When solo road-trips get old...
October 25, 2009 6:35 PM   Subscribe

I have a week vacation for Thanksgiving. Usually I take off for a road-trip, but last year - British Columbia - I found for the first time the thrill of the open road being overtaken by a sense of loneliness and (somewhat) isolation. I'm single and have travelled a lot on my own, but now I kinda don't wanna, but I would like to have an experience with my week off. And it's been a pretty tough year (right?) and I could use a break. How do single people navigate this?

Additional info:

a) I live in LA & all my friends live in LA, so the option of visiting a distant friend is not available.
b) No, I don't have a friend I can take with me - everyone's working and/ or has family commitments.
c) I'm European, so I have no relatives in this country to visit, and also don't have Thanksgiving commitments.
d) For visa reasons I can't leave the US (don't ask).
e) I've already road-tripped to the following states: AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, GA, ID, KY,LA, MS, MT, NE, NV, NM, NY, NC, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WY
f) I could drop $1-1.5K
g) I'm 37
h) I know - I should check into a hotel on the Vegas strip for a week. Does it make any difference that I don't drink or gamble?

God only knows what I'll do for Xmas!
posted by forallmankind to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
What are your interests? What would you think about doing a group activity that week? Something like a volunteer thing in New Orleans (yes, they are still rebuilding and helping homeless/displaced residents), or a backpack trip with others, or a photo retreat, or a build-a-trail sojurn, or a surf trip, etc. You could build other people into the trip from the get-go. This might work even if (especially if?) you're an introvert.

If you give a better sense of your hobbies, interests, or ideas of what you'd like to do with your free time, someone might have a better suggestion of an activity.

Another option -- go home with a cool friend for Thanksgiving! It can be fun to be around family, and it's amusing to see other dynamics play out, barring them being full-on passive-aggressive or batshit insane.
posted by barnone at 6:43 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

The last vacation I took as a single person, I spent part of the time at a dude ranch. (This one, but there are lots of others that are also very nice.) There were people around, I was alone only when I wanted to be, and there were no pressures because I knew I would never see those people again. It was a perfect way to avoid being overtaken by loneliness. The great scenery, clean air, friendly conversation, and fun horsebackriding were lovely side benefits.
posted by DrGail at 6:43 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

My best single road trip was an unlimited VIA rail pass, which I used to meander my way from Toronto to Vancouver across Canada. The pre-trip stop in NYC (which I had never been to at the time) just made me lonely, like you said, but the train trip was a blast. I met several people doing the same thing, and we ended up being a travelling party group. Best 2-week vacation ever.

I'd say do something where a bunch of random people get trapped together for a while. A friend of mine just recently did a cruise on a tall ship for singles and couples. They made them do the work of sailing the ship (under instruction, of course.) and live in the ship's small quarters together. They all got to be pretty tight by the end and had a great time.

Maybe camping somewhere and introducing yourself to your neighbor campers? A big cruise-ship type cruise? Something where you'll see the same people for a while and get to make friends, rather than meeting lots of people for an hour each.
posted by ctmf at 6:46 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ooh, yeah. Dude ranch could be awesome! And I see a question in your history about yoga -- would you be into a yoga retreat?
posted by barnone at 6:47 PM on October 25, 2009

Does it have to be a road trip? Could you do a resort or spa package near you?

I felt kinda isolated last year in Bermuda, and I think now that it was because I stayed in Bermuda's equivalent (or closest) of a mom-and-pop motel. There wasn't anyone really around to connect with (and no pool onsite, which makes a difference) unless I were to hang out in the attached diner, which is not what I went to Bermuda for.

This year, I got a fabulous deal at a resort I never thought I'd see the inside of - for the same price as last year's trip. There were always people around - at the private beach (and of course the public ones and the bus and ferry), the spa, the pool, and the dining venues.

The point is that if you stuck closer to SoCal you could skip the long drive and stay at a place with enough stuff going on that you could be doing structured things, or not, as you choose, but with people around. Hope this makes sense.
posted by jgirl at 6:50 PM on October 25, 2009

How about signing up for couchsurfing? The website basically hooks up people who are traveling with people who have a spare room or couch which they offer for no charge. By the sounds of it, couchsurfers (both guests and hosts) are generous, positive people, and it's as more about the social side of things than a way of getting free accommodation.

Everyone I know who has done this has had really positive experiences; it sounds like an awesome way to meet interesting people. Another bonus is that you'd get to know locals who could either show you around or point out fun things to do in the area. Some members of the website can't offer accommodation, but would be happy to meet up with people who are stopping through town for food or coffee.

I love traveling and often do so alone. It's fun, but meeting new people is part of the pull of traveling, and it's nice to have some company other than your own. So I get where you're coming from with this question and I'm curious to read other answers.
posted by the cat's pyjamas at 7:39 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

COUCHSURFING (as mentioned above) is awesome. It is a great way to meet people, who often introduce you to their people, their neighborhoods, and their way of life. I love the flexibility of staying with normal people who just like to share a city and place they love, or staying with someone doing really cool stuff who is up for sharing their passions with their guests (including one Chinese-American who runs turtle-rescue missions in Hainan, and a lead medical examiner in S.E. Asia and...).

I have had awesome experiences in about 10 countries with maybe 20 hosts and a number of others I have met only for hanging out or a couchsurfing event. Some people I have met through CS have become "normal" friends afterwards, and I am finding a large number of real-life friends happen to already be members.

2 other things you might not have considered yet: 1) this is an AWESOME way to meet people visiting your city, and make a new friend-circle in your home city and 2) as a foreigner yourself, it will give you an entry point into very, very typical America if you want it. Driving through these places is not the same as having a family take you out, and I guarantee that you will find huge variations in the different parts of the States.

OK, a 3rd thing: though the site may lean towards mid-20-something; there are a lot of families and fifty-and-sixty-something people hosting and traveling. They have been some of my favorite hosts, actually.

And Vegas - is fun for non-drinkers and non-gamblers, as long as you can budget for shoes at night and enjoy shopping, outdoors, or swimming during the day.
posted by whatzit at 8:29 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

And Vegas - is fun for non-drinkers and non-gamblers, as long as you can budget for SHOWS at night and enjoy shopping, outdoors, or swimming during the day. (I once did a 4-day, 4-Cirque-du-Soleil show binge with a friend. Neither of us are into drinking or gambling.)
posted by whatzit at 9:10 PM on October 25, 2009

If it was me, I would:
1) volunteer at a homeless shelter that serves thanksgiving dinner.
2) put a craigslist ad in for other single, non-thanksgiving committed people to meet for a potluck dinner and host it myself.
posted by gt2 at 11:31 PM on October 25, 2009

I've travelled a lot on my own too and like you have times where it's great and other times where it would be great to have someone else there. I've found that an organised trip can work if you pick the right company. I've used Intrepid Travel before and always had a great time - they are small groups with a wide age range, go to hundreds of different places and have a really low key approach (i.e. you don't just get bused around the main sights). I've also just come back from a week learning to surf where I went on my own but stayed in a villa with a group and we had surf lessons in the morning and lots of time to chill out on our own. It was the best holiday ever! I just found that by googling a selection of things I was interested in trying and seeing what was out there.
posted by smudge at 1:14 PM on October 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

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