I’m a loner but I’m never ALONE
I really do like traveling solo. It’s very natural for me. I move at my own pace. I do what I want, when I want and I make up my schedule (if I even make one). The only things I need to concern myself with are the times of my flights (if I even have one that day), train/tram schedule and what times and days places are open. But to be totally honest, the only thing I have ever paid attention to while traveling is when my MAJOR mode of transportation (ie my flight to another city or back home) is.
I don’t think I have ever planned a trip around an event in any location, so the “when” something is happening really matters very little to me. If I see it/do it, then great. If not then oh well! I guess I now have an excuse to come back (not that I honestly need any excuse to travel).
They way I travel is simple. Get on plane. Arrive at destination. Pick up luggage (If I checked any to begin with, which I do try to avoid). Grab map of city from some store at the airport. Go to place where I will be staying; if it’s check in time, then head up to my room to drop my shit off, if not, then I leave my bag with the hotel and go see whats around till I can check in. I usually expect the first day to be a wash of any major activities. Granted most flights from the US arrive into most places in Europe (haven’t made my way further east yet…) sometime in the morning and thus I have plenty of time to wander around but I prefer to get a lay of the land and familiarize myself with the area I’ll be staying in. I’ll look for the necessary places such as a pharmacy in case I need something, which is usually always. Or a food place, preferably pizza, (because despite being 28, I still eat like an 18 year old) and other such places and last but possibly most important, the local pub, because since most of my trips are attached to work trips these days, I’ll need a pint or two. Once I’ve gotten those down, then maybe I’ll take in a little sightseeing/shopping.
Before every trip I find out where I am staying in relation to the city center and closest tram station to both. So if I have time after finding said pharmacy, food place and pub, I’ll hop on the tram to the city center. Get in the prerequisite tourist photos, buy touristy gifts for family and friends back home and then head back to the hotel. Jet lag after all, is a bitch.
This is when the “real planning” starts, if you could even call it that. For instance, I was in Stockholm for few days in early November 2014 prior to heading to my company’s HQ in Skeleftea (far north Sweden) for some meetings. I booked an AirBnB at this AMAZING room in a 500 year old building in Gamal Stan. My room had a spiral marble staircase up to the door and a skeleton key to the room. It was all very fairy tale until I opened the door into Ikea….But I digress. Because AirBnB check in times are negotiable I checked in around noon and took a nap because I didn’t sleep on the flight like I thought I would. Once I woke up, I grabbed the necessities and headed out. Took a picture of the door so I would remember how to get back and just roamed. Ended up at a pub for dinner and all was right with the world. When I returned I realized there was a coffee shop literally next door so needless to say I was one happy camper.
The AirBnB host was awesome. She had loads of brochures about Stockholm and maps and just general information for guests to take if we wanted. So I grabbed a map, read a bit about each place it highlighted and put a star next to it if I thought I was even remotely interested in visiting (Sorry ABBA Museum, you did not make the cut). The one “planning ahead” move I did make was getting a “Stockholm City Card”. As mentioned in a previous post, it’s one of those cards you can purchase and it gets you into most of the places in the city as well as use of the trams.
So the next day, armed with my map, and my work phone with global data (cha-ching!), I ventured into city center to get my Stockholm card and then off to places I marked. While trying to hit the Skansen (this pseudo-outdoor museum place that is supposed to show what life in Stockholm was like hundreds of years ago), I got on the ferry but got off at the wrong island. Oh well. No big deal. I walked around, it came back I took it to the right island and all’s well that ends well. So the next few days went pretty much the same.
It was great! I met some flight attendants from Emirates at a bar on the street that I was staying on. Showed them to another place I had eaten my first night there, saw a bunch of cool things and just generally enjoyed myself. I honestly feel that if I had been with a friends things would have gone differently. And while that “differently” wouldn’t have be bad, it wouldn’t have been my trip. I did everything according to my own schedule (which was non existent). And I did everything according to what I wanted!
Schedules can be great and all but sometimes you just gotta roll with it….