I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas!! I just love this time of year, and because I’m super organised, I already have all of my Christmas gifts sorted. Even one’s for charity! Yep, that’s me, completely done. I tend to buy things throughout the year when something catches my eye, leaving only a few bits and pieces to purchase November/December time. It just makes the whole gift buying process completely stress free. Well, apart from the wrapping part. I’m not the best gift wrapper around, so I may just cheat this year and buy a bulk load of gift bags. What does everyone’s shopping look like? You highly organised like me, or a last minute shopper?
Ok, so completely unrelated to Christmas and the reason we’re all here (I know I know, Christmas chat is way more fun), I wanted to share with you some situations you’re bound to encounter at one point or another during your solo travels and how to deal with them. Because although travelling solo gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment and self fulfilment, reality is, it’s also a lot of hard work and more often than you’d like, you find yourself in uncomfortable situations.
You’re Sitting At A Table For Two… Alone
Nothing makes you more aware that your travelling solo quite like dining alone. Yes, you’ll get a few stares, but that’s only because traditionally it’s uncommon to see people dining alone. But we’re in the 21st century and times are changing! The best way to rid yourself of that uncomfortable feeling is to bring along a good book with you. You’ll be so distracted by the story that you’ll forget where you are.
You End Up Being Followed By A Stranger
This happens more often than it should and I can speak from experience because it’s happened to me. When someone strikes up a conversation with you, your natural reaction is to engage and be polite. But sometimes this leads to bad results so it’s always best to have your wits about you. Never give too much information away and always have a cover story. The worst thing you can do is say you’re travelling solo, so instead say something along the lines of “you’re just grabbing a bite to eat before meeting your family.”
If you sense someone is following you in the street, head towards a crowded area and get out your phone. Pretend to be talking to someone and hopefully they get the impression you’re not there alone.
You Get On The Right Train But In The Wrong Direction
This has happened to me on many occasions and now every time I board public transport in a foreign city I’m watching each stop like a hawk. If you find yourself in the same situation, the best thing to do is to stay calm because really, it’s not the end of the world. Take your time to get your bearings and then switch lines at your next available opportunity. You may end up on multiple wrong trains/busses, but eventually you’ll get to your destination. And the more you do it, the better your navigation skills will become.
You Frequently Ask, Do You Speak English?
It’s natural when you need assistance to ask a local if they speak English. If they respond, great! But nine times out of ten, they won’t and you’ll receive a confused look followed by a brief one sided conversation as they address you in their language. Having printouts of where you’re going can often help, as a local may recognise the name. Otherwise having a phrasebook or google translate on had is the way to go.
Hotel Staff Confirm Multiple Times “It’s Just You?”
I’m unsure if this happens out of curiosity or genuine confusion, but why would I book a room for one person if it’s not going to be just me? Confidence is definitely key here. You don’t need to be with someone to travel so be proud you’re doing the solo thing and own it.
You’re The Only Solo Person On A Tour
Booking a group tour is a great way to break up solo travel and to explore areas without having to plan a single thing yourself. But sometimes this can become extremely awkward when you find yourself surrounded by couples, best friends and families. So what to do when everyone is paired off except you? Again, own your solo travel spirit, be the amazing person you are and just be as cheerful as possible. Before you know it you’ll have people left right and centre engaging in conversation with you. Not only will you come across as friendly and approachable, but lets face it, people are nosey and they’ll be fairly interested in why you’re there alone. It happens to me all the time! A lot of people don’t have the confidence to travel solo, so I use these moments to enlighten them on how amazing it can be.
You Order A Meal & When It Arrives It’s Completely Different To What You Expected
Language barriers can be difficult when it comes to ordering food, so knowing key words like beef, chicken, lamb and pork in the local language comes in handy here. Nine times it works and I get what I think I’ve ordered, other times it’s pot luck. With the foods I can’t eat, I always make sure I know that word in in the local language so I know no matter what, it won’t end up on my plate.
When A Stranger Offers To Take Your Photo
You’re standing in front of the Eiffel Tower trying to get that perfect shot for the gram, when a stranger offers to take your picture for you. But then you see the crap job they’ve done and you pretend to be busy with the button on your jacket, whilst secretly waiting for them to walk away so you can re take the picture, but they linger around and don’t seem to be leaving anytime soon and you awkwardly walk away only to come back to that exact same spot moments later when you legit know they’re gone.
Firstly, I only say yes if they legit look like a nun, and if they do, I thank them for taking my picture, and then I let them know I’m going to take a few more myself, just funny ones for my sister/friends, so they don’t think much of it. But really, I’m ensuring I have the perfect shot without making them feel bad.
Hey Check This… Oh, Never Mind
Ah! That moment when you see something that’s so incredibly amazing or ridiculously funny and you turn to the person next to you to say “omg did you see that?” only to realise there’s no-one accompanying you on your SOLO trip. Whenever this happens I get out my phone and send a quick voice message to my besties on WhatsApp. By doing this, it always makes me feel satisfied that I’ve been able to share that specific moment with someone and it’s always fun to hear their varying reactions.