Backpacking Through Europe Solo: Comparing my Expectations with Reality

Some post travel reflections.

On deciding whether or not to go

I wondered if traveling alone was the right choice. Though some people I spoke with and articles I read were supportive about solo travel, there were many that were not. The night before I left, I considered how much money I would lose if I chose not to go.

On planning my itinerary

I booked housing and transportation between cities prior to leaving. For me, having this figured out was worth the sacrifice of sticking to a plan and not having the freedom to make certain choices spontaneously. I did not plan any days out, but made brief lists of potential activities and eateries I was recommended and found online.

On packing

I chose to pack fairly light, taking a carry on and a purse. I had access to laundry facilities in a few of my stops. Having minimal to keep track of made getting around easier. Packing lightly also allowed me to save a considerable amount of money since I did not have to pay for luggage.

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On safety

There still exists plenty of stigma around females traveling solo. I received plenty of non specific advice, which was just to “stay safe”. There were certain times along my trip where I ended up feeling unsafe. Perhaps some of these situations could have been prevented if I did some more research prior.

On choosing my activities

I heard so much about how traveling alone is fabulous because I get to choose all the things I want to do. Since I spent most days alone, I really had to consider what I felt like doing. I was never tagging along, but creating my own day based on what I was feeling.

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On the act of traveling

I traveled through cities casually and prioritized relaxing over just crossing things off a list. Though I expected I would do certain things at each destination, I chose to do what felt good in the moment instead of trying to do everything.

On handling unexpected situations

There were tons of random scenarios that I encountered that I did not expect. It sounds cheesy, but focusing not on what happen, but how I choose to react to it, was pivotal in regards to this experience. I learned to differentiate between what I could and could not control, and chose to focus on the positive.

On feeling lonely

I enjoyed the time to myself and didn’t really feel lonely. I did get restless a few times.

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On meeting new people

I met many other travelers. It was so interesting to hear their stories and learn about what brought them on their journeys.

On learning about myself

It was a really valuable experience for me to take some time to reflect on myself and my priorities.

On how I feel after

For me, traveling through Europe on my own was a great choice. I am happy I had the confidence to go and am grateful to those who offered me encouragement and advice. I want to emphasize, though I felt I gained a lot from the experience, they were wholistic takeaways; I didn’t just go to Paris and suddenly feel like everything had changed. Like day to day life, some days were great, and some days were stressful. Ultimately, I feel that traveling alone allowed me to grow my skill set, pushed me out of my comfort zone, and gave me the freedom to focus on myself.

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