I’ve currently reached the end of my solo adventures; for the next month I’ll be at the university program, and in Ireland I’ll be with a tour group. Just for fun, here are all the lessons I’ve learned from the past couple weeks of travelling solo.
- When you’re lost, try looking around you. Look up. Often, you may be able to see the place you’re trying to get to, or even a sign for it.
- Always ask if there’s a student price. Many places have them (about half of the attractions I went to) and it applies to people ages 12-25. I never got asked to show a student card. The student price is usually 2/3 of the regular admission price, but quite often the cashier/ticket booth person will forget about it unless you ask them.
- Sometimes, you can get a better answer if you ask nicely.
- People are friendly. Talk to them. Go for a drink at the bar. Join in a card game. You’ll be surprised at how much fun it is to hang out with absolute strangers, and how quickly those strangers will come to feel like friends.
- That being said, recognize that you should not embrace EVERY opportunity to make friends. Some people are too friendly. Some people are creepy. Avoid those.
- Go to a grocery store to get food if you’re staying somewhere for a couple of days. You can buy plenty of food at a supermarket for a fraction of what it would cost you at a restaurant (but be prepared to eat some hodgepodge meals).
- Ask the hostel/hotel workers for advice: what’s the best attraction, where’s the nearest food, what are the local deals, how to get around. They know their stuff, and they’re happy to share their knowledge!
- It’s a good idea to plan ahead a bit, to have an idea of the things you want to see in a place. It helps save time deciding what to do once you get there.
- It’s also a good idea not to have too rigid a schedule. Try to have some wiggle room, so that if you hear about something that sounds like fun, you can add it in without too much juggling. Be spontaneous!
- If you’re ever lost – don’t panic. You find a lot of great things when you’re lost. And eventually, you’ll get back on track. (Some of the awesome things I found while lost: a great used bookstore, a great new bookstore, a beautiful park, a cool old graffiti-covered building, and the best egg salad sandwich I’ve ever had).
- Always lock up your stuff in hostels. At one hostel I was in, people freely left their laptops and passports lying around and nothing seemed to go missing. At another, I left my shampoo unattended for a few hours in my dorm room and it disappeared. Staying in hostels is a great experience, but at the end of the day, it’s a good idea to remember that you’re bunking with absolute strangers. Use the hostel lockers. And bring along a combination lock, so that you don’t have to rent or buy one (which is expensive).
- Whenever I go somewhere new, I almost always hate it at first. Feeling awkward or missing the safety of home in a new, strange place is normal. It means you’re out of your comfort zone, and that’s a good thing.
- If you really don’t want to do something (i.e. stairs), but it’s in the way of you and something that’s really cool (i.e. a great view) it’s definitely worth it to make the climb. If you want it, don’t let anything stand in your way – especially not fear.
- Embrace the adventure.
WOW! Although I love all your posts, this is my favourite. It almost makes me want to cry! You have learned so much and have had such an awesome experience. Can’t wait to hear about the adventures you have coming next. Love you.
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I think a book is in the works……
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