Amara Amaryah | travel + books + poetry, always poetry. a platform for story-telling, visuals, positive self-talk and empowerment. | solo travel tips + lessons.
i hope everyone has had a good week. if you follow me on instagram you’ll know that it’s been a week since my solo travels to budapest. before i drop my budapest travel diaries, i thought it would be a good idea to write about my solo travel experience. so. officially budapest was my first solo trip. the first time i travelled to Paris to meet a collective to produce a poetry collaboration. budapest was my first time idly travelling to meet myself in a new place. here are my tips, lessons and thoughts about solo travel.
1. feeling myself.
first things first. i’ve come back feeling my most powerful. i can do anything, all things, all of the damn things (through Messiah who strengthens me amen thank you). solo travel has given me the confidence to love and look after myself. i completely trust myself with myself. i’ve travelled to somewhere new and come back in one piece. and with an extra something to my step and smile. my family and friends who begged me to go with someone know that they have nothing to worry about. my next solo travel trip is PENDING and i’m going with unstoppable energy.
i need a tripod. or the ability to tell people when they are about to do me a diservice with their photography. or less optimism and more DIY to document my own self on my own solo trip. honestly, i walked away laughing at some of the pictures people took of me. thankfully i got a few decent pics (self-taken and one other sole person). but i do need to invest in a tripod to capture myself in future solo travel trips. but i’ll still ask people every so often. because you never know the people you could meet or the stories that could come out of it.
3. talk to people.
this was a tricky one for me as an introvert and a cautious person but a lover of new encounters. whilst traveling with people, i always try and speak to new people, locals, other travellers, cab drivers etc. but it became more difficult on my solo travel trip because i didn’t want to be too vulnerable and make myself stand out. in budapest it was a bit hard to judge. i was almost always the only black person in sight so i wasn’t sure of how i would be received. on the first day especially i kept myself to myself to assess my surroundings and be observant. but the best part of travelling is learning something new about the place you are exploring. and the best way to do that is to speak, not to walk around silently.
i eventually found a balance. and i get it. i understand my thought process. this was my first solo travel experience and i needed to scope it out. not lunge all the way in. but next time, i’m letting myself find those adventures by talking to more people. this will allow me to experiece the country better as a local.
4. tourist vs traveller
which follows on quite nicely. i did tourist girl like i never have. it was nice. it allowed me to give myself a bit of luxury and to live how i can’t in england. but. in paying attention to the touristy parts of budapest, i did miss out on local magic, i guess.
but this comes down to a few things:
- it feels safer being touristy when you’re alone. i spoke very basic hungarian (i learnt it on the coach to Luton lool). so i didn’t want to wander too far for the sake of an authenticity.
- i only had 48 hours. i didn’t feel as though i had enough time to have a day dedicated to wandering.
- budapest is quite cheap so it was very feasible for me to do 5-6 touristy things in one day and not break the bank (i really did- i will share in my next post).
- again, it was my first time and i felt obliged to play it safe. i couldn’t guarantee that i would be able to feel safe wandering around with no plans but a camera. at least today i know i can and will next time.
it’s really all about building a relationship and routine with yourself and knowing that you can travel and trust your intuition. which brings me onto my next point…
5. hotel vs airbnb
i definitely prefer airbnb type accomodation. but i didn’t even consider it when booking my flight to budapest. with this being my first solo travel trip, i wanted to be secure. i know of people who have travelled solo and had the best time in air bnb accomodation. but it wasn’t for me. Debbie founder of Black Travel Bloggers had a fab airbnb experience in budapest. to be honest, i think for my next trip i will stick to hotels because of the accountability aspect. i stayed at The Hotel Chesscom which was still affordable and near to the airport for my early morning flight. it worked out seamless for me and also the staff were really helpful and helped me plan my way around for free so win win.
6. asking the locals.
this was one thing i think i did really well whilst solo travelling. i tried to get as many local recommendations about where to get Hungarian food and the best spots etc. i checked my travel bucketlist for things that i had to do whilst travelling to live my best life.
7. find out about yourself.
sis. solo travel already takes you out of your comfort zone. see how much further you are willing to go. i know that i genuinely love my own company. but i used this trip to test my limits. can i depend on myself? do i trust myself?
i actually learnt that i’m really getting a little tired of europe. beautiful as it can be. i’m looking for a solo travel trip within Africa, South America. somewhere. but this trip taught me that i’m not yet ready. that’s a stretch too far for right now and i need to 1. wear a better poker face (i’m a nice girl but i don’t need to wear nice girl all over my face all the time). 2. i need to get into the habit of learning the language well in advance. i really do leave it too late. 3. i need to enhance my sense of direction. walking around with google maps will not be my future.
8. get out of your head.
seroius advice. there was a drastic difference between my first day in budapest and my second. on the first day, my solo travel goals were not formulating the way i wanted. i had so much expectation but i was tired from a 3am start, it was getting dark and late and i knew that i needed to not be out by myself and i only crossed two things off my list. i came home, spoke to my people and everyone told me to get out of my head and remember that i am on holiday. it’s a break, not a mission. i left the hotel the next day, doubled back to my room to pray over the day and welcome good adventures and had the most gorgeous of days.
9. being a black woman solo traveller (in europe).
a whole blog post in itself, but worth the mention. i am always as conscious of my blackness as my womanhood when travelling. more, even. i’m super observant anyway so it helps me. thankfully, i didn’t experience racism in budapest. but i came back to people holding their breath and then telling me stories. stories of black women being laughed at when they walk into a restaurant. stories of black women getting into thermal baths and everyone else getting out. i think that might have ruined my trip to budapest entirely. so i’m grateful that Yah sheltered me. i would always sugest that my black women travellers pay deep attention to intuition. leave when you feel it’s time to. don’t walk in if your body picks up a certain vibration. but don’t be frightened to see the world your God gave you.
europe is a weird place where you are either disliked, mocked or fetishised as a black woman. or you’re genuinely complimented for your beauty and appropriately recognised as the greatest that is. i remember trips to lisbon and paris where me and my group of fellow black women travellers were constantly stopped and told how beautiful we are. go with that energy and stay safe.
10. touch base.
a simple rule but easy to forget. when you solo travel don’t forget to touch base with your people at home. i tried to keep everyone in the know of my plans for the day and my leaving and returning to the hotel. it’s good practice and keeps everyone at home peaceful. you’re a solo traveller but you’re not alone. do solo travel goddess but remember the people at home who love you!
thanks for reading what i write. i hope you enjoyed the tips and lessons. comment, like and share with your people. Also, hit subscribe so you don’t miss my next post about 48 hours in budapest.