Make Life Easier When Travelling Solo - Short Haul

Travelling alone for the first time for me felt so straight forward and easy, honestly it couldn't have gone smoother. It wasn't quite a solo trip to Thailand, Spain is quite local in terms of flight times, it was great experience when I could only rely on myself to travel overseas. When I arrived at the airport I thought how handy it may be to do this post for someone who's about to take their first flight or holiday alone. I know that flying and travelling can be harder for some than others and maybe a few of you will never experience flying alone but, for those of you who are thinking about this then it's worth preparing and knowing what to expect so that it makes your life a little easier on your journey.


Check-In and The Airport.
I flew with RyanAir from Stansted airport to Barcelona and the flight was just under 2 and half hours. The flight was booked through Skyscanner which I can't recommend enough, it's a flight comparison site which allows you to see the cheapest airline to fly with and also which dates. So once you book your flight you'll be given normally two emails. One will be your payment confirmation and the other will be your travel itinerary which shows your reservation code, passenger details, total payment, luggage (if you've checked in), flight times, dates and airport locations. 

To save time I checked in online by downloading the Ryanair app and downloaded my boarding passes to my Apple Wallet on my iPhone. To be honest I would have a paper back up printed out just to be safe in case your phone battery dies or you drop it for example, you'll need your boarding pass several times throughout your flight. 

Information online advises you get to the airport at least two hours before your flight, just to be safe. Now not only was this my first time flying solo but also I chose to park my car at Stansted as well and I just had a feeling this wouldn't be straight forward, oh I was right. With parking I booked this online about a month before my flight date. It was just under £50 for 5 days of parking which isn't too bad I suppose. 

When I started getting closer to the airport I followed signs for short stay and turns out there's two at Stansted for short stay which is the blue and green car park. Long story short, the first car park was closed, the barriers didn't open for my car upon arrival and some staff were very unhelpful and unfriendly. Eh, got there in the end I guess. The car park was really close to being completely full so it took a while to get a spot. When I eventually did I knew that there would be a chance I'd completely forget where I parked, so... I took a few photos. Just for my own reference which would make it ten times easier to make my way back to the car on the way home. I definitely advise doing this if you're going to be in the same situation. 


Parking and Transfers.
After going through passport control and collecting luggage I went to locate the coach for my transfer to the hotel. This was probably the most confusing part of the entire holiday being honest. Make sure you're aware of the coach provider, not the service provider (apparently these are two different things.) Keep these details to hand, either have them written down, printed out or easily accessible on your phone. Your coach provide should have a check-in desk/booth set up within the airport, you can go there for further information.


Flight Clothing.
Wear comfy clothing for your flight. I wore my gym gear and vans - comfy, not too heavy or light for the weather either. There's no need to be wearing your best outfit to and from the airport and definitely don't tight fitted clothing. My flight was only 2.5 hours so it really wasn't long but if you're flying further you want to make your trip as comfortable as possible. 

A backpack was definitely ideal for my holiday too it's so worth having hands free. Just be wary if you're in crowded places or people get closer than necessary when your backpack is on. I plan on taking this backpack to Rome too and I know, like Paris, there are places notorious for pickpockets. Ideally take off your backpack when in more crowded places like the metro.


Hand Luggage and Cosmetics.
Glossier provided the life saver travel bag for makeup with my purchase a few months back. It's perfect for basically all the clutter that you see above. The brushes however are always packed separately, in the cute Minnie Mouse bag on the left (from Primark.) Note I didn't travel with hand luggage, you'll need to ensure all 100ml or less liquids can fit in a clear plastic bag seal able that's no larger than 20x20cm. You can read more about hand luggage restrictions here on the government site. Also it's worth noting that airlines have their own restrictions too when it comes to luggage so always check with your airline in advance if you're unsure about anything.


Dining.
My holiday was half board which meant that I was entitled to the hotel's breakfast and dinner buffet. Now, dining alone certainly isn't for everyone and I did wonder how I would feel about it once I was in that situation. Whether I would feel awkward or just embrace the entire experience of taking this trip solo. The first night was probably the most awkward but after that I would just take down my iPod and always had my phone on me anyway. Getting to the buffet earlier rather than later meant that I wouldn't be looking like the lost puppy trying to find their owner amongst the mass of people. You'll notice couples and families a lot too, depending where you go I guess but this was the case for me. I didn't notice anyone else dining along but by the second night I understood how the dinner was laid out and knew how the service worked. If you think you're not going to be comfortable alone but you'll be in a similar setting as I was, take down your iPod or phone if it makes you feel more at ease whilst eating. Some of you may not even feel the slightest bit of worry, anxiety or awkwardness in this scenario but I know others will - that's perfectly fine, we're not all made to feel the same way in particular situations. You just need to know how to deal with it best yourself.

Getting Around.
Even though I was only in Spain for 4 nights I knew I wanted to make the most of exploring rather than laying by the pool for the entire duration. If that's your thing, go for it. I knew from previous holidays in Spain there's always different rental services around for bikes, mopeds, Segways etc. So on the third day I rented a bike for a couple of hours for 5 Euros and cycled from Cambrils into Salou and just around Salou for a bit. It perhaps only took around ten minutes to get into Salou but it was worth seeing what was around my hotel for such a small cost. 

On the second day I took a bus into Cambrils town for a few hours which cost 4 Euros for a return on the bus. The stop was just outside my hotel but getting back was the most confusing I just had to look out for where the bus was passing as there was no timetable. If you're happy and confident enough just ask the locals and your hotel reception, most people are happy to help you out although I did find a few weren't quite as happy to assist and slightly rude - but you get these people everywhere, right? 

As I landed in Barcelona I knew that I wanted to come back during my stay and explore the city. Prior to leaving the UK I looked into train routes from Cambrils to Barelona and at 20 Euros this didn't seem bad so I was set on it. However, on one of my evening strolls I noticed a lot of shops selling excursions to Barcelona for tours, the aquarium and the zoo. For 24.95 Euros I could get picked up straight outside my hotel and dropped off later that evening, this was far more convenient than the train. The excursion also included a tour whilst on the coach of Barcelona but being honest I wouldn't recommend this as the woman giving the tour spoke three languages and it all seemed quite a lot of blabbering. What I much prefer is the hop-on hop-off bus tours that you'll find in a lot of cities these are also convenient and allows you to get off the bus and go for a wander as well. With this tour in Barcelona we only got two hours to take a look in the city which was just amongst the shopping really - although I'm not complaining, seeing Sephora was a good surprise. Barcelona is so much of a larger scale than I thought, I really didn't anticipate how much of Barcelona I wouldn't see. Just means I'll need to take a trip back then eh.

Last few tips...

Flights
Momondo and Skyscanner are great for comparing prices agmonst airlines. Also, if you're flexible within the year you can see which month is the cheapest time to fly.

Transfers
Sometimes you might find it more convenient to take an Uber or Taxi to reach your accomodation. It can work out slightly more expensive but remember with transfers normally there are several drops before your own.

Travel insurance
I highly reccomend getting travel insurance. You'll pay such a small fee and you really never know what can happen whilst you're away. Use Moneysupermaket to compare with providers and get the best deal. When booking a package holiday, like I did, they will often give you the option to add insurance for a small fee so there's no need to worry about sorting this out after.

Essentials for gadgets
When I think about it I took quite a few gadgets. iPod, iPhone, Nikon camera and my Macbook. Things to remember are batteries, chargers, travel adaptors and your SD card. Other things might be a tripod, external hard drive, portable charger and smartphone cables.

Paperwork
If you don't have your boardingpass or flight details on your phone, have these to hand. Using a documet wallet (super cheap, found in supermarkets or stationery stores) to keep all your A4 paper together. I used this in Disney on my first trip as we were given a lot of additional documents during our stay which included food passes and other vouchers.

Make sure you know your accomodation's address
When my brother and I went to Paris last August I had our hotel written down on a sheet of paper and kept this in my purse, which of course was with me at all times. I knew we would be travelling around the city and I'd never used the Metro before. We also used Uber several times and if the driver's weren't good with English I would show them the paper - honestly this was a life saver.

Prescrptions and medication
Without fail I always pack paracetamol and plasters. I know these are pretty easy to obtain abroad but you can get these for such a small cost in the UK why bother faffing around trying to locate them abroad. Remember any prescriptions you have, especially if you take these daily. Even things like my contact lense solution and spare contacts I almost forgot.

Take cash and your card as a backup
You may think you have enough in cash but definitely take a debit or credti card too. Check with your bank for prices in terms of withdrawal or transfer rates too. Also some banks require to know that you're travelling otherwise they'll decline your card for security reasons of course. There's also travel money cards which allow you to place a certain amount onto this card and you can withdraw in the local currency, just Google 'travel money cards.'

Honestly there's so much to cover for just a flight itself and all airlines and airports are slightly different to each other but this is just an overall from my personal experience. If you do have other questions I'll be happy to answer if I can, just get in touch over on my socials or by leaving a comment below. Have a safe and happy trip! x
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