When we were preparing this interview series about different travel styles, it was a really easy decision whom we want to interview about solo traveling. My dear friend and creative multi-talent Lisa Langmantel (follow her on instagram @lisalangmantel or lisalangmantel.at) was just returning from her first solo-traveling experience exploring Australia and Bali. We followed her on her account the time she was traveling and from that moment on we were totally hooked – all these adventures, stories and people.
We talked about highlights as well as low lights, tipps for the preparation and what Lisa learnt during the months she was traveling. But, we don’t want to spoiler too much. Now, the curtains are raised for our guest author.
ALL EYES ON:
Traveling on your own is like hitting the refresh button from time to time. Like your browser with hundreds of tabs is frozen and you can’t find the tab where the annoying music is coming from. Just close it. Refresh. Restart.
How did you decide where to go?
Since it was quite a spontaneous trip, two facts made it fairly easy for me to decide where to go: traveling on my own for a longer period and the season of the year (beginning of february). I thought why not explore the other side of the world? It‘s summer there and in addition to that the culture and the language are kind of familiar which was important to me for my first stop. Next move: booking a ticket to Melbourne. From there I traveled along the east coast with a stop in Tasmania and after 6 weeks I took off for Bali.
Where did you research? Pinterest? Instagram? Or did you get inspired by your friends?
Really old-school: I mostly talked to friends who either visited my countries of choice or have been solo-traveling before. I talked to them not just about “what” I should see but most importantly how to get around in the different countries (public transport, renting cars,…), if I can rely on wifi or if I need to buy an extra sim card, what kind and size of backpack has proven to be a good one and so forth. So the “how” was as equally important to me as the “what”. Because in order to be able to explore freely the right equipment is super important and makes you more flexible. During my trip I used social media from time to time to get inspired what to see or to try in a specific city or area. But since everything that is hyped on social media becomes a super touristic place it shouldn’t be your only source to get inspiration from, in my opinion.
What was the biggest challenge when it came to planning your trip?
Did you use a special tool to keep track of your next steps?
I think the really tricky part was to keep a clear overview what to see and try because there were SO MANY THINGS I wanted to see. I prepared a google excel sheet where I wrote down all of my friends recommendations and my own research as well. Additionally I marked different places on google maps which is a great tool for getting an overview. For example when you don‘t know which district in Sydney is worth visiting I just had a look at my customized google map and went where the most yellow pins were. Having a local sim card was key and the most important asset resource to access all of my planning-tools.
How did you live? Hotel, hostel, Airbnb or Camper Van? How did you decide?
In Australia I mostly stayed in hostels since they were the best option meaning the most affordable. For me it was important to stay at places which were affordable but felt safe and were clean at the same time. In addition to that I also spent some nights in a pretty airbnb, on a greyhound bus or on a catamaran. In Bali I preferred to stay in homestays or hotels since they were also reasonable priced and after a lot of shared rooms I enjoyed being on my own from time to time.
If it sucks, try to stay for one more day and eventually everything will turn out ok. If not, leave.
Did you pre-plan your days on your own? Or did you choose a pre-booked tour?
It was a good mix. I tried the tour-thing but I learned that this format is not a good fit for my explorer-soul. I found out that the best option for me is to stay longer in one place (I learned that changing my location every second day stresses me out) and take it easy from there. If something was really important to me eg. the catamaran trip to the Whitsunday islands I pre-booked it a lot in advance. If you know your priorities well, it will make a trip like this a great experience.
Did your relationship with yourself change or develop in any kind of way?
Yes, there is definitely something to it. You feel it directly when a situation doesn’t feel right. If you travel with other people you don’t realize it as fast as being all on your own.
What was your personal highlight?
I found so many happy places but those were definitely my highlights: Two music festivals (St. Kilda Festival/ Melbourne and Sydney City Limits Festival/Sydney), the botanical gardens in Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart (all of them are for free!!!), the MONA in Hobart (great museum and brand experience), the catamaran trip to the Whitsunday islands (isailwhitsundays.com was a really good choice!), walking through the beautiful rice fields of Bali and enjoying a smoothie at the Sari Organik Cafe. The interesting thing was: All of those things happened spontaneously respectively I found out about them when I was already traveling. So a big learning for me was to stay longer in one location (if I see potential) and then the discovering of happy places has space to happen.
And what was your personal low-light?
When I had cockroaches in my hostel room. Although people tell you it is “normal” to have them in Australian houses from time to time, it is still very gross.
Traveling always takes you to new places and spaces to explore. Physically and mentally.
Is there anything you would change for your next travel?
Since it was my first solo-traveling trip I learned a lot. I think for my next trip I will focus more: meaning shorter period of time, just one country and I would take it a little bit easier with pre booking things especially flights, because you never know what you discover and how long you want to stay in the same place.
What is the biggest challenge when it comes to solo traveling?
Of course there are moments when everything just sucks. A good friend of mine gave me a great advice for situations like this: try to stay for one more day and eventually everything will turn out ok. If not, leave.
Are there any tips, tricks or recommendations you want to share with someone who is planning to travel on his own?
- Use dropbox to save all your hostel, plane, bus bookings and copies of your passport and important documents. There is also an offline feature where you can download it on to your tablet or phone. Another advantage: You can give your personal inner circle access to this documents – so they always know where to search for you in the worst case.
- Download various travelguides from your local library on to your tablet. i use the onleihe-app from bücherei wien. the only thing you need is a membership. Saves so much space and weight!
- Use a local sim card. It makes you independent and you can call friends and family via whatsapp and can access google maps whenever you want or need to
- Get spotify premium and netflix and use the offline playlist feature – great for traveling on a greyhound or long flights with no entertainment offer
- Have a tablet instead of a laptop with you. I got a used ipad mini on willhaben just before my trip. It is so much nicer to do all your bookings, location scoutings with a bigger screen than your mobile phone.
- Go to a STA Travel office. Especially if you are under 31 (if you go to the one at Neubaugasse say hi to Klaus) they offer great discounts you can’t find on checkfelix or google flights. And there is another great advantage: They can book or change flights for you via email. So you have your personal travel agent always available. This service is for free!
- A backpack that fits is key. I travelled with this one from Quechua.
Did you grow personally? Did it change you or your perspectives?
I would definitely say yes. Traveling (for me something totally different than going on vacation) always takes you to new places and spaces to explore. Physically and mentally. I like to describe it with a picture of a white paper. In a new environment you are like a white paper. Nobody knows your story. This gives you space to breathe. It’s like hitting the refresh button from time to time. Like your browser with hundreds of tabs is frozen and you can’t find the tab where the annoying music is coming from. Just close it. Refresh. Restart.
What’s your next destination?
Booked: Rügen and Lissabon.
Future travel plans: Japan, Sardinia, the Azores, Canadian west coast with a camper van and the Ötztaler Alpen.