‘I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.’ -Mark Twain
The first time I travelled without my parents, I was thirteen. My older sister took me on a €6 flight to Manchester and we stayed in a windowless Hotel room. After graduation, I embarked on my first unsupervised cross-Atlantic flight. I was a wreck the whole journey but I jumped in at the deep end and wasted no time fearing everything that could go wrong (and did). Once I started living by myself and working from home, I realized none of my friends had weekdays off to follow the call of Ryanair’s special offers and my love for solo travel became unstoppable.
People often ask me if I get bored when I travel alone and the answer is always no. Sometimes it’s people-watching over expensive hot chocolate, sometimes it’s whiskey with strangers at hostel bars and other times it’s just an early night with a good book. I have met some pretty amazing humans on the road that I would have never encountered had I sat next to a friend. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have travelled extensively with friends and family and nothing compares to the sweet privilege of sharing a certain memory, sight or view with a loved one but every once in a while, I pack my tiny pink suitcase and ask www.ryanair.com where to go next.
So even if your sister never introduced you to the gift of bargain flights, I’m here now. I got you. And all I’m asking for is one weekend of your time. After all, you’re in Europe, which means the next metropolis is never more than a train or plane ride away, just waiting for you to discover it.
There are many ways to go about (what may or may not be) your first solo trip that, take it from a poor student, will not blow a dent in your wallet. Simply decide on a type of trip (city trip, spa, camping/ hiking), means of transportation (plane, bus, train, car) and type of accommodation (camping, hostel, Airbnb, hotel) and off you go!
Here are some great perks to travelling away from your comfort zone, straight into an adventure:
- Become a problem solver. You will inevitably be faced with unforeseeable situations and there will be no safety net to take care of it. Thankfully, you’re smart and fearless and just needed a little nudge.
- Go on a tech detox. You may want to use social media as a crutch to feel less alone at first and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that but once you get the hang of being by yourself, you might want to consider blocking electronic distractions and truly enjoying your time off.
- Learn to love and appreciate yourself more
- Become more self aware
- Learn the language as you will hear a lot more of it once you’re not surrounded by fellow English speakers
- Take a break from life. Taking a break from people you see every day/ on a regular basis is not necessarily a bad thing and you should not see it as such. However, at the end of the day, you’re the only one you’re truly stuck with and you’ll be surprised what you learn about yourself once there’s no one else to focus on.
- Meet new people. This one sounds like a cliché but it’s true nonetheless. Maybe don’t talk to strangers you meet in dark alleys late at night but don’t hesitate to start a round of friendly small talk when the opportunity presents itself.
- Go at your own pace. Breakfast at 2? Dinner at 5? It’s all up to you!
- Find out what you like doing. Whether it’s shopping, museum visits, sightseeing, picture taking or sitting in a park with a magazine, nobody can reschedule your plans for you.
- Become more decisive.
- Boost confidence as a result.
As you can see, some of these are quite obvious and some are simply inevitable. You can’t go a whole weekend without eating by yourself at least once or trying to understand a foreigner at some point (unless you go to an English speaking country, perhaps). Waiters will give you a certain look when you ask for a table for one but once you remind yourself that alone does not equal lonely, you will feel independent and liberated rather than lost and stood-up.
There’s a chance you won’t like it and a chance you’ll never want to travel with a friend or family member ever again but the most likely outcome is that at least some of the afore mentioned predictions come true and you spent a nice weekend in a wonderful city and enjoyed it in a terrifying, exhilarating, stressful, freeing kind of way.
“Whether you like it or not, alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.” -Dr. Seuss
Tip: 24 hours in Glasgow is an excellent example of a short yet activity-packed solo trip for under €100 including flights, accommodation and provisions that promises to leave no time to feel sorry for yourself but plenty of time to fill however you like.
Try it yourself and let us know how it went by tagging us or #militaryingermany for a chance to be featured on our social media:
Author’s profile: Leonie is a poetry-loving literature student with a passion for small towns, road trips, and breakfast food that’s being served at all hours of the day. When she isn’t hopping from one bargain flight to the next, she is making sure you’re hanging with the locals and staying updated on events in your area.