(Closed) Solo Female Traveling in Europe

posted 8 years ago in Travel
Post # 3
Member
257 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

Your hubby can’t come?!?!

Post # 4
Member
838 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

That is insane! lol but more power to you i could never do that.

Post # 5
Member
1042 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

I have a few tips I picked up while studying abroad in Paris!

– Always when you are walking alone, but especially when you are taking public transportation, make sure you are not in a position to be pickpocketed. Carry a purse with a zipper on top or secure fastenings, and keep it clutched under your arm (it does not have to look unnatural). I am sure people in NYC often practice this too.

– If a stranger offers you a ride, do not accept it! This may seem like common sense, but a friend I was walking home with once almost got into a strange man’s car because he told us he could give us a ride to a shopping center we were looking for!

– Be aware of your cultural surroundings. For example, in France, if you are on public transportation and you smile a lot and  stare at guys, they might consider it an invitation to come up to you and kiss you or hit on you!

Always exercise caution when dealing with strangers. If they ask you to go somewhere secluded or if you feel unsafe, suggest something different. I turned down a lot of activities (clubbing, drinking) with people I had just met because I was NOT interested in hooking up with random guys and felt like I might be putting myself at risk for something bad to happen.

Post # 6
Member
306 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

Where exactly are you going? It make a big difference. I’ve traveled around a lot of western Europe as a single female, and even more of it w/ a few female friends, so am happy to help where I can! In big cities (Paris, etc), you’ll be fine if you have your wits about you, and if you lived in NYC, you do. I haven’t spent as much time in rural areas, but the only thing I’ve noticed there is more of a language barrier (if you only speak English).

Tell us more of your plans/ideas! I’m excited to weigh in!

Post # 7
Member
2392 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I spent two weeks in Europe alone when I was 23.  It was an adventure.  I think I would have enjoyed myself more sitting at home in the sun reading, but looking back I’m really glad I got the experience.

I started in Athens with a friend, then we split up – she went to London to meet her family and I went to Nafplion/Mycenae.  Getting through Athens, onto the right bus, off at the right stop, and finding my guest house was an intense challenge.  (I know no Greek and haven’t really taken any American regional buses either.)  I went up to the roof-deck of the guest house where I was staying and there were some British girls in their late teens – I was so excited to find people speaking English!  Ended up spending a good deal of my time there with them, sharing our ideas on where we planned to visit in the area.

My original plan was to go to Crete, but I ended up scrapping that, as it was just too much to travel alone in a country where I couldn’t communicate.  Especially given that the Greek overnight ferries are not exactly reliable.  I ended up moving up my flight to London (where I was leaving Europe from) and going there.  Where I had to walk the street at 1 AM looking for a hotel with a vacancy.  That was it for London.  I made a hostel reservation online for the next few days, sent out a “hey, who wants a visitor” to some friends in the UK, and took the noon train to Edinburgh.  Which was awesome.  Spent some time alone, some time with other single female travellers staying in my hostel.  Took the train back down by way of friends in Leeds and Bath, then London.

My advice?  I definitely think it’s worth doing BUT you’ll have a very different trip than if you go with others.  I’m someone who enjoys going out / nightlife and did not get much of it.  My fiance went to Europe with his step-brother around the same time, and our experiences were SO different.  Meals can be a bit lonely after awhile.  A major upside, though, is that travelling alone makes it so much easier to meet other travelers.  Which is awesome.

Where you go matters a lot, I think.  Being somewhere where you speak the language, or at least can muddle through is REALLY helpful.  Greece felt extra lonely and was very hard to get around.  I constantly felt like I was on the verge of getting really, really lost.  I cannot recommend Edinburgh enough, though, as a place to visit alone.  LOTS of single female travellers – I met a nurse from Australia on her way to an assignment in the shetlands.  A grad student researching medicine in colonial Barbados.  There’s tons of safe, fun hostels along the central road in the city, and you can walk to restaurants, museums, the castle, etc.  There’s also a lot of fantastic scenery within a short drive.  I didn’t have a car, but one of the girls I met and I took a bus tour that went up to Stirling Castle and some of the highlands. The train up from London was also gorgeous, if way more expensive than the bus.  Just don’t pack for Crete.  Even in July, Edinburgh is WAY colder.

Post # 8
Member
306 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

Oh, and second Miss Burgundy re: cultural norms! Europeans take any sign of what we see as American friendly politeness as an invite to be all over you. Europe requires a constant disinterested expression.

Post # 9
Member
1042 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

If you’re going to France I have a couple of great cultural books I would recommend! Also, nearly everyone in Paris speaks English. Most restaurants don’t even bother with giving you a French menu if they can tell you’re a tourist, they’ll just hand you an english one and speak to you in english.

As the only country I’ve been to is France that’s really the only place I have recommendations for, although my study abroad friends really enjoyed Amsterdam and London too!

Post # 10
Member
639 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

i say go for it!  While i don’t have europe specific travel tips, i have traveled through south america on my own, and a lot of the same common sense rules apply.  

Don’t take rides from strangers.  don’t walk around after dark.  don’t wear flashy or expensive looking jewelry i.e. engagement rings, wedding bands with bling (depending where you are – this may be less of a problem in Europe).  don’t set stuff on the chair next to you at restaurants/cafes or hang stuff over the back of the chair – this is asking to have your stuff snatched – put purse straps around your knee and under the table instead.

Thats about it.  as long as you are smart, there is no need to feel unsafe traveling alone – even in south america!

Post # 11
Member
542 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I spent two weeks in Europe on my own- London, Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Venice- and I had a fabulous time.  Learn some key words, phrases, and questions in the language of the countries you will be visiting.  I did and earned a lot of points just for trying.  I was lost in Paris and made eye contact with an elderly gentleman who knew I was lost and while he didn’t speak English, he found someone for me who did.  A lot of the rules are the same as what I would do traveling alone in the US or Caribbean.  Don’t be overly friendly- I only had one incident that freaked me out in London.  Afterward I ended up at a museum that was a bit of a walk from the tube station and I was afraid to walk back by myself, so I looked around the museum and found a couple from the US (recognized the tour book and accent) and we walked to the tube together.  Take lots of pictures, try some foods you wouldn’t usually try, check out where your hotels are and their neighborhoods (I always tried to be not too far from public transit so I could go out at night on my own), and just have fun!

Post # 13
Member
761 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2011

I spent 8 months traveling around Europe after I graduated college and found it to be the most rewarding experience. I spent time in Ireland, England, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, France, and Greece. I would suggest staying in hostels as you are with fellow travelers and can get great recommendations on what to see and do as well as maybe a friend for the day. Also be aware of what time you are booking trips, it is much more rewarding to be lost finding a hostel in the morning or around lunch time then at night. Primarily for safety but also you are still getting to see the city if you are wondering around lost in the day and can see things you want to go back and check out. In terms of how countries I felt most comfortable in I would say Austria was very clean and safe feeling as is Sweden. Sweden is very clean and efficient as far as transportation and people are very willing to help you out in English.

Post # 14
Member
399 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

I did a bus tour of Europe after graduating college, and I had a lot of fun.  It was a bit weird being a single woman on a tour geared for a slightly older crowd, but I loved it.  I met some wonderful people.  A few years ago I took myself to Paris for a week.  I had only one problem with an overly attentive male on the bus from the airport into Paris, but as soon as I called him on his sh*t, he left me alone.  I agree with PPs that our normal tendency to be friendly can be misconstrued in some parts of Europe.  One thing I would do when I needed to check out my map (Hello!  Tourist here!  Target!), I would find a bench or something and sit down to get my bearings rather than standing in the middle of the sidewalk looking lost.

Do you have friends in Europe?  I have friends in Paris, and getting to meet up with them really helped with the potential for lonliness.  Hostels are also a great place to meet people.

Have a great trip!  I am jealous!

Post # 15
Member
900 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I’ve travelled along for small stretches of time (in between meeting friends) in England, France, Italy, and Australia.  

First, definitely do hostels.  That way you can meet people to travel with.  I would especially want to know at least one person before doing an overnight train ride.  One night I was put with a family of Eastern Europeans who did not speak English and felt extremely uncomfortable (and alone)…I wandered around until I found some girls speaking English and they let me stay with them.  On bus tours (day trips) in Australia I always met other single girls or guys to hang out with.

Double check hostel info and location.  In Cairns, Australia I was put in a room with 5 other guys…not ok with me or Fiance.  I freaked out, cried a bit, called Fiance, and then got a single at another hostel.  I lost my money, but felt a lot more comfortable.  It was also a bit far from the main area which means more walking alone.

Get an iPhone.  I used the google map all the time!  And I felt more connected because I could text Fiance.

Traveling by yourself, especially in Europe is awesome because you get to pick everywhere you want to go.  But I definitely got lonely pretty quickly, especially in non-English speaking countries

 

Post # 16
Member
2208 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

You’re probably well prepared. street smarts wise, to handle it. I haven’t done this in Europe, but I have in China, India, Vietnam and Ecuador.

My biggest piece of advice that doesn’t apply well in the US but may in more conservative parts of Europe is to focus on befriending the women around you. If you are on a long train trip, for example, say hi to the women and compliment their children (if culturally okay). Women will often stand up for other women if a man starts giving her a hard time.

From an entertainment POV, bring a bunch of books as Mp3s about the countries you are visiting. Staring out a window while you listen is a great pleasure, IMO.

Befriend Germans and Australians. In my experience, they are really laid back, travel a lot, and are fun. This isn’t to knock people from other countries, but I honestly can’t think of any Aussies or Germans I’ve run into on trips that weren’t awesome.

Ignore the “I’m more extreme than you” backpackers. Those people are boring idiots who only want to talk about how high-tech their gear is.

Don’t feel bad if you need to spend a day not sightseeing. In fact, plan a few breaks. Church-museum-city plaza, rinse and repeat, can be tiring after a little while, and it is better to take a day off than to roll into Notre Dame and feel like, “just another church.”

Finally, pack light. Best thing you can do for yourself. But don’t pack ugly. Bring a form fitting dress and attractive slacks, two nice looking button down shirts, and a good, lightweight fleece. Bring a decent shawl that you can use as a scarf or to dress up an outfit. Bring a chunky necklace to do the same. And you are good to go!

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