Travel, Uncategorized

Solo Travelling

So you have your heart set on going somewhere but you have a problem, no one wants or can go with you. The very thought of passing up this opportunity or missing out on your dream trip can be horrible, and leave you in a devastated state with a bunch of what ifs playing on your mind for the rest of your days. But why should the fact no one can travel or join you make you miss out on what could be an amazing life changing experience? The answer is simple, it shouldn’t!

For several years I was always finding cheap getaways online and finding trips abroad which I was desperate to go on. I never did half the things I wanted to do or go to 90% of the places I desperately wanted to go to for the simple fact that, well, I didn’t want to go on my own. This held me back so much. It was killing me inside knowing that I love travelling and had a chance to visit so many different places but just couldn’t because “my friend’s couldn’t”. But not that long ago, in a spur of the moment decision I booked up a single return to Berlin. I just did it, I decided in that moment it was now or never and just went ahead with it. Shizer! That put me in a position where I had to go, or else I would lose out on money, the trip and also further potential bookings. This was a massive step in the right direction and I would emphasise that if you’re ever in that position then go ahead and do it, you will look back in the future and thank yourself for it.

Now of course the very thought of travelling alone can be daunting and scary, it’s only natural to feel that way. It’s funny that when we see a potential opportunity our minds simply focus on the negative elements rather than the positive ones. That was my problem, I grew up in a rough area so my first thought was always “what happens if someone jumps me or mugs me or something even worse?”. Obviously there are some dangers out there in the big bad world, but I’ll go into more detail further down the page.

If you are seriously looking at solo travelling then honestly go ahead and do it. The biggest regret you will have is not doing it. Honestly, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve when you step outside your comfort zone.

Meeting people:

One of my biggest fears about travelling alone was about meeting people. What if no one speaks English? What happens if they don’t like me? What happens if I have nothing in common with anyone? These are all genuine fears but there’s no need to panic. On my first solo trip I went to Berlin which is an awesome city! But I had all those negative thoughts about meeting people, I spent a lot of time being anxious before I left and when I got there. Fast forward 12 hours from when I first got there and I was like a zombie crawling in the door of my room at the hostel at 05:30 in the morning after having an absolutely amazing night and meeting some awesome people!

There are a good few ways to meet people when you’re travelling, here’s a little list of some:

  1. Pub crawl – I’ve discovered on my travels that many hostels/hotels do pub crawls within the area you’re visiting. Even if the place you’re staying at doesn’t there is sure to be one nearby. Pub crawls will cost you some cash but they are definitely worth it.
  2. Go online – with apps such as tinder and grindr, meeting people close to you is now easier than ever. If you want to try and get to know people prior your arrival why not try searching Facebook for the place you’re staying at to see if there is anyone else like yourself that has written on it. Online forums are usually filled with people looking to meet people, they’re definitely worth a look in aswell.
  3. Face to face Conversation – the hardest but at the same time easiest way to meet people. Staying in a hostel, especially in a shared room you are bound to engage in conversation with the people you’re sharing with. If you smoke, if someone is out having a cigarette at the same time you are why not try and start a conversation? Don’t be scared to talk to people in bars or clubs, or attractions. Making small talk with people can be hard but it can sometimes lead to good friendships.

Travelling by yourself can have it’s perks. The freedom of being able to do what you want, whenever you want, however you want can be amazing! Being able to just get up and do what you want without having to worry about if your friends want to do it or not is great. But, at times it will get tough. If you are going to somewhere where English isn’t the main language it can pose a whole lot of problems. Transportation, currency, and a whole load of other things can cause problems too. When travelling alone you have to make sure you are well prepared well in advance. Here are a few useful tips for planning your trip.

  1. Language – if it is a foreign country you’re visiting, try learning a few useful phrases before you go. Or take a back up list on your phone or on a piece of paper.
  2. Transportation – definitely worth a look into before you go. When I arrived in Berlin it took me over an hour to get the right train, after asking about 10 people and spending about 20 minutes on Google trying to find the right train to take. If you research what trains, buses, trams etc.. You need to take and their times before you go it will save a lot of time and stress for when you get there.
  3. Emergency supplies – when I travel, I always take a few extras just incase of an emergency. I take a small torch, rain poncho, hand warmers and a small first aid box. There is an extremely low chance I’ll need them and they take up a little room but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Taking things such as toilet roll and a pen and paper can always be handy depending on where you’re going aswell.
  4. Documentation – to be on the safe side it is always best printing out confirmations or bookings you have made. Taking more than one copy for things like your boarding passes is ideal aswell, if you keep them in separate places then in the small chance you lose them you should have a backup waiting for you.
  5. Know where you’re going – I know this sounds kind of obvious but it is important you do as much research before you go as you can. Finding out the distances between where you’re staying, attractions, means of transport amongst other things should give you a rough idea. Looking on things like Google maps and perhaps taking a few screenshots or printouts should also help you should you become lost or lose your Internet connection.
  6. Staying safe – regardless of where you’re going, you have to always keep your wits about you. Do a little reading into the area you’re going, see what places people tell you to avoid or that are high in crime. Find out if any crime in particular is common at certain places and be sure to avoid venturing into any neighbourhoods or alleyways that look dodgy. If you’re out after dark always try and stick to well lit or populated areas, and make sure you know where you’re going.

Solo travelling is honestly a life changing experience, you will be amazed at how much you learn about yourself and how much your confidence grows from doing it. You will not regret it, you’ll look back in the future and simply thank and be proud of yourself for going ahead with it. It took me years to finally pluck up the courage to do it, and since then I’ve been a further two times with another two booked for later dates. It is such a big step but it’s definitely worth it. Sometimes you’ve just got to decide to do it, otherwise you’ll look back in years to come wishing that you had. I hope this has helped and if you are going to go on a solo travel of your own, Happy travelling!

If you are looking at travelling and would like to save as much cash as you can check out:

https://outsideofthewell.com/2016/01/12/travelling-on-a-budget-2/

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Travel

Travelling On A Budget

 

pennies6

Okay, so you want to travel. Travelling is awesome! But, like myself you have a problem. Your skint. Or you want to go and do certain things or go to certain places, but your budget is restricting you. Stupid money. However it is possible to travel on a budget, seriously! I’ve drawn up a list of hints and tips that will hopefully be useful if you’re planning on travelling.

Maybe there’s a week you want to go, a week you have your heart set on. Unfortunately, if it’s an event you’re planning on going for you’re probably going to have to splash a little more cash than you normally would. Airlines and hotels etc will be aware this event is on, meaning that they know there will be a surge of people looking to book up. Ultimately leading them to put the price up. Real nice of them eh?

However, if you’re just looking to travel or go on a short holiday then flexibility may be your key to saving a fortune!

 

Flights

 

  1. I recently pondered buying a return ticket from Glasgow to Vilnius for less than £40, for a couple of days or even a month before it could have cost over £200… I know, not much of a difference eh? The secret is you have to be flexible with your dates, it can be the difference between a £1 and a few £100.
  2. Airlines are always chopping and changing their prices, booking in advance can save you some cash but so can leaving it to last minute. Be careful though with the latter as you may end up leaving it too late and the price may rise instead of dropping. Not exactly what your wanting.
  3. Try every option you can, look at nearby airports in or out of the country you’re planning on going. Say you want to visit Vienna, flights to and from maybe overly expensive and way out within your ideal budget. But say a flight to Budapest is pretty damn cheap. Budapest is 1hr 30 away from Vienna. There’s a direct train and a variety of buses that connect city to city. If you go down this route it may be a little extra hassle but if you’re saving a good deal of money it can certainly be worth it. Plus you can tick another city off your to do list!
  4. A great website for comparing flight prices for different airports on different days is www.Skyscanner.com. This is what I use when booking my flights, it is an actual life saver!

 

Accommodation

 

Depending on what city or country you’re visiting, you’re going to need somewhere to sleep. Unless you don’t sleep, in which case you need help. But I’ve made a wee list on the three main types of accommodation you should look into.

 

  1. Hotels – okay, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that a 5 star hotel is probably going to cost a few bob more than a 1 star hotel. So if you’re looking to live a little lavish for the duration of your stay, depending on where you’re staying you may wish to rethink that. Hotels can be weird yet wonderful, the trick is to try and find one as soon as you can. Don’t leave it to last minute! Hotels in certain places can go like hotcakes, so you might find yourself on to plumbs if you hold off. A long story short, I paid €120 for a hotel in Dublin after a night out that (let’s just say) got a little wild. That was the cheapest accommodation available at that time, and I mean in the whole of Dublin city centre! If you’re going to a city such as Bucharest you can get a 4 star hotel for as little as €35 a night, or a 1 star from €18 and so on. The key is to find out if you’re willing to pay more for that little extra bit of quality, or you’re just happy having the basics in a hotel. But it just goes to show you can get good deals out there.
  2. Hostels – ahh, my favourite kind of accommodation. People can be very pessimistic about hostels, the thought of sharing a room with a whole bunch of strangers can be terrifying and unpleasant. In my experience however, it can be so much better and beneficial to stay in a hostel. Especially if you’re solo travelling. Like recently, I managed to find a hostel in the centre of Vilnius and for 3 nights it was €16. €16!!! That is like £12 for three nights, which is pretty freaking good! On the same date as I mentioned in the hotel section I searched for a hostel in Bucharest, one straight away came up for €6.24 for one night! If you’re wanting to save money and spend as little as you possibly can, hostels are the best way to do it. Sharing a room with a group of strangers can be daunting, but if you engage in conversation with them then you may end up with a friend for life. A lot of the people who stay in hostels are solo travellers from around the world. Different hostels have different activities you can partake in and get to meet new people, some people leave notes on notice boards looking for people to accompany them in either sightseeing or to the pub. If you want to meet new people or want to hang out with people during your stay then hostels are the best way for it. As well as sharing rooms, hostels also offer single rooms and double rooms and so on. The majority of these rooms are a lot cheaper than most hotels. Using Bucharest again, on the same date I found three hostels offering a double room for €22. Another wee tip for using hostels is if you’re travelling in a group of 4 or 6 or whatever, you can buy every bed available in a dorm if you can. This means you are all sharing a room with each other with no strangers, and for also a shed load less money.
  3. Alternative accommodation – Apart from hotels and hostels there are a wide majority of other types of accommodation. Websites such as http://www.homestay.com, http://www.onefinestay.com and many more offer you not only the opportunity to embrace the culture and get some valuable local knowledge but also offer you very cheap prices. www.helpx.net is my favourite alternative accommodation. HelpX offers you the chance to live with locals for free, as long as you’re willing to put in a bit of work. People from all over the world advertise on helpx. The tasks can vary from looking after a dog for a few hours, to working on a farm for a day. It is exciting as well as adventurous, plus it looks good on a cv!

 

Simple ways to save

 

There are many many ways you can save money whilst travelling or on holiday. I’ve put a few wee bullet points on different practices/methods below.

  • Baggage – if you’re planning on going away for a few days then ask yourself “Do I really need a suitcase?”. If a simple bag with a few essentials is all you need then forget the suitcase and just use a decent sized bag. The majority of airlines allow you a generous amount of cabin luggage. If you just use a cabin bag then you can save yourself £30/£40 quid. Which is quite a lot of money.
  • Research travel before you get there – when me and my friends  arrived at El Prat airport in Barcelona the first time I went we realised we had a problem, None of us knew how to get to where our hostel was. We ended up getting a taxi which cost around €40. The second time I went I got a bus to the same part of the city which was only about €6. Search before you go to find the best travel methods, don’t rely on improvisation because you may end up scunnered if you do! A good wee tip is to use the tour buses that operate. The majority of them go to the major parts/landmarks of the city, so using it as a personal taxi can save you a fortune and the hassle of having to get individual forms of transport to and from where you want to go.

I have listed a few things that should (hopefully) help you save a few quid. The best advice however I can give to you is to research thoroughly the place you are going, all the information you need is online but unfortunately you may have to dig deep for it. I wish you all the best for your travels and if you have any additional tips or if any of what I have wrote has helped you then please leave a comment. Happy travelling!

Travel

Barcelona

 

barcelona_02_bigIf you’ve ever looking for a destination for travelling or even a short getaway, visiting Barcelona is a BIG MUST. And that’s a big must with like capitals and everything like no matter how much I try and emphasise it; it will never do it justice.. Seriously, if you’re ever considering a trip to Barca? Do it. You will not regret it, I can guarantee you that. A city rich in culture and unbelievable architecture it’s hard not to instantly fall in love.

No matter what “tickles your fancy”, Barcelona has it. If you’re a sporty or arty person, musician or music enthusiast, or just someone who likes the sun and beach or getting a good ole fashion swally, Barcelona will not disappoint you.

I have visited twice and experienced both the sightseeing side of things and the nightlife. I want to travel the world, but if that wasn’t the case I would spend every second I could in Barcelona!

 

Meeting people

 

Although both times I have travelled with friends, it is the perfect city to solo travel in. On my last visit there, we met so many wonderful and amazing people from a mixed background of nationalities. There were Americans, English, Scottish, Australian, Norwegian and even three guys from Kazakhstan. Meeting people was no problem. If you’re looking to meet people of course staying in a hostel is probably the best option(and cheapest!), bunking up with a number of strangers and sharing a room you will no doubtedly get interacting with them. That’s if you can find a common language to communicate through. A huge tip if you want to go out and experience the nightlife and meet people would be to go to “patagonia”. It is a cool wee bar on Las Ramblas, and at night time it becomes a tourist hot-spot.The pr guys on the ground and inside are honestly the coolest guys you will ever meet. They’ll ask you where you’re from and introduce you to other tourists from other countries. They basically encourage you to be friends, which to be honest is a huge bonus if you are shy or find it hard to start conversations with strangers. Its honestly that simple.

 

Things to do

 

One of the best things about the city is you will never be stuck for things to do, the place is absolutely packed with landmarks, attractions, and activities for people of all ages.

Below is a list of potential places and sights you should consider if you do decide to go, there are many more places you should try and visit but these are my top 11:

  1. Las Ramblas
  2. Sagrada Família
  3. Nou camp
  4. The beach
  5. Tibidabo Amusement Park
  6. Park Güell
  7. The Gothic quarter
  8. Casa Milà
  9. Montjuïc
  10. Parc de la Ciutadella
  11. Montserrat

 

Travelling on a budget

 

Okay, we all know how expensive travelling can be; but if you’re on a low budget and your not wanting to spend an absolute fortune then you can pull it off. Real talk!

I have made a little list of tips and hints on a previous blog, the link should be below. It should be below, If not? Panic, everybody panic!!

https://outsideofthewell.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/travelling-on-a-budget-2/

The Bus turìstic as I have mentioned before is a fantastic way to explore the city, but it’s also a little life saver if you’re looking to save cash. It cost €27 for one day and €38 for two, pretty pricey yeah but it can also save you a shed load. There are 3 routes it takes, each route bypassing pretty much all the major landmarks and attractions. This is handy if you’re wanting to make the most of your visit. When I went I basically used this as my taxi to and from places, even if it was just a lift back to the hostel it saved me money on bus fares, trains or taxis. When you buy a ticket you are given a little booklet which has discounts on everything from food to admission fees. This could literally save you hundreds of euros in the long run. The aerobus is also another little gem, it is available every 5 minutes and runs every day of the year. it takes you from the airport to the city centre in around 35 minutes making stops along the way and also the way back. It costs €5.90 for one way but considering a taxi will cost around €30 or more for the exact same, it can save you a lot of money and hassle.

 

Staying safe

 

Of course being a major city Barcelona has some problems. But the truth is, if you use common sense and keep a good eye on your surroundings? Then you should be fine. The city has a bad reputation for pickpockets, especially on Las Ramblas. At night time they’re are also a lot of prostitutes and people wanting to sell drugs and will try and approach you. The best bit of advice is try not to be drawn into conversation with them, a simple shake of the head or a “no thank you” as you continue to walk should do the trick. I have been twice and not had one bit of bother, but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen. Just keep a sharp mind and be conscious of your belongings and surroundings and you should be fine.

All in all but if you have an opportunity to visit this wonderful city don’t pass it up. You will honestly not be disappointed. I promise you that. Truth be told the first time when me and my friends were booking up I didn’t really fancy it. I wanted to go elsewhere, but after visiting and then revisiting again? I’d definitely put Barcelona up there as one of the best cities I have ever visited or had the pleasure to explore.