Budget: Midrange ($1000-$5000)
Where did you go? I went to Iceland, England, and the Czech Republic: 22 days total! My first ever solo travel trip, first trip across an ocean, and first trip longer than two weeks.
I was very nervous but ended up having a fantastic time.
What did you do? I’m a huge huge huge Olympics fan and have long wanted to see the Olympics live. When a college friend living in London said she’d be interested in visitors, well, I decided to make things happen! Other than getting tickets for shooting and canoeing (because they were cheap), I arrived with an open schedule and just kinda winged it.
I saw a show in the Globe, toured Windsor Castle, and explored a few museums. But a lot of time was just spent walking around London people-watching or looking at buildings or riding the tube. My friend also convinced me to do an overnight trip to Bath.
I decided to schedule a nine-hour layover in Iceland on the way (to go wander about town), and also fly to Prague for four days to visit another college friend. I did a few tours, walked around town taking pictures, and visited the Terezin concentration camp.
For some reason I also got the idea in my head to do a bike trip, and some Googling led me to a small company in Suffolk. (I highly recommend Cycle Breaks!) They make sure you can fix a flat, give you a bike, VERY detailed maps, and an emergency cell number. Then you pedal from town to town to find your suitcase at your new hotel each night. I had downloaded a bunch of podcasts before leaving, but never once listened to them. Seeing the countryside filled with sheep, goats, farms, ruins, castles, and ancient churches kept me entertained for five days.
What would you have done differently? Don’t get me wrong, I had a FANTASTIC time, and as a solo traveler I wouldn’t have changed a thing. But I wish I had a travel companion, or that I would have been less shy about making friends with other travelers. I did some things with the friends I was visiting, but most times I was on my own and there’s something about bonding through shared experiences.
That said, it’s not deterring me from scheming up my next trip — whether I can find a travel buddy or not!
What’s your best travel advice for other offbeat travelers?
Save money on food by picking up fruit and rolls at a grocery store. Or figure out what the locals do for cheap “fast food” — in England, apparently this means lots of sandwiches. I think I only ate in a restaurant five times on the entire trip.
No matter where you go, there’s so much you can see or do that is free or at least super-cheap. People-watching, window-shopping, free museums, wandering around historic locales, and some cities have free tours (I used Sandemans in both London and Prague).
Photo scavenger hunts are free, too! Since it was the Olympics and many people were in patriotic dress or carrying flag, I made up a game to take pictures of people from as many countries as possible — some at the events, but also in random places like the tube or the Harley Davidson store. This required eagle eyes, a camera quick-draw, some covert shooting-from-the-hip, and required some Googling later to brush up on my flag knowledge. It was a lot of fun and I got 65 different countries!