Although I had traveled solo before (Ghana) this was my first solo holiday. It was quite simple, I wanted to get away somewhere warm, I had a small gap (4 days including travel time), a small budget and no one to go with. So I decided to go it alone, and I’m so glad I did. Here are the 3 things I learned going solo in Barcelona.
I decided on Spain for one reason only…cheap flights! Plus I had a romantic picture in my head of me drinking beer and eating tapas whilst reading my book and people watching.
I flew into Girona with a plan to stay there for 1 night then get the train to Barcelona where I would spend 2 nights before heading back home. Once my flight was booked I did some research so I knew how to get from the airport to Girona and then from Girona to Barcelona. I pre-booked my accommodation and I had a list of things I wanted to see! This was me dipping my toe in the water of solo travel. I wanted to plan enough to feel safe, without over planning so there was no flexibility for me to be spontaneous.
Day 1 – Girona
I LOVED it here. In fact, I wish I’d just stayed here. My hostel was incredible and I was in a dorm with some really nice people. It had a huge TV, spotless bathroom, and a balcony..for £16 per night! I walked the city wall, ate tapas and drank beer happy and relaxed with the sun on my face. In the evening I drank beer on the rooftop bar of my hostel listening to a live jazz band with one of my dorms buddies a 55-year-old Aussie. Unfortunately, the hostel I stayed in Equity Point seems to have closed down but the company is still going and they have a number of hostels, including one in Barcelona, if the one I stayed at is anything to go by I would highly recommend!
Day 3 and 4 – Barcelona
I woke up on day two excited to get to Barcelona, I head to the train station and board my train (so far so good), once on the train, I get chatting to a really nice American guy who is traveling Europe solo. We pretty much talk the whole journey, about life, travel, family and what we want to see/ do in Barcelona. He didn’t have a phone and so we casually agree to maybe see each other by the beach later in the day…now at this point I’m really not bothered about meeting him again (neither was he) because up until now I have met so many friendly people I assume Barcelona will be the same.
Sadly it wasn’t. I got to my hostel and was grotty, small and not really a hostel! I was sharing a tiny space, that has no door, with a group of young French girls who were pretty rude and not one bit interested in talking to me.
Although I didn’t make another friend until my bus ride to the airport and my hostel was terrible Barcelona was incredible and I really did cram a lot into those 2 days!
So here are my 3 lessons learned from Barcelona:
1. When booking accommodation check out the reviews!
My hostel in Girona was incredible, the one in Barcelona was a hell hole. If possible ask to check out the room before committing to staying somewhere. When you are traveling solo this is so important. Not only was the hostel pretty dirty but it was also miles out of town. If you are arriving in a city early in the day then I’d recommend taking a walk around and finding somewhere to stay on foot (that if your bag isn’t too heavy!) or better still talk to others and get a recommendation.
2. Sometimes it’s OK to get on a tourist bus
Now up until this point, I had always turned my nose up at the Tourist Busses! But there are some fantastic sights in Barcelona which are geographically quite far away. If you are stuck for time blundering your way through public transport and getting lost on foot aren’t always the best options.
Getting on the bus saved me a lot of time and energy, I got some great pictures from the elevated angle and you get free entry/ discounts to lots of the attractions. But if you really don’t fancy spending your day sat down then a free walking tour might suit you better? Take a look at Barcelona free tours, although I didn’t do this on my trip I have taken advantage of free walking tours all over Europe and they are such a brilliant way to see a city, and you also get to meet other travelers. It’s a much more sociable way to see a city than sat on a bus with headphones on. The also offer backpacker nights out and bike tours if that’s more your thing.
3. You can travel safely as a solo female traveler
I did it and I will be doing it again. Walking the streets of a new city and exploring it is no different to doing it at home. The risks are the same wherever you are in the world, so yes be alert and don’t go wandering down dark backstreets at night as you would at home, but if you trust your instincts and you will be fine.
What three things did your first solo holiday teach you? Or if you haven’t taken your first solo trip yet, what’s stopping you?! I’d love to hear from you so please leave me a comment below.