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1. Posted by js_2005 (Budding Member, 18 posts) 20 Oct '06 10:42

I have a question for all solo female travelers out there, what were some of your experiences while traveling all alone in Europe? Would you recommend it to other women? Is it a do or a don’t? And finally, do you have any good advice on traveling solo, particularly in western Europe?

2. Posted by Norzi (Budding Member, 8 posts) 21 Oct '06 05:16

Hi,

I haven;t actually travelled alone but have travelled with other young women in two's. I have spent part of my journey alone when we wanted to do different things. I really didn;t have any real problems whatsoever:
France : Paris - big city like London. Loads of tourists, many of whom are alone like you. Didn't get any hassle. No real problems clothing wise or any special behaviour.
Rome: Similar to what I ;ve said about Paris but men do give you a little more attention there - nothing horrible though. Maybe just more compliments and stuff - no scary staring or following or anything like that. I felt safe there even in the evening as people go out later there. People were helpful with directions and stuff - less so in Paris.
Madrid: As above - really sociable people. Again felt really safe at night as it is such a night city!
Sicily: Have to be more careful in Palermo , catania etc as there are some dodgy areas but on the whole no problems - although was with a friend.
In general, I found the bigger cities nice places to walk around alone , see what I wanted to see, nice to sit in cafes and people watch. However, just take the usual precautions you would take at home. Don;t be overfriendly to men, avoid unlit quiet areas at night. Walk with a purpose and look like you know where you're going. If you need to check something - duck into a shop or cafe. Don;t have valuables in full view - i.e digital cameras hanging round your neck etc..
Hope this has been helpful.

3. Posted by summer910 (Respected Member, 1342 posts) 21 Oct '06 12:40

I've travelled alone in the Netherlands and Belgium, and will head to the UK next month. I've met up with friends while in Benelux, but have also taken in sights on my own. Didn't encounter any major problems, but so long as you're cautious with your belongings and on the road generally, I think you should be fine. If you're going anywhere that's more isolated, at least do it in the day time.

The people I encountered in Holland and Belgium were friendly and helpful with directions. They also spoke pretty good English, so that was a plus factor in that we had a common language.

But before you do any travelling, it's important to get a general idea of the place you're visiting, so that you don't feel so lost or stick out like a sore thumb when you get there.

Have fun!

4. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru, 4567 posts) 21 Oct '06 12:49

Hello js

I often travel alone, and have done so, for the last 18 years.
I have never had an experience, which would put me off travelling alone.
In Southern European countries, i tended to get more attention, from men, than i liked. It was generally more of an annoyance, than a danger.
When going out at night, take the same precautions, as u would take in any modern country.
Do us intend to go, to Morocco? More safety precautions will be necessay, if u do.

Mel

5. Posted by t_maia (Moderator, 3291 posts) 21 Oct '06 14:21

Western Europe must be the best place for a single US-American woman travelling alone.

If you are white, middle-aged, wear smart business-style clothes and manage to travel with a smaller suitcase than you originally planned on, nobody will ever give you a second look. If you aren't, the worst thing that is going to happen is that people will recognise that you are US-American and adress you in English on the spot.

It is absolutely safe to travel alone in Western Europe, as long as you stick to the same safety rules you apply at home in the US. Don't go out alone late at night into an area you don't know, keep your valuables hidden away, etc.

There are a lot of European women travelling solo through the continent just like you, they can't be all stupid. Hey, some girls of us even go solo to countries in Africa, Middle East, Asia, South America.

The only question is: will you be happy without constant company?

6. Posted by js_2005 (Budding Member, 18 posts) 22 Oct '06 06:55

Thanks a lot for all the information.

I'll be twenty when I travel around Europe next summer and I was wondering if that will be too young to do it by myself. I'd also like to say that I'll have been living in Norway prior to my trip for a couple months because I'm studying abroad in Moss, so I won't be completely new to Europe.

I thought about the whole lonely thing. I'm a real big people person and I love being around people all the time, but the thing is none of my friends are into traveling. So the question is, should I let that stop me from doing something I really like and always dreamed of doing or just go ahead and make do with the situation?

I do have one male friend who is thinking about meeting me in Germany for two weeks to do a bit of travel so I probably won’t be alone the entire time, and I even might meet someone at school who wants to do a spot of traveling after a long semester. It’s just, if it all comes down to me doing it by myself I want to know if that’s a safe and logical thing to do.

The places I want to go are Italy, Germany, France, and definitely the UK.
Thanks :)

7. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru, 4567 posts) 22 Oct '06 08:05

Hello JS

I dont think 20 is too young.
I moved from a village in Ireland, to London, England alone, when i was 19. When i was 21 i lived in New York, for 3 months. I went there alone. I went to Canada alone, when i was 24. Well, u get the idea. I go to lots of places alone.
When i was 22 i travelled around France and Italy, alone and at 23 i went to live in Germany alone.
I met a lot of people, but yes sometimes i felt lonely. But a little lonliness does not kill a person.
U go ahead and live your life. U will meet new friends, everywhere u go. Stay in youth hostels, when u travel and u will meet lots of people your age.

Mel

8. Posted by bestmayo (Budding Member, 14 posts) 21 Feb '07 00:57

Don't forget The netherlands!!
This country have a lot of old buildings and a lot of history. ( go to Utrecht, amsterdam, Arhnem ,maastricht and maybe Volendam)

In west europe , travel alone as woman is no problem. Most of young woman travel solo. In the netherlands take the train. It's very easy and safe.

Good luck!

9. Posted by nikio (Full Member, 11 posts) 24 Feb '07 05:20

Hi there, well heres my two cents worth. I've just turned 22 and I have travelled through a lot of Germany, the Canary Islands and Italy by myself, and am soon going to be adding Austria and Switzerland to the list. I have never had a major problem. I've been on buses, trains and ferries without hiccups even slept on a train platform at Termini Station in Rome.

My only real problem (which was more of an irritation really) I felt a little unsafe in Naples, but just dont stay around the Main train station and you'll be fine. I kept getting approached by older men wanting to be my guide for the day and drive me out to Pompeii for free - yeah right! The staring got to me a bit too, as I'm not used to it coming from NZ and all. We don't stare, or if we do we quickly look the other way when caught - not in Europe. I snapped at one guy and made him pretty nervous when we were waiting in line, but I put that down to heat and humidity!

The best thing is to walk with your head held high, a 'don't even think of messing with me' look and try and look as less like your lost as possible.

Don't be afraid to make conversations with people, but just be cautious with some offers people make. I.e the guy offering me free ride out to Pompeii when I can easily take the Circumvesuviana for like 5 euro, much safer.

10. Posted by nikio (Full Member, 11 posts) 24 Feb '07 05:34

Just been thinking about the friend thing! I have had to travel by myself this past year, simply because I don't know enough people around where I am living (I'm in Germany for a year) and those that I do know, either can't afford to go, or can't take the time off work. If I didn't go by myself I would have missed out on meeting so many cool people and some pretty wicked experiences. You meet quite a few people at hostels if you take the initiative and say hello first, and don't stay in your room the whole time.

Try Couchsurfing, its a pretty safe way to meet locals and definietly wont feel so lonely. What I find liberating about solo travel is theres no arguements over where to go or what to see. But then sometimes I take the slackers approach, and do things more half heartedly if I'm by myself. I meet a cool American couple at the hostel I was staying at in Rome, and they invited me to go sightseeing with them, as they were in need of some different company after 3 months of continous travelling together, but anyway the guy was like a pro athlete or something so he had boundless energy, we got dragged around most of Rome in a day, and had a blast - I would never have seen as much if I'd been by myself. And it never would have happened if I hadn't said hello at breakfast that morning.

You also end up making quite a few random 'day friends' often never even learning their names, or maybe not till its time to say goodbye. I met Luis (a gorgeous Spaniard) in London, an Australian woman in Taormina and we travelled up to Sorrento toghether, once when I was in Hamburg, I meet a Norwegian girl and we headed out to dinner together and did a little exploring. Ended up chatting most of the night and now I'm going to go visit her in Norway in May!

You do get lonely sometimes, but I don't mind my own company and you just have to get a little more proactive than normal. A lot of my friends aren't into travelling yet either, and boy do I make some of them jealous with all my tales.