Friday, April 21, 2017

Tips For Traveling Alone As A Shy/ Introverted Person

Hey guys! I'm back with a different type of post. This one is something that I've had on my mind lately since I'm currently playing around in London, UK for a rotation abroad (like a short-term study abroad). I'll post some photo diaries of my travels soon so look forward to that~!

(At Elephant Mountain in Taipei, Taiwan)

I personally love traveling but it can really be daunting traveling by yourself, especially if you're super shy and paranoid like me... But have no fear! Here are 5 tips that can help you out~

1. Stay at a hostel or airbnb.
Ok. I'm truly a princess at heart, so I know the words "hostel" or "airbnb" can be scary to some people out there.

They sound dirty.... You have to share a bathroom AND bedroom.... We've all seen that movie "Hostel" too, right?? Well let me tell you, your preconceptions are probably wrong. Hostels are an affordable way of traveling and a great way to meet fellow single travelers! If you use reputable sites to book hostels from, you don't have to worry about being kidnapped either (not sponsored but I normally use Hostelworld). Some hostels even provide tours and events to allow you to meet other travelers, as well.

Airbnb is also an option because sometimes the hosts will take you out to dinner or show you around, but I wouldn't always count on that. They have started to have meetup events as well, but I have yet to try one. If you are staying in an airbnb that is specifically for travelers, make sure to stick around for dinner or introduce yourself when you first move in. In my honest opinion, I'd suggest if it's short term travel (a couple of days) go with a hostel, and if it's long term (weeks to months) go with an airbnb. If you're more scared of being alone, I'd say to stick to staying in a hostel, though.

2. Try booking a tour.
This one is something that I've been doing since I'm a female traveling by myself. As a woman, it can be a bit scarier since let's face it, I can barely lift a 20lb bag, I can't defend myself for shit, and I'm an easy target for robbing or abduction. It's a scary world out there!! I see you Criminal Minds!! BUT if this is your case, I would say to book a tour! I guarantee, you will most likely meet new friends and you'll have safety in numbers! If you're shy and scared to talk to new people who don't approach you first, which is totally me, don't worry! People on the tour will also be traveling alone and they WILL try to talk to you. Every tour I've taken, I've met new friends and have enjoyed the experience. It comes in handy for taking photos for each other as well (how else will you get that perfect instagram shot?). I think tours are definitely the best way to meet new people when you're traveling alone because you are not actually alone so you don't have to be scared of anything.

Tours are also good because they can be more convenient in getting to certain places. For example, as I am in London, I wanted to go to Stonehenge, but it's pretty difficult to get there without a car. I found it to actually be cheaper and easier for me to book a tour. Tours can be booked when you get to the destination or before reaching the destination. In Europe, since its very easy to travel around, many tour companies provide tours that depart from London and take you to places like Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris, Italy, Scotland, etc. It makes it easy for anyone who is lazy like me and doesn't want to book flights/ hotel and figure out where to go. You can book day tours or longer tours to suit your needs.

Another tip for younger people is to search for a student tours! They're normally cheaper and you're more likely to meet people your age. Just search on google and you'll find something good~

Tours are NOT for everyone as they are scheduled and regimented, though. Most tours do give you free time, but this may not be enough for everyone so be sure to thoroughly review the agenda before booking any tour. I'd say this is the biggest downside to tours but you do you boo~

3. Learn to love yourself and your alone time.
This one is simple. It's ok to be by yourself. Sure, it does get a little lonely at dinnertime, but having some alone time is not a bad thing. As an introvert, I really need my alone time. People make me anxious. It's hard to be around others for too long because sometimes I feel lost in who I am. Traveling is a way of finding yourself. I like to explore new places without having to worry about pleasing others. I just stick in my headphones, turn up the volume, and enjoy the sights around me. Visit a cafe and read a book. Take as long as YOU want in that toy store. Go where YOU want to go. Do what YOU want to do. Eat what YOU want to eat.

I would say I could only handle this for short trips, though. Being by myself for too long does get lonely. For example, I'm staying in London for 6 weeks so I don't want to be by myself for the entire time. I'd go crazy! I'm the only student from my school, I'm living in an airbnb apartment by myself, and I'm here to basically do research in a lab by myself with a professor. It's hard to make friends in this situation... Therefore, I like to take the weekdays to myself and my work project/ relax, and spend my weekends going on tours or the such. It's really a balancing act.

4. Go on that study abroad adventure.
Is this redundant? I don't know. If you're still a student, take advantage of study abroad opportunities! Just because it has the word "study" in it doesn't mean that studying abroad has anything to do with actual studying! It's basically just an excuse to get out of the country and travel around. Going on a study abroad allows you to meet other study abroad students who are also broke and will most likely want to travel with you on a budget. We all got that student debt amiright?? Study abroad experiences are great, too, if your friends from home don't have the same urge to travel. You can go by yourself and meet new friends and have amazing experiences. I would definitely recommend studying abroad to EVERYONE. In all my life, I'd say that my study abroad friends are some of my best friends. Plus, since they're normally from around the world, you have even more of an excuse to travel around later for reunions!

It's not as expensive as you would think, so go for it!

5. If it's a long term traveling experience, visit a local church.
This one may not be for everyone, but as I am a Christian, it's right up my alley. If you are staying in a place for a longer period of time and are out of ideas of how to meet new people, I'd say to visit the local church. You can be like me and google "chinese church in ____, english" or if you're a member of a church, they most likely have a sister church in your destination (ask your pastor about it!). This is also great for students who may be starting uni in a new area or if you just got a job in a place where you don't know anyone.

One thing to note is that you do NOT have to be Christian to go to a church. In fact, let's face it, I want to spend my weekends traveling if I'm in a new country, so instead of church, I just go to small group meetings. These small groups allow you to interact with new people in a more intimate setting. These people will always accept you as a new friend. You would not believe how friendly some people can be. Just visit the church's website and there, you will most likely find instructions on who to email or contact to join a small group. Going to church at least once will also help you meet leaders within the church who can add you to a small group(you'll probably get a free lunch while you're at it!) Small group is not necessarily bible study. In fact, I find most of the time we just end up talking and hanging out, so don't let the religious background scare you.

Like I said, this may not be for everyone, but the church is always willing to accept anyone and give you friends regardless if you're Christian or not. Don't be afraid to try something new. If it isn't for you, don't go again! If you're exploring new religions, it's even better. If you are staying somewhere for long-long term (ie, longer than a couple months) and are dead set on not converting, I would be wary of this option, though. Although they are friendly, the longer you get to know them, the more they will probably try to convert you if you don't make it clear beforehand. So just watch out!

Extra: Film your adventures in a vlog.
Again, not for everyone, but filming a video can take your mind off of being alone since you're able to talk to people through the camera! It's not a bad idea if you're traveling by yourself to just try vlogging it. It can be a little awkward at first to film in public, so try collecting your thoughts when you're home alone first? Who knows, you may end up being a YouTube celebrity by the end of it!

Anyways, I hope this helps! I should be doing work right now.... I'm so behind....
Sheepy out~ <3