Solo Female Travel in Europe is Awesome.
Ahhh, it’s been awfully quiet around here, hasn’t it? Not my intention, sorry. And don’t worry, readers. I haven’t take another three month hiatus.
So what happened?
Work happened. My life as a teacher is so damn unpredictable, especially in September, when summer vacation creeps to a sad, sad, sad end. Gone are the lazy beach days. Gone are late evenings binging foreign horror films on Netflix (don’t judge me). Gone are silent alarms.
Now waking up before sunrise kills my spirit. Driving at rush hour in New Jersey obliterates my spirit. I love my students, though. So there’s that.
Anyway, after acclimating to my busy schedule, I’m back again to entertain everyone. (Are you not entertained?!)
To make my return easier, I’m gonna talk about a subject that I think I’m an expert on. Solo female travel in Europe.
If you’re about to embark on your first solo trip, the European continent is a great place to begin traveling. These 25 tips will make your adventure even easier on your nerves. After all, you want to learn about history, try exquisite new foods, push yourself to sign up for adventure activities, and forge lifelong friendships rather than feel anxious about pickpockets and passports.
1. Carefully research accommodation.
Always research your accommodation in advance. Preferably, you want to read reviews to see if your hotel/hostel/apartment is located in (or at least close to) the city center. Time is precious. You also want to make sure the neighborhood is safe if you need to return at night. Some places might have great ratings, but the location could still leave something to be desired. Avoid.
2. Use packing cubes to maximize your luggage space.
Packing cubes are an absolute godsend if you want to save space in your luggage – which you do – especially if your journey requires more than one flight. Plus it keeps you organized. You’d be amazed at how much you can lose in a single backpack.
3. Create an amazing itinerary that focuses on a region.
It’s tempting to try and visit every country on your trip. However, you’ll just stare at train seats if you’re crossing borders four times a week. Select one area. You’ll have a deeper appreciation for the history, culture, and people if you take. your. freakin’. time. No rushing.
4. Combine big cities and smaller towns for maximum appreciation.
In addition, visit small towns in conjunction with big cities. For example, we all want to see Prague. Prague is awesome. But don’t forget to venture to Cesky Krumlov or Karlovy Vary to see another side of the country. Europe has many cool small towns for solo travelers. It’d be tragic to miss them. Plus you’ll experience some killer nature too if you venture outside the city limits.
5. Contact your bank and credit card company ahead of time.
Ughhh, don’t forget to let your bank know about your adventures. Fraud protection is wonderful, but also a bitch. Keep everyone in the loop so you don’t find your funds blocked overseas. Fighting with the ATM is not fun experience – especially if you’re jetlagged after an eight hour flight.
6. Create a photocopy of your passport.
You should always have your passport number written somewhere, but a photocopy of the main page will make things easier on your if you lose your passport. Hopefully you won’t. But… better safe than sorry?
7. Book yourself on walking, food, and adventure tours.
Day tours will not only arm you with new information about a destination, but they’re great if your goal is to team up with other travelers. Europe, especially, is a haven for solo travelers, and odds are high that you’ll meet at least one other person on your tours. Remember guided tours are not the devil.
8. Use Bumble BFF or Tinder to make new friends.
Bumble BFF is a swipe app that connects women with other women who are looking to make friends. It’s not a dating app. Plus Bumble BFF provides a safe way to find other female travelers or even locals. As for Tinder, well… make your intentions clear at the beginning. Otherwise it could turn awkward real fast.
9. Familiarize yourself with public transportation.
Honestly I wouldn’t want to rent a car in Europe unless absolutely necessary. Instead read about trains, subways, and buses in your destination. Look at maps ahead of time so you don’t waste time stumbling around the platform trying to find your next train. Plus public transit is great for people watching.
10. Use Duolingo to brush up on your foreign language skills.
It’s super easy to find English speakers. Honestly, I’ve had no problems at all. Still, it’s polite to learn a couple words of the local language. Install Duolingo on your phone and practice!
11. Don’t count calories.
You’re traveling, not dieting. Save “health and fitness” for home. I mean, if you’re traveling for longer than a month, then sure, be somewhat conscientious, but a two week trip? Stuff your face. Who cares.
12. Buy a city pass to save money and time.
If you’re a big city, like Paris or London, compare the cost of a city pass to what the attractions would cost a la carte. You might be surprised at the savings.
13. Bring scarves into churches and cathedrals.
Some countries, such as Italy, require your shoulders to be covered for you to enter the (beautiful) churches. Yes, women should able to wear whatever they want without judgement, but unfortunately now isn’t the time to discuss those issues. Cover up.
14. Be aware of the difference between “high” and “low” season.
High season means higher prices, packed sites, great weather, and more chances to meet other travelers. Low season means saving your wallet, but shorter hours and fewer travelers are a reality. Decide which is more important to you before booking your vacation.
15. Make sure the taxi driver uses the meter.
Sadly, some locations have more “honest” taxi drivers than others. I always insist on using the meter if I can’t reserve a cab ahead of time. You don’t want to get hopelessly ripped off for no reason.
16. Don’t be afraid to go out at night.
I honestly don’t think it’s helpful to tell solo female travelers to stay indoors after the sun sets. Boooooooring. Go out. Enjoy the stars. Enjoy the city lights. Simply stay aware and smart.
17. Bring a good guide book.
The internet is wonderful for up to date research. I mean, travel blogs are awesome and give “real experiences” to loyal readers. Still, there’s nothing wrong with investing in a quality guidebook. I’m still a big fan of Lonely Planet. Make sure to buy the most recent edition of any given guidebook. A lot can change, even in two years, so spend a bit more cash if you have to.
18. Bring your student (or teacher!) ID.
Major discounts ahead. Need I say more?
19. Keep a journal.
I regret not journaling more on my solo trips! Even if you have the most incredible experiences, it’s only nature to forget SOME things. Try to jot down as much as you can every single day so you have clearer memories to reflect on.
20. Don’t drink too much alcohol.
I think this tip speaks for itself. You don’t be want to be so hungover that you waste time lying in bed.
21. Remember: You won’t only pay in Euros.
The Euro exists in most countries, which does make managing your money a little easier. But it’s not the only currency. Visiting the United Kingdom? Prepare to pay in pounds. Croatia? You’re paying in Kuna. Hungary? Forint. Familiarize yourself with the exchange rate near departure so you don’t smash your budget into a million pieces.
22. Take advantage of “cheap” flights.
Europe is great for affordable flights, especially if you book on Ryan Air, Norwegian, or any of the other budget airlines. However, make sure you’re landing at an airport close to your destination, and watch those luggage weight requirements. Otherwise you could pay a pretty penny on top of your “cheap” flight.
23. Appreciate the “old” and “new” Europe.
Europe isn’t just castles and cottages. Make sure to check out the “newer” and “trendier” sides of Europe, too, especially in places like London and Berlin.
24. Exercise normal safety precautions.
Don’t lose your mind because you’re overseas. If you wouldn’t do something at home, don’t do it in Europe either. Don’t get so wasted that you can’t walk. Don’t explore sketchy areas in the middle of the night. Don’t accept rides from strangers. By exercising some common sense, your trip will be a much safer one.
25. But don’t allow paranoia to ruin your trip.
It’s normal to feel anxious on a solo trip. But don’t act so paranoid that you never leave your accommodation. You’re spending a lot of money to be here. Enjoy it.
What tips would you add to this post? For more information, check out my beginners guide to solo female travel. Thanks for staying patient!! Here’s hoping I survive another school year.