*This solo travel Europe post is a collaboration with Wombat Leather
Solo travel is one of my favourite topics and I love that this blog has inspired so many of you to try it over the years. If you've been following for a while, you'll know I've spent the last five years solo travelling around the globe, including two longer trips around Europe. I've had a lot of questions over how to plan to solo travel Europe and I wanted to answer them all in one post. If you've always wanted to solo travel but have been put off by the idea that you have to travel far away from home, or spend a fortune to do it – read on.
One of my biggest goals with this travel blog is to make adventure travel more accessible and affordable for you guys. To inspire you to feel ready to travel to the countries I visit, to feel safe doing so and to feel confident that solo travel isn't as scary as you first thought. Whether you want to travel solo, or with friends, this post will help guide you through how to plan transport, meet new people, feel safe abroad and to look stylish while doing it. I'm actually heading on my next European trip next week and can't wait to take you guys, and my Wombat Leather hat along!
More on Wombat Leather
I'm working with Wombat Leather on this post and I love their street smart fashion inspired by adventure. After spending two years living down under, their Australian-inspired brand caught my eye with their fashionable outdoor clothing. While staying stylish, their artisanal products, including their fab leather hats remain durable and weather resistant which is perfect for accompanying me on all my adventures. As I've said before, I like clothing that can keep up with my lifestyle and Wombat Leather's products are definitely made for those with a love of nature and the outdoors. But best of all, the company firmly believes that durable outdoor wear doesn’t have to lose its style appeal, or come with a luxury price tag. Pictured, I'm wearing the Wombat Soft Distressed Brown Foldable Leather Hat which retails at £32.
Why you should solo travel Europe:
For those from the UK, Europe is the most accessible part of the world to plan a long-term trip. For those who find Asia or South America intimidating, or Australia too far, it's a perfect option. You don't have to stray far from home or spend 14 hours on a flight to find some incredible places and a culture that will push you out of your comfort zone. From the volcanic landscapes of Scandinavia, to untouched countryside in Eastern Europe, to the stunning coastline of southern Europe, and of course the mountains in-between. There's something to suit every type of traveller. Even better, with just a few hours of plane, bus or train travel from one part of Europe to another, it couldn't be easier.
First-time solo travel in Europe
For a first-time solo traveller, it's a perfect compromise between getting to see the world, but starting with baby steps. There's less of a language barrier which means you're less likely to feel alone, and more likely to meet some great friends along the way. While the spicy food might scare some out of travelling Asia, who couldn't love real Italian food, Greek mezze and French patisseries? There's so much variety, and if one country isn't your cup of tea, it's easy to hop on a bus and a few hours later be exploring a completely new place. Even for those more experienced travellers, Europe provides such a great melting pot of different cultures and landscapes. You're sure to find a place that captures your heart.
Read these posts:
- 11 invaluable life skills solo travel teaches you
- Top tips for dealing with every solo travel situation
- How travelling solo gives you the confidence you never knew you had
How to solo travel Europe?
There are so many different ways to travel solo in Europe – it's all about finding the one to suit your timeframe and your budget. For shorter weekend trips or summer holidays, I've always chosen budget flights with brands like Ryanair or Easyjet. Both are super cheap and fairly reliable, plus they fly to pretty much anywhere in Europe. For longer trips where I'm flexible on time, I've plumped the train or bus as a way to move between countries. I really recommend Flixbus for cheap coach travel, I used them between Slovenia and Berlin and it was such a great way to travel. For those planning a month-long trip or longer, perhaps consider either Interrail or buying/hiring a van to drive around Europe and camp.
How long do I need?
The wonderful thing about Europe being right on your doorstep is that it can easily fit into any length of time you have to spare. You don't have to quit your job and fly to the other side of the world. It fits neatly into a weekend away, a holiday from work, or if you can take a month-longer on sabbatical. Over the years, I've taken a lot of shorter weekend trips over to France, Italy and Belgium, and I've taken two week long summer holidays to Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. But I've also spent a month travelling around Europe on two separate occasions which have also been amazing experiences. I would really recommend taking any time you can and choosing a trip that will fit with your timeframe.
Where to go?
The biggest question of all and there are so many answers. For those who are unsure of where might appeal to them the most, I've put together some small itineraries below that might suit different interests. These are just a guide, you can of course add places or remove some if you've already been. I would also recommend keeping your plans flexible if you're doing a longer trip as you may find you hear about awesome places from other travellers along the way.
Some of my favourite European cities include Budapest, Prague, Rome, Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam. But why stop there? You could easily city-hop your way around Europe and wake up in a new place every few days. Check out Porto and Lisbon, or Bucharest, Athens or even Bratislava.
If you love the ocean, there's no doubt you'll be wanting to visit Greece and Italy's Amalfi Coast for crystal clear water and stunning coastline. But why not get away from the crowds and head to Portugal for surf and lazy beach days?
Shopping and luxury style
For those who love a touch of elegance and class to their trips, why not head for some of the more glamorous parts of Europe. Why not try a long weekend in Milan, pop over to Lake Como or Venice? Pop over to Paris for the weekend by using the Eurostar, or even Zurich for luxury shopping.
Eastern European route
Often forgotten about in favour of more well-known countries, Eastern Europe is a perfect place to get away and find some untouched landscapes. Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic are absolutely stunning and a lot less busy than nearby cousins like Croatia. If you have even more time to explore, why not head south towards Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania for views that will blow your mind.
Scandinavia for the summer
A trip I would love to one day experience. Why not head up north via Denmark and then spend the rest of the summer free camping and exploring the countryside of Norway, Finland and Sweden? It's free to camp wherever you like and the landscape is breathtaking. Plus it's a good place to get off the beaten track and avoid the crowds.
This is such a fun way to travel Europe and I really recommend picking a rough area to explore. When I travelled Europe by van, I started in Germany, went to Prague and drove through the Czech Republic, headed down to Austria and visited Vienna and Salzburg. After stopping in Munich, I headed to the mountains and through Liechtenstein, before driving to Switzerland. The final days were spent driving up through France, the Black Forest in Germany and home. It was an epic road trip and one I really recommend, we managed it in 3-4 weeks.
Safety while travelling solo in Europe:
Always the biggest topic when it comes to travelling solo and particularly as a woman. Safety should always be your number one priority. However, you should never let safety concerns prevent you from travelling. Particularly as most safety warnings come from people who have no idea what they're talking about. Don't listen to anyone who tries to make you feel like the world is a dangerous place. People aren't actually out to con you and steal from you, to assault you or take advantage. Hun, trust me, I've spent five years travelling the world solo and the worst thing that has happened is a car crash.
Travel blogger real talk on safety
I know more people who have been mugged in London than anywhere else in the world, more women who have been sexually assaulted on a night out in a UK club on a weekly basis than have been harmed abroad. The truth is, as long as you keep your wits about you, don't let yourself get overwhelmed and stay focused and alert, you're going to be fine.
Travel safety is no different to safety at home – and if you're a woman I'm sure you're already well-versed. One of my biggest tips that goes against what we've been taught all our lives – talk to strangers! It sounds strange, but growing up we are taught not to trust anyone. Actually most of the people in this world are kind and genuine and just want to help you. By talking to complete strangers your instincts become stronger and clearer, and you are less likely to end up in dangerous situations.
More top tips for solo travel safety:
- Always trust your gut, if something doesn't feel right, get out of the situation.
- It's okay to say no – offending someone is much better than being somewhere you don't think is safe.
- Avoid walking in unpopulated/quiet areas alone in the dark – stick to busier streets.
- Know how to defend yourself – try a self-defence course to give you peace of mind and confidence.
- Walk with confidence down the street, don't look uneasy or nervous, you will draw the wrong kind of attention.
- Don't get in taxis on the street, try to book through an app or call a taxi rank.
- If you're alone with a new group of people, don't get so drunk that you can't take care of yourself and get home safely. You can't always trust strangers to take care of you.
How to meet people when you solo travel in Europe:
One of the biggest questions I get asked about travelling solo – don't you get lonely? And the truth is, no. I'm constantly surrounded by people. If anything, travelling solo opens you up even more to making new friends on the road. It makes you vulnerable, and what do vulnerable people do? We either grow bolder and stronger, or we cling to others who appear so. Either way, travelling solo helps bring people together because you're not the only one who's alone. So many people travel solo and they're all just looking for a friend to share the experience with. So why not be that friend?
Here are my top 5 tips for meeting people when travelling solo:
- Make the first move – Making friends as an adult is kind of like dating. No-one wants to make the first move, but someone has to. Be brave and extend the hand of friendship, ask someone to grab a beer or take a walking tour with you. They'll be so happy someone asked them and I've never had anyone turn me down yet.
- Smile – iI's so simple but has such a huge impact on the people around you. People are so much more likely to approach you if you smile and appear welcoming.
- Seek a social atmosphere – Stay in a hostel with a bar where you can meet people. Or sign up for group activities like walking tours. Put yourself out there and see how easily you make friends.
- Join Facebook groups for travellers – This is a fab one I've used all over the world. Loads of my friends have come from solo female Facebook groups after I've asked a local to show me around their city. Or just ask if anyone fancies getting a coffee.
- Say yes to everything – If you're a real introvert who finds it hard to make friends or put yourself out there. Why not set yourself the challenge of saying yes to everything? (within reason!) It's such a fun way to push you out of your comfort zone and you never know what adventures you might have!
I don't know about you guys but this post has got me excited for my next trip! I'm heading to a country I've always wanted to visit next week and I'll be styling up my outfits with my new Wombat Leather hat. Don't forget to check out their website for the full range of leather bags, hats and and belts for all your travel style needs. Whether you're travelling solo or with friends, don't be afraid to solo travel Europe. Let this guide give you the confidence to see the places you've always dreamed of visiting.
Where would you love to visit in Europe? Have you got any recommendations for places to visit in Europe?