I do not think any sensible person would be turned off traveling by hearing on potential dangers, hazards or even... bad weather, unless they can't deal with the though of those things existing on their everyday life either. In this case, it is wise not to travel anyway.
Thanks Sanders and Mariha,
Sounds like March/April is a good time to set off! My Aunt is very well travelled so she will make me feel a bit more confident!
My plan at the moment is to probably take a little long weekend or week trip within Australia, by myself, just to get somewhat of a taste.
Hopefully I'll get a bit more confidence and set off around the beginning of April to London then maybe straight over to the warmer places for the first leg
Thanks again for all your help
I always travel by myself, but now I am almost 50 and pretty savvy. My first trip to Europe was a music-themed group tour put on by my university. Then the next few were choir trips with an adult choir, so also very escorted. But then I travelled by myself and learned how to use trains, subways and buses in Europe. It's great!
As an American, I find European men much more aggressive but nothing I can't handle. I just have to remember to not randomly smile at passing people because this seems to be an invitation and not just a casual "hi" like in Minnesota. Don't be afraid to literally say "sorry, not interested" to any guy who's bothering you. They go away if you are direct.
If you have sensitive feet like I do, be sure to bring different kinds of walking shoes. If you get a blister on a toe, it's nice to have a sandal to wear that doesn't rub there while you heal.
You might want to look into something called "Busabout". I met some girls your age while I was in Italy who were doing it and they really liked it. It's less structured than a Contiki tour in that you hop off the bus along the route, do your own thing, and hop back on when you want to move on. You can meet people on the bus and decide to travel together a bit if you want.
I have travelled alone through Europe and also on a Contiki tour.
The contiki tour wasnt really my thing as I prefer to do things at my own pace.
I'm not that outgoing but found it just as easy to meet people while travelling alone as it is with a contiki tour.
My advice is to research the hostels you are looking at staying and make sure they have a common area where backpackers hang out chatting , eating etc.
I had the same feelings as you when i went on my first trip 3 years ago at age 28. As I did, I'm sure you will wonder what you were ever worried about a week or 2 into your trip. It's all much easier than you think
Don't worry too much.
Contikki tours are not going to help you get the hang of travelling. They schedule stuff and you are not involved in that. It will irritate you and spoil you in a way, because you won't be any wiser about travelling on your own after it.
When you get to Europe stay with your family in London for the first bit. Start out by exploring London then go a bit further, there is a lot to see in Southern England. There are coaches to all over England for little money from Victoria Coach and Bus Station.
Fly over to the Continent for a few days for a start. A ryanair flight to Germany for example can easily be booked for under 100USD. Flying in Europe generally feels cheap to most people from other parts of the world. And sometimes it definitely IS cheap. I have flown for less money than I pay for a cab to the other side of the city.
Once you have the hang of it travel for longer bits. Keep in mind you can get back rather cheap to London from just about any big city in Europe.
Think about getting travel and travel health insurance. Check into the Eurorail ticket just in case - there is also a train to the continent (through the tunnel)
Calculate your budget, a lot of 'the' places to see cost a lot of entrance fees.
European men ... well depends actually, on the country, manners, and state of drunkeness. But I am tiny, blond with curves and I have not felt out of place in most places. Be sensible and they should not be a problem.
Some things with travelling are all about confidence, but others can easily be dealt with.