Auntie Tip: Traveling Solo

To balance last week’s post on romance, I thought today I’d share some tips for the single travelers among us. I’ve never done a solo Walt Disney World trip, but I have done two days in Disneyland by myself, which was a great experience.

Traveling solo has a number of perks, not the least of which is being able to do whatever you want! Group trips often involve a lot of compromise. One person wants to go here, while another wants to eat there, and sometimes no one is completely satisfied. When you’re alone, there are no worries! Eat when you’re hungry. Sit down and people-watch when your feet get tired. Ride Storybook Land Canal Boats over and over if that’s what makes you happy. (OK, maybe that’s just me.)

Storybook Land Canal Boats in Disneyland

Seriously, who could not love this attraction? It's full of TINY things! (Sigh, if only they would bring it to Walt Disney World.)

Another advantage is being able to use the single-rider lines. These lines can make your wait for roller coasters much shorter. You just have to be OK riding next to a stranger, which, since it’s Disney and everyone is friendly, should be no problem. The attractions currently offering single-rider lines are Expedition Everest, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, and Test Track.

Another thing I like about traveling alone is that it creates opportunities for magic moments with other guests. When I’m traveling with the whole family, I’m usually pretty focused on them. One thing I like to do when I’m by myself on a crowded Walt Disney World bus is to take a seat and wait for someone elderly or who’s with a small child to get on and then offer them my seat. I’ve ridden the buses trying to stand while holding a sleeping child, and I know how much it means in that moment to be offered a seat, so I’m happy to do that for others.

I also had an experience on my Disneyland trip where I was able to give a tired mom a break for a while. I was sitting on a curb waiting for the parade in Disney California Adventure. The viewing area was starting to fill up, and a mom asked me if her little girl (age 4 or 5) could sit next to me. I said sure, and the little girl sat down and immediately began chatting up a storm. I had been writing postcards to my nieces and nephews, so I started showing her the cards and asking about her favorite characters. That passed the time until the parade started, and I could tell the mom appreciated having a little break.

While it’s pretty unusual for me to strike up conversations with strangers, Disney parks are a good place to do so. If you’re not up for talking to complete strangers but would like some social interaction on your solo trip, check if there are any fan meets happening. Most of the large Disney communities, like the DIS and WDW Radio, have gatherings in the parks on a regular basis. I went to the WDW Radio Food and Wine Walkabout in 2010, and it was a blast! I knew of several of the people there from following them on Twitter, but I had never met them in person. Before long, we were swapping stories and sharing the food off our plates. In November, I’m planning to go on the WDW Radio Cruise, and I expect that to be a great experience as well.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2010 Walkabout with WDW Radio Lou Mongello

There was a pretty big group of us.

Another way to avoid feeling lonely in the parks is to take a lot of photos and text them to friends or upload them to Facebook and Twitter so that others can feel a part of what you’re doing. If you’re a reader, take a book along to help pass the time in line or while you’re eating. On my trip to Disneyland, I brought along the The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland as well as The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. I particularly enjoyed being able to follow the touring plans in The Unofficial Guide, which are also available to subscribers on TouringPlans.com (affiliate link), since my family isn’t usually that disciplined when we’re traveling all together.

Have you ever toured a Disney park solo? Share your tips in the comments!