How good is the feeling when you get an item ticked off your bucket list? I tried to talk myself out of a solo trip, giving myself all the excuses not to go, but it happened and I am so glad it did! Solo travelling was one of the most terrifying but liberating things I have ever done and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering it!
If you’re similar to me in any way and hate going to places by yourself, then you will understand the natural anxiety a solo trip to a foreign country can bring.
Earlier this year, in the spur of the moment, I booked a weekend getaway to Barcelona. Once I clicked on “pay” there was no going back, I was committed. It didn’t take long for the panic set in and I tried everything I could to persuade some friends to come with, but to no avail.
As my departure date got closer, I began to accept I was going to Barcelona by myself. This was happening. I mentally prepared myself as well as dreading the day. As it turns out, there was nothing to dread at all, everything about the experience was life changing. With each time I had to ask a local for directions, seat alone for a meal, have a conversation with strangers or speak my below par Spanish, the nature of travelling alone became less awkward and more exhilarating, I learnt how to be comfortable by myself.
So here are some top tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your solo travels:
- Book activities ahead of time
I knew it would be so easy for me to spend all day in my Airbnb, whilst relaxing and reading a book, but this would have been no different to what I do back home. So I decided to make the decision and book activities ahead of time because with money already spent, the commitment was there and so I had no choice but go and explore. There is no greater motivator than a non-refund. Some little activities that I did included a bike tour around the city to learn about the culture and cooking classes, another opportunity to eat the delicious Spanish cuisine.
- Book a hotel/Airbnb in the City Center
This way, you’re in the hub of everything and wouldn’t miss out on the bustling activities, which is sure to get you excited and eager to get out and explore the city. My Airbnb was right by Las Ramblas and as I watched the world go past, I was itching to get out everyday whilst watching the city be full of life. People were giving free hugs and the street market was divine to walk through and immerse myself in the city.
- Do not be afraid to walk
This is definitely subjective and naturally easier in European countries, but it is the best way to see a city and soak in the culture as much as possible, whilst saving your money for more important things (like more Spanish cuisine).
- Ask locals for suggestions
To all you food lovers out there, I recommend you ask Barcelona locals for the hidden food gems to try in the city. From the best places to eat Paella and Bombas, to the best Sangrias, you won’t regret asking around. Exploring Barcelona through the culture and food was one of my highlights of the weekend.
- Have fun and enjoy the city!
The most important tip of all. It is easier said than done, but enjoying my own company built my confidence and strength, which is something I think could happen for anyone. It is important to know and love yourself away from familiar surroundings and people, whilst pushing yourself out of your comfort zone because at the end of the day, this is where you will learn the most about yourself. My city escape to Barcelona taught me a lot and I definitely have no regrets. I will be going back.