At the end of last year I spent 5 weeks travelling the UK. I finally got the chance to write about my experiences and thought I’d share them for anyone planning a similar trip.
I had some time off before starting a new job, so decided to finally make a trip back to the UK- I’d wanted to do this ever since I got back from a semester’s exchange there, after realising how many places I didn’t see the first time; I did a lot of travelling but there’s so many places to see in the UK, especially if you’re a literary/history nerd like me. This was a bit of a last minute decision (in that, I am a terrible decision maker so didn’t make my mind up until the last minute), which meant I didn’t organise to travel with anyone else. Fortunately I have family in England I could stay with for some of the time, but I still had plenty of concerns about travelling on my own- travel blogs and Instagram posts about solo travel make it look fun and breezy but for an over thinker travelling alone on a limited budget, there was plenty to hold me back. There are a lot of helpful blog posts and articles about travelling the UK, but I found it hard to find a good itinerary that fit in everything I wanted (a lot) on a limited budget. Over the next few posts I’ll share details of my trip to help you plan for the cities I visited (see below for my full itinerary). To start with I’m sharing some tips to help fellow solo travellers prepare for a similar trip.
- Peak District
- Lake District
- Buckinghamshire (again)
On the page it looks manageable in 5 weeks (or 4 and a half if you factor in the days it takes to get to and from Australia) and while I fit in everything I wanted, there was a lot of driving and walking, with plenty of highlights but the occasional mishap (cue me driving the country lanes around Bath after I took a wrong turn and my GPS decided that was the best way back.) That said, if you get the chance to visit the UK, especially in the lead up to Christmas, I highly recommend it, with or without a travel buddy. If you’re thinking of doing your own solo trip, here are some suggestions:
- Pinterest– if you are freaking out at the idea of travelling solo, a few sessions of Pinteresting your destination will make you want to travel there more than you want to stay home so that solves that problem
- Blogs– While I love a good Lonely Planet guide, it was travel blogs that I got most of my advice from. While it’s hard to find the exact itinerary to suit you, there’s plenty of good advice to help you settle on your own. A few websites that I found particularly useful were A Lady in London, Hand Luggage Only, To Europe and Beyond and Nomadic Matt.
- Book ahead– I was pretty lucky with flight prices, they stayed cheap up until I booked about 6 weeks before I left, (not the done thing for bargain hunters). What I didn’t book ahead was rail tickets- mostly because I wanted to be flexible, but I’d forgotten just how expensive they can be in the UK- on the one hand you can actually go to like, most cities (not a concept in WA) on the other, it’s super pricey. Booking ahead means cheaper tickets, for rail and most other things.
- Be flexible– Even though my flights to England were half empty, there were evidently a lot of people travelling within the country because a lot of accommodation was booked ahead of time. I found that moving past my trepidation at using Airbnb by myself helped give me a lot more options, but sometimes you’ve got to decide between comfort and price. Although there were plenty of lovely, and occasionally quirky places (hello dog in the dining room) I got to stay at, and most places had single rooms which offer a cheaper option for solo travellers.
- Be spontaneous– I KNOW. Not my style either but you know what’s great about travelling by yourself? You can do whatever you want- within reason. ‘Finding yourself’ while travelling is a cliché, but I did appreciate that travelling by myself meant I actually got to work on my decisiveness and showed me a bit about my own likes and dislikes.
The UK was an easy solo trip destination for me, having been there before and having family to stay with, but it is a friendly country and easy to get around whether by yourself or with a group. Next post I’ll breakdown my itinerary for the North– my trip from Buckinghamshire up to Edinburgh and back; how I got around and the places to visit.