England, one of the four areas that make up the United Kingdom, is possibly one of the most well known cultures outside of the United States. At some point, we all had some desire to visit the land of fish & chips and kings and queens. Has an opportunity to visit the world across the pond suddenly become available to you, but due to immediate circumstances, have no other folks to travel with you? Or perhaps you want to embrace braveness and courage and embark on a solo adventure, but still don’t have the courage to wander and explore a country on your own?
If either of these two options describe your current situation, fear not! Of the two, I had wanted to start solo traveling across the world, but had never done it in my life. But you have to start somewhere, and in some cases it can be quite good to start off slow! I decided to ease my way into the beautiful world of solo traveling and booked a trip to England!
Despite Brexit, here are 6 reasons why it’s the BEST destination to start you off traveling solo:
1. Communication – Everyone Speaks English!
Having never solo traveled before, the last thing I wanted was to be in a situation where I needed some kind of help and yet unable to communicate with a friendly stranger. Luckily for me (and possibly you), everyone in England speaks English! Although the accent can be a bit rough at times (I’m looking at you Cockney fellows), it certainly does help to build confidence in traveling solo by being able to speak the same language with everyone around you in a foreign country.
Prior to this trip, I was with a group of friends in China and Japan and all communication was done through a game of charades. Entertaining, but not fun, especially when you are hungry. The only thing you really need to spend some time to think is the difference in particular terms, such as “queue” for “line” when waiting in a line for something and “take-away” for “to-go” when ordering a heaping serving of Poppies fish & chips!
2. It’s a Popular Destination for Tourists
Disclaimer…I’m not much of a “tourist” as I really do enjoy doing things that are more local and off the beaten path. But since we’re talking about breaking into solo traveling, England does attract A LOT of tourists! As you most likely know, some of the most popular attractions including the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, & Stonehenge draw thousands of tourists a year.
This means that there is a higher concentration of people to ease your troubled soul. Although some travel in groups, you will be able to bump into other solo travelers checking out these attractions. Most are generally friendly and looking to explore with other solo travelers as well! In addition to perhaps cure a lonely spell, the large population of tourists also prevent some unsafe situations that are present in more sparse or desolate locales. Being my first solo adventure, it was quite a fulfilling experience to meet and chat with other travelers looking to experience the same joys of wanderlust!
Since the UK voted in favor of Brexit, the British pound has dropped to its lowest value in decades, which could lead to a boost in tourism from America. Although still a bit uncertain of its future due to Brexit, there could be a significant surge in foreign travelers from cheaper fares and accommodations.
Remember, with solo travel you are NEVER ALONE!
3. You Can Experience Some City Life and Not So City Life
You don’t get much more “city-ish” than London itself! Having the bright lights of NYC, but with a posh and elegance that only England can supply, there is so MUCH to do in here. Looking for dancing and drinks? London’s got quite a few bars and night clubs to get your moving. How about some shopping? There is PLENTY of shopping to do here – from high end shops in Westfield or more local offerings in the Old Spitalfields Market. Love plays and musicals? Two words for you – West End.
If the city life doesn’t appeal to you, then you can most certainly head out west visit towns that are bit more quaint and paint a countryside picture. I’ve always said, most cities are the same all over the world, so it’s not necessarily the best place to spend your precious travel time. I decided to head out to the town of Bath, where Roman baths were once used by visitors and residents alike. Apart from that attraction, the town itself is magnificent – from the beautiful building architectures, cobblestone roads and to the simple, yet verdant, scenery. It’s a wonderful place to grab a beer (or two), or maybe some ice cream, and sit in the center of town and listen to buskers serenade the day away.
By the way, Nicholas Cage once owned a house there.
4. It’s Easy To Navigate Around London Using the Tube
I’ve lived in NJ for over 20 years, so I’ve frequented NYC quite a few times in my life. And still I have a hard time navigating through NYC using the subway. I’ve always thought it was me until I got to London and rode the Tube. Wow, I was in public transportation heaven! It took me about 30 minutes and I was cruising and grooving through London with no problems! Clear color coded maps and clear signage guided me to my desired destinations. I’m not picky when it comes to comfort but wow, padded seats on an underground train? Yes, that’s a thing in London.
In a nutshell, its really easy to use. In fact, I feel like its hard to get lost using the Tube. Seriously. Perfect for a first time solo traveler.
5. It’s Relatively Pretty Safe Round These Parts
As with ANY place you travel to, it’s imperative to use common sense when it comes to safety. In any situation and in any place, doing stupid things will almost always attract attention and can fuel an unsafe predicament. Practicing responsibility when it comes to alcohol consumption, flashing or wearing expensive items, and knowing not to wander into sketchy areas apply to any destination.
With that said, it’s felt pretty safe traveling in London. Never once did I feel threatened or targeted as I wandered and explored on my own. A few times I did go out very late at night (responsibly) and had no issues riding the Tube and venturing back to my hotel. As a first time solo traveler, a safe environment is exactly what I needed to build my confidence as well as practice my awareness around my surroundings.
Because of Brexit, you could be in the amidst protests and passionate locals. Just be mindful of that and again, just use common sense as you are there to experience the wonder and beauty of England and not to throw your two cents into political and economic matters.
6. You’ll Leave With So Much Confidence Without Much Effort
Solo travel was the BEST thing that I’ve ever done for myself, period. You leave the experience empowered, knowledgeable, and overfilled with confidence. The euphoria you get will instantly fuel your desires to travel solo to more adventurous destinations. Since coming from London, I’ve traveled solo to South Korea and Japan to name a few.
The best apart about traveling to England solo is that you gain this new found confidence without much effort at all! Since there is a level of familiarity as discussed in the points above, you can truly focus and hone your efforts into building your courage and determination to travel and see the world, even if your only companion is yourself!
With Brexit just happening very recently, you’ll notice an interest in travel to England as fares and rates will be discounted. If you’ve already booked a trip there, I would suggest calling your hotel and see if you can negotiate a lower rate.
What are you waiting for…GO FOR IT!