Travelling solo to races seems terrifying and, I won’t lie, for the first couple of hours it really, really is. You’ve got travel, meals and days totally alone, you can start to feel a little lonely…
I travelled to the Spanish GP at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya by myself because it was on my bucket list and I wanted to have a holiday in the sun. None of my friends could afford it so I thought ‘hey, I’m 24, I can do this alone’ and I don’t regret it at all.
So, here are a few things to do when planning your trip.
- Accommodation: Naturally, travelling alone means that you’ll be forking out the entire sum of your hotel/hostel/apartment so shop around, look for places on the outskirts or small hotels, prices vary dramatically around cities so it pays to look. Another major deciding factor is how you’re getting to the track; walk, train, bus, coach, taxi. If you’re relying on public transport then how far are you from your nearest station/stop? I had 3 things I wanted in hotel facilities/location: Free WiFi (first world problems), near the beach (only essentials) and near a train station. I chose Born, the Gothic sector. It had everything I wanted; walking distance from the station (Arc de Triomf was the closest), walking distance from the zoo, beach and from various cafes/restaurants. The location was everything I wanted and the hotel was less than £700 for 5 nights so zero complaints from me.
- Transport: I won’t address flights because, even in a group, you pay for your own ticket. If you’re like me, you might want to get a taxi from the airport if you’re new to the area but the majority of places will have direct rail links from the airport or from close to the airport (not including Silverstone because…yea). The R2 route from Barcelona El Prat airport takes you into the centre so you can make your way from there. I’ve already said it but how are you getting to the track? Do you know your train route? Is there a Silverstone style shuttle bus to and from the track? Driving? Taxi? Whatever your mode of transport, planning is KEY! I’m so into organisation, I plan my route weeks ahead of the event to prevent any mishaps. In the case of Barcelona, the trains are so simple to navigate (but still check online beforehand). If you’re staying in Born like I did then it’s super easy. A metro link (L1) from Arc de Triomf to Clot then change onto the main line (R2) to Montmeló. From Montmeló station, you just follow the crowd towards the track but it’s pretty much a straight line. The walk is about 20/25 minutes depending on how fast you walk. The train prices are pretty reasonable too, about €21 for a 2 zone 10 journey ticket (covers the metro and main line, not sure how many lines *sorry*).
- Food: In general, if you’re with or without people, food at the track is EXPENSIVE! If you want breakfast, there are bakeries dotted around no matter where you are. On race weekends, there are lots, and I mean lots, of people selling sandwiches on the way to the track (and beer, Barcelona is a dry track which I found out the hard way). For a sandwich and 1.5 litres of water, you’re looking at about €6. At the track, you’re looking at the same price for a shot of espresso and a packet of M&Ms so choose wisely. If I were to recommend anywhere in Barcelona for food, it has to be La Clotenca Pizzeria in Clot. Sweet Jesus, the portions are huge so, you know, amazing and the food is delicious plus it’s not at all overpriced and the service is brilliant. If you’re going to seek out anywhere to eat, go there.
- Company: I’ll say this loud and clear so you all understand me… IF YOU HAVE SOCIAL MEDIA, THERE IS NO REASON YOU HAVE TO BE ALONE ON A RACE WEEKEND. I was fully expecting a lonely weekend, exploring by myself and just generally chilling but I was wrong. One tweet about being at the track and I’d found a fellow fan in GA and arranged to meet up with other fans. Twitter and Instagram are prime places to find other fans and make new friends with the shared interest. None of us were supporting the same team but that meant nothing, we bonded over our mutual love of the sport.
There are many things that could go wrong when you’re away so always remember to have travel insurance and that your bank is able to help in these situation. Unfortunately, neither my insurance or bank were able to help when my purse was stolen so I lost all my money, bank/credit cards and my driving license. Shout out to Barclays for leave me high and dry.
Race weekends are wonderful and crazy and you will LOVE every minute of seeing all those cars flying around so if you have your heart set on somewhere and none of your friends are wanting to go… GO! Plan/save like mad, tweet about it, find like-minded fans at the same place and HAVE A BALL!
Life is for living. I would never have dreamed of doing this adventure a few years ago but I had the most amazing time.
Be smart. Be safe. Have fun.
P.S. if you’re planning to do Monaco, give this a little read.