Once you’ve made it to your destination, there are heaps of alternatives to help you explore your destination by yourself. I’ve listed a few here that helped me, but let me know if you have any more!
Sometimes the hardest part is starting the day, and by that I mean eating breakfast. Not only are you in a city you don’t know, but you’re may be coping with jetlag, or unable to speak the language in your new city. It can be a good thing to eat breakfast at your hotel, whether you have it included in your room rate, or whether you can purchase it separately once you arrive. If it is included in your room rate, this can be a great way of ‘filling up’ for the day, or at least for a few hours, and it means you don’t have to think too hard first thing in the morning.
City Sightseeing Buses
Where do you go first? How do you get there? How long will it take to get there? These are some of the questions that you are going to come up against once you head out the hotel door for your first day of sightseeing and sometimes this can be enough to paralyse you. But, if you are a in a city with a sightseeing bus – most cities have them, you know the ones, usually big red double decker buses of some kind – get on one. It is a great way to get around because it takes all the worry out of using the public transport system or walking around streets you don’t know. Firstly, they usually travel past all the sights that visitors normally want to see. Secondly, they give you an idea of how the city is connected and you get to see it from a different perspective. Generally there is an onboard commentary in a variety of languages, which is great for getting to know some fun facts about the city, and everyone on the bus is there for the same reason, so there’s no way you should feel out of place. Sometimes they even provide discounts to other sights. And they are especially great if you only have a short amount of time in the city.
If you want to get down and gritty with the city at street level, then you can opt to join a walking tour. A lot of cities have free walking tours (you can opt to pay a small fee to show your gratitude at the end), usually run by locals who have a great knowledge of the local history. They can show you spots that are off the beaten track and this makes your trip so much more memorable. There are all sorts of guided walking tours though, and if you don’t mind paying for them, again they are a great way of seeing the city and getting your bearings, and you won’t be by yourself.
Any Sort of Tours
And let’s not just stick to walking tours – basically any tour is a great way to get out and meet people, while getting to know a city. Some tours will even pick you up and drop you back at your hotel. There are tours by bicycle, by boat, by seaplane, by train – you name it, you’ll find it somewhere. Be creative and see how many different ways you can see a city!
Bring a Book
One of my biggest fears about travelling alone, was eating alone. Of course you can find lots of road side stalls to eat from in many countries, or you can drop into a local supermarket to buy goods to eat back at your hotel (boring), but what about if you want to dine out? Bring a book. This doesn’t just work for dining alone – it’s great when you are waiting for public transport, sitting down for a coffee or just wanting some down time in a local park. Seriously, it makes all the difference – you’re not alone, your reading!
Find a Focus
Finding something to focus on during your holiday is a great way to take your mind off travelling alone. Want to take awesome photos wherever you go and post them to Facebook? Writing a blog? How about keeping a diary of your journey? If you have a focus for your holiday, you’ll find you’ll be much more engaged in wanting to make the most out of every opportunity, rather than just wandering from sight to sight. I found writing my blog for my first solo trip an absolute god-send, because suddenly I didn’t feel so alone. Plus – I had to entertain my readers! It’s still my focus for every trip – how can I make this trip exciting as possible for my readers?
Knowing you can Skype someone back home when the going gets tough or to share your excitement is a great thing. Skype has an incredible way of reducing the distance from your loved ways. Just seeing their faces can make all the difference. If only Skype was around when I first visited Skype, I may not have spent so much time on the floor of my hotel room crying.
Ok, so I’ve not graduated to this one yet, but I know people who swear by it, and if you are confident enough – go for it. It can be a great way of meeting people from all over the world and to see as much of the world as possible on a budget.