Maybe you have always dreamed of seeing the astronomical clock in Prague or the Old Quarter in Luxembourg City, but now you can’t find anyone to go with you on that trip. Maybe you’re just tired of being on someone else’s schedule and missing things you really wanted to see. So why not go alone? Travelling alone is fun, safe, and still affordable! It’s a great experience to step out of your comfort zone and learn a lot about who you are. You learn independence and responsibility, flexibility and safety, and you can be 100% selfish to make your trip exactly what YOU want. Before you take off alone, remember a couple of things…
1. Travel smart.
I am fully endorsing seeing the world on your own. It’s my preferred way to travel! That said, be smart about it! Choose a relatively safe city. Do your research before you go! You need to know if there are certain parts of the city you should avoid. I saw 10 countries on my own, and never really felt unsafe. But you need to consistently be aware of your surroundings, make smart decisions about nightlife, and stick to the populated parts of the city. You should always avoid risky situations, but especially don’t chance things when you’re alone.
2. Don’t go off the grid.
Make sure that your study abroad roommate and/or host family knows where you are and where you’re staying. Let them know how you’re traveling and where you will be when. Check in with them daily, even if it’s just a selfie of the totally cool thing you did that day! I made sure to let my roommate know my travel plans and checked in with her and my parents daily! Make sure that your phone plan will work in the city you’ll be in (and no, I don’t mean just having WiFi!).
3. Think about where you’re staying.
I 100% endorse staying in hostels. From my experience, they are safe, affordable, and FUN! But you have to put in the time to find the right one. I used hostelworld.com and relied on ratings and reviews when selecting a hostel. You can filter based on almost anything, like cost, location, security, cleanliness, etc. Be sure to know what kind of room you’ll be staying in! If you’re uncomfortable sleeping in a room with 6+ people, select a smaller room! Be conscious that while some hostels offer gender-specific rooms, some only have co-ed! Think about if you’re comfortable sleeping with the opposite sex in the room.
4. Be open-minded and flexible.
The best part of traveling alone is that you get to be 100% selfish about how you use your time. Have a plan and an idea of the big things you want to see in that city, but be flexible and open-minded about local recommendations! Hostels are great for recommendations.The people who work there are local and can give you a great idea of sites and things to do that are off the beaten tourist path. Don’t be afraid to see something you’ve never even heard of. Take a giant leap and eat only like the locals do! Again, hostels have great recommendations and you don’t have to think about if your travel buddy will like that cuisine.
5. Get used to being alone.
It sounds a lot easier than it is. You have to mentally prepare yourself to go on a trip alone. Traveling alone is a great way to experience the wonders of a new city on your own schedule, making sure to see and do everything that YOU want! But it also can be hard to be seeing and experiencing these wonderful things without having someone to share them with. I really enjoyed being able to fully appreciate the experience I had and reflect and internalize them on my own, but it’s not for everyone. You have to adjust to eating alone, going into a bar alone, and asking random strangers to take a picture for you (and being okay with selfies sufficing)! It’s a huge step out of your comfort zone, especially coming from such a social country like the U.S., but I think it’s something that teaches you a great deal about yourself.
Miranda Haasl is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Granada, Spain, during the Spring 2018 semester. She is currently a student at Washington State University.
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