Today is my last day in Sevilla. Next week I’ll make a post about what studying abroad in Spain has taught me about balance and stress and being perfectly imperfect, but for today I want to make the post out of my last look at Andalucía. However, there is one thing I can talk about: although this is my last day in Sevilla, my flight back to the United States isn’t until Friday. Tomorrow morning I’m taking the train to Madrid and staying there for a few days. This isn’t the first time I’ve traveled by myself, but traveling alone is always way different and more stressful than traveling with friends or family (especially for females). However, now that I’ve had some experience with it, I’ve learned some tips that make being by yourself easier, whether it’s just in another city or in a whole different country.
1. Have a plan: I love to do things on the spur of the moment. I’m not going to Madrid this week with every minute of my trip planned out, although I have an idea of a few of the sights I want to see. However, it’s a good idea to make a plan of some of the basics: how to get to where you’re staying, how the public transportation works, and so on. When you’re traveling with friends it might be fun to wander around for an hour at night looking for your hostel, but by yourself it can be super stressful (and dangerous).
2. Make friends: Obviously, you have to be careful who you talk to, but at the same time traveling alone gives you opportunities to talk to new people that you probably wouldn’t take if you were with a group. When I went to San Sebastián for a weekend a few months ago, the other two people in my room at the hostel were also Americans traveling alone. We ended up going out one night together, and we had a lot more fun than I think any of us would have had alone. Plus I got to learn more about the different parts of Spain where they’re studying and working, rather than just hearing stories about what’s going on with my classmates in Sevilla.
3. Take a time out: One of the great things about traveling solo is that you get to see a lot. There’s no wasting time while you and your companions say “What do you want to do?” “Oh, I’m fine with whatever; what do you want to do?” and you get to move at your own pace, doing the things you want to do. However, all of that time-wasting is also a good chance to rest, to sit down while your roommate looks through her guidebook to try to decide where to eat. Therefore, traveling by yourself can be tiring, just one thing after another. Don’t forget to stop at a park to relax, or sleep in late one morning, or eat a long lunch.
4. Eat good food: Speaking of lunch, I don’t know about you, but I find dining alone to be one of the most uncomfortable things ever. There have been a lot of times when I’ve opted to get something to take away from a café rather than sitting down for a meal. This can be a great choice if the weather is nice (or if the best food in the city is gelato, as it was when I was in Florence by myself last year), but you don’t want to miss out on trying some local cuisine just because asking for a “table for one” is awkward. It doesn’t have to be: talk to your server or sit at a bar instead of a table. If the place isn’t too fancy (and it never is), I like to bring a book or a journal to keep me occupied while I wait for my food.
What are your tips for traveling alone? Tell me below!
– Lauren Mateer
LeadHer™ Intern, Campus Calm™
Learn more about Lauren here.