A few weeks ago, I did something very out of the ordinary for me. You see, I’m quite the overthinker. It’s not a character trait I necessarily love about myself, but hey. So what did I do? I booked my first solo trip, to Barcelona.
Now, I realize that there’s a lot of people who have travelled to the other side of the globe by themselves, so a two-hour flight doesn’t seem like a very big deal, but it sure was to me. I’d been wanting to do a solo trip for a long time, but people (read: my parents) have always talked (or should I say scared) me out of it. A girl, by herself, in a city/country she’s never been to?! What madness is this?! So this time around, I got the idea, booked the trip and told everyone after I booked it, which turns out to be a very efficient way of silencing the naysayers.
Honestly, the only part of this trip that made me nervous was the flying part. I don’t hate flying but I don’t love it either. So the thought of being on an airplane, all by myself, made me feel a little anxious. I’m not going to give you a detailed overview of what I did in Barcelona here, I might do another post on that, but I am going to tell you a few things that I discovered/learned on my trip.
-If you’re not very good at orienting yourself in new places, you could start by taking a solo trip to a city/region you already know. This will give you an extra sense of security, seeing you’ve already been there and kind of know your way around.
-Another ‘security blanket’ is making sure you speak the language. Even though English has become THE universal language, you might find that, in a lot of Mediterranean countries, it’s not as widespread as you’d think. This was one of the reasons I went to Spain. I speak a little Spanish so I knew I’d be able to properly communicate with the people there, which can come in handy.
-Organize yourself before you leave. Your trip might be spontaneous but it’s always nice to know something about the place you’re headed and what to do while you’re there. I made a rough schedule about the things I wanted to do and the places I wanted to visit. Museums in Barcelona, for example, are closed on Mondays. It’s nice to know this kind of stuff in advance so you don’t show up only to find it closed for the day.
-Eating alone isn’t that bad. I know this is one of the main things that ‘scares’ people when they think about travelling by themselves: the fact that they have to eat alone, especially in the evenings. I was actually pleasantly surprised by this experience. I made the conscious decision not to take my phone out and really take in my surroundings and I didn’t feel uncomfortable once.
-One of the main concerns people have, is that travelling by yourself might be dangerous. This, of course has an element of truth in it, but if you trust your instincts and stay aware of your surroundings you should be okay. If it doesn’t feel or seem right, just remove yourself from that situation.
-Enjoy. It’s pretty damn empowering, knowing that you’re in a strange city, by yourself and that you can do whatever you want to do. You don’t have to take anyone into consideration and you can just go with the flow and see where the day takes you.
-You always hear people saying that everyone should travel somewhere by themselves once because it does something to you. And I actually agree. As I said before: I’m an overthinker. My brain is constantly at work, but being on my own, in this strange city, somehow numbed my thinking. I have never had so much silence and calm in my head, and I loved it.
-And lastly, I learned two pretty important personal lessons.
First one: a situation depends on your interpretation of it. Allow me to give you an example: my first day in Barcelona, I got to talking to a tour guide who had the day off. He was friendly and he showed me around a little bit but when he offered to get drinks I kindly declined his offer. The next day, as I got on a bus, the same tour guide was on it. Now, if this would have been a man I had been interested in, I would have called it destiny, or maybe even ‘meant to be’. But I wasn’t interested, so I’ll just call it awkward. It would have been the same situation, but I would have interpreted it completely different. Trust me when I say, this one is a life changer for me.
Lesson number two: I can perfectly go on trips and survive and have a good time on my own, but I wouldn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. It’s nice to be able to share things with someone. I’ll always treasure this trip and the memories I have of it, and I’ll do the same with my future trips, but turns out, it’s quite hard to talk to a memory.
So, what’s my conclusion? A solo trip is a great thing, but don’t feel pressured into it. You do need to feel up for it or you won’t enjoy it one bit. But if you do decide to go for it: I hope you have the time of your life.