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Female solo travel in paris and...

I will have 2 weeks in may in between my last semester which I am planning a trip to europe, mainly paris, vienna and amsterdam. I have read a small bit on female solo travel, I am beginning to learn some french and doing alot of research. I am 23, but have been living in major cities alone for several years, am pretty street smart and smart overall (at least when I compare myself to other college students)
Although planning this trip is a bit daunting I am very excited about it. I am someone who enjoys being on my own and think that I will be able to enjoy things alot more. I will also be staying in hostels and look forward to meeting some people along the way.
My parents have both told me that they are not thrilled with my plan and don''t like the idea of me doing it alone.
I tried to explain that the cities I am visiting are safer than boston (where I am now) and new york (where I have lived)) but to no avail.
I am not overly concerned about europe from what I have heard, although I am someone who is always on guard, I have taken martial arts a long time and knowhow to fight, which also does not calm myparents.
Can anyone offer some tips or advicefor me?

Posted by
582 posts

It is never easy for parents to let go of their kids and to be so far way. When my son was about 19, he flew to Rome alone. I was concerned, but knew I had to let go. He came home safe and sound and I became proud of him for doing this.
You are over 21 and you need to follow your heart and follow your dreams.
I always travel alone and I love it! I can set up my own schedule and go in my own pace. Traveling alone lets you do some soul searching and to get to know yourself better.
Don't let anyone or anything to stand in your way. You love your parents, but you are all grown up and you need to do what is best for you. It's nice to be an independent woman at 23!!
Rick Steves son traveled Europe at 18! At 20, he's already a pro!
By the way, I lived in Boston for seven years and loved it!
I hope you stay in touch, and HAVE FUN IN EUROPE!!!

Posted by
51 posts

alayna, i am right there beside you. although i have been to europe before ( with 10 other ppl ), ive decided to go back next september by myself for 3 months, after my graduation. I know what you mean about the parents not being thrilled of the idea of you by yourself. I have a lonely planet guidebook, which each country, it has a specific section just for "women travellers", and if it is a concerned area for women even if travelling alone. At the front of the book, it states that for "women travellers" it may be helpful to understand the status of local women to better understand the responses you illicit from locals. It also says about how parts of portugal/spain/italy/greece are very conservative, so it would be smartest to dress relatively modest. Just to blend in a little better. Hope this helps! Lets also hope we are both safe while we while travel abroad alone!

Posted by
267 posts

Aside from the impeccable advice given above, I'd like to add a few tidbits:

French men are more "physical." If they like you, they will make it abundantly clear. By "physical," I mean, Jacques might place his hand on your shoulder for a few seconds. However, cultural differences are no excuse for harassment. If you ever feel uncomfortable, let him know. If a stern "non" does not do the trick, just walk away. If that doesn't work, shout "laissez-moi tranquille!" = laysay mwah trah keel! And if that doesn't work, kick him as hard as you can. Thankfully, I have only had to go that far once. A teenage boy in Paris got prominent bruises on his arm and leg after causing me trouble. He was the only rude French person I ever encountered. Most French men are wonderful.
When I went to Europe, I was fine - and you're already in much better shape than I was. Martial arts, street smarts - I had none of thi before departing. Hostels = adventures! Try to stay in a hostel with single-sex rooms.

Posted by
16 posts


I'm not sure it matters that much whether you are male or female when travelling alone. You might get hit on by a guy where I might get hit by some guys.

It's my belief that travelling alone for the first time is a little scary regardless of sex. I've travelled to Europe many times but did my first solo trip last summer and it was quite possibly the best thing I ever did. I met so many cool people that I wouldn't have even looked at if I was travelling with friends.

The first city I visited was Amsterdam and I was apprehensive the first night. I think that walking with a purpose and appearing confident is possibly the best advice anyone can ever give. By the time Paris and London rolled around, I was a professional solo traveller.

By the way, I just got jumped in Fanueil Hall in Boston last month and fractured my orbital. I didn't once feel threatened in Europe. For the most part, everyone else is a tourist too except pickpockets and they avoid attention.

Posted by
51 posts

Tom: you are so true on that one. Every single one of my friends got tricked into the guys with the bracelets. ( most looked jamacian to me ). And they will ask you what your fave colors are, and will tell you they will make a special bracelet just for you with those colors. and they braid it on your hand. DO NOT allow yourself to be distracted by these guys, at first they will tell you its free, for a souvenir, then when they are done braiding it, they tell you to give them some ammount for it.
Alayna: the only other advice i could give that has been passed down to me, is to first and foremost always have your cash and passport touching your skin at all times. Under your clothing. These are the most important things to have when your are in another country for sure. I had friends who were pickpocketed when we were in europe and she is so grateful that her passport and money wasn't taken, since it was under her clothes, where it would be hard and noticeable for them to get to.

Posted by
12040 posts

The only advice I can offer is on the steps of Sacre Couer. You WILL be approached by some rough looking men trying to extort money out of you by placing a cheap rope bracelet on your wrist. Look out for them, walk away if they approach, and give a firm "No", preferably in a language other than English or French. I also speak Dutch, so I use that.

Posted by
1158 posts


There is a lot of crime in Europe on the streets and public transportation, but if you are carefull and use common sense, you'll be fine. keep your purse/backapck next to your body, instead of on your back, as many Americans do. it's very easy to attack one's backpack when kept on the back , especially in the subway.
Look around you and be content at any time. Use you camera , then put it back in your backpack, instead of hanging it around your neck or shoulder.
European men have the tendancy to pinch women's butts, but just give them a "wild" look and shout something to them. Walk away and they usually leave you alone.
I have heard that Sacre Coeur area is bad, but I 've been there twice and nothing bad happened to me.Hold on tight your backpack.Relax and enjoy your trip, Europe is not worse then the US. There are no guns in most of the european countries, which scares me the most in the US

Posted by
64 posts

Today I looked through alot of guidebooks at the bookstore and like the irreverant guides to paris and amst. and found a small frommer's on vienna, but can't find too much in the way of vienna.
Looked through the let's go books, since I will be on a short trip I really only am looking at books for the cities. The let's go was good for france, but anyone tell me what the best paris book is?

I also read through the hostel directory which was good, I WILL be booking my hostels ahead of time to avoid sttaying somewhere skeevy and to know what they offer. I would like to stay where they have lockers and sheets seem to be provided for women in most places(one more thing I don't have to bring)

Apparently, the let's go says that it isn't hip to book ahead of time, but as fly by the seat as I am, I think it's a good idea. I also read about the bracelet guys.
When i lived in new york and in now in boston, I get harrassed mostly by homeless guys as we have quite alot outside my school

Posted by
64 posts

cont. So when it comes to that I have more than enough exp with dealing with it, but if some guy pinces me, my reaction would be to punch him! I am fairly avoidant with men outside of social situations b/c of that.
I plan on the money belt, and a backpack with locks and could carry it in front on metro- only thing is, how much money should you carry in your pockets if they will get picked, you don't want to access your belt in public and i guess alot of hostels only take cash?
I am a little concerned about lodging though, I am really not into the whole vagabond backpacking, as long as there is a bathroom where i can fix my hair and take a 2 minute shower I'm good, I'll sleep on a cot as long as I'm safe!

Posted by
12040 posts

I should also mention this tip, although it works best in colder weather... you don't have to browse this website for very long to learn that moneybelts are a good idea. If you want extra security to make a moneybelt or purse completely off limits to thieves, wear it below your coat. A friend of mine actually had his moneybelt cut on a subway, but he was wearing it on the outside of his shirt in plain view.

Posted by
267 posts

Michelin Green Guide - the best guide to Paris

I would put my life in this book's hands.

Posted by
367 posts

Hi Alayna:

In regards to your question about how much money to carry in your pocket.

I generally carry about 40 Euros. I was "backpack pocketed" on my first trip to Europe. While waiting to get on a train in a crowd and my pack was unzipped and my wallet taken. However, I listened to the Rick Steves guide on my tour, and all my important stuff was in my money belt. So someone got a good lunch that day.

I would advise don't carry more than you can afford to lose. Not that we can afford to lose any, but if losing 20 euros would destroy your budget carry less. You can always duck into a restroom at a cafe or store and get into your money belt for additional funds.

If you just be aware and careful you will be fine. A coworker of mine in her late 20s spent three months traveling around Europe solo and had a wonderful time.

Maybe send your parents emails every other day or so to put their minds at rest. They can "travel" with you as well.

Posted by
506 posts

Alayna -

I encourage you to take your wisdom, be smart an come explore. As a single woman here in Paris, I can tell you it ultimately is your gut that will help. Pay attention to the red flags and trust yourself.

Additionally, make copies of all your documents (passports, credit cards, debit cards, itinerary, emergency contact etc.) Keep one in your backpack, one in your money belt etc. Should something happen, this can help in your recovery process.

Whenever in a tourist heavy zone - awareness becomes key. Although you have spent time in large US cities, remember that language may be your barrier. Help yourself, learn a bit before coming.

Get a good map of each of the cities. Paris Practique for example is available at all Presse stands. Helps in a pinch after wandering.

Posted by
32069 posts

alayna, you might have a look at Rick's "Europe Through The Back Door", as there's a section there devoted to women travellers.

Given that your parents are not "too thrilled" about the idea of you travelling alone, you might consider taking a Cell phone. They might be more at ease if they receive regular text messages on your status, and the fact that you're having a good time. In addition it's a good resource for you if you should need it.

Happy travels!

Posted by
206 posts

I went to college in Boston, too, and went to London/France alone a few years later. It sounds like you already have one of the most helpful things of all: a good head on your shoulders. Just use common sense, and you'll be fine. Don't walk around late at night, wear clothing that blends in (not shouts :-)), wear your backpack on your front in the subway, and always study how to get somewhere before you go out the door (obviously reading maps is a dead giveaway that you're lost/unsure). Have a great trip!

Posted by
258 posts

I did 4 weeks in Europe, 3 weeks by myself in Sept/Oct and it was awesome!! I'm 27 y/o. I found that I really like travelling alone because I could do what I wanted when I wanted. I never felt in danger at all over in Europe and I travelled from London to Paris around Germany to Vienna and to Prague. I've felt more unease in the U.S.

The only word of caution like others have said are the French men. They can be very pushy at times, but saying "No" a few times did the trick. Like do the guys think I want their "free" wine???? The worst place for this was the Eiffel Tower. I was just sitting by myself watching it light up at night and way too many peddlers were around interrupting my time, lol! Just ignore them. But I never felt in danger by them either.

Have fun!!