A Q&A of some of the questions I’ve been posed whilst travelling Europe solo…
Aren’t you scared?
The world can be a big, scary place if you decide that’s what it is. A lot has happened in Europe (and the world) this year which affected many people and many lives. From Brussels to Nice, these were events which were scary and I know discouraged a lot of people from travelling. But you can’t let the ‘bad guys’ win. They want segregation and they want to spread fear. I visited many places this year where bad situations have occurred in the past, and the entire time I made sure to be alert and aware of my situation. There was no way that I was going to cancel certain parts of my trip to avoid a place that I really wanted to visit.
However, I will say that I avoided Eastern Europe and Turkey (I know not technically Europe but very close) this year because I am a female and I was travelling by myself. I felt that Eastern Europe was, unfortunately, a risk that I didn’t want to take at this point in time. Despite this, I know that I do want to visit Eastern Europe in the future as I know that the scenery, culture, food and people are all incredible and unique.
Finally, I trusted myself. I didn’t go far at night unless I was with people and my bag was always looped over my body with my hand on the zip. As you know, my camera went most places with me and it was always around my neck. My backpack always had a lock or two on it and I usually tried to book hostels with lockers. It might have seemed over the top, but at the end of the day it was better safe than sorry. Be careful but not paranoid and have fun!
Does it get lonely?
Travelling solo can be incredible. You have the freedom to do what you want, when you want and how you want. But at the end of the day, it can be sad not to have someone to turn to. Countless times this year, I wished that I could turn around and exclaim “Isn’t that amazing?” before remembering there was noone with me. So yes, it does get lonely.
I know that if I had been travelling with other people though, I would never have met half of the incredible people who made my trip what it was. I know that if I had never met those people, we never would have had crazy, spontaneous adventures which made so many memories.
When I got lonely, I made sure to keep in close contact with family and friends at home, but also to make sure I still experienced each place to the fullest.
How can you afford it?
Save, save, save. Saving is hard work, and looking back on the year before I left I know now that I could have saved even harder than I did. I wasn’t one of those people who wrote every single thing I spent into a spreadsheet, although I know that some people travel like that and it works. I just made sure I weighed up the pros and cons of spending (eg – I didn’t spend much on activities or food today so I can splash out a bit on dinner) and didn’t go completely crazy.
I’ll admit that I have budgeted loosely for my last two months in the UK as I am beginning to be a little scared of the number in my bank, but besides that it has been fairly easygoing. I haven’t stayed in a hotel all year (Hostels and Airbnb for the win!) and I know a lot of hints and tricks to save money when travelling Europe. I was also lucky enough to have some amazing family and friends who let me stay with them throughout my trip!
I received a grant and a HELP Loan to study abroad in Leeds, which definitely helped to pay for my exchange semester, and I am very grateful to my parents for their assistance this year. I also got a job writing online articles for an Australian company which I could do whilst travelling. It was a great way to supplement my savings and perfect for while I was travelling because all I needed to have was an internet connection to send the articles through once they were written.
Overall though, I made sure that I had a good amount of funds in my savings account before I left. This will stand you in good stead when you arrive!
Did you plan it all in advance?
No! Where’s the fun in that? I had a brilliant time frequently checking Skyscanner and Trainline for cheap flights and trains for weekends away.
During my two months of backpacking, I would book the next day’s transport and accommodation the night before. It was freeing and it allowed me the opportunity to stay longer in a place if I met amazing people or felt like I had more to see.
This can end up more expensive (particularly with flights) and depending on the time of year can limit your accommodation or transport options as summer in Europe is very busy. Make sure you take time of year and local holidays into account so that you don’t get stuck. It’s also good to do research to ensure that you know whether you need to prebook attractions (etc) in order to see them or if you can queue on the day.
There are probably a million more questions that I haven’t remembered about travelling this year and travelling alone, so if you have any questions feel free to comment and I’ll get back to you!