So you’ve settled into your host city and have finally become accustomed to this new way of living. You’re quite comfortable now. The foreign has become the familiar and you’ve even fallen into some kind of weekly routine. Perhaps this now has left you feeling a bit bored and maybe a little restless. Now that your comfort zone encompasses your host city, why not expand those borders?
Are you up for a challenge? Let’s travel solo.
I never picked myself to be the kind of person who could travel alone, nor be the one who would actually enjoy it. But with the Easter break being only a week away and having made no solid travel plans with friends, I was feeling overly gutsy and ready to throw my money at whatever cheap flight deemed worthwhile.
So when a £24 one way ticket to Norway came up, on a whim of reckless impulsivity (and glass of wine), I booked it. After revelling in this newfound act of spontaneity, I realised that this would be my first adventure alone. What was I going to do?
Fear not my potential solo traveller, for I have found that there are many things that you CAN do. In fact, travelling alone means that you can do whatever YOU want to do. You can spend your time doing as much or as little as you like.
Yes, it is unavoidably daunting to travel alone – especially if this is your first time. But hey, if I did it and managed to stay alive while having a great time, then you can do it too.
Tip 1) Have a game plan:
New places can be overwhelming and intimidating when you first arrive. Unlike your exchange city where you would have a few weeks or months to settle in, you most likely would only have a few days in your destination of choice to see and do as much as time (and money) permits.
My advice is to create a list of places and things you want to do while you’re here. Make it your mission to have them all ticked off by the time you leave. It’ll give you incentive to get out there and explore – especially when the nerves of travelling alone might make you feel tempted to clam up and stay within your comfort zone.
Tip 2) Stuck for ideas? Follow a guide:
When planning for my trip, I knew that I wanted to see more of Norway than just Oslo. But where to begin? I looked at tour itineraries online for ideas on how I could plan out my trip. Here I stumbled across the popular Norway in a Nutshell route which would take you through some of the most scenic parts of Norway. While you could book it through a tour operator, after reading several travel bloggers’ experiences and doing the math myself, I found that it was cheaper to book each leg of the journey yourself. This worked out great for me as I could travel at my own pace and tweak the itinerary to my liking.
Tip 3) The two C’s of travelling smart:
Copies: Have paper copies of your boarding passes, tickets, and other documents with you and on your phone. So even if you lose your phone, you’ve got a backup. If you’re on exchange, you should also carry travel documents to prove that you are actually an exchange student. This includes things like your host university’s acceptance letter and student ID card.
Communicate: Keep your friends and family posted about your whereabouts, especially if you’re travelling alone. Also, if you’re lost or confused, don’t be afraid to ask for help (even if you can’t speak the language)!
Tip 4) Enjoy:
Enjoy the new culture you’ve found yourself in. Enjoy your own company. Enjoy the independence of doing things alone and the small achievements you’ve made on your own. You will find so many unexpected joys in travelling solo, that when you get back, you’ll want to do it again.