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Guest Post by Kristie Zhou at Windhorse Tour

You are about to travel solo on China and Tibet tour, and your agent tells you the amount you need to pay for the whole trip and for the hotel room.

You have the calculation, but something is wrong. Your friends who are pair will pay less in comparison with you, and yet they are two, and you are solo.

How?

It is a single supplement that solo travelers paid when they book a single room.

In general, it is a regulation of hotels or cruise ships to compensate for the loss that the hotel has.

Hotel rooms or cruise cabins are usually made as a twin or double rooms, sometimes even more, so when a single-room solo traveler pays a rate far more than half the price of a double room.

Hotels claim that you must pay a single supplement to be able to recover the fixed maintenance costs of the room such as heating, cleaning, changing linens, etc.

The truth is that the heating in the room is the same whether there are one or more persons in the room. Cleaning the room is the same whether it is one person or more.

The only thing that hoteliers lose is that the second traveler is not here to spend money in the hotel.

You are a solo traveler, and you do not want to feel discriminated because of that and want to pay the same as others.

Before you pack your suitcase read how you can avoid paying single supplement when booking China and Tibet tour.

Travel at the right time of the year

Hotels claim that a solo traveler pays a single supplement to compensate for the cost that the hotel has. Or they will tell you that the hotel is full of guests, that they do not have free rooms so your single room must be charged with a single supplement.

But what if you travel in a low or shoulder season?

Low season is an ideal time when you can avoid the single supplement, but you can also get exclusive discounts. Apart from avoiding a single supplement in China and Tibet, you can also get free entrance to monasteries if you travel in a low season.

Shoulder season is a period between high season and low season. You can also use this period to travel and avoid single supplementation, especially in Tibet.

  Negotiate

If you have good negotiating skills, now is the time to use them. First, consult with the tour operator and ask if there is a chance to avoid the single supplement.

Be persistent, and prove that they are not right to charge you an absurdly higher price just because you have chosen to travel alone.

However please keep in mind that tour operators do not profit from a single supplement, it is a regulation set by hotels, so negotiating with the operator is an opportunity to avoid paying.

If you choose a competent and experienced tour operator, be sure that he will do everything in his power to avoid the single supplement.

Early or Late booking

If you travel frequently, then early and late booking is known to you. Tour operators and hoteliers almost always give significant discounts if you book a trip or room much earlier than the date of travel. Great opportunity to avoid the single supplement.

While late booking is also a possibility of avoiding a single supplement because operators and hotels want to fill all the vacancies for that trip so as not to lose passengers/guests, they make excellent offers. Some of those outstanding offers that are not deductible include avoiding a single supplement.

Travel with other solo travelers

Explore! Many companies are specialized in solo travelers and offer services with affordable offers which are an excellent opportunity to avoid the single supplement.

Be careful, however. Some of them may be companies that connect with other single travelers. If you are not sure, or you do not want to look for a partner, you simply just want to travel, select an operator who organizes trips for women or for men only.

Share a room- if you have to

If in none of the ways you manage to avoid the single supplement, then accept a roommate.

Indeed, this takes away your privacy. However, it is not that bad to have a roommate. From this opportunity, you can get good friendships in the future.

Ask for discounts

Ask! If you do not ask, you will never get it!

If there is no possibility to altogether avoid the single supplement, then ask for a discount. This mainly works in low season.

Can you book by yourself in Tibet

In Tibet you cannot travel alone, you must be accompanied by a tour guide and a group. However, you can book your room directly at the hotel. You can reserve in the same hotel where the operator has reserved rooms for the group, of course, if there are free rooms.

Reservation room directly at the hotel always has advantages apart from reservations via OTAs.

Go to the hotel website, and you will see all the advantages offered by the hotel if you book a room that way. Keep in mind that most online travel agencies have a high commission that hotels have to pay, so the prices there are slightly higher than the regular rates of the hotel room.

Ask for upgrade

If you already have to pay a single supplement then ask a better room. This works perfectly if you ask for a reception at the hotel during check-in.

Single rooms are generally smaller and unattractive rooms, either on the top floor of the hotel or at the lowest. Imagine if you have a single room on the top of the hotel and there is no elevator.

The upgrade request is similar to the discount. No one will give it to you if you do not ask.

Final words

We know how frustrating you are paying a single supplement, so I hope these few tips will help you with your next trip to China and Tibet.

These are two completely different and completely amazing countries that are worth visiting.

Do not give up traveling only because you need to pay a single supplement, if you don’t get a chance to avoid it, then ask for a discount in another part of the offer. I’m sure every tour operator wants to provide an excellent service as possible to the travelers. However, they work for the satisfaction of travelers.

The post Avoid Single Supplements in China + Tibet appeared first on Solo Trekker.

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6 Updated Tips on  How to Avoid Calamity on Travel:  In recent years, a hot-air balloon exploded over Luxor, Egypt, killing 19 tourists and critically injuring the pilot and remaining survivor. Press accounts raised questions as to both maintenance and piloting skills.

Luxor is the heart of ancient Egypt. It is famous for its Valley of the Kings where the Pharaohs are buried. One such tomb, the Temple of Hatshepsut, was the site of another tragedy in Nov. 1997, when at least 70 tourists were slain by militants.

The statistical likelihood of such disasters is much less than commonplace highway injuries or fatalities. However, a quick Internet search or two can reduce further  the chance of getting in harm’s way.

6 Updated Tips on How to Avoid Calamity on Travel: Check out your providers:

Tip One:

If you plan to take a local tour by balloon, helicopter or small plane, major vendors will have websites that you can cross reference with safety records. Aside from the latter, if your search shows the company is in real financial trouble, their pilots and maintenance are going to be suspect.

6 Updated Tips on How to Avoid Calamity on Travel: Look at the political environment:

Tip Two:

One of Egypt’s leading newspapers, El Ahram, just before the hot-air balloon explosion, raising safety concerns. It stated that ports and shipping are feeling the brunt of unrest. As a result, the public sector infrastructure is unlikely to be routinely inspected, and private corporate minimum safety requirements may fall by the wayside.

6 Updated Tips on How to Avoid Calamity on Travel: Consider the terrain and weather conditions:

Tip Three:

  • If you go to Alaska, planes may be the only way from one place to the next. A storm can cause delays and create hazards. In contrast, if you fly in southern African with long droughts, sudden storms are not frequent. Flat grasslands can make for a runway in a pinch.
  • In deserts or remote places, know how to change a flat tire. Take lots of water.
  • Know your cell phone may not work in all cases.
  • In the Alps, snow and ice can be a danger even in June! Take warm clothes and basic food and water. Again, cell coverage may not be possible.
  • Hike, ski or dive with a buddy. As a solo, you can join a day tour, a semi-private lesson or sports group to avoid being stuck without a “wing man” in case of an accident.
6 Updated Tips on How to Avoid Calamity on Travel: Consider health and travel insurance:

Tip Four:

Even if you are in excellent health, you may have an accident on the slopes or mopeds. If you walk on a broken ankle you may remember the trip for all the wrong reasons.

  • Check to see if your health insurance works abroad.
  • Take a look at travel insurance.
  • See if either excludes specific sports.
6 Updated Tips on How to Avoid Calamity on Travel: Surf the Internet for local laws: 

Tip Five:

In certain countries, if you have an accident, you may be subject to arrest.

  • Before you leave home, find out the rules of the road.
  • See what kind of license you need.
  • Check into car insurance.
  • Be sure to find out what prescriptions and over the counter drugs are illegal abroad.
  • If you need a visa, read it. Some countries have special additions.
6 Updated Tips on How to Avoid Calamity on Travel: Have access to funds from home in an emergency:

Before going abroad, designate a point man who can forward funds to you, if needed.

  • In some countries, hospitals and doctors must be paid cash each day.
  • Don’t just assume credit cards are accepted.

Safety is not really a question of luck but planning ahead and using good judgment. With a little preparation, most calamities can be avoided or dealt with if they arise.

See 7 Tips on how to avoid being a robbery victim and Traveling in times of crisis enhanced destination requirements.

The post 6 Updated Tips on How to Avoid Calamity on Travel appeared first on Solo Trekker.

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Top Solo Travel Destination: Puerto Rico: I was asked by a travel writer to list the top ten things to do in Puerto Rico. What was the only problem for me? I came up with 30+ ideas. How could I choose? After that, I wanted to let you know what a great spot this is for solos. I went there for work but found a way to add a leisure piece. One tip: If you come from North America (East Coast), be sure to note the time zones. My co-worker and I planned a beach day. We stopped to buy sun hats. When we got to the beach that fall day after 5 PM, the sun had set!

Top Solo Travel Destination: Puerto Rico: Why This Spot?

Puerto Rico has many of the same attractions that draw solo travelers to Costa Rica. There is a mix of sun and surf. It blends Caribbean and Spanish culture. Good news:  The prices are low for high quality. For North Americans, it is all close by with a short flight.

Puerto Rico is much more than a beach community. It is a real part of the history of the Western Hemisphere.

Top Solo Travel Destination: Puerto Rico: Its History:

Although we may think of Puerto Rico as one island, it is many islands, an archipelago.  There were people there way back in 3,000 BC. However, in our world today, the key focus is on the 16th century when the Spanish explorers came. The top date was 1493. That was when Columbus sighted the island on his 2nd trip.  Puerto Rico then became Spain’s top post in the area. In the next century, Spain sent settlers to colonize the island.  Forts built then like El Morro were then the sites for our tours now 500 years more.  In the early 19th century, Simón Bolivar arrived as nationalism grew in the region.  In 1873, a republic was declared. At this time, Puerto Rico is a US territory. From time to time, votes have been cast to be the 51st state.

Top Solo Travel Destination: Puerto Rico: Things to Do:

There are lots of things to do and see. This is a sampling.

1.Tour Old San Juan’s monuments to the colonial period. Start with forts like El Morro and San Felipe.

2.Stroll through the UNESCO World Sites.

3.Visit museums and galleries.

4.Star gaze at the Arecibo Observatory.

5.Tour the San Cristobal Cathedral.

6.Hike through the rainforest  El Yunque.

7.Swim at the neighboring Luquillo Beach.

8.Go rappelling up steep cliffs.

9.Explore the Caverns of the Camuy River.

10.Trek through the Mangrove National Forest.

11.Kayak through the mangroves. Go on a glass-bottom kayak.

12.Try out zip lining.

13.Take a salsa lesson.

14.Go out wine tasting and sample local restaurants and nightlife.

15.Snorkel, scuba or yes: “snuba”!

16.Surf and snap the ultimate selfie.

17. Check out body-rafting.

18.Ride the rapids on a whitewater raft on the Tanama River or the Lower  Rio Oansaco.

19.Join a Segway tour.

20.Another option?  Go on an ATV adventure.

21.Take a sunset sail.

22.Take the ferry 6 miles to Vieques or 17 miles out to the island of Culebra.

23.Go deep-sea fishing.

24.Tour via jet-skis.

25.Reach new heights in a hot-air balloon.

26.Another option? Tour in a helicopter.

27.Leave the tropical heat behind in the La Cordillera Mountains.

28.Go on a “safari” or at least a wildlife and ecotour at Cabo Rojo.

29.Take a dip in the surf at the popular Cabo Rojo Beach.

30.Have a kiteboard or paddleboard lesson.

Top Solo Travel Destination: Puerto Rico: Where to Stay:

I stayed in Old San Juan at popular4-star hotel , El Covento, at an affordable price.  Click here. As its name sounds, it is a very atmospheric colonial low rise hotel.  Nearby is La Terraza which also dates back to Puerto Rico’s Spanish past.  For a very budget-friendly approach, see our listing at this link for Chateau Cervantes.  Select additional options from the luxury 5-star Condado Vanderbilt to the economical El Escondido Guest House can be found for dates/prices at our Booking.com search engine with more than 800,000 options with verified solo travel reviews.

The post Top Solo Travel Destination: Puerto Rico One Trip Many Options appeared first on Solo Trekker.

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Adventure Travel How to Stay Cool in Hot Climates: In this post, we will skip style for the tough adventure tour in the tropics. How you can stay cool glamping in the Okavango Delta in 120 degree day time heat? How can you climb up hill after hill to see a “fort too far” in India? Upriver in the Amazon, how can you love a trek in the rain forest at midday? I have lived each of those. At times, the best ideas was a low-tech one. Here are my lessons learned:

Adventure Travel How to Stay Cool in Hot Climates: Tip One: Leave your jeans at home!

I know this is surprising. But what I found in India in Sept. was that jeans and other “summer” long pants clung to my knees. In my climb to see top sights, I felt like my knees were encased in concrete. The best deal? Buy a local pair of pants. Both in India and SE Asia, there were lightweight cotton pants with great designs. It is true that you will look like a tourist sporting brightly colored elephant slacks as no one locally seems to wear them. You can plan to donate them to a charity or wear them at home for work outs or sleep wear!

Adventure Travel How to Stay Cool in Hot Climates: Tip Two: Take a hat with a wide brim.

There are a few things to think about.

  • Will your new chapeau stay on in a boat ride? You can copy a look from the classic film “African Queen”, and tie it on with a scarf. (You may want to skip selfies at that point.)
  • Even hats sold to block UV rays may have air vents that allow the sun in. I found this in the Amazon when I had a mild glow at the end of the day.
  • Is your neck uncovered and at risk for a huge sunburn if you trek for hours?
  • In canoes, mokoros or kayaks even with head gear, your face will get the sun’s rays reflected from the water.
Adventure Travel How to Stay Cool in Hot Climates: Tip Three:  Fend off greedy insects.

I have been to malarial zones 4 or 5 times. I take the pills as prescribed. They are the best help but not 100%.  What are the top ways to combat such insects? (They may also bring Dengue Fever and Zika.) Other than just staying at home, do this:

  • Check out where the local risk is the worst. If you are in a city not on a trek in remote areas, what should you do? Know that some mosquitoes generally feed at set times of day while in other areas, it may be all day long. If your research shows dusk and dawn, wear bug spray all day but also cover up then. In the Okavango Delta, we even wore socks, long pants and long sleeves for dinner outside. If you dine by a lagoon, you may be “feasted” on while you feast!
  • Wear treated clothing. I looked at sprays for my clothes. Since it needed to have clothes left outside for hours, I bought pre-treated  Bugs Away shirts.
  • If you buy insect repellent and sunblock, mixed or separate, test them out at home. See how they work jointly.
Adventure Travel How to Stay Cool in Hot Climates: Tip Four: Take a battery powered fan.

These are on http://www.Amazon.com and other online sites. I first saw them in China.  Small ones can be held in the palm of your hand. Large ones can have a spray or mist too. This may be the top thing to pack for the heat. Be sure to take lots of batteries. I was shocked to see how fast they ate up the power!

Adventure Travel How to Stay Cool in Hot Climates: Tip Five: Have a “Plan B”.

I have found  on my solo trips that the “frequent” cab, bus or train may be hard to find. The best such shock?! In India in the hot “rainy season”, I trekked with a hardy band of 5 up, up and up again to hilltop forts. The marathon found us atop four forts in one day. The trusty guide book assured us that small tuk-tuks would be there for the taking to go uphill. As we struggled around never ending curves upward, we reached the point to meet those long sought after tuk-tuk’s. We found there were none in sight. Our rescue came with some added risk in the form of a passerby speeding by on a motorcycle. Clutching his back for dear life, we swerved at top speed on the steep hilltop edge while I murmured “Slow”, “Slow, and “Slow” all the way. As luck would have it, I arrived at the top to see, yes, the tuk-tuk. It had somehow rescued the rest of our weary band while I swerved wildly to the top on the motorcycle. (Do watch out for the exhaust pipe. I have known riders who got a real burn on their leg from it.)

Adventure Travel How to Stay Cool in Hot Climates: Tip Six:  Pack a small umbrella.

I break my own rule here. I always say pack light to save time and money with carry-on. I found in the Amazon that slickers were needed in open boats. There is one problem. In humidity, they are really way too hot. You may not be able to hold on to an umbrella on a rocking boat.  But on treks on terra firma, they can be a sun screen, too. In Asia, many women carried them in bright sun. I found the best ones also blocked UV rays.

Adventure Travel How to Stay Cool in Hot Climates: Tip Seven: Pack things you can wash.

In the thick of a rain forest, you may not have laundry service. In the opposite weather, one Jan. in Siberia, I hand washed clothes in the bathroom sink or tub. One issue: In humid places, it is hard to dry clothes even in bright sun.

Adventure Travel How to Stay Cool in Hot Climates: Tip Eight: Try this safari trick.

I went glamping in the Okavango Delta. It was one of the best trips of my life. It did get to about 120 degrees in the heat of the day. It dropped to a “cool” 80 or so at night.  I was told to try a wet wash cloth tucked in the waist of my slacks.  It was great. Give it a try.

Adventure Travel How to Stay Cool in Hot Climates: Tip Nine: Get a hands free tote for water bottles.

Some totes hold cameras, sun block and just about all you need but the water bottle. Whatever your age, sun stroke can happen so water is key.  If you have the right tote, you will find an added benefit. You will have hands free for photos, too.

Adventure Travel How to Stay Cool in Hot Climates: Tip Ten:  Don’t think “bare” is the way to go!

There are two reasons. In many cultures, it is not OK for men or women to wear bare clothing. This is true in houses of worship, SE Asian royal palaces and even in many cities. Light weight clothes can be cooler than sun on bare skin in many cases anyway. I like the shirts from India that are light weight, cover and in bright silks, can go from day to night.

Send us your own tips to beat the heat on travel. Email us at Contact Page.

The post Adventure Travel How to Stay Cool in Hot Climates | Solo Trekker appeared first on Solo Trekker.

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Singles Vacations in Costa Rica fit every budget. They offer choices from relaxing beaches to active water sports or hiking nature preserves. I recommend also looking at savings off-season for even better solo travel packages. These savings start pretty fast when the large numbers of tourists head home.

  • I chose traveling in Costa Rica alone during the rainy season. I knew prices would be lower, and that tropical rains never last long. My umbrella stayed packed away in my suitcase the whole time! Later in the fall when stories of hurricanes make the news, singles vacations in Costa Rica may be even a greater savings. The good news? Hurricanes don’t often hit Costa Rica directly. In any case, my solo travel in Costa Rica was one of my best trips.
  • An added benefit of traveling off-season? I was upgraded to a junior suite at no extra charge. It came with a wonderful balcony bordered by flowers. The view was comprised of two spacious swimming pools. However, I am not sure that watching others swim constitutes getting exercise!
  • Costa Rica has more than one hundred hotels, bed and breakfasts and overnight options from 5-star Costa Rica luxury travel to small, unrated spots.  See our Costa Rican packages or use our hotel search box on the home page.

Why is Costa Rica one of the best solo travel destinations? The reason? It offers four different types of top vacations for those traveling alone:

  • First, the capital is a perfect starting point for historic and cultural travel packages.
  • Second, Costa Rica has one of the world’s remaining most diverse ecosystems. That makes it a wonderful way to have a blended eco-tour and wildlife excursion.
  • Third, Costa Rica is the ideal spot for adventure travel. Start out going whitewater rafting. Follow-up ziplining high above the rainforest. Take a scuba lesson.  Go spelunking in the fabled Venado Caves while on a day trip to the Arenal Volcano. They were only discovered in 1945 but are a favorite tourist attraction.
  • Fourth, you can relax on the beach.  Fortunately, on a singles vacation in Costa Rica, you won’t feel like you mistakenly parachuted into a honeymooners’ retreat!
Singles Vacations in Costa Rica-Option One:

I began my trip with a cultural and historical tour.

  • I started in the capital, San Jose. Costa Rica dates back to the time of Christopher Columbus. He is said to have been the one who gave the country its name.  It took three hundred years for Costa Rica to gain its independence.
  • As a result of its long history, the city has multiple museums to explore. My favorite was the Museo de Oro (Museum of Gold). It was filled with gleaming gold artifacts of the time before the Spanish arrival. Fashionistas will want to head straight for the gift shop. I especially liked the gold over silver (“Vermeil”) earrings that copied the centuries’ old artifacts.
  • Unfortunately many of the earlier historic buildings do not remain from the Colonial Period. However, there are a number of fine 19th century structures. Most famous is the 100+ year old National Theatre of Costa Rica. It is ornately decorated inside with pink marble and gilt. At the entrance, there are two very different statues. They stand guard “watching” tourists stream in. You will be “greeted” by Ludwig van Beethoven who has joined the 17th century Spanish playwright, Calderón de La Barca. If only they could speak, it might make for a rather strange conversation!
Singles Vacations in Costa Rica-Option Two:

Costa Rica is one of the top remaining worldwide ecotourism destinations.

  • Rainforest, parks and wildlife sanctuaries make up 25% of the country. You will see tee shirts everywhere with frogs plus over three hundred species of birds and butterflies. The most popular wildlife symbol is generally considered to be the Red-eyed Tree Frog.
  • You don’t have to go very far to take selfies with a variety of  colorful birds. From my hotel patio, I was joined for breakfast each morning by a low-flying hummingbird, one of 26 local species.  On one day tour, a parrot leisurely perched on the guide’s arm. Apparently, he viewed us tourists as pretty routine creatures in his habitat.
Singles Vacations in Costa Rica-Option Three:

A third option exists for single travelers looking for an active vacation. Costa Rica provides many adventure vacations for singles from zip lining to rappelling down waterfalls. With 6 rivers, Costa Rica is also a great destination for whitewater rafting.  In addition, hiking and biking are popular along the base of the Arenal Volcano or one of the five other volcanoes.

Singles Vacations in Costa Rica-Option Four:

Costa Rica has two coasts and almost 300 beaches. I recommend you split your time between the two. Both the Pacific Coast and the quieter Caribbean Sea have boating tours. However, if you want to learn to surf, you must go to the Pacific!

For me staying in San Jose and joining day tours worked really well.

  • Within 5-7 days, I had covered most of the country and all four options for traveling alone in Costa Rica.
  • I had the opportunity to connect with  other travelers on day tours while still having my own flexible itinerary to follow.
  • It was very easy to navigate while staying on budget.
  • Costa Rica is a great mix of the Caribbean and Latin American cultures.

Whether you are looking for a sunny spa or adventure travel, visit Costa Rica and sample both in one affordable trip!

The post Check Out Costa Rica Vacations for Singles | Solo Trekker appeared first on Solo Trekker.

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Having spent my early years in the Deep South, I have been a long time advocate of the many great largely undiscovered vacation spots there. Better yet, prices are very affordable even for solos.  Take a look at the 7 cities featured below.

Guest Post by Traci Magnus , Realtor

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who craves fresh air and an endorphin-dripping adventure, Southern cities shouldn’t be overlooked. While the South may not have the best reputation for health and wellness, there are plenty of hidden gems throughout the region that will please any nature lover or fitness goer.

Whether you prioritize hiking trails, watersports or wildlife viewing opportunities, you’ll have no trouble finding a Southern city to meet your specific criteria. Here are just a handful of Southern cities that are quickly becoming known as outdoor meccas:

1. Chattanooga, T.N.

For decades, Chattanooga’s impressive outdoor offerings were a well-kept secret among locals. Things quickly changed when the city was awarded the most prestigious outdoor award for the second time running in 2015. Deemed “Best Town Ever” by Outside magazine in both 2014 and 2015, Chattanooga was the first city to ever win the award twice.

Whether you’re looking for high-flying adventures or something low-key, Chattanooga offers both in spades. The “Scenic City,” as its aptly called, is surrounded by mountains providing both a picturesque view and easy access to hiking, biking, horse-back riding and (for the super adventurous) hang gliding. Ready to get your hang-gliding fix? Get lessons from the top flight school in the country and prepare to take flight off Lookout Mountain (just minutes from downtown Chattanooga).

2. Charleston, S.C.

If you’re looking for outdoor activities in Charleston, SC, you won’t need to look far. With miles of pristine, white sand beaches and nature trails, this charming coastal city offers an astounding array of recreational activities for the entire family.

Step away from the hustle and bustle of Charleston’s thriving downtown area and spend a relaxing day shucking oysters, fishing off the James Island County Park Pier or walking along one of Charleston’s idyllic beaches searching for seashells with the kids. Feeling more adventurous? Rent a kayak from one of its many outfitters and paddle down Shem Creek or take a few kiteboarding or surfing lessons and ride some waves on Folly Beach.

3. Asheville, N.C.

If scenic mountain views and adrenaline-filled adventures appeal to you, consider planning a trip to Asheville, North Carolina. Tucked away in the corner of the Appalachian Mountains, Asheville attracts a diverse range of personalities, all bonded by their love of natural splendor.

“The Land of the Sky” offers a vast array of outdoor activities, from riding along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway to SUPing on the French Broad River. Looking for an outdoor escape to rejuvenate the senses? Book a spa package at the historic Grove Park Inn and get a deep tissue massage or immerse yourself in the beauty of Asheville’s spectacular wildflowers.

4. Galveston, T.X.

One of the most popular island cities on the Gulf Coast of Texas, Galveston is an outdoor lover’s dream come true. This charming island offers 32 miles of white sand beaches with excellent opportunities for surfing, stand up paddleboarding, bird and dolphin watching, fishing and so much more. Go for a pleasant hike at the Galveston Island State Park or get out your kayak and take advantage of the park’s many paddling trails. After a long day out on the water, wind down with a craft beer from one of its many local breweries.

5. St. Petersburg, F.L.

Nicknamed “The Sunshine City,” St. Petersburg boasts an average of 350 days of sunshine a year, making it easy for walkers, runners and bicyclists to sneak in some exercise on any given day. If you’re a long-distance bicyclist, be sure to check out the Pinellas Trail, which allows bicyclists to ride across the state.

Thanks to its excellent city planning, St. Pete is also home to some of the best paddling in the Gulf. Take your kayak and explore the city’s many blue ways that take you along its scenic coastline, experiencing its diverse ecosystems as you paddle across its turquoise waters.

6. Birmingham, A.L.

While you might not expect a city in Alabama to be a hotspot for mountain bikers and hikers, Birmingham provides incredible opportunities for both. The “Magic City” isn’t short on hiking/biking trails, both inside and outside the city, and offers easy access to Moss Rock Preserve and Oak Mountain State Park.

Boasting 9,940 acres, Oak Mountain State Park is especially attractive to outdoor enthusiasts. The park features its own BMX course, a campground for equestrian campers, a golf course, watersport rentals, beaches, basketball courts and fishing opportunities, just to name a few.

7. Greensboro, N.C.

An outdoor adventure awaits around every corner in Greensboro, North Carolina. Known primarily for its funky art scene and fascinating museums, the city is also home to a diverse range of outdoor opportunities thanks to its varied landscape. If you enjoy paddleboard and fishing, be sure to check out Lake Brandt. The 816-acre municipal reservoir is the perfect place to paddle out and drop a line to catch largemouth bass or catfish.

For an outdoor excursion combining history and nature, take a stroll through Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. The park was established in commemoration of the battle of Guilford Courthouse and is now the perfect place to bike or walk while you explore natural ecosystems and the military museum.

For a more thrilling experience, check out the ziplining opportunities at Skywild or take a gravity-defying hike at Hanging Rock State Park. No matter what outdoor adventure you’re searching for, Greensboro is guaranteed to have something for every adventurer.

Finding Your Ultimate Outdoor City

Every state has cities that prioritize outdoor amenities, and the South is no exception. If you’re searching for a Southern city to plant your roots, the ones on this list will never leave you wanting for fresh air and green spaces. Best of all, many of the cities on this list are also affordable, which means that you can get your endorphin-dripping experience without the high cost of living you’d find in other U.S. cities.

 

The post 7 of the Best Southern Cities for Outdoor Activities appeared first on Solo Trekker.

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    For all travelers, airline tickets are one of the biggest travel costs. Here are some tips to get better pricing:   1. Check out Hopper.com, a new Canadian company. It is one of the growing number of tech start-up’s that use “predictive analytics”. Their goal is to use complex software and algorithms to assist travelers in finding the best prices.  If you give this a try, please send me your feedback as to how successful it was via email at the SoloTrekker4U.com Contacts tab.   2. Travel gurus have often tried to predict timing for best prices looking at available data rather than software analyses. I followed this advice once planning to book on Tuesday/Wednesday airfare to SE Asia roundtrip.  The result? Overnight my chosen flight had increased by $400-$500. The bottom line? If you see the right route/price, don’t wait since it may be fully booked before you get there at any price.   3. If you rely on frequent flyer deals, read all the fine print.  Besides possible blackout days, the number of “reward” seats on each flight is limited. In addition, even with miles, upgrades to Business Class may require an extra hefty payment.   4.  If you arrive at the gate with a designated number on the waiting list for an upgrade, be aware that your priority may be quickly surpassed by more frequent flyers.   5. Certain popular ports of entry may be more expensive even when the flight is not longer. For example, flights to London and Paris can be costlier than those to Budapest.   6. Check out pricing on all the major online sites, such as Expedia and Priceline. Then see what your selected carrier is offering directly.  

For more tips, see our weekly blogs.  Recently this included:  

Islands not Just for Honeymooners  

A 4 Part Series: Top European and Asian Summer Deals  

Please check out our updated search engine:  Solo Travel Pricing Tracker only available via Solo Trekker’s home page tab/link.        

Selected Updates:  

Food and Wine Tours-Europe and Beyond:

New Listings: 

Say Hueque

Epitourean

The Italian on Tour

New Global Tours for Women:

Women of the World Travel

Seniors Tours Around the Globe:

New Listing: Starts at 60

New Solo-Priced Lodgings:

Ettington Park Hotel Stratford-on-Avon

The Mill Hotel Sudbury

White House Country Inn

Battlesteads

The Glebe Hotel Warwick

Caer Rhun Hall Wales

The Imperial Crown Hotel

Hesperia Seville Spain

Eurostars Regina Seville Spain

 

                                     

 

The post Top Solo Travel Deals from Solo Travel Pricing Tracker appeared first on Solo Trekker.

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Vacation costs start with picking lodging. Here are Solo Trekker’s 10 inside tips to getting best lodging rates while considering safety and convenience.

As a child studying French, I early on developed a wanderlust to visit exotic foreign venues, the more remote the better. However, like many college graduates, I started my career with student loans to pay back and therefore a small remaining budget to roam the world. How was it possible overtime to make it to 66 countries and all 50 US states? By finding creative ways to save on lodging costs beyond just the popular wisdom.

As you will see below, every one of our inside tips comes from one economic theory: supply and demand. That concept applies whether at a 5-star world-class property, an unrated boutique or short-term rental.

10 Inside Tips to Getting Best Lodging Rates for Solo Travel Savings:
1. If it is too good to be true, pass it by. Whatever level of service you are looking for, the Internet makes it very easy to identify the average price at that level for your chosen destination. When you find what looks like an unbelievable price, way below market, it is very likely that the fine print has “hidden costs”, like taxes or usage fees, or that there are real quality issues.
2. Understand what is meant by off-season. You may mistakenly think that this is not worth the 40-50% price reduction. The reality? Even in the French Riviera as early as Sept. 9, rates at the 5-star level can drop as much as half. The same is true in mid-May in top Croatian hotel offerings. Similarly, Christmas and New Year’s rates often will not increase until Dec.22. That can give you time to take advantage of great pre-holiday reductions and then plan a “staycation” to welcome in the New Year!
3. Don’t pay for what you don’t need. As consumers, it is often the adds-on, the “bells and whistles”, that close the deal. If you are heading to the tropics but looking to trek the rainforest, why pay for beachfront access? Do you need an exercise room or outdoor swimming pool if you plan to be too busy to use either?
4. Location, location, locations drives pricing. As a long-time woman solo traveler, I look for a safe place to stay but sometimes trade off staying in the city center to stay within budget. For example, if the Place Vendome in Paris is not within your budget’s reach, look at close-in suburbs and airport hotels on public transportation/subway routes. I previously found a real “steal” at an international chain, modern high-rise at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport.
5. In cities like New York, check out business hotel bargains on Fridays and Sundays when demand is down. (One consideration in Manhattan though is that Saturday night charges can go back up to accommodate weekend demand, such as by theater fans on a short-visit.)
6. Don’t pay for the view if you will only be in your room after dark. This is most often seen at resorts since even leading urban hotels have little control over what you can see gazing out their windows. Also remember what constitutes a view is a matter of definition. In New York, I had a special “view” via a window only slightly larger than a porthole. In contrast, in Sydney my view of the Opera House was “up close and personal” where I felt like I could stroll on the rooftop!
7. Bite the bullet. Being undecided is costly. If you can lock in a non-refundable/non-cancellable room rate, take it if your plans are set. I have recently booked ahead almost 6 months for a top hotel in India. Although planning in advance, I recognize that last minute I could need to cancel. Two factors to consider: (i) Have you already booked non-refundable airfare so that you are locked in? (ii) Do you have trip insurance?
8. Take advantage of reputations for bad weather. Related to traveling off-season, a reputation for extreme heat, cold and storms drives down the demand and pricing. As Rudyard Kipling famously stated: “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun”.  As a result, the Caribbean is cheapest in the summer. The rainy season can be a good value, particularly since its “official” period is more often an estimate than a true schedule. In addition, as I saw one December in the Brazilian Amazon, tropical rains tend to be brief not providing continuous gray skies.
9. When comparing the cost of a meal plan at remote resorts, remember to add-in transportation costs to get to off-site restaurants and cafes. Generally, I favor having the flexibility to try out local spots. However, that works best in cities where options are walking distance or easily and safely accessible by public transportation. I have twice found in 5-star resorts, one in the US and one abroad, that the meal plan was the better deal providing top cuisine at a substantial savings. (In the latter case, I estimated the daily charge of not selecting the meal plan to total about $75/day.)
10. Exchange your destination with the road less traveled by. Early on, I was drawn to the romance of traveling to the South Pacific and islands with endless rows of tall palms, targeting Tahiti as the ideal destination. When I looked at the cost of airfare and my limited travel budget, I needed to find more affordable lodging. I found just what I was looking for, then at about one-third the rate in Tahiti: Rarotonga and Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. Although in the intervening years prices have gone up as tourists, many from New Zealand, have “discovered” those spots, the principal remains that less well-known sites within a region will likely be less expensive. Why? Ah, that takes us back to the most important economic theory most of us lay-people ever need to remember: Supply and demand drive prices. Before you travel, check out our 10 inside tips to getting best lodging rates.

The post 10 Inside Tips to Getting Best Lodging Rates appeared first on Solo Trekker.

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Please check out our tips for staying healthy on travel, and give us your feedback.

My greatest health risk on travel came about by a freak accident. A gangplank broke under my feet as I was joining a small boat for an evening cruise on the Zambezi River. Fortunately, just as I was about to fall into the waiting crocodiles’ jaws, I was dragged by both arms into the relative safety of the boat.  Most travelers even to such remote regions are unlikely to be dodging such wild animals but more likely faced with avoiding illnesses. Although the Ebola and Zika Viruses raise concerns, travelers generally face more common diseases and health risks.

#1 Tips for Staying Healthy on Travel:

Planning Ahead:  

  • Research your destination  via Centers for Disease Control and other Internet resources.
  • Note whether you will be in a targeted risk area, how long you will be gone and any special circumstances such as whether you will be “glamping” on safari.
  • Plan up to 6-8 weeks for shots if you are traveling to the tropics since some injections are in a series.
  • Seniors note that some vaccines, such as yellow fever, have a heightened risk of side effects based on age.

In planning ahead, it can be easy to lose perspective however. As I headed out alone to SE Asia, I found Internet warnings focused on marauding monkeys. One (apparently serious?) post cautioned against smiling at monkeys since showing bare teeth could be viewed as being aggressive.  The reality? I had to really search hard to find even one monkey for a well-placed selfie.

#2 Tips for Staying Healthy on Travel:

Pack the prescriptions you need, but first check out local laws.

Be sure to “know before you go”. When I visited one country, there were over 100 prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, such as Robitussin that could result in imprisonment. The procedure then in effect required a document signed by the Secretary of State!

  • Some countries’ “zero-tolerance” policies against drugs include prescriptions for personal use. Even if they are legal at home, you must research the requirements even for such limited importation. I have found the easiest approach was to go to http://www.state.gov/travel  and to the US Embassy of my foreign destination. When I need more information, I have emailed the US consulate in that country.
  • Be careful about purchasing local drugs at pharmacies since the content and strength can vary widely from country to country.
  • To avoid problems at Immigration, travel with your doctor’s prescription, and keep all pills in their original bottles.
#3 Tips for Staying Healthy on Travel:

Knowing what is safe to drink or eat.

I am fascinated by travel shows where tourists are eating and drinking indiscriminately from roadside vendors and markets. When I tried that in Egypt, I  was so sick when I woke up I thought at first that the light from the overhead bulb was the sun rising over the Nile!

  • Even in 4 star hotels in some major tour destinations and large cities, the tap water may not be safe. If not, you must only drink water from a sealed bottle and not rinse your toothbrush or mouth with tap water.
  • Where water is suspect, coffee and tea also may not be safe as they are generally heated but not boiled for a specific period of time.
  • Dishes washed in contaminated water can also carry diseases. Where possible drink directly from the bottle.
  • In restaurants, ask for a drink with no ice.
  • Drug stores often carry tablets that can be put in water to purify it. However, I was only able to find those that had to wait 30 minutes to be effective. This would not be a good solution if you are running from place to place or a guest in someone’s home!
  • Remember if polluted water is a problem, swimming can result in certain severe illnesses.
  • If you are looking forward to relaxing in the hotel hot tub, if you don’t smell the chlorine, skip skipping jumping in!
  • One problem with open market sampling is that meat or fish may not be fresh. In addition, you don’t know how the food was prepared and whether contaminated water was used.
  • The general rule as to raw fruits and vegetables is still: If you can’t wash it, peel it or cook it, don’t eat it! If you eat meat, be sure it is well-done.
  • When in doubt, carry cereal bars to avoid the temptation to grab a snack you will regret.
#4 Tips for Staying Healthy on Travel:

Stay clear of airborne risks:

Watch out for insect-borne diseases.  While malaria pills are the best prevention, they are not 100% effective.

In addition to malaria, Dengue Fever and other diseases are spread by mosquitoes.

  • Be aware that insect repellent only goes so far and can wear off or be washed off.
  • The best protection advised when I was on African safari? For  dinner outside we wore long pants, long sleeves and socks plus, of course, wore insect repellent.
  • On a trip to SE Asia, I swapped out high fashion for “Bugs Away” shirts.  You can spray your own clothes with a special solution before leaving home but read the instructions carefully!
  • Although some resorts spray for mosquitoes, you may want to check before signing up for dinner by a lagoon in a malarial zone.
  • There are new lotions that include sun screen with insect protection. If you tend to get sunburns, this may not be strong enough for you.
  • Remember that worldwide one of the biggest airborne hazards is being stuck next to someone with a cough. I have had this happen on trains and buses. Although I have been too timid to don a mask like nurses and doctors wear, that is the surest protection.

This lesson was brought home to me when I went solo to China during the Swine Flu epidemic. There were clever public service signs with a little pig warning of the dangers of uncovered coughs. Unfortunately, seated in the front of my tour bus, I immediately noticed the driver coughed continuously! He must have missed those public service announcements about wearing a mask!  Although I didn’t get Swine Flu but a less serious virus, I had such chills I finally wore my coat in my hotel room in Shanghai and on return home took about 3 weeks to recover completely.

#5 Tips for Staying Healthy on Travel:

Avoiding accidents despite jetlag and distractions.

I was surprised to learn in a past trip to Bermuda that annually approximately one moped rider is killed in an accident.  Pedestrians, too, are at increased risk, particularly if traffic is on the “wrong” side of the road from what you are accustomed to!

It is easy to see how travel fatigue and lack of familiarity with your destination can lead to accidents. That means having to be even more aware than you are at home.

  •  For the first 24 hours after you arrive, take it easy and get a lay of the land. That doesn’t mean missing out. I have flown non-stop to Sydney, Australia, dropped off my suitcase and within an hour been on a semi-private day tour. The difference? I didn’t head out in a rental car, driving half awake and getting lost.  I let the local guide drive me around so all I had to do was keep my eyes open!
  • If you are driving or taking a moped, get a GPS or look at the route before you go. If you are busy trying to find the right road, an accident is even more likely.
  • For special activities, like hot air ballooning or taking a small plane over glaciers, research the provider on the Internet. See if they have been in business long and have a good reputation.  Consider local issues. For example, in Alaska, small planes may be more common than cars in some areas, but bad weather can set in quickly. In contrast, where I flew several really small planes on African safari, the weather was always clear, and the planes can (and some did) land in the bush with no runway in sight!

Although a friend of mine lost a family member abroad to a lion attack, most travelers will never encounter  life threatening crises. The most important of our 5  tips for staying healthy on travel is to start by planning ahead and then relax and enjoy your travels!

The post Tips for Staying Healthy on Travel appeared first on Solo Trekker.

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Croatia-a top solo travel destination: Overview:

What is one of our most popular spots? Croatia-a top solo travel destination!

Croatia is set in Southern Europe. It was in the past part of Yugoslavia. It is nestled on the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea right across from Italy. It has a population of only 4.28 million. The official language is Croatian. Nearly ¼ of the population live in the capital of Zagreb. Croatia is one of Europe’s best hidden gems.

Croatia attracts tourist from all over the world because of its:

  • natural beauty
  • rich history
  • top cuisine and
  • range of landscapes.

Croatia can be divided into the following regions:

Northern and Central Croatia: low mountains and highlands.

Eastern Croatia: Flat agricultural plains.

Coastal Croatia: Mediterranean climate. It has 1,000+ islands. They are the country’s main attraction.

Croatia-a top solo travel destination: A range of options in one vacation:

Croatia is the place for you for:

  •  some peace and quiet
  • a Robinson Crusoe type of adventure
  • a place to party
  • an active vacation
  • a paradise island
  • a history lesson or
  • glitz and glamour.

Here are a few examples of Croatia’s most popular destinations:

  • The classy Hvar is called “the new St. Tropez”. Numerous glamorous yachts glide around the island.
  • Pag island is known as the “Croatian Ibiza”. The party on the famous Zrće beach literally never stops.
  • Kornati islands combine bare natural beauty with wild nature at its best.
  • Dubrovnik is Croatia’s historical gem. Its impressive stone walls serve as a set for the Game of Thrones.
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park’s astonishing waterfalls are considered one of the most magical places on Earth. As a result, they attract people from all over the world.
  • Motovun is a charming hilltop village famous for its lovely Film Festival.
  • Rovinj is an enchanting little town. It will make you fall in love with its Mediterranean style. It is filled with narrow streets, romantic balconies, colorful houses, little shops and cafes.
  • Hum is the smallest city in the world with a population of only 17 inhabitants!
Croatia-a top solo travel destination: Gourmet Cuisine:

Croatia’s gourmet delights and exquisite vines are one of the country’s best assets. Croatia’s delicious dishes are prepared with only natural ingredients from the land and the sea. They provide real variety from region to region. For example, the mainland cuisine is famous for stew-like meat dishes. In contrast, the lighter, coastal, Mediterranean cuisine focuses on fish, olives, olive oil and rosemary.

Croatia is also famous for its vineyards. In both the mainland and the islands, the vineyards not only add natural beauty but produce extraordinary wine due to the fertile soil.

Croatia-a top solo travel destination has both natural diversity and harmony. Do you want to fall in love with a colorful country? Explore and discover as many things as possible? Well, then you must visit the tiny paradise called Croatia!

For solo travel packages, go to Croatia By Land and Sea. For more information go to www.TrulyCroatia.com.

Guest Post by TrulyCroatia as Updated 

The post Croatia-A Top Solo Travel Destination appeared first on Solo Trekker.

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