Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Yes, You Can: Travel Solo

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Solo travel. It's that thing that girls on Pinterest do - they go to Thailand or whatever and find themselves and commune with nature and are fearless... right?

Well, sometimes. In my not-so-humble opinion, it can be just as empowering to take a solo weekend trip to the next city over as it is to go to a foreign country for several weeks. It was a goal of mine to do a little bit of solo travel while I was abroad, and I managed to fit in two weekend trips (to Munich, Germany and Linz, Austria) that were only a few hours away from Salzburg and wonderfully conducive to the wandering tendencies of my independent little soul.

Seriously, you can do it too. Start small, like I did, and soon enough we will be traveling the world! The benefits are amazing - I've met phenomenal people on my mini-adventures, including a lovely young family in Linz and an old elementary-school friend who happened to be in Munich the same weekend I was. Granted, I'm not traipsing around an entire continent on my own - but that doesn't mean I won't be within the next few years.

Want to give solo travel a shot? Here are a couple tips:

  1. Start small. Pick a city that seems interesting to you - one that you could get to by car, train, or a short plane ride. 
  2. Plan ahead. Go into your trip with a few ideas of what you want to do and see, and check out public transportation ahead of time as well. I love the app/website Rome2Rio - you plug in your destination and it will come up with multiple transportation options, prices, and times.
  3. Get used to solitude. I think it's a really wonderful thing to be okay with being alone and being quiet - two things that aren't really encouraged by our share-everything culture (which I love, trust me). Being comfortable by yourself is something that encourages growth and reflection. Take a few days or weekends to explore your own town or city on your own - try a new coffee shop or take a hike. Enjoy the quiet that ensues!
  4. Have an open mind. Like I mentioned earlier, I've been able to make a few very interesting connections by embracing communal-style lodging like AirBnB and budget hostels - I stayed with a young family in Linz who had two children and a dog, and after just a few hours, I was included in their morning routine and invited to spend the day with them. In Munich, I ran into a childhood schoolmate from Portland that I hadn't seen in years. If I hadn't gone down to the hostel bar (alone) that night, I wouldn't have been able to make the connection!
  5. Be safe. Be aware of your surroundings, don't walk with headphones in, and always act like you know where you are going - walk with purpose. If you're by yourself, it also may not be the best idea to drink excessively or go out at night in areas you aren't familiar with. 

Ready to head out? 

If you're looking for ideas of where to go and what to see, check out some of my other travel posts - 

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