A guide to solo travelling

As a pitiful LSE student who takes too many econ modules every year, this is definitely a first: believe it or not, I’ve been blessed with a full reading week for the first time ever! Sitting in the library every day and catching up on all the lectures and problem sets that I’ve missed sounds wise, but come on – what would you say to a spontaneous solo trip to Berlin?!

So after my short stay in Berlin, here are some of my tips for other adventurous souls who are planning on travelling alone. What are you waiting for? Pack up your bag, girl. Let’s go! 

Berliner Fernsehturm – TV tower in Berlin
Photography by Alina Chen

Do:

  1. First and foremost, travelling during the pandemic can be a bit of a hassle. Make sure you fully understand the COVID-19 rules of the country you are travelling to, as to avoid any potential disappointment. 
  2. Minimise the time spent on all the touristy stuff. Ride their public transport, visit their thrift stores, try their funkiest restaurant or pub, sit outside an edgy cafe and smoke a fag… Solo travelling has so much potential because you don’t need to make any compromises. You can do whatever you want in a foreign country and all on your own and nobody cares – just how cool does that sound!

An interesting pub in Mitte, Berlin
Photograph by Alina Chen
  1. If it’s not too out of your comfort zone, go on dating apps and meet locals who would be willing to show you around. They know all the best places to go and you will have a great time! You never know, maybe you will come back with the cutest holiday romance story to tell all your friends about!
  2. Remember to bring a portable charger, especially if you, like me, have no sense of direction whatsoever and have to rely on Google Maps every step of the way. You don’t want to be begging your phone battery’s last 1% not to bail on you as you navigate your way around a foreign city in the middle of the night. 

Berlin Cathedral
Photograph by Alina Chen
  1. Plan your journey! I landed in Berlin in the late evening and all the shops and restaurants were closed. I only had a giant bag of Haribo in my bag to nibble on, while I waited for my Uber Eats burger and chips delivery to arrive. I know, what a way to explore the food scene in Berlin! 

Don’t:

  1. I hate to sound like your grandma, but please drink responsibly, especially when you need to head back to your room on your own. Have fun but stay safe! I made the mistake of falling asleep after drinking on empty stomach while my date was literally waiting downstairs in the lobby for me to pick him up. Great times! 
  2. Screenshot or even print out your boarding pass just in case. Yes, everything went relatively smoothly for me until I reached the designated gate at Berlin Brandenburg airport, ready to get on the flight and go home. For some reason, I could not for the life of me pull up my boarding pass on my Ryanair account and I didn’t even have a screenshot of the barcode. There was a lot of unnecessary stressing and sweating, while I stood next to the staff like a primary school kid getting punished, trying to work out what on earth went wrong!
Graffiti
Photograph by Alina Chen
  1. If you are travelling to an EU country with a UK passport, don’t make a joke of yourself and assume that you can get through passport control in the queue for EU passports. You don’t wanna be like the three British lads I saw at the German border. Yeah, one of them went up and… Beep!! Unfortunately, voting leave has its consequences and they had to come all the way back and line up all over again in the ‘all passports’ queue. 
  2. Double check the dates when you are booking flights and hotels. You don’t want to be booking a super expensive emergency flight the day before your planned departure, because you accidentally booked a flight for the next month. 
  3. Don’t waste time on things you could do basically anywhere. There was so much to see in Berlin – it is a city rich in history and culture. Visiting the Holocaust memorial was an important experience. You can get a drink anywhere, so make sure you’re making the most out of things that are specific to wherever you go! 
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Photograph by Alina Chen

Anyway, best of luck! I can assure you that you can still have so much fun travelling without your family and friends. It is a character affirming experience and I loved it! 

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