Do you love solo-travelling? Or determined to visit a particular place but was unable to find like-minded peers to travel together? Here are some tips for all you adventurous solo travellers out there!
I embarked on my first solo day trip to Rotterdam last Saturday. The UNESCO World Heritage site, Kinderdijk is only an hour bus ride away.
1. Buy NS group tickets on Facebook groups
Gather 10 people travelling on the same route and get discount on your train tickets! Instead of the usual 20++euros one-way ticket, you pay 7 euros for return ticket (on the same day). It is uncertain whether this great cost-saving scheme will be extended into 2018 by NS, so grab them while you still can!
2. When in doubt, always ask
I encountered 2 train disruptions on my way to Rotterdam Centraal. Announcements were made overhead in Dutch so I wasn’t sure what had happened. Luckily I met very helpful locals who explained the situation. Even though the kind lady wasn’t very fluent in English, it did not deter her willingness to help me find a connecting train to Rotterdam Centraal. “Come with me”, she said and I gratefully followed her to the platform.
3. Learn to enjoy the unexpected
Due to the disruption at Breda station, I had 20 minutes of free time. I decided to have breakfast at the station kiosk instead of at Rotterdam as initially planned. I took my time to queue, order and observe the service staff making a cup of warm cappuccino, feel the vibes in the station as people from all walks of life walked past. Even though the train disruptions set my schedule back by 30 minutes in total, I am glad that I was able to take everything in stride (:
4. Plan beforehand to make the most out of time
Finishing all of Rotterdam’s sightseeing attractions in a day is rather ambitious, hence I prioritised certain attractions and planned my route according to their proximity to one another. I am very very glad that I visited Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The exhibition by Tal R was really impressive: his drawings are often of people in their everyday life and they contain very rich emotional expressions. The fine art collection was amazing too.
On the other hand, the Cube houses wasn’t as interesting as I thought.
5. Always look out for applicable discounts
Many places offer discounted entrance fees for students (with valid student ID), for example Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
I arrived at Kinderdijk with only 45 minutes before closing and was offered the closing discount ticket at 6 euros (instead of the usual 8 euros). On hindsight, I think the closing discount ticket wasn’t worth it because with the limited amount of time left, it was impossible to enjoy all the activities the ticket encompassed. I highly recommend you spend at least a few hours at Kinderdijk. It has amazing view and the tranquility is perfect for contemplation of life. Best to go in summer, in my opinion. It was really foggy last Saturday and the greens are withering away in the harsh cold winter.
6. Treat yourself to good food
Travelling alone can be stressful at times because you mostly rely on yourself and have to be quick-witted when dealing with challenging situations. Treat yourself to good food as a reward for your hard work and bravery! Generally, I find tripadvisor’s recommendations rather valuable. I tried Panzero’ Apulian StrEat Food‘s Panzerotti (fried dough with filling). It was my first time eating this kind of cuisine and was a pleasant surprise.
On top of consulting tripadvisor, I also have the habit of roaming randomly on the streets and deciding my dining location spontaneously. I chanced upon a korean restaurant called Gamasot and craved for a bowl of hot soup in the freezing weather (it was -1 degree celsius in Rotterdam then). Had a brief conversation with the service staff about the food and life in the Netherlands. It was a cosy dining experience with good food (:
You are now ready for your next adventure, just go!