I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas!! I just love this time of year. The streets are decorated in hundreds of fairylights, my favourite Christmas biscuits are on sale, and people just seem to be nicer and happier in general. 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. How’s everyone’s shopping going? You highly organised like me, or a last minute shopper?
Okay, so completely unrelated to Christmas, and the reason I’m writing this post, is that I wanted to share with you a few situations you’re bound to encounter 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, you’re going to find yourself in uncomfortable situations from time to time.
You’re Sitting At A Table For Two… alone
Nothing makes you more aware that you’re travelling solo, than dining alone. Because yes, you will get a few stares and odd looks. But that’s only because traditionally it’s uncommon to see people eating alone. Luckily though, we’re in the 21st century and times are changing! So the best way to rid yourself of that uncomfortable feeling is to bring along a good book, a magazine, or have a podcast on the ready to listen to. You’ll be so distracted by the story that you’ll forget all about those peeking a glance at you.
You End Up Being Followed By A Stranger
Unfortunately, this happens more often than it should, and I can speak from experience because its 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 negative consequences. Always have your wits about you and never give too much information away. The worst thing you can do is say you’re travelling solo, so always have a cover story at the ready. Anything along the lines of “you’re just grabbing a bite to eat before meeting your family” etc., can work wonders.
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 if you see a group of girls together, there’s nothing wrong with approaching them, explaining your situation and asking them if you can walk with them for a little. Hopefully the person following you will get the impression you’re not there alone and go on their way. If you have a cafe nearby, you can always duck in there and tell the staff, they will often let you have a seat for as long as you need.
You Get On The Right Train… but in the wrong direction
This has happened to me on several occasions, so now every time I board public transport in a foreign city, I’m watching the signs for each stop like a hawk. If you find yourself in the same situation, the best thing to do is remain calm. At the end of the day, 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’re Needing Guidance & Ask A Local, Do You Speak English?
It’s natural when you need assistance to ask a a stranger on the street 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 native language. Having printouts of where you’re going can often help, as a local may recognise the name and be able to point you in the right direction. Otherwise having a phrasebook or google translate on had is the way to go.
The Concierge Confirms “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. 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. And 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, with the common reaction “wow, you’re so brave.” A lot of people don’t have the confidence to travel solo, so I use these moments to enlighten them on how amazing and easy, it can be.
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. You agree, but then you see the crap job they’ve done and so 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 then they linger around and don’t seem to be leaving anytime soon, so you awkwardly walk away only to come back moments later when you legit know they’re gone.
Firstly, I only say yes if they look like a nun, and then I thank them for taking my picture. I always 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.