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Tips to Enjoy a Solo Tour

Old 10-18-17, 11:24 AM
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Jarrett2
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Tips to Enjoy a Solo Tour

So I've been doing small tours with friends for a few years now. Just 4-day, 3-night, self supported, hotel to hotel type deals. At this phase of life, that's about as long as I can get away on a bike.

This year, I can't find anyone that has the time off/wants to go like we usually do, so it looks like its going to be my first solo tour. Due to this, I decided to stick to an area closer to home that I'm more familiar with. It's a decently scenic route, but nothing particularly sexy about it, especially the stopping point towns.

Since the area I am going to be touring won't be that exotic, I'm looking for tips to make a less interesting solo tour, more interesting. What are some things that you do when you're on a solo tour to fill the days and nights in less interesting areas?
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Old 10-18-17, 11:32 AM
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I, raised an only child, am used to doing stuff alone .. favorite Tours, I went out of the country, Europe, enjoyed the differences, drank with the locals..
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Old 10-18-17, 11:40 AM
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To be honest, both tours I've done I probably would have been happier solo than with folks. Finding things to do solo has never been an issue for me, compromising and doing things others want to do was always the bigger issue.

Solo travel sounds like a scary thing until you actually try it. It is certainly not for everyone, but for those that it is, it is a very liberating experience.
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Old 10-18-17, 11:50 AM
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I've only done two trips...both were 2 days and one night. I did both trips to sort my gear out and find what I needed and didn't need. Next year I'm planning on longer trips.

To fill my day in after setting up camp I hiked about here and there. I also took a book to read and a puzzle book. I'm pretty easily entertained.

Tony
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Old 10-18-17, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
... What are some things that you do when you're on a solo tour to fill the days and nights in less interesting areas?
Read a novel. Read the news on the internet. Inventory my food and go grocery shopping. Perhaps some bike maintenance. If in a small town, wander up and down the street in the business district.

Most of my tripping has been with one or more others. That makes the planning a bit more rigid, as mealtimes and destinations are usually an agreed upon thing in advance. But the few solo trips I did, I did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to, but only if I wanted to.

Some people that get bored easily might not do well on a solo trip, but I rarely get bored on such a trip. I usually plan my destination in the morning, but when traveling solo I sometimes change that plan on a whim. You might also find that you travel more hours during each day if you are solo and have no scheduled reservations for where to be at the end of each day.

Do not be afraid of hitting the rack early evening and getting up early the next morning. You can get your sleep in earlier and start out earlier in the morning before the roads get busy. I have never started out before sunrise, but some people do. But I have frequently been riding out of the campground before anyone else has moved in the morning. In the photo, we started riding at about sunrise. I think I took the photo after we had been on the road for an hour and a half or so - I had both my taillights flashing, in that kind of fog I felt it was mandatory.
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Old 10-18-17, 12:07 PM
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Read. Finally broke down this spring and bought a Kindle so I no longer blow through headlamp batteries while reading a lot at night.


By all means hit up the local bar scene if you drink. I have had some educational conversations with people I have met in bars.


Yeah. Forgot to mention wandering around town. Being a big city boy, I like to look at the way others live. And you might discover a hidden gem you didn't know existed.
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Old 10-18-17, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
Solo travel sounds like a scary thing until you actually try it. It is certainly not for everyone, but for those that it is, it is a very liberating experience.

I will bet that, like me, you enjoy your own company and don't feel the need to constantly socialize with others.


My first ever tour was three months with 12 strangers. After it was over, I spent something like three weeks riding home solo. I did feel very liberated. I didn't like a couple of people in the group, so it was nice to finally be rid of them. But more importantly, it was the freedom to make my own decisions that I found the most liberating.
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Old 10-18-17, 12:22 PM
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You might try having a beer at as many different VFW halls that you can.
They are good for a laugh.
They might want a $5 membership at the door but you can usually get by without one.
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Old 10-18-17, 12:34 PM
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I find photography to be a positive experience when solo touring. It gives purpose to the ride, something to do along the way, and I have memories after the fact.
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Old 10-18-17, 12:40 PM
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Great input so far, really appreciate it. I was definitely planning on taking pictures a long the way. Taking a book is a good idea as well. I wish I could figure out a safe way to take a guitar as I can burn hours just sitting and playing.
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Old 10-18-17, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I will bet that, like me, you enjoy your own company and don't feel the need to constantly socialize with others.
Exactly, as well as not wanting to miss out on opportunities because no one else wants to go. When I do want to socialize, it generally isn't hard to find a local watering hole and folks to chat with.

I've done a lot of solo travel, and I get the question frequently about how can I do it. Best thing I can say is for someone to just give it a go and experience it themselves, especially when talking about a couple day trip around home. Can't guarantee it is for everyone, but you never know until you give it a go.
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Old 10-18-17, 01:35 PM
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What routes are you thinking of doing? 281 south to San Antonio is off the beaten path and LOTS to do along the way. I've taken it before on family trips in a car, but I've thought recently of taking it by bike.


edit: another option is 377 south. Once past Burleson, it gets interesting.
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Old 10-18-17, 01:52 PM
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The downtown areas of those cities should have something going on. Depends on weekday / weekend and also time of year. I would see if there are any festivals going on in any of those cities and time your trip around that.

Plus the park in Glen Rose would make an interesting bike ride.
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Old 10-18-17, 02:14 PM
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I'd say skip the internet; you can read all about it when you get home.


Talk to the locals. Sports bar, VFW, small diners, etc. Crash a picnic if you can (especially a large family reunion with too much leftover food, or a church social). High school football games, if they're not too competitive, may have a lot of chatter. Or just look around a store that looks interesting, and ask the proprietor how they got started.
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Old 10-18-17, 02:20 PM
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I've always traveled solo and not sure I would want to do it any other way...too many complications to deal with when you add more people.

Throw away your trip plan and just wing it. Push your limits and make yourself go further then you ever think you could in one day. Like a few others have suggested go out and 'hit the town', get around the locals and again do something you normally wouldn't do. I've did that a few times when trying to kill part of a day in town, went into the local historical museum(never me...not a chance), took in a nice chalk sideway art display the locals had drawn up(some darn nice artowrk done with chalk). Just put yourself out there and see how the cards fall.

One way to make anything memorable is to push your limits and go do something that you normally wouldn't even contemplate doing.
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Old 10-18-17, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
Great input so far, really appreciate it. I was definitely planning on taking pictures a long the way. Taking a book is a good idea as well. I wish I could figure out a safe way to take a guitar as I can burn hours just sitting and playing.
A brought a pocket Mandolin and sat in at Pub jam sessions .. how about a Uke? busking along the way?

Years ago, a woman singer songwriter did a bicycle based tour on a long tail extracycle kit, , passing thru, here, down the coast.

one side had the guitar in a light foam case, the other rear side some gear, front panniers the rest..





...
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Old 10-18-17, 04:11 PM
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Hmm, maybe I need to look more in to the guitar thing. Maybe I could take a Uke and learn to play it in my downtime. That could be fun.

I liked the idea about the football game. I'm sure there is one near my hotel Friday night. I was planning on hitting the local museums along the way. Not something I'd do driving by, but might be cool by bike.
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Old 10-18-17, 06:37 PM
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I've gotten nice invitations to community events before, just by walking around town, eating in a cafe, stopping in a museum, buying something at a bike shop, etc. I've attended local music festivals, BBQs and ice cream socials, lunch at the senior's center (more fun than it sounds), kids' baseball games with parents I've met. I get more invitations when I travel alone. Maybe people feel sorry for me.

That kind of stuff is the main reason I travel by bike.
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Old 10-18-17, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
I wish I could figure out a safe way to take a guitar as I can burn hours just sitting and playing.
See if there are any open mic nights on your route. There are a few at breweries I frequent, often they have some house instrument or someone will graciously lend you one. Great way to socialize too.
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Old 10-18-17, 08:56 PM
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Wow, this is evolving into a great conversation... travel by bike but carry a guitar! Fantastic!

As already mentioned, the best thing about going solo is the blessing and curse of having the freedom to make your own decisions. I may not have toured much - I don't even have friends who are into biking (sad face) - but I've done a good number of things solo - hikes, day-trips, short rides, kayaking. You can take that side trail/road and just check out what's there, or that pub/restaurant/event without needing buy-in. You can linger longer if you want... or just take a nap because you want to. You can always find social. It's harder to get away from it.

Oh, and do heed the advice of staying away from the internet/news. I read a fantastic statement about this somewhere, something to the tune of "If you check the internet constantly, you'll find that there's always something going on, something happening. If you go away for two weeks and then check the internet, you'll find that absolutely nothing of importance happened at all"

P.S. Just for my own education, how old do you have to be to have beers/fit in at VFW halls?
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Old 10-18-17, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by autonomy View Post

P.S. Just for my own education, how old do you have to be to have beers/fit in at VFW halls?
In Clayton, NM they couldn't believe I just "thought I could walk in here and order a beer". I was 36 year old.
I was given a pass for the membership fee.
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Old 10-19-17, 05:57 AM
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Travelling solo is truly all about yourself as a person. Some people need other people around them constantly, and some do not. My mother was 1 of 14 in her family, and she was never alone her entire life. After my father died, she had to spend a lot of time alone, and it was tough. I'm 1 of 3, and I was born 7 years ahead of my next sibling. We lived in a very small village in Maine, and I was the only boy. There were five other kids in town - all girls - and they shunned me, of course. I grew up a loner and prefer it that way to this day. All I need is my wife and my kids/grandkids.

Everyone thinks I'm a kook with my desires to ride across the USA and stuff like that. There's nobody in my life that is suitable or capable of touring with me, so I just shrug me shoulders and ride alone. Its sad and empty sometimes, but I pull myself up and get on with it.

I don't get bored easily. All I need is a good view or a babbling brook to hold my interest. I like to watch birds and squirrels and bugs do their thing. I like the feel of the wind on my face and the flickering and clacking of the leaves in the trees. I keep a journal, and I write my thoughts in it, and record events of the day. Once its dark I hit the sack. Simple. Cathartic.
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Old 10-19-17, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by autonomy View Post
...Oh, and do heed the advice of staying away from the internet/news. I read a fantastic statement about this somewhere, something to the tune of "If you check the internet constantly, you'll find that there's always something going on, something happening. If you go away for two weeks and then check the internet, you'll find that absolutely nothing of importance happened at all"....
And have you heard the old quip about only needing to read a newspaper for three months? After that, everything just repeats.

That reminds me of a 5-month wilderness trip I took in 2004. At the beginning of the trip, President Bush said we were starting to pull out of Iraq, and the Dow Jones average was hovering around 10,000 points. At the end of the trip, the US was still in Iraq and the DJ was hovering around 10,000 points. It seems I didn't miss a thing.
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Old 10-19-17, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
See if there are any open mic nights on your route. There are a few at breweries I frequent, often they have some house instrument or someone will graciously lend you one. Great way to socialize too.
I gig solo regularly with 4 hour sets, so I could easily drop in and play for the night. Good idea, I'll check around, thanks.

Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
I keep a journal, and I write my thoughts in it, and record events of the day.
Maybe I'll try that. Might be cool. Thanks.

Lots of good stuff so far, thanks.
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Old 10-19-17, 06:54 AM
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I ride, eat and sleep. The scenery is different, but the days are pretty much the same.
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