Solo travel is a skill to be acquired. Just because you aren’t born with an intense desire to explore new places by yourself, doesn’t mean you can’t gather the courage to do so. The more you travel solo, the more comfortable traveling alone becomes.
Why Travel Solo?
There are many reasons people feel encouraged to solo travel. When we travel alone, there is often a feeling of immense freedom. We can be selfish in ways we usually wouldn’t when considering our travel partners. It’s also an opportunity to work on creative projects that have been left on the backburner or read that book that’s been sitting idly on the coffee table for years. We’ll improve our language skills, and we’ll be forced outside of our comfort zones interacting with cultures other than our own. Most importantly, we’ll build a more intimate relationship with ourselves, one that will have a lasting impact on our lives moving forward.
5 Best European Cities to Explore On Your Own
You can go anywhere. But, let’s start here. These five European cities are well-known. They may be deemed “touristy,” but think of it this way: tourist locations are known for accumulating a diverse group of people. They are usually bustling city centers, rich in history and persona. You’ll find restaurants that are full of life and nightlife worth staying out until five in the morning for. Cities are always a reliable launching point for your solo travel adventures.
1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
If you’re looking for a “chill” atmosphere, look no further. My advice: rent a bike and weave through the blossomed streets (season permitting) like a local. If you’re nervous about language barriers, don’t be. Most people speak English. Speaking of English, Boom Chicago is a hilarious English comedy show in the heart of Amsterdam’s Jordaan area.
2. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is a compact city, which makes navigation a bit easier. It’s also known for its spirited drinking and dining culture, so post up at a bar, order a glass of wine, and start a conversation.
3. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is known as a relatively safe city. There aren’t any “bad areas” to steer clear of in comparison to a city like Barcelona (known for pickpocketing). Architecturally, Prague is one of the most exciting cities in Europe. Many architectural gems from different eras remain intact because the city was not rebuilt during the 18th or 19th centuries.
4. Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken is a town between two pristine lakes and is one of the best places in Switzerland to see the Alps in all their glory. During high season, Interlaken gets busy. Grindelwald is next door, and just as wonderfully stunning.
5. Berlin, Germany
Whether you’re looking for a heartbreaking history lesson or an electronic music dance-off, you’ll find it. For a long walk around this vibrant city, download the Rick Steve’s Audio Europe app for an extensive audio tour.
What to Pack When Traveling Solo:
1. Day Pack and Lock
Day packs are useful for short trips. Bring a lock for securing your belongings if necessary. It’s also helpful to have if you’re staying in communal spaces in hostels.
2. Copies of Identification and Visas (if Required)
Before your trip, make sure you have a couple of printed copies of your passport and required visas. Place the copies in different areas of your luggage. Lastly, have digital copies saved in your email for easy access at all times.
3. Travel Insurance
Yes, you need it. I’ve used World Nomads in the past.
4. An Extra Credit Card
Keeping an additional credit card separated safely from your wallet is something to consider. It will be useful in the off chance your wallet is stolen, or you leave your tab open at the bar.
5. A Language Tool
Communicate with confidence by learning some language before or even during your stay. Download the Pimsleur App or check out our extensive catalog of languages and take your lessons on the road.
How to Meet People When Traveling Solo
1. Stay in Hostels
Hostels foster community-style travel. Most will offer community beer tastings, karaoke nights, or similar activities. And it’s almost always cheaper than staying in your private (and lonely) Airbnb or hotel.
Couchsurfing originated as an internet-based hospitality network, offering travelers free accommodation. If you aren’t into the idea of sleeping on a stranger’s couch, they also provide in-app event forums where you can meet up with people nearby in public locations.
BumbleBFF is a dating app for friends. In the same way that you’d swipe right for a date, you can swipe right for a friend. If you aren’t convinced, check out my personal story about using BumbleBFF to acclimate to new and unfamiliar places.
MeetUp is a platform that allows users to join local groups to meet people, try something new, or do something they love with others. Find a hiking group on their way to Mt. Rigi or a writing group at a cozy cafe nestled in the heart of Paris.
5. Sofar Sounds
Sofar Sounds originated in London in 2009 and is now hosting events in 429 cities around the world. The company has reimagined the live event experience and encourages a more intimate atmosphere. It’s a great way to meet people while listening to incredible underground artists.
5 Safety Tips When Traveling Solo
1. Wander Lightly
Leave your valuables locked up at your hostel or hotel.
2. Download Google Maps
Being able to access Google maps offline is not only extremely convenient, but it’s also a safety precaution.
3. Know Local Emergency Numbers
You never know when you’ll get stuck in an elevator with twin two-year-olds.
4. Share Your Itinerary
Make sure your friends and family know your itinerary. Tip: if you have a smartphone, share your location with someone you trust.
5. Know the Address of the Local Embassy
It doesn’t hurt to have the local embassy on speed dial. You know, just in case.
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