7 Lessons I Learned Traveling Alone in Europe

traveling in europe by yourself

My first solo trip to Europe happened unexpectedly. Originally planning to travel with a friend, the trip fell through, leaving me with a dilemma. However, with a ticket already purchased and some last-minute time off work, I took a leap of faith and embarked on the adventure alone. The idea of traveling solo was intimidating; thoughts of getting lost, feeling lonely, and the fear of not having anyone to rely on crossed my mind. But as soon as I arrived at my first destination, those fears started to fade away.

Europe: The Perfect Destination for Solo Travelers

Europe is an ideal starting point for first-time solo travelers. For Europeans, it feels somewhat familiar, yet it offers a wide variety of landscapes, cultures, and historical sites. For those coming from further afield, the continent’s well-connected train network makes traveling between countries incredibly simple. You can explore France, Croatia, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Serbia, and Hungary without even stepping on a plane. If you’re unsure where to begin, there are many underrated cities and lesser-known islands waiting to be discovered.

One European gem that should be at the top of every solo traveler’s list is Croatia. With its rich history, culture, and breathtaking natural beauty, Croatia offers a range of experiences for everyone. From exploring the historic city walls of Dubrovnik to bathing in the Krka waterfalls, wandering among Roman ruins in Split, and enjoying the vibrant nightlife in Hvar, Croatia has something to offer every traveler.

Another destination worth mentioning is Austria, a country that feels like it’s straight out of a fairytale. From its majestic mountains to the charming old towns of Salzburg and Vienna, Austria seamlessly combines urban and outdoor experiences. And let’s not forget about the country’s famous coffeehouses, where you can relax and immerse yourself in the local culture.

As a solo female traveler, I felt incredibly safe wandering around Europe alone, even at night. This experience has given me the confidence to continue traveling solo and possibly venture further afield in the future.

If You Want to Do Something, Just Go For It

As an avid traveler, I always dreamed of exploring new places, but I often found myself disappointed when plans with friends never materialized. However, since taking my first solo trip, I’ve realized that I have nothing holding me back. If I want to go somewhere, I can simply go for it without waiting for others to join me.

I Can Handle Anything That Comes My Way

Living abroad has already made me resilient and resourceful, but traveling solo has tested me in new ways. From dealing with aggressive ticket inspectors to re-planning my itinerary due to missed connections, I’ve learned to handle whatever challenges come my way on the road. This newfound confidence has empowered me to overcome obstacles and embrace the unpredictability of travel.

People Are Kinder and More Generous Than You Think

In today’s world, we often have a barrier of suspicion around us. However, while traveling alone, you find yourself needing to put your faith in strangers. I’ll always be grateful to the man who gave me spare change for a bus when I was stranded in the Czech Republic without any currency or signal. This experience taught me an important lesson: to always have some local currency on hand for unexpected situations. It’s moments like these that remind you that kindness exists in the world.

Being Alone Doesn’t Have to Mean Being Lonely

One of the biggest concerns for solo travelers is the fear of feeling lonely on the road. However, I quickly discovered that being alone allowed me to be fully in charge of my agenda and travel at my own pace. Most importantly, I learned how to enjoy my own company. And the best part is, you won’t be alone for long. Along the way, I met numerous solo travelers who quickly became friends, making the journey even more enjoyable and memorable.

Meeting People is Easier Than You Think

Before embarking on my first solo trip, I wondered how easy it would be to meet people. To my surprise, I found that like-minded individuals tend to gravitate towards each other while traveling. Whether it was having a friendly chat with a waiter in Belgrade or engaging in deep conversations with backpackers from America while admiring a sunset in the mountains, I realized that connections can be formed anywhere. Interacting with locals also led me to unique experiences, such as beer and pizza in Prague, a private tour of a hidden market in Budapest, and delicious home-cooked meals in Zagreb.

Small Group Trips: An Easy Way to Meet Fellow Travelers

Small group tours, such as those offered by Intrepid Travel, are a fantastic way to meet like-minded travelers. I joined a small group to explore the stunning Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, and it resulted in some of my most cherished travel memories. From stimulating conversations and future travel inspiration to valuable tips and even an invitation to visit California, these group tours provide a supportive and inclusive environment. The adventures that solo travel can lead to are countless, and it’s an experience worth trying for yourself.

All images courtesy of Selina Sykes.

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