You're more likely to get into problems in big tourist resorts, i.e. Malia, Magaluf, etc. Been there, done that. The only time I've had a problem when travelling with the bike was getting into a fight with a Romanian smackhead in Amsterdam. I believe there's one HUBB user got mugged in Monza. Again, a town with a big tourist draw. I've found that the less tourist focused a place is, the more welcoming the locals are of solo travellers. That to me is a big pull to travel before these places get more commercialised. Prague is usually cited as a prime example.

The first tour I did alone was Italy by car. I was supposed to be going with my then girlfriend but thats another story in itself. My parents were less than happy when I told them I was going anyway. Why they thought I'd be safer with her is anyone's guess.

They had just got used to idea until one year, I told them I was taking the bike and that the Nurburgring was on the itinerary and they hit the roof. They just accept it now.

If they think you're hardcore, let them think it. Makes what you're doing that bit more special.

BTW, the last trip I did with the bike was just for a week with a mate to see the Moto GP in Holland. You have no idea how much he did my head by the end of Day 1. It was also down to him that I had the previously mentioned scrap in Amsterdam on the return journey. Unless someone is as well prepared as you and has the same attitude, they're more trouble than they're worth! Solution: travel alone, stay out of the tourist towns.
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