I took a ‘gap Christmas’ this year. One of the first assumptions people made when I told them I was travelling solo was that I am brave. I am not brave. I am determined to selfishly do some seriously touristing and it would be unfair to drag anyone through that. They also assume that I am confident enough to travel alone - either in the language, in myself or in my planning.

I'll admit I'm a severe planner (colour coded spreadsheets and all), but the first rule of travel is that your plans will be ruined. I am not a confident person. I still hate speaking to waiters, asking people for directions and people staring at me. I even find talking to my new hostel roommates difficult, especially if everyone is speaking another language.

I have never been less confident than when I arrive in a new city (especially after a long train journey or when a flight has been delayed). With my backpack on, I'll head down to the train station and fail in all of 3 seconds to find something as what seems like millions of commuters rush past.

#SpoonTip: try not to arrive in rush hour; you don’t need the added stress.

Being lost is natural. I like to pretend it isn’t my first time in the city the next day when I stride purposefully off a tube (having pre-counted the stops) or look at the map on my phone - even if I find 400m later that I am walking the wrong direction. It’s okay to make mistakes when you travel and sometimes getting lost is half the fun.

Equally eating alone requires confidence I don’t always have. I love street food when I am travelling (baked sweet potatoes in Beijing are actual winter lifesavers), with no need to sit awkwardly on my own. I am not against eating alone, especially not when you would otherwise miss out on local specialties, in fact I think it’s great and everyone should try it - just not almost every meal, every day for 4 weeks. Especially when it isn’t an appropriate setting to pull out my iPad or a book.

Most places are relatively safe now. Hostels, shopping centres and coffee shops often have Wi-Fi so you can look somewhere up if you are lost. Okay the usual risks of pickpocketing and petty crime are there, but the likelihood is that if you stick to tourist areas, and are sensible, you'll be okay.

Sometimes people may call out to you, but what would you do in your own country? People are just people, regardless of where they live, and I find myself just ignoring them now. 

Buses still scare me, as they often require language understanding and knowing where to get off. Multiple times I have waited too long for a bus to arrive, pulled out my map, checked the driver goes where I want to (by way of maps and pointing). Then I've stood behind them following the route on my map until I can work out where I am.

You are not expected to know the area as a local and if you get off at the wrong stop, you get off at the wrong stop. It happens; grab the next bus and go. Personally I prefer underground systems, but only large cities tend to have them so it is not always an option.

At the end of the day if you want to travel don't restrict yourself. I recommend vaguely planning what you want to do, just so you can be confident of the areas you are heading too. Even consider taking screenshots of maps and familiarising yourself with them before you head out in the morning. If you stick to cities there will be thousands of tourists - you might just not know it. Don’t be afraid ask your hostel/hotel if you have any questions.

I don't believe I am brave. What I am is determined and stubborn, with a genuine drive to travel as much as I can. A new city will always be large and slightly scary, but make the experience your own, get to know 'your' area of the city by walking around. You'll feel a lot more confident. Don’t let small things stop you from enjoying your adventures.

Safe travelling!