By Candra George, Third year, English Literature
The Croft / Lone travel can be an emancipatory experience that we should all try once in our lifetimes. Read on to see how Candra George has planned her own trip away this winter, and what there is to gain from an off-peak adventure.
With winter looming and holiday blues setting in for most students, a trip away is rather appealing. So, when planning my upcoming birthday, a mini-break abroad seemed like a great reward after what should be a good first term back at university. However, with a mixture of skint flatmates and commitment-phobic friends, coordinating and booking a break for this December seemed like an impossible task. After working this summer and saving up, I decided that it would be just as good a trip - if not better - by myself.
So here’s what I’m planning on my solo trip this year, and a few reasons why you should do it too!
In Europe, Christmas Markets are a winter highlight, making visiting a city like Barcelona extremely festive. A trip to the market is an extra activity for your to-do list to keep you busy on your solo trip. The markets of Santa Llucia, located by the Barcelona Cathedral, are the oldest and perhaps most-well known Christmas markets dating back to 18thcentury. Slightly smaller markets can be found outside the Sagrada Familia, featuring a stunning backdrop. Both markets sell traditional gifts and decorations which will make great souvenirs. Whilst you are there, make sure to get a picture with the Christmas Lights; these lights or ‘Els Llums de Nadal’ can be found in over 300 locations covering over 100km, making these an Instagram-worthy sight.
Aside from the Christmas markets, Barcelona has amazing tourist attractions, from its celebration of Antoni Gaudi with Parc Guell and Sagrada Familiato the Picasso Museum. Travelling to Europe during off-peak seasons means smaller queues at these popular spots.
For those sportier than I, winter destinations offer the chance to ski and enjoy the seasonal period. Barcelona’s famous mountain regions La Masella and La Molinaare good spots to hit the slopes, and they are a bus or train ride away. Barcelona also offers the largest ice-skating rink in Europe and many others throughout the city!
Winter means cooler temperatures, but there is an opportunity to indulge in rich, warming foods! Grab a hot chocolate, or better yet, some warm Spanish churros with chocolate sauce. Whilst you are there, sample the authetnic Spanish Christmas bread called ‘El Pan de Nadal’.
When booking a trip off-peak, bargains can usually be found - whether its flights and accommodation or guided tours around your destination. You can also prioritise what you want to splurge and save on, as you are your own travel agent.
Finally, the biggest perk of any solo trip - no matter what the time of year - is the opportunity to craft your own itinerary to suit your own interests and budget. Don’t forget the opportunity to meet new people on your trip too, especially if you opt for a hostel with a communal area.
For those apprehensive like myself, especially as a female solo traveller, there are precautions you can take to ensure your trip is as safe and enjoyable as possible. With features such as ‘check-in’ on platforms like Whatsappand Facebook, you can let your loved ones know how your journey is going. The Foreign and Commonwealth office also offers online travel advice on over 220 countries with warnings on potential travel risks. It also covers local laws and customs, so you don’t get into any trouble abroad. As always, don’t forget to get travel insurance, which can be easily added on when booking your flight.
Featured Image credit: Unsplash / JESHOOTS.COM
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