This past summer in Greece, I developed a new love for traveling alone. While I know that sounds a little anti-social, there is something to be said about being able to make your own schedule and do whatever you want in a place that is new to you. Now, sometimes it was a little lonely. Being in a country where I didn’t speak the language or have any friends my age definitely posed a challenge. Yet, this summer taught me so much about myself and I came home after experiencing a great amount of personal growth. I would recommend traveling alone (be it for two days, weeks, or months) to anyone! Here is a little bit of my advice on how to make the best of it:
Ready for another adventure! Backpack not shown on my back, but it was so heavy I was about to topple over. (Please excuse the unmade bed in the back. Sorry, Mom)
1.Learn a few words of the local language. “Hello”, “please”, “thank you”, “English”, and “bathroom” (especially the last one) were my necessary basics. But, I also learned “this”, “that”, and counting to five. This helped if I was pointing to a pastry in a bakery or telling a cab driver which apartment building was mine.
2. People genuinely want to help you, so do not be afraid to ask for directions, food suggestions, or even to take a picture of you (so you don’t have a ton of selfies in front of cool monuments).
Which photo is less awkward…?
3. Every introduction is a possible friend. I can’t tell you how many people I gave my number too after they expressed interest in meeting up again. I am a great networker now!
4. Strike away your shyness. Seriously, it is going to be such an obstacle when trying to adapt to a new country. The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities you will have to meet people.
5. Swallow your fear and take a risk. Similar to #4, but this could also include spontaneously booking a flight or agreeing to go bungi jumping off of a cliff. The memories you will have will be incomparable and it will make you braver for the next time you find yourself in a situation you might be hesitant about.
6. Make your home country proud and leave everyone you meet telling their friends and family “I just met the kindest (insert nationality here)!”.
7. Do group activities! Take a city tour (I prefer bike tours), a cooking class (my favorite thing both in Florence and Barcelona), or stay in a hostel where they have group activities! You will be surprised by the camaraderie and the amount of people also traveling alone. These activities may also lead to dinner and drinks after with your new friends!
8. Don’t worry about a schedule, rather make a general idea of what you want to accomplish and do it when you feel like it. Sometimes I was enjoying my book and glass of wine so much that I decided to post pone the museum visit until the next day. Traveling alone gives you the opportunity to cater to your schedule only and that is probably my favorite part.
9. Do be careful though. While a lot of people are genuinely kind, exercising caution when you’re alone (especially if you are a female) is always recommended.
10. Traveling alone will make you feel like you can accomplish anything. I swear the confidence in myself and my abilities that I have gained since this summer is immense.
Do any of you have advice for the solo traveler? Please comment below!
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