Traveling alone provides total freedom and independence with the opportunity to do whatever you want and go wherever you’d like. It also comes with a few drawbacks, but by following this “need-to-know” advice you can make the most of your solo travel experience.
You’re actually far less likely to be a victim of a violent crime in Europe than you are in the United States. Using common sense such as avoiding bar fights and walking away from a confrontation will significantly reduce your risk of running into any problems. Try to withdraw cash from an ATM during the day, and not at night when there are few others around. Carrying a pickpocket-proof bag is also a good idea, especially in large cities like Rome, Florence and Barcelona.
Be sure to leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member back home and stay in touch periodically by phone or email. If your gut tells you something isn’t right, go with it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Where to stay
If you want to meet like-minded travelers, stay at a hostel. You’ll find many who may have similar interests and come from all corners of the globe, making it a great way to learn about another culture and meet new friends. It’s important to be friendly and outgoing by smiling at the first person to introduce themselves and introducing yourself to new arrivals with a smile. The property will probably have a community board available where you can post your contact info to meet up with other guests and check out the surrounding sites together.
A bed and breakfast is also a good way to meet others, and the hosts may even organize a group outing for guests to some of the local hotspots.
Some travelers feel that dining alone is a big disadvantage to solo travel, but it doesn’t have to be. If you want company, eat in a crowded place that forces you to share a table, or you might ask another solo traveler to join you. When you meet other travelers during the day, make plans for dinner, or cook a meal in your hostel where you’re sure to meet lots of other people around dinner time.
Getting over the initial fear
For many solo travelers, the first few days can feel rather strange, especially when it’s the first time you’re traveling alone. You may start to feel anxious and wonder if you’ve made a mistake, but if you’re open to new experiences and meeting new people, in no time at all you may wonder why you’ve never traveled alone before. Taking off on a long journey to parts unknown can feel a little scary, but soon you’ll quickly realize that those fears were unfounded.
Remember that there are many like-minded travelers to meet and you’ll likely cross paths with them, make a new friend and enjoy all kinds of fantastic new experiences. Let go of the fear and enjoy the adventure!
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