1) The best people to ask to take your picture for you are people who are taking their own pictures with fancy digital SLR cameras and Asians: SLR users obviously know how to use a camera and Asians LOVE to take pictures. Trust me, I live in Asia and I’m half Asian. I know these things.
2) When in doubt of where to go, follow the herd-like crowds of people. This simple peace of common sense helped me out a ton whenever I was confused about where I should be.
3) It’s easier to make friends in a Women Only hostel because these hostels consist of more women who are traveling solo. Also, Women Only hostels will be cleaner because there are no smelly boys there to stink them up. Just sayin’.
4) Bring comfortable shoes because you will most likely be walking everywhere; my feet will never forgive me for the hell that I put them through in Europe.
5) If you’re staying in a hostel, you really don’t need Lonely Planet books because the hostels will supply you with maps of the city and recommendations of things to do and see. And if you need to know how to get somewhere? Just ask the receptionist! Hostels are awesome; staying in a hostel is like staying with a good friend who knows the city like the back of her hand.
6) Bring a book. Instead of bringing my Kindle with me, I brought my laptop because I figured since I’d be spending so much time in airports throughout my trip, I’d be able to just plug my laptop in and connect to some free wifi. I was wrong; out of the five airports I visited in Europe, only one had free wifi. And not only was there no wifi available, but there were hardly any outlets! So what were people doing to kill time in these European airports? They were reading good old-fashioned books. That’s what they’re doing.
7) When you’re on vacation, indulge. There were a few times throughout my trip when I wanted to hold back from treating myself to a glass of wine with dinner or some gelato for dessert in fear of spending too much money, but then I’d tell myself, “You’re in Europe! You worked hard and saved money to come here, so treat yourself now because you never know when you’ll be able to do this again. Besides, the wine in Korea sucks so you better drink up and take advantage of this delicious Italian wine while you can.”
8) They say you learn a lot about yourself when you travel alone. One big thing I learned is that I need social interaction more than I thought; otherwise I start to feel lonely. It’s weird admitting this because I used to be so shy growing up, but now I realize how much that’s changed over the past few years. Yes, there are times when I need my alone time, but the times when I need social interaction outweigh that.
9) I can only go a certain amount of time before I start to get tired of traveling. I traveled around Europe for two weeks; that’s a long time to be staying in hostels, flying on planes, and sightseeing all day long. The next time I travel, it will probably only be for a week or 10 days at the most.
10) I can take care of myself; I planned a two-week trip by myself to take by myself; I figured out everything on my own in regards to where places were and how to get around; I never got lost and I never lost anything. I survived and I did it all on my own, which is a very empowering and liberating feeling. Now that I’ve traveled solo, I feel like I can do anything. Well, except for grad school. The idea of that still scares the shit out of me.