Solo In Spain: Tips For Your First Solo Experience Abroad

valencia

There may come a time where you start to realise that you value travel more that the rest of your friends and family. Your friends might be saving for a house, car or wedding and not have the dosh, or might not be able to tear themselves away from their significant other long enough to come travel the world with you. When this happens, you either have to sacrifice doing the thing that makes you the most happy (not a chance!) or put on your big girl pants and TRAVEL SOLO.

valencia

My first solo travel trip was to Spain. Of course prior to this trip I was excited, nervous and just a little bit scared. I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t need anyone else to help me – that I could book my own trip, pack my own bags, navigate new cities and spend time completely by myself – and be happy. This trip was a big tick off the bucket list as something I had always wanted to do. Because of this, I have collated a few tips on how to have a successful first solo travel experience.

1.Triple Check Everything

If you have decided to book everything yourself (as I did) make sure to double and triple check every little detail- and then check again. One thing that becomes painfully obvious when you travel solo is that you are alone. There is no one else to remind you of a flight time, triple check your accommodation dates and check out times or make sure you packed your bikini.

2. Travel Light

I would even go as far as to say only pack carry on luggage. The last thing you will want to do when you get off your plane is lug your 25kg suitcase up and down the metro stairs all on your lonesome. When you travel solo you can bet that there won’t be a handsome white knight there to carry your bags for you. Only packing carry on also saves you waiting around for your luggage at the other end (wasting precious minutes in your new city!) and if you’re flying on one of the budget airlines, will save you paying extra for check in bags.

3. Food Hunt At The Markets 

Markets are Gods gift to solo travellers. If you’re in Valencia head to the Mercado Central, if in Madrid go to the Mercado de San Miguel. Both have an amazing range and you can grab something on the go and cut out the awkward (and inevitable) eating alone situation. There are also fresh fruit cups and smoothies for a healthy addition to your paella, tapas and sangria Spanish diet.

valencia

4. Walk Walk Walk (Or Cycle)

Whether you’re travelling solo or with a group, walking around the city you’re visiting is a great way to orientate yourself and also see the parts of the city that aren’t just in the tourist guides. Walking or cycling around the city means that you don’t have to dish out on train and cab fees (which you can’t split between you and your travellers, as it’s just you). One great thing about walking or cycling alone is that it makes you look more like a local. People don’t expect foreigners to be travelling by themselves, they expect big loud groups blocking the walk ways, being on your own is already helping you to blend in and become a local.

valencia

5. Book A Hostel

If you are quite a talkative person who loves meeting new people, the best advice I can give is book a hostel. Most good hostels have meet up nights, free walking tours, communal areas and pub crawls. Even if you decide not to partake in any of the activities on offer, if you book yourself into a 4 or 6 bed dorm room, you are guaranteed to meet people. Most people who book hostels are quite like minded in that they are happy to meet new people, are friendly and love talking about their travel stories and hearing about yours. Hostels are the perfect place to meet other solo travellers who are looking for a travel buddy, exactly as you are.

6. Find The View

There’s nothing like an amazing city view to make you appreciate where you are. If you’re at any point in your solo travel experience doubting that you did the right thing in choosing to go it alone, head up a tower and look over the city. Pretty views have always made me feel so small, but so lucky at the same time. And there’s no way you can feel sad or lonely or doubtful when you feel lucky.

valencia view

7. Follow The Sun

Funnily enough, walking along a beach is not something that is a mandatory group activity. I found when walking around an entire city for a day, all I wanted to do was find somewhere to sit down and not have to buy something. If you’re looking for somewhere peaceful to go, where you can sit down and not feel like you will be hurried along, head to a beach, bring a book, sunbathe and enjoy the sun.

valencia beach

8. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

If you are feeling a little lonely after spending a day to yourself in your new city, I dare you to get out of your comfort zone and go speak to someone. While on my first solo trip in Valencia, I had spent the week mostly alone and was eating by myself at a seafood restaurant on the beach. It was the perfect people watching spot, and this particular restaurant had a few tables facing out onto the beach, making it slightly less awkward to eat alone (the constant struggle). I noticed a girl  sit down at the table opposite me and order her food and a glass of wine. I tried to watch as she spoke to the Spanish waitress to see if she was speaking English. I watched her doing exactly as I was, people watching and checking her phone.

Taking a leap of faith (after giving myself a little pep talk) I went over to the girl, smiled and asked if she spoke English. After she nodded yes, I asked her if she would like any company as we were both eating alone. After that, we chatted for several hours and had several more glasses of wine and sangria together, learning about each others travels and what brought us to Valencia. When we left each other she thanked me for coming over and talking to her saying that she was feeling a little lonely and loved that I had decided to introduce myself.

It’s not for everyone – and this girl could have said ‘no thank you very much I love eating paella alone’. However, if that had happened, I would have just sat down and had the rest of the day to myself – which would have happened if I hadn’t talk to her anyway. So really, you have nothing to lose. Most travellers are open to meeting new people and it’s all part of the fun of travelling!

valencia beach

Travelling solo was something that I always wanted to do, if just to see if it was for me or not. Although I will not be turning down any friends’ offers to travel with them, I now know that I love solo travel and will definitely continue to work my way down my travel bucket list – whether I have a travel buddy or not. It’s been said a thousand times and I’ll say it again – every person should travel solo at least once in their life!

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7 thoughts on “Solo In Spain: Tips For Your First Solo Experience Abroad

  1. Samantha Faloon says:

    Your intro paragraph resonated with me so much! Lol the last trip I took, my friend got homesick after a few days away from her boyfriend. I made friends in the hostel while she FaceTimed him and it made me realize I’ve got to do a trip solo! Now I plan on backpacking Europe for a month, including Spain! I will definitely keep this post in mind 🙂 Great tips!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The 20 Something Detour says:

      Thank you so much! It does get interesting when a lot of your friends are in long term relationships and feel they can’t travel without their boyfriend/girlfriend. One of the best things about being single is having the freedom to do whatever you want to do! Have an amazing time backpacking solo! 🙂

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  2. julieovaltrades says:

    Sorry you guys had bad experiences with friends with bfs, but it’s great that it pushed you into something amazing like solo traveling. From the other side of the perspective — I am the friend with the other half and it’s really hard to pull yourself away from them – and harder for them to let you go while they stay home! It can create a riff in a relationship, so I can understand where your friends are coming from. But traveling is my passion. I deal with the consequences and thankfully my relationship is strong enough to pull through. My fiance has learned to deal with my wanderlust and only minimal drama ensues when I told him I’m leaving for Europe, be back in two weeks! Can’t wait for my annual trip with my bestie this spring 🙂 . So enjoy your solo travels, but don’t write off your friends who are in relationships as travel sisters!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The 20 Something Detour says:

      Oh no definitely I wouldn’t write off friends in relationships as travel buddies! And also each to your own, not everyone loves travelling alone. I love travelling with friends and have travelled with boyfriends in the past and have also been the girl skyping and missing him while travelling, it’s all about if your partner encourages your passions and it sounds like yours definitely does! It’s just great to know that even if you don’t have someone to travel with, you can go it alone and still have an amazing time 🙂 Have a fantastic time on your Europe travels and thank you so much for reading my post! 😊 😊

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