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Ellen Perlman
Washington, DC
News, feature and travel writer
Interests: travel, hiking, biking, studying spanish
Recent Activity
Short tours can do wonders for alleviating loneliness when you're vacationing alone. If, after flying to your dream destination, you start to feel lonely, you can join a group activity for a day or two and have real live conversations. Something beyond, "Does this bus go to Sintra?" I recently went on an "urban foraging" walk in downtown Victoria, British Columbia. (My cousin asked if that meant dumpster diving!) My tour guide Kathy and I... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2019 at Boldly Go Solo
I've read a lot of great travel tips over the years. And I've probably forgotten just as many. So I always like reading stories on how to be a better traveler. I've learned through experience to bring an empty water bottle to fill after going through security. That saves paying exorbitant prices to buy and throw out yet another plastic container. For years, I've taken along photocopies of my passport in case I lost the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2019 at Boldly Go Solo
The Matador Network wrote a post recently about farmers markets around the world, from Dane County Farmer's Market in Seattle to Mercado Central in Valencia, Spain, and Rialto Markets in Venice, Italy. I'm a fan of food browsing. I love walking up and down every aisle of shops in other countries to check out unfamiliar products, the foreign-language packaging of familiar products and tasty foods that could be gifts to bring home. Yet I have... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2018 at Boldly Go Solo
You say you don't want to travel solo. But suppose your choice of travel companions includes the faffer, the whinger or the waverer? I enjoyed this post on travel companions by a writer for a New Zealand site who detailed the challenges of the "eight worst types of people to travel with." The faffer takes forever to get out and go in the morning. The whinger won't stop complaining. And the waverer can't make a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2018 at Boldly Go Solo
I hadn't heard of the Dingle Peninsula until a few years ago during a "girls weekend," when a friend presented a bottle of Dingle Original Gin from the Dingle Distillery for another friend and I to taste. Then when I was researching a trip to Ireland last year, the travel literature suggested that if visitors had time for just one tour in the west of Ireland and had to choose between the Ring of Kerry... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2018 at Boldly Go Solo
I was looking for an Irish town to spend a view days on my own last April, during a two-week trip around Ireland with a rotating roster of travel companions. Kilkenny stood out. The city an hour-and-a-half south of Dublin is known as the design center of Ireland, but also has a medieval castle, a 17th-century Irish merchant's townhouse and a 13th-century cathedral. So much to see. And I met the nicest people at the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2018 at Boldly Go Solo
Shannon happened upon Quebec online. "It looked cute," and it was French-speaking and she thought it would “feel like you’re in a foreign city,” without the effort and expense of flying to someplace in Europe. In fact, the official website reads, "Quebec City: So Europe. So close." It didn't disappoint. Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2017 at Boldly Go Solo
They say that if you walk late at night, up Hog Alley, a short, steep street in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., you might see a tall black man, dressed like a gentleman from the 1800s, pacing up and down. If you get close enough, he slowly lifts his head to show piercing blue eyes. But when he lifts his head a little farther, you see blood dripping from a scar that goes from ear to ear.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2017 at Boldly Go Solo
We got our first crisp day of autumn today here in D.C. With the beginning of fall, some people's thoughts turn to vacation plans for the cold months ahead. Maybe it's a trip to someplace warm. In other cases, the choice is winter sports. For those thinking about a ski vacation but don't have friends who ski, here's a post I wrote about how a ski-loving friend dealt with the situation: Although my friend Elaine... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2017 at Boldly Go Solo
A photographer friend invited me out to the McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area to capture the fields of sunflowers. They're at their peak this weekend and next. I've been meaning for a long time to join Rena on photo shoots. I love her work, and I knew it would be helpful to see the world through her eyes. And to get some photo tips. I'd seen her sunflower photos from other years and definitely wanted... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2017 at Boldly Go Solo
You know the solo travel world has come into its own when The Washington Post does an entire travel section on it. One article offers eight tips ensuring a "trip of ease." Some obvious tips include using common sense when it comes to safety and talking to locals. One you don't hear as often is the recommendation to travel places where the dollar is strong. Agreed. It's always fun to go somewhere you can live... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2017 at Boldly Go Solo
"Ideal for solo travelers," says the press release from Western River Expeditions about its rafting trips on the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon, Utah. I vouch for that statement. I had one of the best trips of my life floating on peaceful sections of the river and holding on for dear life through Class III and IV rapids (read: "big"). And camping by the side of the river with new friends who I was happy... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2017 at Boldly Go Solo
Our guide in Port of Spain, Trinidad, pointed to a concrete lot as we drove past it on the way to our hotel. "That's one of the panyards." Which explained nothing at all. It wasn't until a couple of days later I understood. Steelpan is the term for steel drums in Trinidad and Tobago. And panyards are where steelpan band members set up their steel drums and practice. You do need a whole vacant lot... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2016 at Boldly Go Solo
Children and chocolate. That is what most people think when they think Hershey, Pennsylvania. But it's entirely possible to have a grown-up weekend in the town that chocolate built. Mine involved visits to a winery, a brewery, a spa, an outlet mall and an antique car museum. All for a travel story for The Burg, a monthly community newspaper for Harrisburg, Pa. I've written about Hershey way more times than I need to count. Somehow... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2016 at Boldly Go Solo
Volcanoes abound It's not often one gets to experience a volcano. But there I was in Ecuador, a decade or so ago, watching a plume of what looked like smoke--but had to be ash--spewing from Tungurahua, translated as throat of fire. In Riobamba and other towns nearby, people were constantly sweeping a film of gray off steps, sidewalks, the front of churches. More ash kept settling down. Obviously, volcanoes can be dangerous but it was... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2016 at Boldly Go Solo
Green and white awnings and a small sign are all that distinguish the Richmond home of Maggie L. Walker from neighboring duplexes that have been carefully restored to their appearance circa 1925. What distinguished Walker in her day was her skill at overcoming all the obstacles society could place before a black woman living under Jim Crow segregation laws. But wait. Maggie who? Maggie Lena Walker, the daughter of a former slave, was a black... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2016 at Boldly Go Solo
If you're going to get stuck somewhere in a blizzard, make it a ski resort, is what I always say. Actually, I'd never said that before this past weekend. But then, as serendipity would have it, I got "stuck" at a ski resort during a blizzard. Oh, poor me. All I could do at Canaan Valley Resort in West Virginia was ski--Nordic and alpine--snowboard, ice skate, use the whirlpool and head for the lodge's dining... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2016 at Boldly Go Solo
First things first regarding driving yourself around Italy. If you want to ask a non-English-speaking Italian where the downtown is, you're going to have to pronounce "città centro" (city center) as: chee-TAH CHEN-tro I figured that pronunciation out, oh, about a thousand quizzical looks too late. I thought driving in Italy on my own would be a huge step up from public transportation. I didn't quite realize the challenge. It started on day one when... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2015 at Boldly Go Solo
In this story on why it's better to travel alone, the fourth reason is my favorite: deep immersion. You simply are not going to see or notice as much if you're walking with a friend or partner, while in Paris or Tokyo or anywhere else, gabbing with each other about what you just saw or where your next meal will be or something you remembered about your lives at home. You've stopped absorbing what's around... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2015 at Boldly Go Solo
There are people I know who will jump out of perfectly good airplanes or ski double black diamond slopes in Utah who are afraid to dine out alone in a nice restaurant. Afraid! In this enjoyable story on dining solo, the writer describes it this way: When chilling out at home with a bowl of popcorn gets old, I opt for the solo dining experience – the next best thing to a bubble bath, except... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2015 at Boldly Go Solo
You have friends, right? And they have friends? And relatives, too? Well, what are you waiting for? TAP THEM. You don't have to know them well, or even at all. They just have to live someplace you want to go. That's how I decided I could go to Ecuador without a travel companion. The thought of landing alone after dark in Quito, the capital city, was nerve wracking otherwise. But my childhood friend's husband's uncle's... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2015 at Boldly Go Solo
Imagine a woman traveling the world alone...a half century ago. I'm sure it wasn't common, certainly not as common as today. I was intrigued when I learned about the experiences of such a woman from her daughter, Jane Stein, who found her mother's travel logs and turned those adventures into a children's book on travel. Today I'm running a guest post that Jane wrote. I enjoyed reading the tidbits she listed on her website to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2014 at Boldly Go Solo
I now have a solo travel idol. Her name is Laura and she's 25. She and her friend Alexa, two country girls from the (still) United Kingdom stayed with me in August, a few days before Alexa had to fly home and Laura was getting ready to continue traveling around the U.S. on her own for two months. In return for a few nights at my place, the two of them cooked me dinner and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2014 at Boldly Go Solo
Nearly every day, I find solo travel stories from around the world. Here are just three of the dozens I've collected. More to come. Activities good for solo travelers: From Peter Greenberg, a story on how to find friends when traveling solo. Some of these I've mentioned about before - such as staying at upscale hostels or B&B's or going to a dude ranch - but he offers some interesting new ones. For example, certain... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2014 at Boldly Go Solo
A decade ago or so, I remember feeling so clever when, after my flight was canceled, I called the airline to find me another flight, while I stood in a long customer service line at the airport. Within a few minutes, I was rebooked to my destination and I stepped out of line. It had barely budged. Twitter has upped the ante. A Washington Post story today describes how a woman got great service from... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2014 at Boldly Go Solo