I think every woman (and maybe man) has the dream and wish to travel the world with someone, be it a family member or a friend and sometimes lover but it doesn’t always happen that way. Firstly, planning group trips is always a hassle. You start out with 10 members and will end up with 3 or 1 on the trip, OR you just aren’t in a relationship; so chances are, at some point in life, you will need to travel alone.
I recently had a work assignment that allowed me to travel to the United Kingdom and boy what an experience that was. It was daunting enough that I was travelling to a foreign continent for the first time, never mind that I was doing it alone but it remains an experience I would not trade for anything else in the world.
I learnt a lot navigating my way around a whole new environment and more importantly, had the chance to explore a world unimagined.
Preparation is key
Like any other location, it is always advised to prepare your routes as much as possible. You will never really follow your itinerary completely but have something to work with. This way, you just ask locals to direct you or help you find what you are looking for. It can easily get daunting to walk around alone too and planning your routes just makes the experience better.
Technology has made life so much easier for us. Download transport apps that will guide you on which routes and modes of transport to are best get to where you want to get to. In England, you will most probably survive using “City Mapper” as well as “Tube Map”. These were my saving grace, I mastered their transport system in a matter of days.
The people are just as amazing. I was never shy to ask for directions or assistance from locals. If you are iffy about speaking to strangers in the street, I would suggest you ask people in safer places such as restaurants and shops.
Pack yourself a raincoat or umbrella
I have a friend that recently moved to the UK and in getting ready to leave, she made sure I packed an umbrella. The best thing I ever did. Boy does it rain a lot there. But what I love is that the rain doesn’t stop any of the fun. Europeans are used to the wet weather and for them, it’s still another day to wear flip flops and shorts. I quickly adapted.
My #MCM – The selfie stick
I have never appreciated my selfie stick as much as I did in London. I am short and most times, trying to take a picture of myself is tough with the arms that I have. When travelling alone, your selfie stick becomes your companion. If you forget to take one in your suitcase, make sure you buy one on the side.
Places to go and people to see
I had awesome colleagues who gave me a heads up about where to go and what to do but I also did the touristy thing and joined the “Hop on, Hop off” bus tours.
The benefit of taking such bus tours is the knowledge and history that comes with each building and site seeing arena. If anything, doing this in London has pushed me to want to take a Johannesburg city bus tour. Living in a city for 26 years can easily make you comfortable and not make the effort to get to know the history behind it.
Travelling for work makes it a tad bit more difficult to do a lot of site seeing but I made an effort to visit as many places and do as many fun activities as possible. Here are some of the places I think you should get up and go see while in the UK and luckily, you don’t have to buy any of the tickets in two’s, which is a single traveller blessing (LOL):
- The Coca-Cola London Eye —> Madame Taussades (Wax crafted celebs)
- Tower of London —– > Aquarium
- Walk over Tower Bridge —-> Sea Life Acquarium
- St Paul’s Cathedral —-> Buckingham Palace
- Palace of Westminster —-> Oxford Street (wear comfy shoes)
- Borough Market —–> Piccadilly Circus
- London Bridge —-> Covent Garden
- Cruise on River Thames —-> Manchester City (3 hour train)
In part two, I share my experience on the food, the people, culture, shopping and a changed worldview, Brexit!
Travelled alone before? How did that go?