29, 05, 2015
It’s almost summer and that means it vacation time for some of us. Since we all run on different availability it can be sometimes difficult to plan trips with friends or family. But if you’re impatient and ballsy such as myself (*wink*) you don’t mind at all to travel on your own. Yes, traveling to a foreign country alone can be scary at first, but in fact a lot of my solo travels were the best and most memorable times I’ve had. I had full control over my trip since I was able to scheduled things on my own terms. If you’re planning to take an adventurous leap on your own then here are a few tips that have helped me have a fun and safe time.
We all want to be spontaneous, I know, but especially if you are traveling aboard you need to know as much as possible to where you’re going. If you find a too good to be true deal it just might be – this is where making friends comes in place (I’ll talk more about that below). Of course you shouldn’t completely reply on someone else, so figure out where you want to go and what you want to see exactly.
Besides the many resources online there is still nothing better than a book. I always buy a Lonely Planet guide to where I’m going since they have basically all the information you will ever need from must-see tourist attractions and it’s hidden gems, to costs of taking public transportation, to background history on the country. These books also have a huge directory of many attractions, festivals/events, restaurants, museums, bars, and even gives you awesome ideas for day trips as well.
The key thing here really is to just get familiar with the area you’re staying in and once you have done your research and feel more comfortable then go ahead and be more spontaneous as you wish.
I personally don’t like hostels for many reasons so I prefer to look for more accommodating options. I’ve had great experiences staying at not only hotels but at B&B’s (bed & breakfast), shared housing, and even a weekly mansion (this is a term they use in Japan but it’s actually not a mansion; in fact it’s totally opposite. It’s basically a very small apartment with a bed, kitchen, and washroom).
– Least expensive
– Meet new people
– Not the cleanest
– Not the safest
– Not comfortable
– Very low privacy
– Breakfast included (usually)
– 24 hour security
– Room service
– More expensive
– Check-in and out times are sometimes annoying
– Mid-range cost
– Usually have amazing locations and are close to everything
– Have an at-home feel
– Hosts are friendly and helpful
– All the privacy you need
– Good breakfast included
– None really
– Low to mid-range cost
– Meet new and friendly people
– Group activities are available
– Some meals are prepared
– Private but not enough
– Not entirely clean
– Not too comfortable
– Reasonably priced
– It’s all your space
– You can cook for yourself (saves money when traveling)
– Don’t always meet new people
As nice as it may seem to visit typical landmarks in a group setting and with a guide who announces what everything is, that is just not my cup of tea. It’s limiting and since I’m really all about experiencing the culture and how locals live their lives I want to know where they actually go eat, drinking, hang out with friends, shop, dancing, etc. This is where the following helps…
With this day and age technology can be used to it’s finest. Whether it be meeting new friends from a language exchange website or app there are many ways of meeting new people anywhere you go. I always try and make connections months before even going to my destination just to get to know some good people there. From my experience I have never met anyone weird but of course you still need to use precautions when doing this.
It’s always a good idea to get to know who you’re meeting by writing each other emails, or communicating through phone app messengers, ,or even Skyping with them first. Very often the people you meet will want to practice English which is great since you will be able to help them out, and if you’re interested in knowing their language you can learn from them as well.
Some helpful websites for meeting new friends and doing language exchanges:
You never want to be that person who doesn’t know a lick of the spoken language in the country you’re in. You may not be with company everyday so learn some of the spoken language. If you’re not good with memorizing phrases then at least learn the basics such as hello, where is [place]?, right, left, straight, thank you, etc. If you are completely lost and depending on where you are, you will most likely find someone who can speak a bit of English; especially in major tourist congested areas. Ask questions to those who work in stores, cafes, restaurants, and very often now cities will have an information booth available.
Tip: If you get lost, don’t let your face or actions show it. Relax, look confident, and find the solution.
Mostly anywhere in Europe is easier to find English speakers, than in certain parts of Asia where it can be a lot more tricky. If all does go down then use your hands and point to where you want to go on a map or show a photo of what you want to see. Do not let this part of your trip discourage you because there are many ways around these lost in translation moments.
As much as I encourage to do a language exchange some people just may not be into that. I do recommend learning on your own with apps such as Duolingo and Wlingua (this one is my favourite but it’s only available for learning English, Castilian Spanish, South American Spanish, German, Italian, and Portuguese).
As the saying goes, “do as the Romans do”. This is definitely the best option when traveling anywhere since in most circumstances you never want to stand out; it’s always best to blend in with the rest of the crowd. I will dress like the locals, act like the locals, and follow the same mannerism as the locals. Not only is this a great way to really get a feel into the culture but also to avoid being targeted as a tourist which can lead to being pickpocketed or even mugged. If it’s not common for locals to be wearing cargo shorts then don’t wear cargo shorts…maybe in general just don’t wear cargo shorts!
Tip: If you’re not sure how they dress in the city you’re visiting use google to your advantage. Search “How do they dress in [country/city]”, or in images search ” [country/city] street style”.
I hope this post helps you on your next destination – and if you are planning to venture off alone, do have an amazing trip and stay safe. Take care wanderluster! xo.