Have you ever fancied the idea of solo traveling yet lack the courage to do so? Fret not, you are not alone. It is normal to have concerns as a first-time solo traveller. It is no surprise that many are apprehensive about taking the first step.
However, more people are starting to embark on solo adventures. Earlier this year, I was fortunate to solo travel around a few countries in Europe during my exchange to the UK. Hence, in this article, I share several tips for those interested in planning an unforgettable solo adventure of their own.
Stay in Youth Hostels
As a student with a budget, there is no better option than to live in a Youth Hostel. Hotels in major European cities such as London, Paris and Amsterdam, are usually not wallet-friendly, especially those situated in strategic locations. Hostels on the other hand are more affordable, and usually in strategic locations.
Additionally, staying in youth hostels can be a great way to meet like-minded travellers from different parts of the world. Some hostels even host daily interactive activities such as cooking competitions, karaoke sessions or pub crawls. Through these activities, you may even make a new friend to explore the city with the next day.
Websites like hostelworld.com allows you to filter your choices by selecting the factors that are most important to you, whether it be price, location or room types.
A tip for saving costs: book directly through the main website of the hostel, as they might offer special discounted rates.
Join Free Walking Tours
Unlike traditional paid tours, free walking tours operate on a tip-based system. Most tour guides are young locals who are well-acquainted with the history and current events of the city. Tours typically last few hours and everyone is welcome to tip any amount post tour.
Walking tours make it easy to learn about the city, as well as make friends. Guides may even offer insider’ tips on the best restaurants frequented by locals or hidden attractions unknown by tourists.
During a free walking tour to Prague Castle, I befriended two South African girls who were visiting Prague for the first time. We spent the rest day together after the tour to sightsee, eat pizza, climb up the metronome and exchange stories about each other’s cultures.
A few personal recommendations for free walking tour companies in Europe are Strawberry Tour, SANDEMANs, and Heart of Sevilla. Note that you have to make a reservation online at least one day before the tour.
To ensure that you choose the best tour date available, it is advised for you to check reviews on TripAdvisor before you decide.
Visit Museums and Art Galleries
There is no better place to visit as a solo traveller than a museum or art gallery.
Take advantage of your status as a student as numerous museums in Europe offer student discounts for entry. In certain instances, students can even enter for free upon showing a valid student ID.
Do look out for the student discount on the museum’s website or inquire about the discount at the museum’s ticketing counter. I would recommend buying entrance tickets to museums online to prevent yourself from queuing in the long lines.
Join Conferences and Student Festivals
For those worried about planning your own trips, an alternative would be to apply for a student festival.
Follow pages such as Youth Opportunities for invitations to attend student festivals and conferences all around the world; meeting new people and learning about different customs and cultures. It might help one realize that despite the distance and borders, we are all connected.
I have joined two student festivals during my time as an undergraduate student.
The first was ISFiT in Trondheim, Norway and the second, GrIStuF in Greifswald, Germany. Applications open several months prior to the festival. These programmes are partially or fully funded, so take this opportunity while you are still an eligible student.
Applications are open for ISWI, an upcoming festival in Ilmenau, Germany. Those interested may visit the website to find out more details on how to apply.
As a whole:
Solo traveling is undoubtedly an experience everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. Regardless of how things are by the end of your trip, the important takeaway is that you did it.
At the very least, you will learn valuable lessons along the way such as navigating around foreign places, learning how to be comfortable with yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Hopefully, with these tips, you are inspired to embark on your very first solo adventure possibly during the next summer break.
By Stella Eng Chia Yin
Image Source: hotel-r.net