If you’ve read my “Destinations” page, you can tell I love traveling to Europe alone a lot. Some of you probably wonder if I’ll ever add different continents to my (ahem out of date) destinations list. I will, I promise. New Zealand has beckoned for ages. So has Peru. And Japan.
However, I ADORE Europe – especially for solo travel. It rocks. 99.5% of the time, I travel alone to new countries, and Europe makes me feel … comfortable. Relaxed. Excited. I can’t get enough of the place.
Like a lot of “wanderlust obsessed” bloggers, sometimes I feel pressured to travel to new countries every time I book a plane ticket. I want this blog to have a never ending supply of fresh material for you guys. Plus I want to impress friends and family with a mind boggling country count. Hey, I never said I wasn’t vain or a show off, but still. This pressure is silly.
Travel ought to cater to your needs, especially you’re booking a trip for one. If you want to travel to Paris once a year, do it. If you’ve taken your ninth trip to Scotland, but want to go again in the near future, go. If you only want to explore Italy and have no desire to go elsewhere, you do you. Travel makes no demands.
So why do I love traveling to Europe alone? Keep reading.
1. Visiting different countries is a breeze.
Europe is super fun for solo travelers, because of the diversity you can experience on the continent. You can wake up in London and fall asleep in Paris. You can enjoy a breakfast in Stockholm and then take a quick cheap flight to Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania. You can book a lazy week stay in Vienna, but then enjoy a quick afternoon trip to Bratislava, a funky capital located in a completely different country!
If you stay in the Schengen area, border controls between countries are either quick or non-existent for certain passport holders. Visa rules are the same in every country, too. Simple.
2. Meeting other travelers and locals is also simple.
“Backpacking Europe” is almost a traveler rite of passage. It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, young professional, new parent, or senior citizen. I’ve met travelers of all ages on my backpacking adventures – which is great.
Since this type of travel is so insanely popular, every major European city as well as a lot of smaller cities and towns have hostels available for your stay. Now don’t get grossed out. Hostels are fabulous, because they promote a community atmosphere, allowing people to meet and make fast friends. You can even opt for a private room if you’re not feeling the whole “dorm” thing.
Europe also has many free walking tours that attract tons of chatty visitors. SANDEMANs NEW Europe Tours runs a ton of them. Take advantage! You make friends AND learn about your new temporary home.
As a solo traveler, you want to meet other people. You can create friendships that span many years.
3. The flight is far … but not too far.
Okay, this tip doesn’t apply to everyone, sorry! If you live in Australia, you’re rolling your eyes at me. I know.
However, if you’re like me and live on the eastern coast of the United States (or Canada), Europe isn’t too far of a flight. Newark to Reykjavik, for example, can take less than five hours. You could make a long weekend trip out of a five hour flight! And if you live in Germany or the UK or another country in the area? Even better for you.
Additionally, you may be like me and want to travel faraway countries when you have the chance to do it. I plan to explore more of the United States this year, but a part of me can’t help feeling like “the USA will always be there” so I aim for more distant shores instead.
4. Lingering in museums rocks.
Personally, I adore museums. History museums, art museums, you name it! When you travel alone, no one ever nags you to rush through your favorite artwork. For example, I fell madly in love with the Lourve. I could stare at the Mona Lisa for ten minutes without a worry in the world. Sigh. I want to return and spend an entire afternoon ogling at sculptures and paintings.
And Europe, without a doubt, is home to some of the greatest museums in the world. Not only can you enjoy famous museums like the Lourve or Prado, but you can enjoy unique and funky museums too! My personal favorite “off the beaten path” museum was the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb! And I’m not just saying that because I’m bitter about not having a Valentine either.
So spend a solo afternoon learning something new. You’ll love it.
5. Safety isn’t a huge issue.
Okay, even though headlines discuss terrorist attacks as of late, it’s important to remember many European countries have low rates of violent crimes. As a solo traveler, you don’t have to constantly worry about being robbed by a gun slinging opponent. Honestly, I feel safer in a lot of European cities than I do at home. I live in the United States, New Jersey to be exact, and my state’s cities have some of the highest crime rates in the entire country. Ever hear of Camden and Newark? Europe’s cities are Disneyland in comparison.
Now I’m not claiming no crime exists. You should always do your research and know what neighborhoods to avoid, but most of these locations are well outside the tourist areas and hard to stumble upon by mistake. The most you need to worry about are pickpockets (who rarely turn violent) and tacky scams.
You can fully enjoy Europe since safety isn’t your biggest priority.
6. Getting lost stops being a nuisance.
Since you don’t have to worry about safety too much, you can throw away your maps (or turn off google), and roam a city without any sense of direction. You never know what magical markets, shops, museums, or cafes you’ll find in the backstreets of Europe’s cities and towns. Plus roaming away from the big attractions allows you to connect more intimately with locals and gives you a chance to try some authentic food (restaurants are MUCH better away from tourist zones). Getting lost is truly a wonderful experience.
Furthermore, when you’re alone, no one’s complaining about the fact that you’re “wasting time” in a foreign city. Take in the senses, baby, you’re free!
7. Finally a chance to think and reflect.
In New Jersey, I have a busy life. Teaching, although rewarding at times, requires early hours and intense dedication. By worrying so much about my students, I have an unfortunate habit of ignoring my own wants and dreams. Not good.
Traveling alone allows you to enjoy your own company and reassess what you want out of life.
And what better place to reflect about life than in Europe? I mean, come on! In particular, Europe’s diverse natural beauty takes my breath away. You can muse about your dreams and goals while in the lush Scottish Highlands, for example.
Have I convinced you that you really should be traveling to Europe alone? Do it. You’ll fall in love.
Do you plan on traveling to Europe alone? Do you like solo travel? What’s your favorite European destination (ouch, tough one!)? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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