How People React When I Travel Solo

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A while ago I wrote a sort of ‘FAQ’ of what people ask me when they discover I’m a K-Pop fan [x] so I thought it’d be fun to write a similar one for when people find out I’m going somewhere by myself. I’m sure most solo travellers can relate.

“Won’t you get lonely?”

This is probably the top thing that people ask me and the simple answer is no, probably not. I’m quite used to spending time by myself and truthfully I feel lonelier when I’m in the company of the wrong people rather than by myself. I’m a bit of an introvert so the interactions with people who sell attraction tickets, food, souvenirs etc. is usually more than enough for me. If I do particularly want to talk to someone I can get in touch with my friends and family, I’m not completely cut off from the rest of the world.

If I’m going out for food then a book is more than enough company for me. If I’m travelling abroad I’m normally far too busy throughout the day to begin to feel lonely. In the evenings when I get back to my hotel I’m fine to just chill by myself, I don’t particularly need anybody else’s company. In fact it’s often quite nice to get away from people for a few days.

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In the rare occasions I have felt lonely it’s fleeting and normally caused by something else. I usually feel quite lonely in the moments between the airport and checking into the hotel because I’m worried about not being able to find it and I would wish there was someone there to help me. Other than that, I’m normally fine!

“There’s safety in numbers!”

This is something my Dad said the first time I told him I was going abroad by myself. I suppose it’s true to an extent because although my Mom keeps in touch with me regularly it could be hours before she finally twigged that something had happened to me (although nothing has as of yet, fingers crossed!). But equally I’ve been in dodgy situations with my friends – probably more than I have by myself.

Ultimately, the case I argue is that, if we apply this logic to every situation then I am in danger just walking to work in the morning. Popping to the shop. Weirdly, my Dad’s quite chill about me visiting London but the moment I have to get on a plane he hits the roof. London’s just as dangerous as any other city, probably more so with everything I’ve been hearing about the place lately. I’m not an idiot, I do take safety precautions but you have to accept there is risk no matter where you are.

“Aren’t you nervous?”

For a trip to London or anywhere around the UK no, not really. Going abroad, yeah sure, I do get nervous. I’m a nervous flyer and going to countries where the spoken language isn’t English does give me anxiety. It won’t stop me from going though.

I usually find that all I need is to spend the first night in my hotel and then by the next day I’m all good. I still get nervous when doing stuff like ordering food, asking for tickets to attractions etc. but like you just push through it for the sake of having a good time. I never look back at a trip and think ‘oh God I was so nervous the whole time, it was horrendous’ I always leave having had an amazing time.

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“I could never do that.”

I get this phrase a lot and most of the time it doesn’t bother me. If I’m talking about a solo trip abroad or even to London at a push then sure, fair enough. But when I tell my colleagues my after work plans are a trip to Wetherspoons by myself for dinner and they respond with this I sort of wonder like… How they live? If you’ve nipped out to do some shopping by yourself and you get hungry, do you not like… Go and get food? By yourself?

During a recent conversation with my friends they revealed they can’t even go to Shrewsbury (which is a short train journey away from our home town) by themselves and had a laugh about it and questioned how I can do things alone. It’s weird how they don’t understand yet I can’t understand how they can bare not being able to do something as simple as that on their own.

I’m someone who actually really values their alone time like every couple of weeks I love going out by myself to have dinner and then going to watch a movie. I know it’s literally none of my business but it does stress me out when people are like “OOOOOOH HOW DO YOU DO THAT!?” like sis, how do you not?

“You’re so brave!”

I’ve never particularly thought of it as being brave. It’s just part of life. We can’t be with people 24/7, we all have times where we’re on our own – why is it different if I spent that time alone in Romania rather than here in the UK? I know people mean this as a compliment but truthfully it just freaks me out. When every single person says it when you tell them your plans it gets in your head and you start wondering if you are putting yourself in danger. Well, that’s how I find it anyway.

“Did you hear a tourist got stabbed whilst in ‘country I’m visiting’?”

This really winds me up because crime happens in literally every part of the world. Nowhere is a crime free zone. People are stabbed or killed in my home town, why would I stress about it anymore than usual when visiting a different part of the world? Especially since often the story involves the tourist going back to a stranger’s house – something I have never and doubt I will ever do.

Similarly a couple of weeks before we went to Japan I was met with comments from colleagues and family of “Ooh have you seen there’s a typhoon there at the moment, you’d best be careful!” People were getting stressed a full two weeks before I was due to travel. Maybe it’s a British thing to be fair as our weather is normally quite mild so just the thought of a typhoon makes us freak out. But believe it or not Japan have typhoons regularly and know how to deal with them. Whilst in Japan we had a typhoon and it was interesting because all the foreign news outlets were like “THIS TYPHOON HAS DEVESTATED JAPAN” whereas Japan were like “It happened, time to move on now”.

I’m sure people mean well when they warn me about murdered tourists and potential holiday-ruining weather but honestly it just winds me up. It gets me all stressed out completely unnecessarily.

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“What made you pick that country? It’s not somewhere I’d like to visit.”

Probably the best thing about humanity is that we’re all individuals and all like different things. I don’t understand how you can survive on just a yearly two-week long holiday to Spain year after year Belinda but I don’t question it as that’s your choice.

I’m being a bit harsh, some people ask because they’re genuinely curious and don’t mock your answers. My Dad asks because he’s a bit racist and can’t understand why I’d want to visit countries like Poland and Romania. He makes comments about places I’m visiting when he himself has never set foot in them. Really winds me up. He made so many comments about Poland and I found the people there were some of the nicest I’ve ever met.

I got that a lot with Japan, especially from old people “Why Japan? Why do you want to go there?” My explanations of the culture being very different to the UK simply didn’t satisfy their questions. I don’t know! I just wanted to go to bloody Japan! I’ve wanted to go for years! And then when you’re done explaining and they’re like “Nah, it’s not the type of place I’d like to go.” Okay, so don’t go? I’m not asking you to change your mind, I’m just explaining why I’d like to go.

Again, I am being a bit harsh, when most people say stuff like this it doesn’t bother me too much. But some people do really irritate me with their questions. My Dad and my Nan (on my Dad’s side) are both guilty of this.

“If I was your age I’d probably do the same.”

I’m 22 and although I’ve travelled around the UK solo since I was 18 I’ve only began abroad travelling at the age of 21. But I don’t see why my age should be a factor.

Okay, sure, some people older than me do have things to think about that I wouldn’t. For example childcare, they can’t just get up and go somewhere as they please. But those who don’t have children or whose children have grown up now – why don’t you just go? Nothing winds me up more than when someone says “I really wanna go to this place but no one wants to come with me” THEN JUST GO ON YOUR OWN IF YOU REALLY WANT TO GO THERE! I’ve said it before but like fair enough if you don’t want to get on a plane and go off by yourself, I can see why. But just going to London or something, even if it’s just for the day, shouldn’t be that difficult.

This especially gets me when older people are like “I’ve always wanted to visit [country]”. I feel like asking why they haven’t. I’d always wanted to visit Japan and the moment I had enough money I went. What’s the point in wasting time? If you like the look of somewhere and have been thinking about it for a while then get up and go.

I can see why some people can’t which will lead me into my next frequently asked question…

“How can you afford all these trips?”

I suppose other than the loneliness question this is the top question I get asked. The main factor is that like most of my friends I still live with my parents. I buy all my own stuff and pay my parents rent but it’s still significantly cheaper than if I moved out – which is why I’m currently in no hurry to get my own place even though it would mean getting away from my dickhead step-dad.

Secondly, I work. Like an awful lot. My main job is Monday – Friday 9 – 5 and now that I’m no longer an apprentice I earn a decent amount. Nothing annoys me more than when people moan about how much I earn – I suffered for a year on £3.50 an hour to earn what I earn now and it’s not tons as I’m still only admin. On top of that job I’m also a care worker – I do casual work for an agency but also get paid for looking after my older brother with learning difficulties so I pick up any extra shifts that I can.

Thirdly, I know how to get good deals on flights and hotels. When I went to Poland it cost me £30 for flights and around £18 for a hostel. The main factor was spending money and I took about £150. It was a relatively cheap holiday. Sure not everywhere is so cheap but as I’m not fussy about where I will and won’t go I can get some good deals. I know what I’m looking for and what I’m doing.

Finally, I prioritise travelling so of course I can afford it. I’m not fussed about having expensive, designer clothes or shoes, I don’t wear make-up etc. I prioritise spending my money on flights, hotels and spending money for trips. I can afford it because I want to afford it.

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So there we have it, I think that pretty much covers the frequently asked questions – other than the obvious like “ooh where are you going” “what time’s your flight” but those are destination specific questions. If there’s any questions/things people say to you when you tell them you’re travelling then feel free to leave a comment!

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Favourite K-Pop Subunit Songs

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One thing that threw me off when I first got into K-Pop were subunits. I’d never realised they were a thing and was confused when I couldn’t hear all the girls voices in Girls’ Generation’s ‘Twinkle’ – until I realised this was because it was a subunit and only three of the members were in it! So I figured I’d write a list of my favourite subunit songs!

10. Pristin V (Pristin) – Get It

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I was waiting for Pristin to have a group comeback last year but unfortunately they didn’t. However they did debut their subunit ‘Pristin V’ and their song ‘Get It’ was pretty good. My friend Jess really loved it and for a while it was the only song she’d play while I was in her car. It is a good song and the MV’s really good!

9. EXO-CBX (EXO) – Kaching!

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I can’t remember why but me and my friends Becca and Jess once spent an evening watching the MVs for the cringiest K-Pop songs we could find. This was one of the first songs they recommended and to be fair it’s a bad song but like in a way that it’s so bad it’s good. I’m pretty sure it’s a Japanese release and I don’t know, even though it’s so bad I can’t help but like it.

8. Oh My Girl Banana (Oh My Girl) – Banana Allergy Monkey

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I don’t care what anybody says, I love this song! The dance is really cute, the song is really catchy and I love the MV. I’m glad the other members got to get involved in some way and it wasn’t just focused on the three subunit members. I haven’t been a big fan of Oh My Girl’s recent full-group songs unfortunately so I’m glad they tried something different for their subunit. It was a bit hit and miss with the public but it was a hit with me!

7. LOONA xxyx (LOONA) – love4eva

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From the moment LOONA were announced I wanted to be a fan. I didn’t really keep up with each member being introduced but I was eagerly anticipating their debut. Now I’m normally a fan of cute songs but I just didn’t particularly like ‘Hi High’. So far the only LOONA song I really like is this one. The MV is aesthetic goals and the song is awesome. I will keep trying with LOONA because I want to love their songs!

6. Bastarz (Block B) – Zero for Conduct

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A couple of years ago me and my friend Becca saw Block B in London (we got a wave off Kyung and Zico acknowledged our existence, it was a good night) and they played this song. It was one of the most lit songs from the entire night. I’m so glad I got to see it live, I love this song so much. I don’t think I liked it from the first listen ‘cos when I first got into K-Pop I kept thinking songs were ‘too intense’ but I soon learnt to love it.

5. Orange Caramel (After School) – Catallena

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I’ve mentioned this before but this was technically the first K-Pop song I heard but I don’t count it because I actually thought it was J-Pop. I was just becoming a fan of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu when this song came up in the recommended and I decided to give it a go. I didn’t really like it at first listen, it’s one of those K-Pop songs that I will admit is a bit strange. After a few listens though I love it and it’s pretty much iconic at this point. What a good song. I love Orange Caramel to be honest, they have some great songs like ‘Lipstick’, ‘My Copycat’ and ‘Aing!’. They’re such a good subunit!

4. TTS (Girls’ Generation) – Twinkle

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When I first listened to this I got confused about why I couldn’t pick out the other girls voices. I hadn’t been a fan of Girls’ Generation or K-Pop for that long so I didn’t know about subunits but I could pick Sunny’s voice out of most songs. When I couldn’t hear her in this I got confused until I noticed the ‘TTS’ written after ‘Girls’ Generation’ and realised it was a subunit made up of members Taeyeon, Tiffany and Seohyun. SM aren’t very creative with their subunit names, are they? Anyway TTS are some amazing vocalists and have some good songs but my favourite is probably ‘Twinkle’. ‘Dear Santa’ comes a close second followed by ‘Holler’. They just have some awesome songs!

3. Hwasa & Moonbyul (Mamamoo) – Dab Dab

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I will argue until the end of time that this song was way better than Solar and Wheein’s ‘Angel’. I’m getting better with slow songs but oh my god, it was boring! Although I did like ‘Dab Dab’ from the beginning it took me a while to properly ‘love’ it but now I do. I’m not much of a fan of the studio version as it seems a bit… I don’t know, dull? Lifeless? The live version was so energetic and so I keep listening to that one instead of the studio version. I’d love to hear it live one day but I doubt that will ever happen.

2. BTS Vocal Line (BTS) – The Truth Untold

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I’ve mentioned it before but I don’t particularly like slow songs. I get a bit bored and I prefer something more upbeat and energetic. There are however certain slow songs I will listen to and this one is one of them. To be truthful I find it hard to get into other songs on the album that aren’t the title track so I only gave this one a listen because it was on the set list for the concert I was going to. I quickly ended up loving it and now I listen to it all the time. I love it so much!

1. Strawberry Milk (Crayon Pop) – OK

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I loved this song from the first moment I heard it and love pretty much everything about it. I know the entire dance because I love it, the MV is so cute and so much fun, and the song itself is just amazing. I listened to it on the day I was heading to a convention and over the weekend if there was a break during the con I would head up to my hotel room and listen to this song because I just loved it. It’s definitely my favourite subunit song!

Feel free to leave your favourite subunit songs in the comments!

Top 10 Places I’d Love to Visit: Updated

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A while ago I made a list of the top ten cities I’d love to visit someday [x]. After ticking off a couple I think I have a new list. Japan was always my top travel destination and now that I’ve ticked that off I’m not sure which my number one destination would be so this list isn’t in any particular order as I still haven’t picked my number one replacement place yet! To be truthful there aren’t many places I wouldn’t want to visit but this list is what I’m going to try and prioritise!

Rome, Italy

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Interestingly me and my friends have been on about Italy for a while but have never actually booked to go. It’s one of those places that I feel like I can’t go to on my own because we all want to go so I feel like I need to wait until we all go. When I started my job as an apprentice my mentor was in Rome and when she came back she told me it had been an amazing trip. My manager’s off to Rome in a couple of months and I’m insanely jealous.

I’ve heard a lot about Italy because my Dad loves the place. Him and his wife went on a month long trip to Italy where they travelled to different locations on my Dad’s motorbike and he sent photos every day in a group chat he’d started on Whatsapp called ‘braggy trip’ and I must admit they did look good. I just love the history aspect of Rome and would love to visit one day. I’m sure me and my friends will go eventually!

Berlin, Germany

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I’d mentioned wanting to visit Berlin a few years ago but haven’t had the opportunity yet. Two of my best friends went for a concert and said they absolutely loved it so it’s only made me want to go even more. I’ve had a look at prices of flights a couple of times but haven’t actually booked to go yet. I definitely will at some point because I’ve been on about it since me and my friends got back from Amsterdam in 2017. It’s not too far from England either so I’m definitely going to sort that out eventually!

Vancouver, Canada

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I don’t know what draws me to Canada so much but I just know that I’d love to visit one day. My old manager was from Canada and she told me a little bit about it and it does sound interesting. However I’m aware that Canada is a massive place so I specifically would love to visit Vancouver at some point.

I much prefer big cities to small towns (like the place I’m from) so I feel like Vancouver would be perfect. I’ve been looking at things to do in the city and it just looks like a place where there would always be something to do. The woman I used to sit next to at work has been to Vancouver and said it was amazing. When I have enough money I’m definitely booking my flight and going!

Athens, Greece

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I have been to Greece before – me, Jess and Becca surprised Hirst with a trip to Crete for her 21st birthday. We hired a car and drove through the island and basically had an amazing time. However I’d love to visit Athens because from what I’ve seen it looks absolutely amazing. I’ve been a bit reluctant to go on my own because there was little to no public transport in Crete so we’d had no choice but to hire a car – I can’t drive and even if I could I’d get so stressed driving over there, shout-out to Jess for handling the roads like a pro. Even when we nearly started sliding down that hill on the way to the monastery.

I’m pretty sure my friends would also like to go to Athens so I’m sure we will one day!

Bangkok, Thailand

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Jess’ Dad goes to Thailand every year for three months, sometimes more so he clearly loves the place. I’m not sure which part he goes to but as I love cities I wouldn’t mind visiting Bangkok. A lady at work is currently in Thailand and another girl asked me how we’d gone about planning our trip to Japan because she was interested in going to Thailand so it’s clearly a popular place. It’s definitely on my travel list and I intend to tick it off eventually – when I have the money!

Helsinki, Finland

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For some reason I’ve started planning my birthday very early this year so that I’m not stuck for what to do as the day approaches – I played around with the idea of going away by myself and for some reason Helsinki seemed like a good idea. I looked at tons of places within Europe but when I looked up what there was to do in Helsinki, I don’t know, I just thought it would be an interesting place.

Fun fact, I used to be friends with a guy from Finland. I say friends; we used to talk online because we met on the My Chemical Romance website. His name was Otto and he was a pretty neat guy. So, yeah, anyway… I’d love to visit Helsinki one day!

Beijing, China

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It’s on my bucket list to walk on the Great Wall of China and I am determined to do that one day. I looked at the visa process for China and to be honest got so confused and stressed that I gave up. Also you have to like register yourself in the country within 24 hours of arriving and the site was like ‘if you stay in a hotel they’ll do it for you’ but what if they don’t and you get arrested? I’m probably really over-thinking this.

I imagine there’s so much to see and do in China that if I can ever figure out the visa process I’d love to go!

Hong Kong, China

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This is another part of China I’d love to visit and luckily you don’t need to apply for a visa if you’re visiting Hong Kong for less than six months. There’s a travel blog I love to read and she’s visited Hong Kong several times and doesn’t seem to have gotten bored of it yet. I’ve been having a cheeky look at what there is to do over there and quite a lot, it looks like an amazing city to visit. Definitely one that I’ll eventually tick off my list!

Prague, Czech Republic

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We nearly surprised Hirst with a trip to Prague for her birthday but in the end due to dates and money we settled on going to Crete instead. I also nearly went to Prague by myself to see 24K but due to time and money settled on going to Paris instead. Last December I decided I wanted to go on a Christmas trip so Googled the best places in Europe to go and a lot of sites recommended Prague so I’m considering going this December but it’ll depend on money and annual leave.

Prague isn’t too far from the UK so it shouldn’t be impossible to book a trip there so I think this will be a bit easier than some of the other locations on my list. I’m looking forward to it!

Taipei, Taiwan

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When I was in Year Six at primary school a new girl joined our year and me and my best friend at the time immediately became friends with her. She’d moved to England from Taiwan and often told us things about it. 11 year old me really wanted to visit but when I moved to Secondary School I unfortunately lost touch with this friend and didn’t think too much about her or Taiwan. Now that I’m older and looking at new places to visit I’ve decided I’d actually really love to visit Taiwan.

At the moment I’m thinking it’s number one on my list but I’m not too sure – it’s so weird that Japan’s ticked off, I don’t know what to replace it with! But I definitely want to visit Taiwan at some point, I’m sure it’ll be amazing.

So there we go, my top 10 places that I’d love to visit which I definitely intend to one day! Feel free to leave a comment of anywhere you’d love to go.

The Wanderlust Tag

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It’s no secret that I love travelling and I love doing tags so I decided to complete ‘The Wanderlust Tag’ today to combine them both! Hope you enjoy my answers.

Your most treasured passport stamp?

It’s not technically a stamp, it’s a sticker but the one issued to me in Japan. I’d been longing to go for so long and it still doesn’t feel like I really did so I’m glad I have the sticker in my passport to prove it! I don’t get many stamps since when travelling around Europe you’re not really issued one. I’m sad that South Korea just give you a little piece of paper and don’t even stick it in your passport.

Can you recite your passport number from memory if asked?

No but I do keep a photocopy of my passport saved on my phone in case I’m stupid enough to lose it whilst I’m abroad.

Preferred method of travel: plane, train or automobile?

I’m a nervous flyer but I can’t deny that planes are super convenient as they can get you to a different country so quickly. It took me about three hours to get from England to Romania, that’s the same amount of time as if I was travelling from my home town to London by train! Crazy. I like trains if I’m travelling with Virgin to London but sometimes they can be a bit grotty. I’m not really a fan of cars ‘cos I get anxiety but they are convenient. For travelling my preferred method is usually plane.

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Top three travel items?

Other than the essentials (like money and passport etc) mine would be the following –

– Amazon Fire Tablet – my Mom bought it me for Christmas with the idea that I could watch movies and stuff whilst travelling. It was great to watch a movie on the way to Romania and back, it made the flights go a lot quicker. I’ll always be taking that with me in future if I’m travelling solo.

– My phone – without Google Maps I won’t be going anywhere, I use the camera on my phone to take photo after photo, and I keep in touch with my Mom whenever I’m away so she knows I’m okay and not like you know dead or anything. I also keep my instagram story updated so everyone can see I’m having a good time.

– A book – even when travelling with friends I always bring a good book because you never know when you’re gonna need it! On the way back from South Korea we had a long layover in Turkey and I was glad I had my book with me to finish off because we were all too tired to talk to each other at the point.

Hostel or hotel?

If money is no objection then hotel every time. I use hostels when I absolutely need to, like I did in Poland and will do again when I go to Dublin. It’s not ideal and I do have moments of ‘why the hell have I booked a hostel’ but they’re a lot cheaper than a hotel which to me is the important part. If I was given a choice though I’d usually always quick hotel.

Are you a repeat visitor or do you explore new places?

I used to go to London pretty much every month because I was in love with the city but now I’d rather spend my money on visiting other cities abroad. I still go to London for things like concerts and shows but I wouldn’t go just for the purpose of sight-seeing. I’ve been back to Paris a couple of times but I’ve only been to Paris for concerts – obviously I’ve done some sight-seeing whilst I was there but I’ve never gone just for that purpose. So unless I’m going somewhere for a specific event I like to explore new places.

There are places I’d like to go back to one day (Japan, Amsterdam, South Korea, Greece, Lithuania) but I want to tick off as many other places as possible first.

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Do you read up on your destination (culture, history, safety) or just wing it?

I read up on things like safety, whether I need a visa etc before booking the trip. I normally impulse book places and then read up on what there is to do there – I should start looking at that before booking so I can get an accurate idea of how long I think I need there. I plan an itinerary and follow that whilst I’m away – not strictly, I can stop and get food or stop if I see something whilst out and about.

In Japan we planned each day so precisely that it left little room to stray from the itinerary but I didn’t feel like anything was rushed and it meant we got to see everything that was important to us.

I want to book a trip where I find out the location at the airport but I’m worried it’ll stress me out – not having an itinerary, how will I know how to make the most of my time whilst I’m away?

Favourite travel website?

I don’t really have one. When looking for things to do I mostly just scroll through tripadvisor and see what everyone recommends. If anyone has any travel website recommendations then please hit me up!

Where would you recommend a friend visit? Name a city and why.

I would recommend Tokyo in Japan to pretty much everyone because I just loved everything about it. It’s definitely top of my favourite places I’ve ever visited and I just recommend it so much.

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You’re leaving tomorrow; money is no option, where are you going?

I’d try and plan a tour so that I hit several places. If I could only pick one country though at the moment I wouldn’t mind go to Taipei in Taiwan. I’m not sure why but it’s top of my list at the moment!

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So there we go, ‘The Wanderlust Tag’! Feel free to leave your answers in the comments or a link to your own ‘Wanderlust Tag’ because I’d love to read them!

Travel Fails: Romania Edition

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My first trip of 2019 was to Bucharest, a trip that I booked shortly after returning from Asia and Paris last October. That was my last trip of 2018, I was sad it was all over and I wanted something to look forward to. I’d hated January in 2018 so I decided that to brighten up the month a bit I’d book a trip away. I’d been on about Romania for a while so without overthinking it I booked the flights and hotel, and soon I was off!

I was quite proud of myself on that first day. The bit that stresses me out the most about solo travel is getting from the airport to my hotel – I get into such a panic like what if I can’t find it and I just have to walk the streets for three days? That’s never happened of course but that is the most stressful part for me. I could’ve booked a shuttle from the hotel to the airport but since I have car anxiety I wasn’t going to risk the person picking me up driving like a maniac. So I decided to catch the bus.

After a moment of stressing I found the bus station and asked the driver if he was going to my stop to which he just looked confused and shook his head. I started to get worried but bought my bus ticket and sat down anyway as Google Maps had advised me this was the correct bus. Luckily there was a list of stops on the wall outside the bus so I checked those against the ones on Google Maps – although my stop wasn’t listed outside the stop before mine was listed. Crisis averted, I’d just get off there instead and walk a bit further. I was proud of myself for figuring that out.

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As it was quite late I didn’t do much on my first evening, I checked into my hotel, had a general nose around the area and got some dinner before heading back for an early night. It was the next morning when crisis struck.

The morning didn’t start out great when I woke up and realised my phone hadn’t charged overnight. The plug converter had popped out of the socket at some point and my phone was now sitting on 30%. I plugged it in while I went down for breakfast but forgot I was in a room where the electricity didn’t work unless the card was in the slot. Luckily my new phone charges quite quickly and doesn’t drain fast so when it got to 70% I decided to risk it. I hadn’t brought my power bank with me ‘cos my phone had lasted every day in Japan and I was certain it would in Romania. I’m such an idiot.

I set off for my first destination which was something I’d seen online. It was an umbrella alley – I’d seen one similar in Lithuania with my friends and was keen to see another one because I think they look so pretty. Google Maps advised it was a 30 minute walk away so I set off. I wasn’t keen on attempting public transport because I didn’t know how to get another bus ticket etc. so I set off on foot.

When I eventually made it to the destination I looked around but couldn’t see how an umbrella alley could be in this area. After some frantic googling I realised I’d misspelt a word and was now in the wrong place. It would take me another 30 minutes to get to the actual location. Annoying but whatever, I’ll just walk to the other place.

30 minutes later I’m in the general area so I have a look round for this Umbrella Alley. Can’t find it anywhere so I decide maybe it’s seasonal or it was only there briefly and now it’s gone. I’ve wasted over an hour trying to find something that probably isn’t here. Again, not great, but whatever. I’ll just do the next thing on my list. Visit the Old Town.

Luckily this isn’t as far, it’s maybe a 10 minute walk away so I set off. I was doing a good job at following Google Maps and I was so glad I’d got a new phone, my one in Poland had been relatively useless so I was still feeling pretty good. Until Google Maps advised I only had to turn one more corner and I would be in the Old Town. Unfortunately I couldn’t walk down there ‘cos there were three men and a van blocking the corner but even if they hadn’t been it wouldn’t have led anywhere. I walked up and down, absolutely confused, until throwing in the towel. Great, I’d spent the whole morning looking for things that I couldn’t find.

Okay the Umbrella Alley I can accept but it surely shouldn’t have been so difficult to find the Old Town? I have no idea what happened there and I don’t want to know.

The next item on my list was the Romanian Kitsch Museum and as that was an actual building and not just a vague area I figured I’d be more successful and luckily I was. The museum was in a nice area and I was feeling hungry so I sat down to get some food.

One of the things I’d noticed in Poland was that I was mostly too afraid to order food so for those few days I mostly ate chocolate peanuts I’d brought from the UK and ordered food if I was absolutely desperate. I think I had McDonalds three times because everywhere else made me too nervous. So in Romania I was determined to try harder with food. The woman who took me to my table spoke English so I was put more at ease.

I ordered some crepes with Nutella and vanilla ice-cream and upon reflection I wish I’d just ordered normal food, they had like ribs and stuff on the menu that I regret not going for. They brought the crepe over and I’m not sure why but I suddenly didn’t trust it. On the menu there’d been sweet crepes with cheese in and when I cut into my crepe all the vanilla ice-cream poured out. I knew it was vanilla ice-cream but part of me didn’t trust that there wasn’t cheese snuck in. I don’t know, okay? It was a weird experience.

When I was finished I thought they’d bring the bill over but they did not. I sat there for maybe half-an-hour trying to work up the courage to ask for the bill. Luckily in the end I pushed my cup towards the edge of the table and when a guy came to collect it I was like “THANKSCANIHAVETHEBILLPLEASE”. Even then it took another ten minutes for it be brought over but out of British awkwardness I didn’t pull a face.

Luckily the rest of the day went smoothly, I saw the rest of the stuff on my list and had Taco Bell for dinner (which I’ve only had twice but actually love, why don’t we have Taco Bell in the UK?). I went back to my hotel for an early night because I had a day trip the next day to Dracula’s castle and other places which I wanted some energy for.

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I barely slept all night. I was so worried about sleeping through my alarm or not being able to find the meet-up place for the tour that I kept having stress dreams and waking up. I even got out of bed at 4AM to check my phone and make sure I hadn’t overslept. I was relieved when my alarm eventually went off so I could just get on with things.

When we’d been on a day tour in Tokyo the meet-up point was in a hotel which had been really convenient as you could go inside and there were plenty of people around to point you in the right direction so there was less stress. As this tour was smaller the pick-up was in a car park and I’d arrived at about 7:35AM for an 8AM pick-up because I was so worried about being late. I stood around panicking that I was in the wrong place for 15 minutes because I couldn’t see any sign that a tour was going to leave from here until eventually a minibus pulled up with the name of the company on the side. I went over and luckily the guide was like “Hi, you must be Hollie” so disaster was averted. You have no idea how relieved I was.

The day tour was amazing, I may write a longer post about it at some point, but it was awesome. The tour guide was really sassy and the other people on the trip were nice. There were two boys from Canada, two girls from Cyprus and then a boy and a girl from Italy. It’s just as well they were all nice because one of the stops on our tour was a fort – it hadn’t been on the itinerary when I booked but hey it was an added perk so why not?

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The entire thing was made up of hills and of course it was January in Romania, it had been snowing. The snow had now turned to ice. I did most of it okay until finally we got to one steep point where I ended up with my hands on the ground and one leg out as if I were posing. I was completely stuck and the Italian guy came back down like “Hey, do you need help?” I’m so awkward that normally I’d be like ‘no, no, I’m fine’ but it was so bad that I had to admit I needed help. He helped me get out of the bit where I was stuck and I tried to carry on like normal.

When it was time to leave we headed down a steep hill and again I couldn’t figure out how to get down and got bloody stuck yet again while half the group trotted off. This time his girlfriend was like “Do you need help?” so I was like “Um maybe” because I didn’t want to bother them but God knows I did need help. She sent her boyfriend back up and I had to hold his arm the entire way down the hill. I tried to make light of the situation by saying “We don’t get much snow in England” to which he responded “We don’t get any at all in the south of Italy.” … Oh.

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After that the trip went quite smoothly, although other places we went had snow and ice it wasn’t as bad as the fort as there weren’t any steep hills. I was a bit embarrassed walking up to Dracula’s castle as it was up a hill (luckily all the snow had been cleared away), the rest of the group briskly walked up and when I got to the top we had to climb some steps into the castle and the tour guide was like “… Do you need a minute?” so I shook my head and powered through. I’d been worried there would be tons more stairs inside but luckily there wasn’t.

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The only other unlucky thing that happened was with the flights on the way back. The plane was slightly delayed and we were all stood in the gate with no information. I have no issue with delays and wouldn’t dream of getting mad at the staff, these things happen, but I get really annoyed when we’re just left waiting with no information. There was an announcement telling us all to ‘go to gate’ but nothing was actually happening at the gate, I was just stood in a big crowd of people as my bag threatened to break my back.

I got a bit worried when my friend messaged me to ask if my flight was going to be cancelled due to the snow but luckily we were soon on the plane and it took off. The flight mostly went well until we were back in England when the air hostess announced we had to circle the airport for 30 minutes. Although I’m a lot better than I used to be I am a nervous flyer so my mind instantly went “oh my god, we’re gonna run out of fuel and crash land.”

We didn’t crash land obviously but as the plane went down the air hostesses turned off the lights as they usually do and after a while they then switched on the light to illuminate the emergency exit sign. It was probably just something they’d forgotten to do and realised they probably should just in case but my mind was like “… Did they switch that on because we’ll need it?” So I was paranoid enough when I heard a soft but fast beeping noise and I was proper on edge then but we landed safely at Birmingham Airport.

Due to the delays I’d missed the 9:50PM train and had to wait for the 11PM train which didn’t bring me back to Telford until 12:30AM. Luckily I don’t live too far from the train station so managed to collapse into bed at 1AM – I was exhausted at work the next day, I need to learn to either come in late or take the day off after a trip.

To be fair if those were the most disastrous things to happen on the trip then it was a relatively successful one. I’ll probably be writing a couple more posts about Romania and how much I loved it over the next couple of weeks. If you’ve been then feel free to let me know some fails you had whilst you were there!