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Going Solo: Tips for Surviving Your First Solo Adventure

Going Solo tips for surviving your first solo adventure

Why go solo?

Traveling alone can be one of the scariest and most rewarding experiences of your life. It can be scary traveling alone, especially when you’ve never done it before and especially as a female. But, for me, not experiencing everything I want to in life is much more unnerving. Fear of missing out, I guess. Although it can be daunting, traveling alone has the potential to change you. It can help you become self-reliant and build your confidence. It's also nice not having to compromise your experience with anyone else. There are no fights over where to eat or what sights to see. You are at your own whim. When you are alone you experience the world unadulterated by anyone else’s wants or desires. It is truly freeing. 

While traveling alone can be amazing, it can be hard to build your confidence up to make you trip just that. So, to help you calm your nerves I've got a few tips. 

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Don't worry too much about being lonely.

"Oh, you're going to (Blank) by yourself. Won't you be lonely?"

This is a regular inquiry I get when I tell people I'm traveling solo. Yes, every solo trip has the potential for loneliness but there are so many people out there to meet in the world, as long as you are willing to put yourself out there. Going on a solo trip doesn't mean you'll always be alone. You will be meet people along the way, especially if you stay in a hostel. You're highly likely to run into other solo travelers, just like you. On my last trip, I met upwards of ten solo travelers, in a week's time. You also might be surprised by how comfortable you will be when you are alone. You're new best friend might just be yourself.

Talk to strangers and be curious.

When you travel alone you must accept that you must put yourself out there to interact with the world. Experiences aren't just going to happen to you, you have to make them happen. Be outgoing. Talk to strangers. Ask lots of questions. You'll probably find that most travelers and locals are quite friendly and are happy to strike up a conversation. When I was in Germany alone at a music festival, I just struck up a conversation with a woman and ended up getting invited to join their group for the rest of the evening. Ended up being one the best nights of that trip.

I also believe, hostels are the best place to start with making friends If you need some tips on how to make friends while staying in a hostel, check out this guide.

Choose friendly accomodation.

Where you stay can be key to a good experience. Do your research to try to find a place that best fits your travel style. Read reviews for places, to see if other travelers enjoyed staying there or thought there was a friendly or lively atmosphere. I always recommend that solo travelers stay in a hostel because it is an obvious place to run into people like yourself. AirBnB and Couchsurfing are also great options because your host may be willing to chat or show you around. 

Sign up for group activites.

Lots of hostels host themed nights, tours, and pub crawls. Often times you just have to ask reception to see what events the hostel has going on. Don't be too shy to sign up solo for a day-trip or tour experiences You'll likely meet someone else in your group you identify with. I booked a canal cruise for myself while in Amsterdam with Get Your Guide, and by the end of it the whole boat was friendly and conversing with on another. Same thing happened with my Sunset Eiffel Tower tour. I'm glad I booked a place in a tour group rather than just seeing and walking around on the Effiel Tower alone.

Trust your gut.

Traveling alone is not necessarily any more risky than traveling with friends—but it does require extra awareness, especially for female travelers. Keep an eye out for potentially dangerous situations. I'm not saying that you will for sure find yourself in an undesirable situation but solo travelers and women can be at increased risk for scams, pickpockets, and sexual violence. That fact of the matter is, the way societies treat women in some parts of the world still have a long way to go. Don't be fearful of that knowledge though, be vigilant. If you ever feel that you are in an unsafe situation, try to remove yourself from it, if you can. Be confident in saying no to people who seem suspicous, and may threaten you with a scam or some other intentions. Safety always trumps politeness. Keep in mind though, you don't always have to be on guard. Most countries in the world are not anymore violent or dangerous than your own country. Listen to your instincts and they will help keep you safe but also allow it to guide you in your adventures. 

Go with the flow.

Take advantage of your freedom and be willing to change plans or tag along with a new friend. Say yes to experiences. My first night in Amsterdam, a few weeks ago, I was super jet-lagged and was just planning on going to bed early to be well rested for a concert the next day. I ended up groggily introducing myself to a girl in my dorm when she walked in during my early evening slumber. That introduction led to an invitation to get food and in an instant, my plans had changed. Even though I was tired, I said yes and it turned into an unforgettable evening because, for the rest of the night, I decided I was down for anything. Grabbing food turned into drinks, drinks turned into going out, and somehow my night ended at 6 am at a rave/music festival in a small village in North Holland.

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Stay connected.

Let friends or family know of your plans. Check in with someone every so often from back home to let them know you're ok. If you are a US citizen, you also have the option of signing up for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, this way the government can better assist you in the case of emergency.

Be Confident.

Be confident in the way you present yourself and speak to others. Hold your head high and walk with purpose as if you know what you're doing. If you don't feel confident; fake it till you make it, as the saying goes. Confidence can make you seem approachable to others. Confidence can also deter people you don't want attention from, like scammers or even some guy who won't stop hitting on you. Also, try to research your destination so that you can walk the streets or take public transportation with little issue. 

Solo travel is exciting, it's scary, and it's one of the best gifts you can ever give yourself. Have any worries about an upcoming solo adventure? Share in the comments below and maybe I have some tips.:)

Going Solo: tips for surviving your first solo advent

How To Make Friends In A Hostel

how to make friends in a hostel

When traveling alone, staying in a hostel is a great way to meet fellow travelers. I've personally, made great friends with people I've met in a hostel and have even teamed up to explore a city or figure out the local transportation system. If your traveling a lone and worried you might not meet people where you're staying, this list is for you.

How to make friends in a Hostel

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What I’m doing in Amsterdam, Dortmund, Brussels, and Paris

I'm heading to Europe... What should I Do???

In one day, I will be boarding my first flight to Europe. I will be traveling to Amsterdam, Dortmund, Brussels, Paris, and then back to Amsterdam. While, I know where/when I'll be in each city I haven't really sat down to figure out what I'll do while I'm there. Once I'm there, I plan on playing each day by ear but figured it would be best to compile a list of things I'm interested in doing and how much they will probably cost. This way I can easily plan my day each morning. Currently, I only have concert planned to go to and SANDEMANs Free Walking Tours scheduled in Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam.

Hopefully, this list gives you some ideas of what you can do on your own European adventure.

Why am I going to Dortmund, Germany?

MAYDAY Festival

The reason I'm traveling to this more obscure german town is because there is an annual electronic dance music (EDM) festival on April 30th. I will be landing in Amsterdam but have to take the train the next day to Dortmund. The festival, MAYDAY Dortmund, is housed in the city's Westfalenhallen concert venue. This event is held every year in late April/early May. Not for the weak at heart, this event will go from 7:00pm till about 9:00am the next morning.  So, I'm sure I'll be a zombie the next day. 

I'm big on EDM and music festivals. After booking my ticket to Amsterdam I did a search on Festicket to see if there were any festivals going on while I am there and luckily enough MAYDAY is happening, is only a 3 hour train ride from Amsterdam, and happens to be a quite affordable. My package (ticket and hostel) only cost me $95 USD. 

 

What I'm gonna do in Brussels...

Sandeman's Free Walking Tour (In Paris and Amsterdam as well)

I actually don't have much time planned in Brussels. I will be arriving in the late afternoon via bus and will be leaving about 24 hours later to take a train to Paris.  Luckily, I was able to schedule a free walking tour thru SANDEMANs. SANDEMANs is a free tour company that does walking tours of many European cities. Simply sign up online for a free walking tour in the city of your choosing. I have already signed up for my tours in Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris.

Visit the Godiva Store...

I'm not a huge gourmet chocolate lover, but my mother sure is. Godiva is her favorite, I'm always sure to stop by my local shop for her Christmas and birthday gifts. Since my mom isn't coming with me on this trip, I'm going to be sure to bring her back her favorite Belgian chocolate from their flagship shop on Grand Place, which opened in 1926. If you're a Belgian chocolate lover, like my mom this might be up your alley.

Eat some Belgian Fries...

belgianfries

Now, let me just get this out of the way. I LOVE FRIES! Belgium is known from being the origin of frites(fries). So, I'm super excited to go to a local friterie (a place that sells fast food particularly, fries) to order one on my favorite foods. I'm not much of a foodie so this is about as excited as I get for a local dish. Here is a list I found of the best friteries in Brussels.

Things to do in Paris...

Balloon Generali...

With the Hot-Air-Balloon being a French invention I thought, there could be no better way to get a great view of the city. Balloon Generali is the worlds largest hot-air-balloon and is located in Parc André-Citroën in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. The Balloon operates everyday from 9am to 8pm and is first come first serve. I will be trying to go early in the morning to avoid a long wait. And the best part is, this experience is only 12 Euros person.

Have a Parisan Picnic...

Now, I have heard some conflicting things about whether or not it is illegal to consume alcohol in public in Paris. I've found that I basically just depends on where you are. I'm going to ask the staff at my hostel if they can give me some guidance. Once I figure that out, I plan to bring some wine and a baguette to a local park or by a river for a quiet picnic. Sounds instagram worthy, right?

Visit bouquinistes along the River Seine...

Bouquinistes (used book sellers) are a fixture in Paris. These sellers line the River Seine and the area around Notre-Dame. The River Seine is often referred to as the river between two book shelves. Might be a good place for a walk and to find souvenirs. 

Try Berthillon ice-cream...

Located on Île Saint-Louis, Berthillon is home to world famous Parisian ice cream (glacier in french). I hear the line can get long so, depending on what it looks like that day I may or may not get some of this ice cream, but it's definitely on my list. If I have to I can always buy a tub of it from a local store and take it back to my hostel for later. 

Wander around Montmartre

Montmartre is one of the trendier neighborhoods in Paris. This picturesque hilltop neighborhood boasts great restaurants, local art scenes, and cobblestone streets. This part of Paris will likely be a great place to wander and explore.

Pleasure Cruise on the River Seine...

While exploring my hostel's website I discovered that they offer tours as well. After looking through my options, I decided to take the Pleasure Cruise (18 euros). This cruise comes with a with a glass of champagne, a spirit or a fresh made authentic French crèpe with a beverage. The cruise tour will begin near the Eiffel Tower and will end toward the city center. This cruise also comes with audio guides in multiple languages. When traveling you might want to look and see if your accommodation offers tours or other special perks as well. You can often find some good deals this way. I'm excited about this cruise because it's possible other people from my hostel will be joining me, which will help me try to make a few friends while there.

What I am doing in Amsterdam...

Checking out the local coffeeshops...

Amsterdam is home to over 200 coffee shops, not to be confused with a cafe. Coffee shops in Amsterdam are where you can buy your weed. As this is one of the main reasons I'm visiting Amsterdam, I'm beyond excited. These coffee shops are where weed can be legally sold and consumed in the city, a true pothead paradise. Here is a list I found of the most famous Coffee shops in Amsterdam. 

Visiting the NDSM Wharf...

While researching off-beat things to to in Amsterdam I came across the NDSM Wharf. NDSM stands for Nederlandsche Dok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij (Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company) and wharf means a structure on the shore of a harbor where ships dock. Basically, this thing is an old shipbuilding facility located in Noord, just a 15 minute free ferry ride across the River IJ. The space has been converted by local artists into a cultural hub. Seems like a cool place to check out and I wouldn't mind taking a free ferry to get there.

Taking a cruise...

Amsterdam is known for it's beautiful canals that connect throughout the entire city. The city has so many cruises to offer; theres a pizza cruise, and cheese and wine cruise. I'm cheap so I'm going with the 1 hour cruise thats about 18 euros.

Biking the Dutch Tulip Fields...

My last day in the Netherlands I plan to visit the famous dutch tulip fields and go to the Keukenhof. April and early may are when the flowers are in bloom. I'm thankful my trip happened to coincide with this gorgeous display of flowers. A roundtrip bus ticket and entrance to Keukenhof is 29 euros. There are apparently several bike rental locations near Keukenhof, once there I plan to rent a bike and enjoy the scenery.  Bike rental is 10 euros with this company. They even have route planned out for tourists. (Note: you cannot bike in Keukenhof, only on the roads around the tulip fields.)

Have any suggestions for things I should do? Comment below>>>

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