Is there anything you know now about solo travel that you wish someone had told you back then?
Amanda Pressner: Just that the loneliness, that weirdness that you feel the first few days tends to go away, but it can be pretty intense. If it's your first time solo traveling, you might wonder if you made a mistake, but you didn't! Give yourself a few days to feel out of sort, then make some efforts to get social.
Beth Whitman: Just to be open to new experiences and meeting new people. I would suggest that people not be afraid to spend money on adventures. You can always make more money but you might not be able to experience something again.
Julia Dimon: I wish someone had told me, "You'll be fine. You got this." It can feel a little scary to take off by oneself to parts unknown (especially for an entire year, like I did back in 2005), but once you get to the mystery destination, you quickly realize that all those fears that kept you up at night were unfounded. That you are, in fact, okay by yourself, and it's an extremely enjoyable adventure to be the conductor of one's travel destiny. I know now that it's not necessary to be afraid that you will be lonely or won't meet anyone. There are tons of like-minded solo travelers out there...you'll certainly cross paths with them, make friends, and have new experiences—so let the fear go. Solo travel is such a gift. Solo travel gives you the space and freedom to challenge your beliefs and philosophies, expand your horizons and really grow as a person.
Additional solo travel resources can be found on RickSteves.com, the official website of travel guru Rick Steves—here, he offers tips for staying street-smart in Europe. Check out GoGirlGuides.com for detailed travel advice and fun, inspirational articles and guidebooks created by long-time solo traveler Kelly Lewis.
With most travel deals based on double occupancy, the total price is often higher than what is advertised for single patrons. Here's how to avoid the extra charge.
Check out options from tour companies like G Adventures and Intrepid Travel that allow you to pair up with a same-sex roommate during your trip as a way to get around the pesky single supplement. Grand Circle Travel offers the same service for travelers ages 50 and up while Contiki offers a similar plan for 18-35 year olds.
While you'd normally have to worry about paying double (since cruise cabins are almost always based on double occupancy), Norwegian Cruise Lineshas another, more affordable option. On the Pride of America ship (based in Hawaii), Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway, and the soon-to-be-christened Norwegian Gateway (coming in February 2014), you'll get your own room and the chance to mingle with fellow solo cruisers in the Studio Lounge, all for less than the cost of your usual solo cruise ticket. From $1,099 per cabin; check NCL.com for pricing details based on your actual cruise dates.
From the vibrant tango-filled streets of Buenos Aires to the mystical ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, we've rounded up our favorite travel-inspiring photos of South America—taken by you, our well-traveled Budget Travel audience.