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When the Seat is Reversed… Traveling Solo

As a long-time Tour Director with Starr, I am a real advocate for traveling solo, especially on our wonderfully-planned bus tours.  So much so, that I wrote an article about it – “I Want To Be Alone…Really” –  to encourage more solo traveling.  As I mentioned in my previous blog post, too often people are held back from traveling because they don’t have a traveling companion due to lack of interest, time, and/or money.  Apprehensions include safety, being alone at meal times, having no one to converse with, or feeling like a “third wheel.”   I know these are traveling myths since facilitating multiple tours and observing our guests from the Tour Director’s seat. However, I decided to change my seat to test “solo-ness” by booking a Starr bus tour and traveling by myself.

I made my reservation for one on the Vermont Valentine at the Brandon Inn this past February.  What better way to test traveling solo, than to book what most people would construe as a “couples only tour!”

With reading material and crossword puzzles in hand, I boarded the motorcoach with excitement and anticipation.  First, to test my traveling solo theory and, secondly to visit our Green Mountain State in the throes of winter.  I quickly nestled in my seat at the back of the bus, arranged all of my traveling needs, and watched eagerly as one couple after another couple took their seats.  I was right.  This was the perfect tour to test traveling solo.

 

As we made our way, I was happy to pull out my reading material for a time, check my emails, and close my eyes—after all, this was a mini get-away for me too!  It felt good to be “alone.”  CHECK!

 

It was at our lunch stop that I noticed a group of traveling companions walking towards me.  Could it be?  There were three?  As it turned out, I was not the only solo onboard.  Another woman, who had recently lost her husband took the plunge at the insistence of her son and booked this “couples” tour.  A husband and wife embraced this party of one not only for that meal but for others as well.  CHECK!

 

The historic Brandon Inn provided every opportunity for guests to mingle from group meals in the dining room to entertainment and fireside chats in the spacious living room while watching nature at its finest—snowing.  There was much chatter and laughing and sharing!  CHECK!

 

The highlight for all of us was the ride through the woods on a horse-drawn sleigh!  It was a Hallmark moment!  Seating was not a problem as there were seats for two and three which worked out perfectly for myself, my fellow solo traveler and our Vermont guide. We huddled under the thick blanket as we sang, “Over the river and through the woods. . .”  CHECK!

 

Riding back home on the motor coach was, for me, a lot different than going.  I chose to put my reading material and crossword puzzles aside, and spent the entire time talking and laughing with my new found-friends and seatmates.  Yes, they were a couple, but we shared our grandchildren’s pictures, our shopping deals, and future Starr tour plans. We exchanged contact information and looked forward to staying in touch.  CHECK!

 

As far as feeling safe and secure—we were all cared for professionally by Lucille George, our Tour Director, and Bud Cartwright, our driver, on Starr’s state-of-the-art motor coaches.  CHECK!

 

As I get back to my Tour Director’s seat, I look forward to seeing you all during our 2019 travel season!  CHECK! CHECK!

 

 

Christine Durling
Tour Director

I Want to Be Alone… Really!

I Want to Be Alone… Really!

Did you ever want to go to the beach and no one wants to go with you because they don’t like the sand?  Did you ever want to go a flower show and you can’t find a companion who loves the greenery as much as you?  Did you ever want to take a trip near or far, but no one has the time to partner up with you?  Or, how about visiting some historic sites and no one you know has any interest in the Civil War.  Well, now you don’t have to keep wishing and hoping for that someone to make all of these adventures happen for you!  Traveling solo on a Starr bus tour is the perfect answer for the traveler who is leery about traveling without a partner.

 

Travel websites suggest that the number one fear of traveling alone is feeling lonely.  Nothing could be further from the truth when traveling on a Starr bus tour.  As an experienced Tour Director, I have seen complete strangers board our tour bus in the morning, and by our lunch stop many acquaintances have been made.  Dinnertime brings on new-found friends, and truly by the end of a one-day or multiple-day tour, passengers are exchanging contact information.  Our Travel Advisers can attest to the fact that many of our solo travelers have buddied up with people they have met on previous tours and have been booking trips together for years!  This phenomena gave rise to the Starr Reunion Cruises and Starr Birthday/Anniversary-themed tours where many of our passengers reconnect with their Starr friends.

 

Some hesitant solo travelers may be concerned about safety.  Traveling in a group setting such as with our bus tours has a built-in safety feature all its own.  Starr provides a great balance of being with the group for attractions and some meals, and then having free time to decide whether to pair up with someone on the tour or to go off on your own.  It truly is the best of both worlds.  With today’s technology, everyone is in touch— or not— all day long and wherever the road leads.  A solo traveler on our Cross Country by bus trip, who was recently widowed, was encouraged by her daughter to take the 26-day journey by herself.  Her daughter was truly surprised that her mom almost never called during the four weeks away because she was having such a good time! We have another solo traveler who had so much fun on last year’s Cross Country trip, that she’s going again this year!

 

Susan Barkowski, a frequent solo Starr traveler, recently shared these highlights about traveling alone.  “During one Starr group meal, I sat next to a couple in their 90’s who told me that they still enjoy walking and jogging together and that they can’t wait until they get their new Christmas picture taken in their jogging gear.  At another group meal, a fellow solo traveler was telling our whole table about his job at the Philadelphia International Airport and all of the rock stars and Hollywood celebrities he has met over the years.  Each Starr trip has been more than just the places I have traveled.  It has been the people I have met on the Starr bus that has made me think about what is truly important in life.  It gives you the opportunity to meet people who you would never meet unless you traveled solo.”

 

The pluses of traveling “alone” with Starr simply outweigh sitting at home and wishing for a companion to go along.  You choose the kind of tour you want to go on.  You pick the time of year.  You never have to negotiate your free time—you can rest when you want, eat what you want, and book something special.  You are more open to your surroundings and the people you meet. Then, at the end of the day, you get to relax in the peace and quiet of your room with full control over the TV remote!

 

Rick Steves, world traveler, guidebook author and TV host, suggests that when struggling with the idea to travel alone remember, “Your trip is a gift from you to you!”  I hope you plan to treat yourself this travel season with a Starr bus tour with or without a partner!

 

Happy travels,
Christine Durling
Starr Tour Director