How to Travel Solo

I decided to write this post because I’ve been asked by a number of people how the hell I managed to travel around Europe during Summer on my own. I went solo for a music festival in Barcelona, Yacht Week, 3 weeks in Aiya Napa (Cyprus), and a week in Budapest.

Traveling alone gave me the most rewarding experiences of Summer and if you ever get the chance, go solo. It’s the most liberating experience ever.

Questions I got were mainly along the lines of:

  • 1. “Not scared?”
  • 2. “Not lonely?”
  • 3. “Is it safe?”

I’ll deal with each in turn.

  • 1. “Not scared?”

Of course I was scared. I get super anxious on arrival about how to go to my hostel and what to do with myself after. I always get lost, so I made it a point to always know the exact route I would have to take from the airport/train station to get to my hostel, and print out my hostel’s precise location from google maps. I always kept the hostel number on hand as well, just in case.

Exact copy of a map I used: Screen cap + MS Paint
Exact copy of a map I used: Screen cap + MS Paint

I would arrive without a sense of purpose and be like “da fuq am I going to do with myself for the week”, but would spend the entire of my first day doing research online on things to do and plan out my itinerary for the rest of my stay.

Hostels also have some suggestions on things you can get up to
Hostels also have some suggestions on things you can get up to

Soon after I’d be making friends, then bam! Fear vanquished!

  • 2. “Not lonely?”

Nahh, not really. People get tiring. I could never deal with traveling with groups bigger than 4 – can’t fit into cabs, everyone has different agendas, too many people sharing the shower… Zzz. Of course, it’s a bit of a bummer to go around a new city on your own.

What I did was to do things that would guarantee I would meet new people.

In Barcelona, I joined couchsurfing and found a couchsurfing group organising meet ups to the same festival – ended up making some of my best mates ever. 🙂

Hostels are also the easiest way to meet people. Look for one that has common areas (like a kitchen, or hang out room), and go for rooms with 4 beds and more. In Budapest, I met some amazing people in my 5 bed all-girls room.

Free guided tours are also an easy and inexpensive way to make friends with the people in your tour group!

Best festival mates, Alexa and Jess
Best festival mates, Alexa and Jess
Budapest girlfriend, Nike
Budapest girlfriend, Nike

When I was at The Yacht Week and was the only solo person on my boat of 12, I was afraid of being the odd one out – but again, it was made clear to me really soon that if you’ve signed up for something like The Yacht Week, everyone is there to meet new people.

So if you’re travelling solo, get yourself in events or places where the atmosphere is wonderfully social, like the pub!

I also made it a point to try and talk to someone new everyday. This could happen in the most mundane scenarios, like when we’re both in queue, or high fiving someone in a concert crowd to start a conversation. I quickly realized that pretty much no one will say no to a “hello”. 

Be friendly, sincere and genuine, and you’ll make friends anywhere you go, no bother!

  • 3. “Is it safe?”

Honestly I believe that no matter where you go in the world, there will always be security risks. Don’t let this stop you from going solo – you just have to be smart about it.

For myself, I bought a leather handbag with a buckle closure so it wouldn’t be easy to cut or open. I traded my smartphone for what I called my “anti-theft” handphone (a shitty samsung model, doesn’t even have the game snake on it pfft) and got a crappy wallet (a fake reebok velcro thing suitable for kindergarten haha).

Anti-theft handphone. My model was actually crappier than this one.
Anti-theft handphone. My model was actually crappier than this one. Photo credit: http://www.newcellphonesblog.com

I slept with all my valuables in my pillow and with my arm wrapped around it. I’d do research on common pickpocket methods in the city I’m in. I only booked hostels that had lockers with padlocks. When traveling alone, I never went out at night on my own and certainly didn’t go boozing on my own ever (with friends it’s a different story…)

And that’s how I survived my Summer traveling solo! I hope this helps you plan your own solo adventure 🙂

One thought on “How to Travel Solo

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