Solo Travel: Freedom & Fun? Or Boredom & Nightmares?
I am writing this blog post while sitting on the plane on my way back home from Berlin. There was another blog post planned for today, but in Berlin, I changed my mind. I took my trip alone, just like I did in Australia or Los Angeles and I realized, travelling solo can be so much fun, but it can also be hard.
I had the time of my life in Berlin. I was always on the go, had lots of fun activities planned, and despite not sleeping in a hostel this time, I did not feel lonely at all. But travelling solo is not always much fun. From time to time, it can be quite exhausting. Everything has to be done alone: the planning, the searching for accommodations, eating, visiting museums, … the list goes on and on. But there are some tips that can make travelling solo so much easier:
1. Plan more than you could ever fit into your schedule!
The worst thing is being bored alone. And this can happen quite easily. Honestly, when travelling alone, you realize how much can actually be done in a single day! It takes you way shorter to get from A to B as you don’t have to pay attention you don’t lose each other (at rush hour in a busy station for example). You don’t like a particular place you’re in, such as a museum? Well, why bother staying longer than needed if there’s no one enjoying themselves?
Travelling in two or more you have to respect what other people want, and that's good, that can be fun and of course, doing stuff you wouldn't do on your own broadens your mind. But if you stay in town for 2-3 days, you are surely more interested in seeing the points of attraction that are most important to yourselves, than to someone else.
I'm always amazed at how much I can do in just a few hours. For example, in Berlin, I woke up early, went to the Brandenburg Gate, and within only 3 hours, I visited about 5 of the main attractions. And all that including a coffee break. I now tend to plan way more than I think is possible to see, and it always turns out to be easily done, without lots of stress.
2. Choose hostels when looking for accommodation!
That's a thing I don't always do myself, as I have trouble sleeping with other people making noises, snoring or being loud in the room, even with earplugs. But staying in hostels is most of the time the cheapest way to travel, and I've done it during my whole Australia trip, as long travels can get quite expensive.
When travelling alone you might have been able to fill all your day with lots of activities, but what's going on at night? I personally love being for and spending evenings alone is something I genuinely enjoy, but I know lots of people who need someone around them, especially at night or in the evenings. In a hostel, you are never alone. There's always lots of stuff going on, and there might be a party on some rooftop. When staying in hostels, you can make lots of new friends from all over the world. I've been in rooms with Germans, Americans, Chinese, Spanish, British, Greek, … the list has to be endless. Some people you'll like, some people you'll dislike. That's just how life is, but with some of the people I met in hostels, I'm still in contact and how awesome is it to be able to say you have a friend from Chile?
3. Why not visit a musical or a TV show?
I guess why I particularly enjoyed my Berlin trip so much, is that I had so much to do – not only when speaking about sightseeing, but also other cultural activities. For example, I went to the recording of one of my favourite TV shows, and it was amazing. Seeing what’s going on behind the scenes, all the work that’s being put into 45 minutes of screen time, how many people are working backstage and seeing famous people up close is fascinating.
A day earlier, I went to see the Blue Man Group, a performance that's not quite a theatre or a musical but an event itself. I had so much fun and think it was money well spent. I'm pretty sure everyone will find some musical, play, concert, show or whatever to enjoy and that can add so much value to a trip!
4. My tripod is my man!
You might be thinking "Well, I want to go to this amazing place, but what about cool pictures as a memory?" Well, why should the fact that you are alone stop you from taking great pictures? There are two options: asking others or carrying a tripod. Honestly, I opted for option one way too many times, as it's just easier. But it also limits you. Most of the time people are not familiar with your camera, so the safest way is handing them your phone, but in the end, the quality of pictures taking with your phone is not as good as if they were taken with your camera or DSLR. Also, others often do not get what kind of picture you want, and you end up with a photo that's "meh".
That's why I started carrying my tripod – honestly light, stable travel ones are not that expensive – and now I'm independent. Nearly all cameras nowadays can be connected to your phone to take the shot, and you don't have to desperately look for people who look as if they knew their way around cameras (but if you do – in my opinion, Asians know it best!). You don't have to bother anyone, and after a few times, you'll get better and better and also more confident. In my experience, people assume you are a professional when working with a tripod, and I got asked VARIOUS times to take pictures of other people.
I plan on going into more detail on how to take travel pictures alone in future posts.
I guess the most important thing not to forget is: no one is ever forcing you to travel alone and if you do not enjoy it that’s completely okay, but if you want to go somewhere and can’t find someone to come with you, why not try it? You might even start liking it just as I did. I guess no one should ever be depended on others so much they stop doing things simply because they don’t want to do them alone. So go out, have fun, and don’t let other’s stop you from doing something!