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Traveling to Europe for the first time!

Hello everyone I'm new here and have found this forum and website extremely helpful. This summer I will be traveling to Europe for the first time. I will be staying at a friend's in The Netherlands and then plan to explore Paris, Greece and hopefully Florence and Rome in Italy. So after visiting a country, I will go back to base in Netherlands and then head out after a few days. I will be there for 10 weeks. Did I mention I will be going by myself? Yes single female traveling by herself in Europe. Imagine my family's reaction. I look at it as a once in a lifetime opportunity. Having said all that, please any and all advice welcomed. Also for those who've been there, how do you recommend I go about traveling by myself and remain safe. I should also mention that I like Steve's recommendations of staying in someone's house particularly in Greece. How realistic would that be?

Posted by
2081 posts

Lisa,

Im a male and travel solo so take it as you see fit. Ive also only been to Amsterdam and Paris from where you are going but my impression of Europe is that in general its safer. But the tourist areas have alot of pick pockets. So whatever you do, secure your purse/wallet or where ever you put your $$$.

also just follow some common sense rules as you hopefully do at home.

as far as a "once in a lifetime activity" i dont think so. the worlds out there, its up to you and your priorities in life that will allow you to go or not. I believe that once youre over there and on your own, you will see its not that difficult to get around (solo) and to travel. Their train network is soooooo much better than in the States and if you need to take a puddle jumper, they are available too.

One last comment - i know you will have a boat load of fun.

happy trails.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks so much Ray. Yes I have read about those pick picketers. I will be very careful and alert despite all the distractions I'm sure.
I will come back here and post about my experience :)

Posted by
3522 posts

I traveled solo for 4 months in the late 70s. No Schengen back then. Also no mobile phones, iPads or anything other than post cards and phone calls made at the post office to let the folks back home know I was okay. I stayed in hostels, pensions and B&Bs and with European friends I met along the way.

If I did it over 35 years ago, you can surely do it now. I think anyone who has the moxie to want to travel alone also has the ability to do it successfully. Just follow the advice that RS and the Forum folks provide and you will have a great time.

I went by myself because I also saw it as a great opportunity and the time was right for me. If I had waited until someone could go with me, I would never have gone.

Oddly, I did not go to Paris on that trip, but I did go everywhere else you list. If your home base is in the Netherlands, and you plan to return to it after each excursion, are you planning to fly back between Italy and Greece?

Posted by
419 posts

Many, many women, young and old, have traveled alone in Europe with no problems at all.
Just take the normal precautions that you would take anywhere at home.
Two things-- First, I don't quite see why you want to return to The Netherlands after each brief trip--that could get expensive.
Second, I have never seen Rick Steves (when you say "Steve's, " I am assuming you mean Rick Steves) advice to stay in someone's house. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
If it does, it strikes me as bad advice.
Stay in a B and B, a hostel, a hotel--only at some location that is duly registered as a place of tourist accommodation , so that you know that you will have a decent bedroom and bathroom.
Read good guide books so that you are prepared for what there is to do and see at your various destinations.
Also, read Rick's book "Europe Through the Back Door" for a treasure trove of information for the first-time traveler to Europe.
Good Luck!

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks Lo, yes absolutely, I agree. I have gone on several vacations by myself; had I waited I would never go. As far as Greece and Italy, I have to see which way would be most cost effective. If going directly to Greece from Italy or vice versa seems more practical than going back to the Netherlands in between then I'll do that. I have been check out the cost on rome 2 rio as well. Thanks for your encouragement :)

Posted by
5 posts

Hi Joan, yes that's what I meant, sorry, using the wrong terminology. But I'll definitely consider your advice not to go back to Netherlands each time. I hadn't consider going from country to country but now you guys mentioned it, it makes sense. I'll get that guide book that you mentioned.

Posted by
16847 posts

I have traveled solo for months at a time and expect you'll have a great trip. Equip yourself with good information; don't skimp on guidebooks.

If you're returning to the Netherlands base frequently, you'll probably fly between most of your destinations; see also www.skyscanner.com. For train tickets to Paris, book early for best price, since last-minute tickets cost up to 200 euros and trains can sell out.

It is quite common in island or small-town Greece for people to make plans on short notice and to find private rooms or small B&Bs by meeting up with local owners who come to meet each ferry at the dock, or at the bus station, or who list rooms with the local tourist office. Those options always worked well for me, although I never traveled there in high season (e.g., July-August). If you fly in and out of Athens, you'll probably reserve ahead for a hotel to match those dates.