The Washington Times - October 23, 2008, 05:14PM

How many times have you wanted to take a trip somewhere, but ended up staying home because you didn’t want to travel alone? Next time, don’t let that ruin your plans. Traveling solo is a great way to see new places and make new friends.

I don’t mean joining a tour group, though that’s certainly one way to meet like-minded people. Such groups tend to visit the most obvious tourist sites and don’t interact with locals — not the best path to learning about other cultures and lifestyles.

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If you pay for a plane ticket to a foreign country, you are probably not the type to spend the trip watching MTV in your hotel room and eating at McDonald’s. And most likely, you do at least some preparation by reading travel guides to figure out what places you should visit.

The modern version of the old travel books are Web sites, such as pioneer Lonely Planet.com and the newer TripAdvisor.com. Along with the usual historical and sightseeing information, they offer tips about accommodations, dining and entertainment. Many of those tips come from travelers who have tested their recommendations, and they can save you even more money than if you buy a package tour.

Read my column on the subject:

KRALEV: Traveling solo has its charm

Do you travel by yourself? What are the friendliest places for a solo traveler? What memorable experiences have you had?

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