Solo Travels

Mariana Machado
4 min readAug 9, 2023

I’ve been thinking about becoming a digital nomad for a while now. This is something that’s been on my mind for years but I never truly contemplated turning it into reality until recently.

Now that I made up my mind, the plan is to spend a month in a place, then 2 months in another country and then come home for a few weeks before going back out there again. This means I’ll need to sell my furniture and some of my belongings and live off a backpack – which I wasn’t sure was for me.

In order for me to be more comfortable with my decision, I decided to take an extended trip by myself to the South of France where I’d work remotely and explore a bit to see how I dealt with that lifestyle. Today I’m going back to Portugal, and let me tell you, that was the best decision I made.

I had some plans for these 11 days. I knew I had to work and I wanted to visit some cities, but other than that I was pretty much free to do whatever I wanted. In fact, I flew there with a ‘one-way’ ticket, without really knowing when I’d be back home.

Castel Beach, Nice

My itinerary ended up looking like this:

  • Day 1: Head to Biot – where I stayed for 3 nights
  • Day 2: Explore Biot
  • Day 3: Go to Antibes
  • Day 4: Head to Nice – where I stayed for the rest of the trip
  • Day 5: Visit Nice
  • Day 6: Go to Monaco
  • Day 7: Visit Nice
  • Day 8: Boat trip & visit Cannes
  • Day 9–11: Stay in Nice

These days went by super fast and I surprised myself in many ways. For example, I was staying at an Airbnb so I was afraid of just staying home all day, scared of facing the crowds. However, I ended up getting up early every day, going outside and exploring each city. Obviously, being in France meant it was fairly easy to find coffee shops to work and places with Wi-Fi so I was able to combine work with leisure.

Île Sainte-Marguerite

Also, I’m not one to openly talk to strangers but I ended up making new friends, and even going to dinner or boat rides with people I had just met. Those who know me understand how that’s completely out of character for me but I guess I was so free that even that sounded good.

Lastly, I learned a few things for my next travels and I came up with five tips for those who also want to solo travel for a few weeks:

1- A backpack is enough
I flew with EasyJet and I refused to pay extra for a cabin bag so I travelled with just a small backpack. At first I didn’t know how I was going to do that as I also had to bring my laptop but, I’m happy I did. It’s much more comfortable to travel with only a smaller bag to carry, and honestly especially in Summer, you really don’t need that much stuff. Obviously, when I go to countries outside Europe or stay for longer, I’ll probably take a bigger backpack, but for 2 weeks this one was more than enough.

Me with the viral TikTok backpack

2- Headphones are your friends
I always carry my AirPods everywhere as they make me feel safe and in control. Not only that, I love choosing the right soundtrack for a specific city, as I really think it helps with setting my mood. Also, they make for great company if you’re ever feeling a bit lonely — just choose a podcast or an album and bham, you’re not alone anymore.

3- Take in your surroundings
While I always have my AirPods, I also think it’s nice to spend some time without them and just take in your surroundings. Hearing the local language, listening to the city sounds and just enjoying the moment.
Another great advantage is that it’s also easier to meet people when you’re not wearing headphones as they’re more willing to start a conversation with you.

4- Carry a book with you
I love technology but I think nothing beats a good book, especially when you’re at the beach. This time I read Lolita, and it allowed me to feel occupied when dining alone or when my phone was running low on battery. Just like with point 3, a book can also be a great conversation starter when people reach out to you.

5- Keep in touch with friends & family
This one is pretty self-explanatory. I love being by myself and exploring new places but keeping in touch with friends and family makes it much easier. Most of my friends and family are scattered around the world so it was great to count on them for company when the AirPods and book weren’t cutting it.

I hope these are valuable but at the end of the day, each person should do this in their own way and what matters it’s having fun!
Now, it’s back to Braga for a couple of days before embarking on my next adventure ✈️

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Mariana Machado

I used to dream about becoming a poet and I’ve always loved writing, so I made it my job.