No this is not a Jayyssoonnnn Deerruuulllooooo song.
And if you read that in his voice, 5 points for whatever house you’re in…or just for you if you’re not a Harry Potter nerd like myself.
Moving past the passive-aggressive…blob that was my last blog post, I wanted to get back to writing about the travels I actually had…since I was lazy and didn’t finish any posts or post anything at all following my last few weeks of traveling.
And this is kind of important, you know, for anyone that wants to travel, but may not have a buddy to go along with.
Let me start by saying that traveling alone is no reason not to travel. In fact, I found my experiences of traveling alone very liberating and enjoyable because I controlled my timetable, did what I wanted to and saw what I wanted to, (can I get a booyah for flexibility?) and had no one to worry about when traveling (flying solo, literally, is actually a lot less hectic as you’re only worrying about yourself). The other thing is, if anything goes wrong, or you mess something up, it’s no one’s fault but your own, and being mad at yourself for something seems much easier than being mad at a friend, in my experience.
My solo travel experience, as you know, did start when I moved to London, and there’s a post on that somewhere back in the cobwebs…(or actually, on another blog!) But in this case, I have other specific examples. I went to Berlin, Germany, on my own, and I also did a few bus tours on my own (though those don’t count as much because you have a tour guide and other people with you).
Going to Germany, though, was a fairly large step, and I kind of wish I had taken it sooner. I was kind of hesitant to travel to a country where I didn’t know the language on my own at first, but just dived right in when I finally made up my mind. And I loved it! I ate all different kinds of food, saw different historically nerdy things, made new friends that I may never talk to again (unfortunately ) and just enjoyed myself. But at the same time, had to deal with any mishaps, alone.
All in all, it was a great trip. I went on a few walking tours, learned a TON about the history of Berlin and Germany in general, saw some great sights, (East End Gallery blew my mind!), ate some delicious food (like you expected any less! Currywurst is pretty delicious, I’ll tell you. Though I thoroughly enjoyed other specialties while there too!), and just really came to appreciate the country and culture. (How much I came to appreciate it surprised me, because I was only there for a few days!) I think a lot of why I loved this trip so much was that it was really untouched by what others wanted to do or what they thought about a certain thing, because as much as they are awesome, traveling companions do have their views and desires, and sometimes you might not want all of that all the time.
So if you’re traveling alone, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
1. Don’t NOT TRAVEL because you’re afraid of going alone. (Unless it’s in a country that you should probably not travel alone in at the moment, like…Egypt probably wouldn’t be the ABSOLUTE BEST choice for now.)
2. Figure out your own timeline before you go and do the research (this is a theme in my blog, I swear. DO THE RESEARCH) in order to meet that timeline. Know how long it takes to get to/from the airport to your hostel/hotel, etc. Keep that all in mind!
3. Now send that timeline to someone you know via email. Family, friend, significant dinosaur, whoever. So they know where you are and what you’ll be doing. Then make sure you check in with that person at some point! Otherwise, hello worrying!
4. Be smart. Use your common sense! Don’t walk around CONSTANTLY staring at a map, you’ll be screaming for something bad to happen if you’re not careful. If you need to use a map, go to a pub or something, grab a drink or food, and take a look while you enjoy some local cuisine. Bartenders and servers tend to be pretty useful folks too! (Or if you absolutely NEED directions, don’t let on that you’re solo. Say you’re meeting someone)
5. Don’t stay in some seedy hostel with no good reviews or anything like that. Grab a nice bed in a nice place and make some new friends, even. (I’ve actually made more friends traveling alone/in a pair than with a group of people!) It may seem like the easiest thing ever, but it’s something to always keep in mind, even when not traveling alone.
6. Get familiar with the transit system. This will always be your best friend anywhere you go if you’re sans car.
7. While in that hostel, talk to the staff for advice on what to see/do if you want more of a local’s POV. They can also tell you what NOT to do or where NOT to go, if you’re interested in that.
8. Carry some sort of ID on you at all times. (And copies in various spots)
9. Keep to public places, especially at night.
10. Don’t wear the damn H t-shirt, ya walking stereotype. It may seem silly, but things like what you wear and how you walk actually makes a difference. (See this article on what not to wear. Sorry, no Clinton Kelly and Stacy London included!)
11. Take the free walking tour. Repeating because you should do it. So do this. (I’m a broken record, what can I say?) You’ll learn the area where you’re staying and some history too! (History plug, yeah!)
12. Don’t freak out over not knowing the language. I know like two things in German, but I made it through Berlin just fine. You just have to use your noggin and that common sense I keep rambling on about. Most bigger cities, you’ll find an English speaker, most smaller cities, people tend to be pretty accommodating even if they don’t speak English. (That doesn’t go for everywhere, but you’d be surprised at how far a good demeanor, smile, and lots of charades can get you)
Also, any major freaking out can exude vulnerability in good or bad ways, so keep your cool, if possible.
13. Big one: If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Always trust your gut, as Gibbs would say. (More TV shows? REALLY? Yes. Really. Gibbs is the boss.)
14. Enjoy yourself. You’re running the show, so do what you want to. (it’s your travel, you’ll do what you want to…tune of “it’s my party” if you missed it)
15. You can handle it. Just be yourself, be open-minded, and be mindful. (Turning redundant, I know. I just really wanted a multiple of 5.)
In general, the number one rule is to use your head and stay smart because most of the worries with going solo is safety, so always trust your gut and use your common sense, friends!
All of this isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed my time traveling with my friends…or haven’t I??? (just kidding) I just actually really enjoyed traveling alone too. If that makes me weird, so be it! I’m already weird, so let’s add a tiara.
As for the actual visit itself, Germany was awesome, (if you couldn’t tell) and I can’t wait to go back sometime. I thoroughly recommend it!
Remember, if you’re hesitant about traveling solo: (my friend Kevin told me this once)
Do something, before you can’t do anything. (Don’t let that chance slip away!)