As I’m writing this I’m alone at a hostel in Cologne, Germany. I know that a lot of people wouldn’t even consider solo traveling but I’ve gotten to the point where I want to travel more than my friends and family. I’m working my ass off to be honest and in my free time I want to travel. And I don’t have time to wait around for others haha. Therefor I decided to try solo traveling. In this post I’m going to share some tips and tricks with you so that you hopefully feel that you can do it too.
Eating out alone
This was my biggest concern before going. What would people think if I went to breakfast/lunch/dinner alone? Eating breakfast and lunch I’m completely fine with but I’m still struggling with dinner for some reason. What I have discovered so far is that people absolutely does not give a damn about if you’re alone or not. They’re only interested in their own food and company. What I found out works best if you believe that people are looking at you is to look back at them and smile. There are two possible scenarios that could follow: 1. You get a smile back or 2. You creep them out. So far the second one has never happened to me. What I’ve done with dinner so far it to get take out if I’m alone. Then I eat in in my room/dorm or in the public areas of the hostel/hotel.
Todays breakfast at Café Buur.
Hostels are a solo travelers best friend!
It can be fairly expensive to rent a room at a hotel by yourself. That’s why you should stay at a hostel when you’re solo traveling. Right now I’m staying in a 4 bed dorm room at a hostel here in Cologne and it’s great. Besides it being budget friendly you get to meet new people and all of a sudden you’re not alone anymore. Hostels with dorms usually offer some type of locker so that you can lock up your stuff if you’re leaving the room.
A piece of my dorm here in Cologne.
Blending in with the locals
When I do solo traveling I try to blend in with the locals as much as possible. Don’t have a huge map out at all times, don’t hang your camera around your neck and don’t look confused. The last one might be a tough one but I have some tips to help you. Try to look confident even if you’re not. If you don’t know where you are going; don’t stop to check the map. Instead continue to walk and look at a map on your phone. You can always turn around later or walk around a building if you’re going the wrong way. By looking at your phone most people will probably not even look at you or just think that you are reading a text.
I also try to use public transport; because that’s what the locals do. Look up your route beforehand and it shouldn’t be a problem. The only thing I’ve found tricky so far is to find my way out of the subway/train stations but I just follow the crowd of people since most of them are leaving the station anyway. I also try to wear muted clothes so I don’t stand out too much and pay attention to everything that is happening around me. Shopping at the local supermarket and learning to say “hello” in the local language also gets you a long way.
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Besides trying to blend in with the locals there are some other things to consider for having a safe trip. Some tips include learning how to say “no”, don’t stay out too late and trust your gut! If something feels a bit off or if you don’t want to talk to someone; walk away!
Something I’ve found out by traveling in European countries where people don’t speak a lot of English is that most people get nervous around me and leave me alone when I tell them I don’t understand what they are saying. That has been both a blessing and a curse. It has helped me not to talk to random people that talk to me on the street but it has also been quite the problem when I try to order food etc haha. I also try to stay out of the big crowds, but that is also a personal preference since I’m not comfortable with big crowds.
Taking a step back from the huge crowd at a Christmas market here in Cologne / Wearing headphones also help with blending in with the locals, you don’t even have to listen to anything.
Traveling alone is fun!
Many blog posts and articles talk about the dangers about solo traveling and yes, as I have previously talked there are some things to keep in mind. But it’s not dangerous. It’s nerve wracking and exciting! By traveling alone you get to do exactly what you want on your trip, you meet loads of new people and you will create a bunch of new memories. Traveling alone is fun! You just have to try it out. And no, it might not be everyones cup of tea but at least you tried it! I will definitely do more solo traveling in the future even though it’s nice to have a friend with you.
Have you tried traveling solo? Where did you go?