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May 19, 2011 7:07 PM   Subscribe

Good trip ideas for a 30-something guy traveling solo for 1-2 weeks in Sept, prefer somewhere where it's easy to meet other people

I have some free time coming up this fall and would like to get out of the USA while I have the chance. I'd be flying in from the US East coast and am constrained to a 1-1.5 week trip. Will be traveling solo; while I'm long since used to traveling alone and enjoy my own company, I'm hoping this time to do a better job of meeting other people along the way. Unfortunately I'm not the most outgoing person, so I'm trying to factor that in and find someplace that will make it a bit easier to socialize and meet other travelers.

For reference, my last two trips were to Japan and Hong Kong and ended up going really well! The locals were chatty, and there was plenty to do. I also spent a week traveling solo in the Yucatan a couple of years ago but hated it - way too touristy and not as much fun as I was expecting. Seemed like nothing but newly-married honeymooners and drunk college kids looking to party. Except for the two days I spent scuba diving, I actually found the whole trip rather depressing.

Some ideas I've considered for this trip:
* Somewhere in Europe (maybe Spain?) for a week - never been there
* SE Asia - always wanted to go, but might be too far away for this trip
* PADI certification course (not sure where) - I love diving, but hate resorts. Don't know if there's anywhere I can go dive within my time frame that might be a good match.

Any good trip suggestions? Money's no object, the only constraint is the 1-1.5 weeks I have free (plus it must have decent weather in September). Also, if anyone can suggest a way to meet more people while traveling, please share! Thanks...
posted by photo guy to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Travelling alone and staying in hostels in Europe should allow you to easily meet people.

I'm a similar age to you and recently did a bit of that on a trip to Europe and had no problem talking to other travellers and I'm also a fairly quiet person. You just have to make an effort.

There should be quite a few people doing the same thing of a similar age too. On my last trip in most of the hostels I was definitely not the oldest person I talked to either.

Spain would be good. If you want good cheap diving you could also consider Thailand. Eastern Europe also has cheap, interesting travelling and the weather should be OK in September.
posted by sien at 7:23 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

A week or week in a half is a great period of time to be in one/ish European destination. I'd pick a city in Spain that you'd fly into as well as another not-too-far-away city/region/destination.

Spain is a great choice for this because so many of the Britain-based budget airlines focus on getting Brits to various vacation spots in and around Spain. Which gives you a lot more leeway for cheap flights than if you were in some other random part of Europe. You could easily fly into Barcelona, spend a few days there and in the surrounding area, and then fly off to London or Dublin for a few days for practically nothing.
posted by Sara C. at 7:28 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Rome... the area around Rome is so dense with amazing stuff to do, and there are great private hostels that are friendly and social. September could be quite hot; or it could be perfect. You could easily spend a week and a half in Rome seeing new things every day without ever venturing outside the city; but Florence, Naples, Pompeii are all pretty close by.

Before you book a hostel, make sure it has a kitchen! Kitchens where guests store and cook food are where people congregate, wind up chatting and making plans together. My favorite hostel in Rome is Colors.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:37 PM on May 19, 2011

Ten days in and around Rome would be pretty ideal. I've taken that trip twice, actually. And then a third time in Italy I spent 10 days between Rome and Venice.

The classic thing to do is to spend three-ish days in Rome, then head down toward the Amalfi coast, Naples, and/or Pompeii/Herculaneum. Or to spend three-ish days in Rome and then head up to Florence and Tuscany. But feel free to get creative. Or just spend the whole time in Rome with some day trips - I've spent about two weeks of my life in Rome so far and there are still lots of things I haven't seen yet.
posted by Sara C. at 7:43 PM on May 19, 2011

You might consider a canal barge trip in France. These are boats that typically take 6 to 20 passengers, in individual or 2 person staterooms, on leisurely cruises through various regions of France on the rivers and old agricultural canals. The boats cruise at a pace of about 3 to 4 kilometers per hour, and you can generally get off as easily as stepping off the boat at various lock stops and bridges. Many of the boats have bicycles for use by their guests, so that you can go off for side trips to towns during the day, have lunch in towns you pass, explore the countryside, shop, etc. Then, at the end of the day, you rejoin the boat downstream, and have dinner on the boat, perhaps bringing back some wine or bread you bought to share. Generally, a Continental breakfast is offered, and the dinners, while simple, are usually good French country food.

Or, you can go up on deck, take a book, and read and watch the world go by.
posted by paulsc at 8:16 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Berlin! There are many other backpackers in the city, and not just party-hungry college kids, plus plenty of English-speaking locals and expats.

Pick a good hostel like this one and hang around the bar of an evening - conversation will surely follow. Taking one of the great free tours will also help you to meet people. Exberliner has listings for English-friendly art openings, parties, events etc.

I could go on and on, but yes, pick Berlin :)
posted by greenfelttip at 7:37 AM on May 20, 2011

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