These are my top tips and advice for solo travelers when alone at airports, stations and trains.
One of the biggest predicaments for solo travel is during transportation from one destination to another. Whether it’s coping with the anxiety of traveling all alone or traveling in general, the anxiety of figuring out the way. Or the logistics of timing and having to watch over your belongings at all times. And as simple as what to do, where to do it and how to do things while waiting or transporting. In this post I will talk about my top tips for traveling alone on “transportation days”, which I learned during my recent travels to Austria and London.
1. Travel light
I wrote a whole post about packing for a solo Eurotrip (and a whole other one about list making)… One of the reasons why it’s so important to learn how to pack properly for a solo trip, is that doing so will make transport days that much easier and simpler. Learning how to pack, means packing efficiently, in such a way that you don’t over-pack. The reason it’s so important for travel days, is that it’s so much easier to get from one place to another. You’re not schlepping things around and struggling the whole way to your destination. And if you’re waiting to board your plane or train, you can easily take your belongings with you into a bathroom stall. Which you can’t do if you have way too big or too many suitcases. In addition, it’s not as heavy and you don’t take up too much space.
2. Find companions
Having travel companions is beneficial all around… They provide company so you don’t get lonely or bored. Finding someone to travel with can also make the whole process easier, especially if you suffer from anxiety. Whether it’s helping you get around and mapping your way correctly. Or having someone to watch your belongings while you go to the restroom, which is especially useful if you’re on a train and can’t take your suitcase into the toilet.
3. Find the perfect spot
Especially if you have a long wait for your plane or train, make sure to find a good sport for you to sit. First, somewhere where you can potentially sit for a few hours without being bothered too much or constantly having to move. If you need a socket, find a place that has one, even if you have to spend a bit more time doing so. Also, make sure it’s comfortable and you can physically sit there for a while. If you can find a good spot by the restrooms, it’s the best solution… As you can ask someone to watch your things and you won’t have to worry for long, as you’re nearby. Or, you can take your things with you and not have to drag it a long way.
4. Don’t over-drink
I don’t mean you should dehydrate yourself, but also don’t drink too much so you constantly need to use the restroom. Having to go to the toilet on travel days is difficult enough, whether it’s at the airport or train station and you need to take all of your belongings with you… Or if you’re on the train and have no choice but to leave your belongings unattended while you go to the toilet. Not to mention, it’s super annoying if you have to stop what you’re doing every time you have to go.
5. Stay occupied
This is an important tip for when you’re feeling anxious or especially bored. Make sure to prepare in advance. So if you’re about to board a plane, download some episodes or movies on Netflix, or any other streaming service you have. If that’s not your thing, buy some sudoku or crossword puzzles. Download some games onto your phone, tablet or laptop. You can also do some reading, I also love buying a nice, new book at the airport. Which makes it a bit more fun. If you like writing, a flight, train ride or waiting for one of them, is a great time to do so. Whatever it is, staying occupied can help distract you from any worries, anxiety or boredom you may feel. It will obviously also help pass the time quicker. If you’re a remote worker like me, airports and train stations are usually great places to sit and work.
6. Timing is everything
Many times we don’t have a choice but to book a train or flight at a certain time. However, whenever you can, make sure to choose the right time for you. If you’re more prone to anxiety at night, choose a day trip if you can, even if it’s a bit more expensive. It’s worth the investment. Also, try to make it either early in the day, or late in the day… So you can take advantage of the day either before you travel or at your destination. If you book for the afternoon, you’ll likely burn the day away on either side. Which is okay, but a shame if you can pick a better time. Personally, I like leaving in the morning, as I don’t like to get to a new place in the dark. Especially if you’re checking into a dorm room, you’re less likely to be able to choose the perfect bed for you.
7. Don’t be over-stingy
As I mentioned above, saving a few bucks on a plane ticket or train ride isn’t worth it if it burns your day away or makes you anxious. I understand that not everyone can afford it, or that you may want to try and save wherever you can, so you can travel for longer… Personally I’d rather travel less time, if it means I get to do so without feeling anxious or rushed, and get to actually enjoy it. What’s the point if you’re just going to slum it and probably suffer while doing so. Every trip is a trip of a lifetime… So while I don’t think you should splurge at every turn, you also shouldn’t be stingy. And allow yourself to indulge every so often.
8. Don’t spread out too much
While spreading out is fun, it also makes it so much trickier, when it’s difficult enough to begin with. Having to keep an eye out and take care of your belongings while traveling alone is hard enough. Don’t make it even more difficult by spreading out and getting too many things out. Which will also probably make a mess of your packing and take longer to fold up. Keep it simple, only take out what you really need, so you can be more efficient. So if you need to go to the toilet it won’t take you forever every time, and waste so much more time and energy. And most importantly, you will feel more safe when you have a minimal amount of belonging out, and it’s easier to keep an eye out for it all.
9. Keep your essentials at hand
In addition to not spreading out too much, also make sure to have what you need at hand and easy to fish out. I like to take a canvas bag with my laptop, chargers, wallet and any other essentials I may need while traveling. That way it’s so much simpler and easier to just get out what I need, then put it back quicker… Without having to start opening up my suitcase or backpack and making a mess. Which is also a shame after you spent so much time packing it all away properly.
10. Prepare food in advance
Whether you cook at home / airbnb / hostel, or buy food at a supermarket or restaurant, make sure to come prepared. Most flights these days (or at least the cheap charter ones) don’t serve food, and if they do it’s expensive. And usually disgusting. At airports the food is also very expensive. Travel days are stressful enough, so going hungry is just unnecessarily making it more difficult. Most supermarkets in Europe also sell cheap readymade food and sandwiches, so it makes it so much easier to do.
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