In one week I will be strolling the streets of Barcelona, consuming cava, and tasting tapas. I will temporarily reside in El Born neighborhood bordering the oldest neighborhood of Barcelona – the Gothic Quarter.
For now I will share some of the planning I went through to make this trip happen as well as the pre-trip preparation. For tips on solo travel in general read my recent post 15 Tips for Solo Travel.
When I first begin planning for a trip I always take a look at the travel guide books available at the library. It’s a good way to preview the books and find out which one, if any, I would like to bring with me on a trip. Sometimes I just bring one of the library books with me but occasionally I prefer to have my own copy so I can write notes and mark it up.
For Barcelona I decided on the Eyewitness Travel guide Barcelona and Catalonia January 2014 edition. I used to go straight to Lonely Planet when I needed a guidebook but I’ve found there are better options a lot of the time these days. When I took my first solo trip to SE Asia over 20 years ago Lonely Planet was the guide to bring when traveling – especially when traveling solo.
I found the National Geographic Walking Barcelona – The Best of the City guide-book (2014 edition) while perusing the shelves at Whole Earth Provisions. Normally I would not bring two travel guides with me but I enjoy walking and Barcelona is a great walking city so I decided to buy the book. I’ll review both books when I get back to let you know how I liked them.
While searching the library shelves online I also found a few documentaries about the greet artists of Barcelona – Antonio Gaudi, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miro.
When preparing for a trip I like to learn about the history and culture of the location I will be traveling to and travel guides generally cover the basics. The documentaries I watch helped me learn a little more about the history and culture of Barcelona and Spain in general.
Watching movies written/directed by artists from the region I’m traveling to is one of my favorite methods of picking up some of the cultural nuances of a new place. I watched many Spanish movies when I was studying the language. One of my favorite directors is Pedro Almodóvar and I’ve listed several of his films below.
15 of my favorite Spanish movies
- Todos sobre mi madre (All About My Mother)
- En la ciudad sin limites (In the City Without Limits)
- Hable con ella (Talk to Her)
- La flor de mi secreto (The Flower of My Secret)
- Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces)
- La mala educacion (Bad Education)
- Carne tremula (Live Flesh)
- Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown)
- Lucia y el sexo ( Sex and Lucia)
- Mariposa (Butterfly)
- El abuelo (The Grandfather)
- Mar adentro (The Sea Inside)
- Sexo por compasion (Compassionate Sex)
I booked my airfare to Barcelona in January and I thought I was going to use some of my American Airlines frequent flyer miles. I researched the flight times but when I tried to book the flight I was shocked at the $660 fuel surcharge! No way! Oh well, I ‘ll save my AA miles for trips to Canada and South America.
My flight cost me $1,020.90 total including taxes but I saved a bundle on my accommodations by booking a place via AirBnB.com – which I first used in 2011 for my solo trip to Buenos Aires Argentina.
I am staying in La Ribera neighborhood which is adjacent to the Gothic Quarter and El Born district so I’ll be doing plenty of walking all around the neighborhoods. The metro is a couple blocks from my location so that is convenient for visiting places like Montjuic, Magic Fountain, and Park Guell.
Searching AirBnB I found a private room in a beautiful apartment for $24 per night! It’s cheaper than some of the hostels in Barcelona. I will let you know how I like it in a couple of weeks – all the reviews – more than 60 of them – on AirBnB were very positive.
Travel Blogs with Variety of Information about Barcelona
Searching around the internet I found some good resources from other travel blogs.
- Barcelona Blonde – Extensive information about Barcelona
- yTravelBlog – Things to do in Barcelona
- Will Travel For Food – check out the tapas from Tickets Tapas Bar in Barcelona
Search google, Pinterest, twitter, Facebook – and you’ll find loads of information and photos of Barcelona from all sorts of people.
Ask for Tips from friends and co-workers
I did some checking with friends and clients who have traveled to Barcelona before and received some tips based on their personal experiences.
Visit online travel forums
There are many online travel forums on sites like TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, and FlyerTalk. People post questions, trip reports and just chat about travel. You’ll find tips about anything and everything travel related.
Quick Tips for Planning and Preparing for a Solo Trip to Barcelona
- Library – review the travel guides available at your local library – also look for movies/documentaries
- Look up weather information for the time of year you will be visiting and plan your packing list accordingly
- Research accommodation options and book early for best availability – my current favorite is AirBnB.com (free travel credit!)
- Watch Spanish movies to learn more about the history and culture
- Search for travel blogs via google, Pinterest, twitter, Facebook
- Visit website forums on travel sites such as Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, FlyerTalk
- Ask friends and co-workers who have traveled to Barcelona to give you their personal tips
Preparing for my trip to Barcelona I am enjoying a glass of Freixenet cava – the sparkling wine that is made in the wine country region of Penedès less than an hour from Barcelona.
What are your tips for planning and preparing for a solo trip?