Thinking about your next solo adventure? Here are 5 Reasons Spain is a great destination, especially for the lone female traveler.
Spaniard’s are great. In general everyone is super helpful. Spain has a relaxed and friendly culture. The bus drivers are a little grumpy, but they still help point you in the right direction.
It’s Relatively Safe
Spain is much safer than the United States, but not as safe as Iceland or New Zealand. It is possible to stay out until the late hours of the night during the week. Or the early hours of the weekend and everything is fine. That being said there are pickpockets. Apparently they target foreigners. You won’t get mugged or assaulted, but if you leave your bag open someone might help themselves to your wallet. I am told that pickpockets listen for foreign accents so if you’re traveling alone hopefully you’re not talking to yourself. Another tip is to travel low-key don’t wear anything too fancy or expensive, which will call attention to yourself. As a female solo traveler I have found Spanish men charming and helpful. To Some immigrant men living in Spain are a little more forward than I would like. I think its the difference in culture so I started wearing a wedding band out.
Spain is surprisingly affordable. It is one of the cheapest countries in the EU (European Union). You can easily rent rooms with private baths for under 30€ a night. Hostels are under 20€. Many places include breakfast. Meals are very affordable as well. An espresso with a ham and cheese sandwich is less than 3€. Meaning you can travel on 35-75€ a day depending on your rooming, transportation and excursion choices. An entrance ticket to La Alhambra Palace in Granada without a guide will cost you 15€. While a guided day trip to Gibraltar from the sunshine coast will be closer to 50€.
Spain has great transportation. There are buses and trains to pretty much anywhere you want to go. Even remote villages have at least one bus in or out a day. I brought an unlocked cellphone and purchased a 3GB Lycamobile Internet plan for 15€ a month. Then you can use GPS to find the best public transit routes. I highly recommend bringing or buying a phone. Knowing where you are going will give you more confidence to explore. I have people asking me for directions almost everyday.
Spain has one of the warmest climates in Europe. I’m currently traveling Spain in the winter time from January to April. Its off-season which means less tourists and with weather between 50-80 °F (10-27 °C) it’s really quite enjoyable. The trick is to bring layers. Nights can feel cold while sunny days can feel warmer than they actually are. I packed a softshell jacket that doubles as a raincoat so I didn’t have to pack an umbrella.
Did I leave anything out? I would love to hear you thought on traveling solo in Spain. Feel free to comment below.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like for people or different nationalities and cultures to travel?
In spite of its land mass Belize is the most sparsely populated country in Central America with less then 350,000 people. The government works hard to promote ecotourism and preserve its nations culture. As a result the Belize lacks a single chain store and its commercialism consists mainly of mom and pop stores. Its a melting pot of cultures and languages.
I interviewed a close friend of mine from Belize City. She speaks four languages, works for Innovative Welding Company, and has family living all over the world.
What is it like for you to travel both domestic and internationally?
Travelling international I would say is pretty nice and easy. Most people are professional and accommodating even if u ask a lot of questions. So I think traveling abroad is different in that people aim to make a good impression of their company so they treat you well individually.
In Belize people tend to be helpful but less accommodating. Like if you travel and you’re lost or confused people tend to look at you as a local and think you’re supposed to know where you’re going and what you’re doing at all times. And if they help you out they generally want some kind of compensation. Not that you’re treated bad locally but people expect you to know things about travel in your own country so while you may get help, you might not be treated as nice.
For example, last year we were travelling to Alaska and my sister who is very friendly, started talking to the flight attendants. The time for passing out snacks was gone and I had slept through it. So naturally a few hours later, I wake up starving. I asked her to please go and see if she can could get me a bag of chips or a drink. So she got out of her seat and went to ask. She spent a long time back there and then finally returned with 4 bags of chips and a drink . I asked her why she took so long, and she said she was just having a chat with the flight attendants, and that they gave her all this stuff. So definitely if nothing else, people are more friendly toward their customers when travelling abroad.
What’s one of the highlights of being in Belize?
If you are traveling to Belize I think that it’s important that you take advantage of how many fresh tropical fruits that we have available at the market. Even if you have them where you come from, I’ve been told by quite a few people that having it grown in a tropical climate, it tastes so much better. Also at the market you should be able to find a variety of tasty local food that is inexpensive.
Do you have any recommendations for visitors to Belize City?
Recently we discovered this place close to Quality Poultry on North Front Street, that doesn’t have a lot of choices and the menu is all chicken, but is very tasty. The portion sizes are pretty big. There you can get grilled chicken with corn tortillas and a sauce, or chicken kebabs, or my personal favorite chicken fingers. They always seem to have a crowd for lunch and I’m always up to going there as I really enjoyed their food.
If you want ice cream, I would say that the little ice cream shop has the best ice cream in Belize with local flavors as well as other flavors that you might find familiar such as cheesecake, Oreo, blueberry etc. They also have a few choices of sorbet if you don’t enjoy creamy things or can’t have it. Overall it’s a nice little set up and yes you can sample which is not a common practice for businesses in Belize.
How does your family feel about you travels?
My family is generally supportive of my travels, they like to see the places that I’ve been even if it’s through pictures. I love visiting Mexico, I like the culture, the food , I have many friends there. Also it’s a little more Americanized now in many places so if I go there it almost feels like I’m in the states but everyone speaks Spanish.
If you could pick one place to visit, where would it be?
I actually would love to go to Paris. I’d never dreamed of going there until a few years ago. I visited England which was super different from any place I’d ever been before. I really liked it. When I realized how close I actually was to visiting Paris, it made me really want to go back and see those places.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like for people of different backgrounds and cultures to travel? As a Caucasian, American, female I’ve always been amazed at the varieties of treatment I’ve gotten based solely on my accent and skin color. I’ve had a wide variety of roommates and we would often stay up late at night discussing different cultural differences. I want to conduct a series of interviews from different viewpoints focusing on solo female travelers. Women in general are paid less than men, and have to be more cautious when traveling alone, which makes successful adventure stories all that more of an accomplishment. I wanted to share some experiences that will hopefully give confidence to other female wanderers.
The first person I wanted to interview was a former roommate of mine in Belize. My friend Elizabeth who is from Monterrey, Mexico speaks 5 languages, has a masters in education, and has traveled all over the world. I really enjoyed her insights, and hope you do as well.
How do you feel when traveling both domestic and international?
Travel is my passion. I simply love to travel and get to know new places and new people. When I am traveling within my country, I always feel at home, because I know what to expect, where to go, if a place is safe or not, or where I can get the best food for the best prices (Mexican markets are always a nice option to get awesome food for incredibly cheap prices) Every state in México has a different culture and typical food, so I always feel I am learning new things from the locals.
Going to a different country is always exciting for me. Usually I do a little bit of research before getting there, so, when I arrive, I know how to get to the places I want to visit, the food I should try and the best way to get around. But I always try to learn as much as I can from the place I am visiting while I am there. I never judge their way of living or compare the local traditions with my own beliefs or customs, I just learn and listen. That way I bring back home with me not just pictures and key chains, but lifetime memories and lessons.
How do people treat you on your travels to both domestic and international destinations?
I happen to be a very tall person and maybe because of that, when I am traveling within México people think I am foreigner. When I start speaking Spanish to them, they always ask me where I am from (usually people think I am either from Colombia or Venezuela). When they notice I am Mexican, we always end talking for a bit. Mexican people are very friendly and nice, very hospitable, and to be honest, I love to ask a lot of questions to locals, because I like to learn. So, many times I have had a wonderful time talking to vendors and as a plus, good discounts on handcrafts or awesome tips about places to go or good local restaurants.
Around the world, Mexico has earned a good reputation for its food and beautiful touristic places. Also, many people had spent their vacations somewhere in México. So, when I am abroad and people ask me where I am from, and I answer: “México”, everybody is excited and start talking about their wonderful time at Cancun, or how much they love Mexican food. I do speak enough English to communicate with people, so I had a lot of nice conversations and met lots of interesting people thanks to my Mexican background while traveling. I´ve met Kesha´s jewelry designer at New York, a wealthy Indian owner of almost half of the shops at Belize, an Arabian student from Dubai at Guatemala and a Peruvian backpacker at Cuzco. Ah, and we got French pastries for free at Montmartre (Paris) and a super cheap shared taxi ride at Alicante (Spain)…Viva México!
How do the people around you view your travels? Your family, friends, and colleagues.
Well, I have to say I am a private person. I travel just because I like it, not to tell people about it. I know that normal people post pictures of their vacations on social networks, to share it with friends, but I am not that way. My best pictures and stories are just for me, my family and my close friends, and that´s all.
My family knows how much I love to travel, so they are always happy for me, even if they miss me when I am gone, because they know this is what makes me happy. My friends think I am very lucky to have the opportunity of traveling a lot, and so do I. Right now I am my own boss, so I have no colleagues to talk. Sorry.
Is there a particular aspect of travel that you enjoy?
My favorite thing to do when traveling is to get a cup a coffee to go and then walk all around the place by myself. I love to walk by myself, going wherever I want to go whenever I want to do it. Eventually, I always end sitting somewhere, thinking about lots of things and feeling relaxed and happy, ready for the next part of my trip.
Is there a lesson that you learned while traveling that you would like to share with others?
Traveling together is the best way to gain a friend for life of to lose a friend for life.
How do you feel traveling has changed you?
I´ve learned how to survive in almost everywhere. I can eat and drink almost anything (except water from a dwell without boiling and iguana eggs) After visiting a rough area and loving the experience, I just felt as Frank Sinatra when he sang “if I can make it there I am gonna make it… anywhere”. It wasn´t New York, of course, but I feel all my trips taught me something that made me a better person.
Is their a personal experience you would like to share?
The best trip of my life was when I went to Europe with my friend Gloria. She´s an awesome person, a great friend and a professional traveler. All sorts of things happened to us. We lost each other on Madrid´s airport and ended lost for hours. Then, at Paris, we took the wrong train from the Eiffel tower to our friend´s house and got down in a train station full of suspicious people (we were the only girls there, and felt so scared that we squeezed ourselves into a phone cabin while waiting for our friend). The food at Europe were so expensive that we ate just one time for the day, so we lost like 5 pounds each in a few days. Our flight back home was delayed, so we had to sleep 4 hours at Terminal 4 of JFK airport at New York and another 4 hours at Dallas. We did spend every euro we had, when we arrived at Dallas we had just a few coins with us! But thanks to Gloria´s marvelous personality and sense of humor, I remember everything as one of the best adventures I ever had.
Contructive criticism is great. I welcome questions or comments that could make future blogs more interesting and beneficial for others. Mahalo in advance.