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### Tips for Solo Travelers Exploring Europe

When I initially enrolled in my home university in France, I surprised my parents by announcing my intention to embark on a solo journey to Marseille. While this may not appear significant to seasoned travelers, for a novice like myself, it was undeniably anxiety-inducing. Since then, I have ventured out independently on 11 excursions to 16 different cities. Solo travel gradually evolved into an integral part of my persona—my acquaintances and peers now associate me with a passion for exploring new locales and navigating them solo.

You might be pondering—what is the allure of traveling alone, and isn’t it isolating and intimidating?

Certainly, solo travel is not suited for everyone. Some individuals relish the companionship that comes with traveling in groups, while certain destinations may feel more secure when explored with a larger entourage as opposed to going solo. Nonetheless, the advantages of solo travel can be enticing to those who prefer a travel itinerary centered around personal time, individual pursuits, and the opportunity to forge new friendships and create lasting memories with fellow solo adventurers!

With that in mind, here are some recommendations to consider if you are contemplating a solo escapade for your next getaway:

Prioritize Safety and Comfort

Many of my friends have expressed apprehensions about staying in hostels during their initial solo voyages. As an experienced solo voyager, I appreciate the ambiance and camaraderie of hostels as they offer a quick way to interact with other solo travelers! However, I acknowledge that the safety aspect of hostels may deter some individuals from embarking on solo journeys, particularly first-time female solo travelers. When I commenced my solo travel endeavors, I opted for hotels instead of hostels as I felt more secure in a private accommodation. Gradually, I transitioned to hostels as I grew more comfortable residing and resting in shared quarters with other travelers. Take each step of your solo travel journey at your own pace!

Utilize Your Hostel as a Launchpad

Despite my penchant for exploring the city independently, I engaged in the hostel-organized activities as well. This enabled me to connect with a community and forge new friendships while on vacation. Particularly in larger hostels, daily activities are arranged, ranging from visits to iconic landmarks, sampling local cuisine, to engaging in group games. One of my favorite activities was participating in pub crawls organized by the hostels I lodged in. Exploring various recommended bars and pubs while socializing with fellow travelers over food and drinks was a captivating experience that allowed me to immerse myself in the city.

Participate in Guided Tours

I discovered that joining complimentary walking tours or opting for paid day trips facilitated my engagement in activities that I might not have pursued solo. Free walking tours enable you to manage your travel expenses while fully experiencing the city, whereas paid day trips offer solo travelers the opportunity to explore remote destinations that may be challenging to reach without private transportation (especially if you do not drive, for instance).

Exercise Prudent Judgement

I cannot overstate the importance of taking extra precautions when journeying alone! While most major cities are relatively safe, it is advisable to exercise heightened vigilance when traveling solo. It is prudent to steer clear of secluded areas in town and maintain regular communication with family and friends to apprise them of your well-being—especially during your initial forays into solo travel. As an avid enthusiast of pub crawls, I make it a habit to stick to well-lit streets or return to my hostel accompanied by newfound friends, particularly if the night extends late. Always remain cognizant of your surroundings and belongings—while I have not personally encountered issues like pickpocketing or theft, these unfortunate incidents are challenges that many solo travelers encounter.

Solo travel need not be daunting or intimidating—on the contrary, with adequate precautions and thoughtful planning for your maiden voyage, it can be an unforgettable experience. If you are still contemplating whether solo travel suits your preferences, I wholeheartedly encourage you to give it a try because ultimately, you only regret the chances you did not seize!