What a hectic few weeks it has been! I enjoyed a long break at home in Ireland, visiting friends and family, day tripping to Dublin, cocktails in Belfast and raising money for charity. I arrived back to Liverpool on Sunday and before I even had a chance to unpack I headed out with a few friends before they flew back to Ireland for the summer.
Let’s just say I lost track of time and arrived home at 4am only to be up and out of my house for 9am the next morning to board the train to London. I viewed a few houses and can now officially say that I have a room to rent for my placement year! Hallelujah. A weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I can finally relax and start looking forward to the move – which is scarily in 31 days. AGH!
But as I always say, there is no rest for the wicked and in just a few hours time I will be boarding the plane and jetting off to
the isle of Fernandos Barcelona with my best friend for a short few days of sightseeing. Oh the life of a student is hard, but someone has to do it.
My friend and I had originally booked a trip to London, but reconsidered – as I’ll be living there for a year, there’ll be plenty of times for trips – and as it turns out, Barcelona was actually cheaper, and neither of us had been before!
I’ve always had the travelling bug but never had many opportunities to venture outside of the UK. I haven’t been abroad since 2008 yet the airport is basically a second home for me. I’ve only ever been in Europe twice, to Lake Garda, Italy and Disneyland Paris.
My thirst for travel reappeared when I started thinking about graduating and where I would go to start my career in PR. I spent a lot of time on the RyanAir website clicking on flights to random places that were cheaper than a train to London, dreaming of a time I would just click ‘buy’. This is how I came across Barcelona (return flights for £40, I couldn’t not) and told my friend I wasn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer.
I’m going off on a tangent as per usual, let’s get back on topic. So I started to read a lot of travel blogs in preparation for my short stint in Barcelona. I was looking at these bloggers travelling to city destinations and spending two or three days yet packing so much stuff in with so little time.
I was looking for inspiration for my future travels; travel hacks, affordable trips and the hardest part – finding someone to go with.
I avoided the ‘solo travel’ tabs like the plague. I couldn’t do that. Surely it couldn’t be safe. I’m a 20 year old female. Travelling alone. In a foreign country. Wouldn’t I be setting myself up for something bad to happen? Wouldn’t I be walking into their trap?
What would people say? Has she no friends? Where’s her boyfriend? Who takes her pictures? What a loner.
Wouldn’t you just find some friends?
Finding someone who has the same time off as me (or can leave their boyfriend for more than ten minutes) is proving insanely difficult. It also doesn’t help that a lot of my friends are off at university in different cities. I also am not rolling in cash (#StudentProblems #VoteLabour #NoTuitionFees) and can’t afford to be jetting off around the globe every month.
I began looking into solo travel and the stigma that comes with it, to see what people who had been there and done it, thought. The titles of these blog posts already put me off. The fear and doubt was already in my head before I’d even let the idea sink in.
We’ve been brought up to ‘be careful’, ‘stay safe’, ‘keep away from strangers’ and let’s not talk about the films and TV shows that would put you off travelling alone as a female – Taken marathon anyone? (I’ve just remembered – Liam Neeson’s ‘daughter’ wasn’t even travelling alone and look what happened!!!)
The most important question
This is probably going to sound very stupid and a little vain, but one thing I’ve always wondered about solo travel is: who takes pictures of you??
Do you go up to a stranger and ask them to take an on-purpose-candid photo of you? Do you ask them to take about one hundred so to choose the best one? Do you pay someone to be your personal photographer for five minutes? Do you put the timer on your phone and hope for the best that no one runs past and steals the phone mid photo?!
If I’m going to these places I want to at least remember being there. After all, if you don’t take pictures – were you really there?
So, the big question: Is solo travel safe?
A female travelling in a different country alone sounds like the synopsis of a horror/crime novel, doesn’t it? My parents definitely wouldn’t like the idea that I was travelling alone, but what I’ve realised, is that I’ve actually travelled solo quite a lot without thinking of it as ‘solo travelling’ (post about that coming soon). Do you get me? Or am I venturing onto Kylie Jenner ‘realising things’ territory? As you can see, I’m still here. In one piece.
I guess it would be lonely, but you would learn a lot about yourself on the way.
Hopefully some day I will rack up the courage to visit a foreign country by myself. Until then, I will be stuck on Ryanair’s website looking at all the cheap flights I could be (should be) buying.
I’ll be quite quiet across social media for the next few days since I’ll be off enjoying myself in Barcelona, but I’ll be sure to have a blog post up next week all about my trip!