As I picture readers coming across this title and day dreaming about their dreams of traveling luxuriously through Europe, I must warn you….as amazing as it is, it’s the farthest thing away from glamorous.
After studying abroad for four months and traveling numerous times to different cities and countries through Europe I would like to consider myself as a semi-profession traveler (depending on your idea of “professional”) For a while the idea behind this blog post was going to be a rant about my fall break from hell, to NEVER travel alone, and stay locked inside your house for as long as possible. But I decided to flip it around into something positive and share some tips about traveling alone – that I wish were shared with me before I did it – but hey I learned a lot and now I can help you all out!
11 Tips on Traveling Alone: (general)
1. BUY A SMALL SATCHEL BAG THAT ZIPPERS.
No Velcro. No magnet. No buttons. Find a bag small enough to keep over our shoulder and in front of you at ALL times. (I prefer ones with an inside zipper pocket to put most valuable items. Phone, wallet, passport, ect.) Almost 95% of everyone I knew abroad were pick pocketed or robbed (including myself) and it is truly the worst feeling, and can really put a damper on your trip.
2. Only carry your passport when you’re traveling.
Once you get to your hotel, leave it behind (locked up and hidden) and bring a copy with you.
3. Have locks on ALL your bags when traveling.
Hostels and hotels are known for stealing from bags, keep your sh*t locked away. (Pay for a locker if they’re available)
4. Get a working phone.
Whether you pay for a full blown plan while traveling (which it great, yet pricy), pay for international calls or texts, or rent a phone with a European SIM card once you get abroad, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A WORKING PHONE WHERE YOU CAN CONTACT PEOPLE EVEN WHEN YOURE NOT IN WIFI. This was one of my biggest mistakes. Because I was unable to get in contact with anyone I couldn’t find my friends in London, missed my plane, almost slept on the streets, and had my parents worried sick.
5. PLAN AHEAD.
- Have your hostel/hotel booked prior.
- Book your flights, trains, buses, or whatever ways of transportation you prefer booked, payed for, and printed tickets in hand.
- Get the correct currency.
- Decide a designated meeting point if you are meeting someone.
- Bring a hand held, old fashioned map.
- Find out the amount of luggage you are allowed on your means of transportation. (One bag means one bag. Not a carry on suitcase, handbag, and laptop case. They charge A LOT for that)
- Make a list of what you want to do and what you want to see.
- Search best restaurants or food spots.
6. Print your tickets.
Print your transportation tickets online. They will charge you an arm and a leg if you show up empty handed and will look at you as if you have 10 heads if you try to show them your “confirmation” email. (This isn’t America people)
***check into your flights online***
7. Always be early.
If your plane, bus, train, ect. says your time is 10:30 a.m. Be there waiting, checked in, and ready at 10.
8. Take advantage of Airbnb.
Always check if there reviews are good and if there are a lot of them. Don’t stay in a new one with no review. Probably the cheapest and safest option. (Some hostiles can be sketchy)
9. Get reusable grocerie bags.
They charge for every plastic bag you need.
10. Be confident. Avoid walking alone at night.
If you act like you know where you’re going and look like you have a purpose you won’t be bothered. Act confused, or lost and make it obvious that your a tourist and you instantly become a target.
11. DON’T USE A RANDOM ATM.
Walk into a bank and use an ATM inside. Most outdoor ATMs take your information and drain your accounts.
Tips for Traveling in Italy:
- Stay away from the gelato spots/restaurants/pizzerias around the duomo or other big tourist attractions.
- Research top restaurants in the city you stay in for the best food experience. Don’t walk into a random spot.
- Real gelato spots have a metal cover over the gelato. If they are in high piles they are filled with air and preservatives.
- Taxi’s charge extra per peice of luggage.
- 90% of everything is in Italian. Learn your key words.
- They don’t believe in “the customer is always right” you’re on your own.
- Do not, I repeat DO NOT get on the back of a cute Guy’s Vespa and tryto reenact your dreams of the Lizzie Miguire Movie.
- Always bargain the price at leather markets and stands.
- Weigh your groceries at the store before you check out.
- Water costs more than wine.
Tips for Traveling in London:
- Use the black cabs. When I was lost in London, someone told me to get in a black cab and I’ll always be safe.
- The tube/underground (subway) is the easiest form of transportation that I have ever come across.
- Get an Oyster card for transportation.
- There are multiple airports. Make sure you check your flight (twice) and end up at the right one.
- £1 is almost equivalent to 2$. So when you buy dinner for £20, just remember that it’s really around $40.
- When someone says “are you okay” it’s their way of saying “hey what’s up”
Tips for Traveling in Switzerland:
- Food is EXTEREMLY expensive.
- Alcoholic drinks are even more expensive.
Tips for Traveling in Germany:
- Always pay for the S-Bahn (subway) If you get caught without a ticket you will be charged anywhere from €40-100€.
- Don’t spend 100€ on a dirndl for Oktoberfest. You’ll never use it again.
- Go to Oktoberfest early to claim your table. If you don’t you could be waiting hours just to get in.
Thank you for reading!
Be cautious, and have fun!