The first trip is always special, even more so the first solo trip. My trip was by bus the The Hague in the Netherlands with a layover in Bremen, Germany, and a short stop in Groningen, also in the Netherlands. Mistakes were made, some by inexperience and some by not enough research and even some by stupidity. It still is one of my more interesting travels and I learned lots of stuff!
1. Not packing warm clothes
When I checked the weather forecast before I was about to travel it showed a solid sun and pretty warm weather. No need to fill my backpack with warm clothes or a jacket I thought. Foolish me.
Most of my trip had great weather. Except my first day in Bremen. Instead of that promised 20 °C and sunshine it was 12 °C and it drizzled all that. Since I arrived in Bremen early on in the morning and had planned to take the bus next morning I just had that day to experience the city.
That is solvable. Except if this happens in Germany. On a Sunday.
2. Sundays suck in Germany
Everything is closed! Except some restaurants, tourist attractions och a few shops at the train stations. This do not have to be a problem, except when you really need one of those shops. Like my mistake above with not packing enough clothes. I had arrived in Bremen at six in the morning, really early. Due to the weather I had to hang out in the train station until nine o’clock when the few shops there opened, just to buy something warmer than a tank top. And all they had was t-shirts with local promotions.
I spent a miserable day in Bremen not enjoying the drizzle and cold weather. Lesson learned.
3. Not packing a powerbank and not keeping your my charged
This one is pretty stupid. I could have been more careful, both with my packing and how I used my cellphone during my traveling. It is a mistake I will never make again!
I left Bremen with a full charge and took the bus to Groningen. Spent a few hours there and took another bus to The Hague. Luckily I had all important documents printed to, so did not have to rely on my phone to much. But I arrived in The Hague with just 5% charge left and it was late, 8 pm. You can believe my panic! This was not good at all!
Since I had not printed a map and had to walk to the B&B I checked Google Maps, started to walk in the right direction. Then switched the phone to power saving mode. I walked and walked and never seemed to get anywhere, I had not realized just how far I had to walk! After checking the map several times and one and a half hours later I finally arrived to the B&B, with just 2% charge left.
My first order when I got back home was a powerbank large enough. And since ten I always keep it with me, and conserve battery on my phone whenever it gets below 50%. A lesson learned.
4. Never do longer routes by bus
It felt safe doing my first solo trip by bus. The best option. But also my worst choice ever and I will not do it again. Going for the shorter steps between Bremen and Groningen and further to The Hague was fine, it was no more than three and four hours per trip. But night bus from Copenhagen to Bremen and then night bus from The Hague to Copenhagen was just plain awful.
The seat are not that comfortable, it is loud, one way was with a full bus and I got barely any sleep at all those two nights. The only upside I can think of is the low price, but without a doubt not worth it for longer trips.
The good lessons
1. Always take a food tour!
It’s a good lesson for me, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is also a lesson I have kept strictly to, with a food tour on almost all of my travels.
Why a food tour? You get food! Most often lots of food, a good range of different food and local food too. I have never left a food tour hungry. But not only that, you also get another take on the city you are visiting with new information and new inspiration. Food tours tend to be smaller than the more general guided tour which also is a large plus in my eyes.
I was not at all sure about booking my food tour in The Hague, but with five minutes to the deadline I decided to book it. And I have not regretted my choice. If you plan to visit The Hague I highly recommend the tours by Bites & Stories.
2. Aimless Walking is always a good choice
Of course I have to write about aimless walking! It is the name of my blog, and something I learned on my first trip and reinforced on my later trips. Just walking around without a goal gives the possibility to find new interesting things that are not on any list or itinerary.
That’s how I found a sand sculpture competition in The Hague, interesting parks and artwork in obscure alleys, fascinating restaurant I would never have found otherwise.
With time it has become something of a science this aimless walking. Even though it is aimless and without a goal, there i still specific ways to do it.
3. I can do it!
The final and without a doubt the best lesson I learned was that I can do it! I can travel abroad, by myself and have a great time! It was an ecstatic feeling and I wanted to experience so much more traveling.
This was in the middle of June 2018. In six months after that I had traveled to five more destination and was on my first longer sun-and-beach vacation.