Solo travel to most people is a No-No and not being able to travel solo is the reason most inherent wanderlusts stay put and don’t get to see much of the world. But there’s really nothing to solo travelling and anyone can do it.
Here’s how Eloho Sido became an ardent solo traveller.
Sometimes deciding to travel with people isn't feasible as most people's schedules or pockets do not permit. So now I find, I plan, I execute and I experience. But this all started with my Euro tour in the summer of 2012.
I had just finished writing my Dissertation in England, so it was holiday time for me. Yay! And the adventurer in me kicked in. Double yay!! I'd never been to any European countries besides France. So I decided to explore more of Europe - Spain, The Netherlands and Germany; I asked a couple of friends and it didn't look feasible with them, so I just planned an itinerary for one.
I visited these countries in 4 days. Flew from London Heathrow to Barcelona; then from Barcelona to Amsterdam; took the train from Amsterdam Centraal station to Stuggart Central Station; flew from Stuttgart to London Heathrow.
I made hotel reservations using trivago.com. It really saved me all the hassle, reading actual reviews, some offered the deal of free breakfast (which I chose of course). I compared the different hotel sites and most of all saved me money.
On arriving the airport in Barcelona, I realized that I didn't speak a word of Spanish. OMG! I didn't have data on my phone since I’d have wifi at my hotel (I wanted to save money), so my translator didn't work. I just looked for English directions and made my way to the taxi station and made it to my hotel.
I visited the city center, took so many pictures of the beautiful architecture. My hotel had maps of the tour routes, they also had some discounts for the tour buses, and they came to pick up tourists from the hotel. I used the Hop-on Hop-off tour bus and I got lost, even with a physical map. Lol.
I wanted to try the traditional Spanish Paella. I don't quite remember the name of the restaurant, but it was in the city center, this meal was good, they didn't spare any spice or ingredients. I was so full, I decided to head back to my hotel. I couldn't find my Hop-on station, so I walked using my map. Sight-seeing and asking people for over an hour (everyone I came across didn't speak English). I decided to take a taxi, showed the driver the address on my phone and got back to my hotel which was like a 5 minute drive. *covers face* I could have walked and seen more of the city. Lesson: download an offline translator.
Next morning, looking through my pictures, I realized I wasn't in any of the pictures I took. This is probably the only downside to travelling solo - no one to take picture of you but I don’t mind asking random people and they are usually happy to help. So I asked the waiter at breakfast to take a picture of me before I headed off for Amsterdam.
Flew in to Amsterdam that morning! So many bicycles!! They're everywhere!! And the people are so happy, so cheerful! Even the tourists are so nice! Maybe it's because of no ban on weed! Lol.
Anyways, I really wanted to try the 'Space Cake' (Marijuana Brownies). But before the space cake experience, I went into town using the tram system. “Hold on tight to your purses/belongings: be aware of pocket pickers,” said the signs on the tram. So yeah I held on tight.
So much beauty in this city! I visited the 'I Amsterdam Sign,' where I found some nice people who I asked to take pictures of me, and another person asked to use my phone as well as my camera, they made me laugh so hard. It was a good experience, just being happy and being able to have a good laugh with likeminded strangers. I recommend this place! It's located at the back of the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein.
After that, I hopped on the tram to my scheduled tour. I went on the Amsterdam Canal Cruise. I made a reservation prior to the whole trip which is usually cheaper compared to paying at the cruise point plus you secure your spot. I'd recommend it! It wasn't so cool, all by myself but I was so attentive to the information passed on by the tour guide and seeing the tunnels links and the real estate floating on water…Genius!! We also passed by the Red Light District.
After the cruise, I hopped on the tram back to my hotel and bought myself a 'Space Cake' from a local shop, no ID or questions asked.
Next day I went sight-seeing again. I went into the city and saw live bands and had the chance to experience the Amsterdam Ice Bar. So so cool! I'd recommend it! Ice sculptures of everything, even to the glasses used for the shots/drinks.
I headed back to my hotel afterward to check out and catch my train to Stuttgart, Germany. I decided to have my 'Space Cake'. I’d just say it's a good one time experience. Lool!!
Getting to Stuttgart at past 1:00 am, language was another barrier. I couldn't find the exit and a German lady, gave me wrong directions. Lol. Oh well. I met up with my aunt and her family. I wanted to try the traditional meal Königsberger Klopse, it was so good, I couldn't move after. Lol.
This European experience was my first time traveling alone to places I'd never been to. It gave me the zeal to just find a place or an activity to do, and just do it. Since then I have been able to travel and do things I thought I needed a group or a 'plus one' to do, on my own. Though it's fun with people, I've discovered my adventures are what I make it to be, I plan to have fun and I just have fun! Because here’s how I see it - if I’d kept waiting on people and their schedules, I won't have done the things or seen the places or experiences the things I have.
The result of Europe experience: the start of my adventures! Some of which include, spending New Years in Taiwan in 2014 and having the chance to see some of Beijing, China; visiting and getting my Advanced Scuba divers license at Florida Keys (because I always wanted to see what Sade sang about in her Smooth Operator song “…coast to coast, LA to Key Largo”); skydiving and finding the black sand beach in Hilo, The Big Island, Hawaii. And yes I have a Nigerian passport but that doesn’t stop me. I just apply for visas early.
My tips for solo travelers
- Plan ahead so you can get the good deals
- Use tour services to explore so you're part of a group with the same or similar interests
- Enjoy the experience and worry less about pictures; people will always be there to help. Just ask.
- Always be careful like you would at home
So there. Solo travel is not that terrifying. There’s nothing to it. Just plan, pack and go.
Would you travel solo? Share your thoughts, experiences in the comments below.
Follow @e_sido on Instagram for more of Eloho’s journeys.