Madrid at Night

Do you wonder how to spend your evenings? Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius.

Traveling alone has lots of advantages, but one downside is that come evening, there’s no one to hang out with. With no one to dine with or go out with, you’re suddenly hit by the realization that you don’t know how to spend those evening hours.

It’s a situation I’ve certainly had to grapple with, and maybe you have too. If so, I recommend checking out this great blog post I found on nightlife for the solo traveler that has a lot of fantastic suggestions you may not have thought of.

Two ideas from the article particularly stood out to me. First was the suggestion to visit museums at night. Many galleries and museums have late night hours on certain days of the week, giving you something “productive” to do. In my experience, museums are often less crowded at this time and as an added bonus, are sometimes even free (many will waive admission a few hours before closing or on particular nights).

The other idea I really liked was to look for tours that take place at night, for example ghost tours or city tours. You of course get to hang out with other people, but I think another upside is that even if you do a city tour during the day, come nighttime, the same city can take on a whole different personality.

You can check out the article for more ideas, but I wanted to leave you with a couple of my own suggestions for tackling the what-to-do-at-night issue:

  • Firstly, if you’re traveling solo and feel that you’re the kind of person who would be bored/lonely in the evenings, I can’t stress enough the benefit of staying in a hostel. If you just want people to hang out with and chat about your day, you’ll find plenty of those in the hostel’s common lounges, and if you’re looking for some buddies to grab a bite with or to explore the city’s nightlife, you’ll find that too. Moreover, many hostels actually organize pub crawls or other cultural excursions for their guests (I’ve been to tango shows and gone on tapas tours for example), so if you do your research in advance, you can pick a hostel that has this feature (it’s great if you’re shy about approaching others as well). Some hostels also have fantastic movie rooms with a big screen and tons of DVDs, which is great if you just want to put your feet up after a long day but still have the feeling of being surrounded by others. Don’t worry if you’re older than the typical hostel-goer as I find most young guests are more than happy to mingle with the older ones; somehow when you’re traveling, mindset becomes more important than age.
  • Another consideration when it comes to how you spend your time is your destination. If you’re traveling alone and aren’t exactly a Type A personality, then maybe a “party” city with few attractions but great nightlife isn’t for you. Instead, think about visiting places with lots of sites to explore during the day – chances are you’ll be so exhausted come evening that you’ll just want to crash.
  • Lastly, I think evenings are a great time to record and plan your trip. If you keep a travel journal, it’s good to be able to jot down your day while it’s still fresh in your mind (it’s amazing how quickly memories can fade or blur together, especially when jet lag is involved). I also like to use this down time to read through my guidebook and plan out what I’m going to do the next day – this way I don’t end up showing up to an attraction on the one day of the week that it’s closed, missing out on something really important, or wasting valuable sightseeing time reading up on the history/background of a particular attraction.

What do you think? How do you spend your evenings? Do you have any other suggestions for solo travelers?