12 Tips on How to Travel Alone in Europe

Are you wondering on how to travel solo in Europe or looking for some solo travel tips for backpackers? Europe is one of the safest places to travel when you are on your own and travelling Europe alone on a budget as it has some of the cheap places to travel. Every traveler who is about to embark on their first trip to Europe is faced with the same questions: Which are the best places to visit in Europe? Which are the must-visit cities in Europe? And what is the best way to travel Europe for the first time?

What you can do in 15 days is choose places that will be a tad bit light on your pocket and get to know them well. Here you will find a melting pot of culture, interesting food traditions and unique travel experiences with slightly lower prices than elsewhere in Europe - a real win-win. Now you have two options to pursue.

Travelling is an experience that can be savoured without company too. It enriches the soul and opens hitherto unknown dimensions of your personality. Not to mention the addition to your knowledge and pleasure quotient. Travelling alone may seem daunting and sometimes even pointless. What shall I do without anyone for company? This may cross your mind.

But why limit yourself only to the known? Both in terms of people and places. Go out and see the world for yourself. You may encounter strangers who may then become friends! As a solo female traveler or singles you have the freedom to set your own itinerary. Travel to a lot of places in a touch and add just add on your list of places covered or travel to a few places but explore them really well.

travel Europe alone

1. Standing on the left side on escalators

DON'T. Especially in the metro, train stations, or other busy public places. The RIGHT side is for standing idly. The left side is for people in a rush, walking or running up or down the escalator. Same goes with the flat ones you’ll find in some of the bigger metro stations or in Paris airports. Mind your shopping bags or luggage too.

Don’t stand in the middle, you are blocking the way and annoying everyone. You’ll likely be met with a disgruntled Pardon! coming from behind you.

2. Coming empty-handed to someone’s home

Whether invited for dinner, coffee, a meal, a party or a longer stay. Always bring something as a gift, something to drink for example or something sweet, like wine (preferably good - if the wine is cheap and/or bad, French people will know and think of you accordingly), good quality chocolates or dessert.

Also, when going to a party, the alcohol you bring is meant to be shared with everyone. People bring their own six pack of beer to parties in some Northern American countries, intending for it to be for their own enjoyment only. That, in France, would be considered terrible manners.

3. Speaking loudly in public spaces

Cafes, restaurants, trains, buses, museums, even in a crowd somewhere unless it is a demonstration. In fact, whenever not at home, keep the volume down. It applies for the communal stairs in apartment buildings too. In the cinema, just keep quiet. If you need to make a phone call when there are people surrounding you, step outside. Disturbing others by chatting too loudly is considered very uncouth. You may even get told off.

4. Do not wear shorts if you are an adult

Italian men never wear shorts, very young Italian women do, occasionally. Do not forget that in Italy summer can be hot and sunny, you may not like getting extensive sunburns. Bermuda shorts are not considered very elegant but are usually OK, so are those horrible mid-calf trousers (capri in English, pinocchietto in Italian). But stay away from shorts.

Never ever ever wear socks and sandals! Italian can be very judgmental about look and socks and sandals is a BIG no no in italy.

5. Avoid casual or random flings

The risk of a trick-roll is very high while travelling, you’ve no idea what mess they hold with them. Think long and hard as to whether the Red Light district in Amsterdam is something you really want to do. You might think you need to do it, or think you want to do it. Until you’re in the middle of a bunch of gawking stag party types, most of whom are drunk or aimlessly milling about or both, crammed into a very small part of the city.

Make sure you bring contraception in case you get lucky.

6. No binge drinking

Follow local customs and have a bit to eat with your drinks. You will find that it has its merits. Do not take an aggressive exchange of words for an invite to physical violence. It is a rare event should it happen and seen as a lack of wits. Do not take loud exchange of words and shouting for aggression. It is just the way people talk, the more south the louder. Just live with it and join in.

Do not complain over kids out late with parents at the bar. This is a different custom and they really do have it under perfect control. Just live with it.

7. Interact with locals

The best suggestion you can get is from the person who has/had lived there, even google doesn't stores all the info of that place on a single page. But the locals know almost everything about it. So, interact with them, you will get to know a lot and your planning will become quite easy.

This is one of the most practical traveling organization tips you’ll get, although it doesn’t sound like one. You’ll benefit from the experience and knowledge of locals, as well as from connections with other tourists. Even if you want to spend a lot of time alone or with your partner, being friendly is still important. You’ll have questions and you’ll need recommendations. Being known as the kind person in the group goes to your advantage.

When being introduced to female do not offer your hand for a handshake, it’s always most polite to give a kiss on each cheek. The European people are extremely friendly and happy to assist as well. Be prepared to meet a lot of people and make new friends. The lifestyle in Europe is pretty relaxed, and locals are very laid back and passionate about their country.

There is more to a solo Europe trip than ticking off girls trips to Paris and Barcelona. You should take the time to explore more than just the traditional options. The map of Europe forms a rich and diverse tapestry. And then, there is the behaviour. Scandinavians are, by any measure, very quiet, understated, and ever so slight. They tend to be introverts, very modest, and diplomatic.

Danes are known for cosiness, Finns are among those who drink the most coffee in the world, the Norwegians are known for their rides, hiking, skiing, camping trips and cab rides. While the Swedes love to spread coffee culture. Fika is a magical way that Swedes socialize, connect, and get along with other people, while enjoying coffee and baked goodies (especially cinnamon rolls). Swedes typically enjoy their Fika time twice a day. Just grab a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll, and chat.

Talk to the locals. Ask for help if you get lost. Never ask only one person for directions. Ask a few people for directions to the same location because chances are, one of them is wrong.

When you walk down any random street of Italy, it really looks as if it's out of a fairy tale. The cobbled streets, the well-designed street lamps, and the general crowd which loves to drink wine. Don’t ask what kind of beer the bar has. Most bars only have one tap. Makes things real easy. Do not be tourist and order sangria, get tinto de verano instead. Or better yet, try some homemade vermouth, many bars have their own recipe.

If someone buys you a drink at the bar, make sure you buy them one back. It’s a common courtesy. You do not know anything about Guinness until you have drank a properly poured pint of Guinness in Ireland. Do not complain on the length of time it takes for the bar staff to pour because that is the proper way to pour it.

On above note, do not try to keep pace with an Irish person drinking Guinness - you will lose. If you go into a bar and see a very old man at the bar drinking Guinness, then order one. That very old man will be a connoisseur of the black stuff and would not be drinking it if it was of poor quality or not properly poured.

You can drink a beer while on the bus or while walking down the street, even in franchises like McDonald's! Although you can't be drunk in public places, the police is generally pretty cool about it as long as you mind your own business.

Italians are very friendly, curious and expressive people, and it clearly shows in their body language. They move their body and hands while talking, and their faces are very expressive, even when they don't really want to express anything or show any emotions. Especially in south Italy, where people tend to punctuate a lot of the words, and it almost sounds as if its rhyming. They would randomly strike up a conversation and smile at you, or wish you.

European countries, specially in the north in Germany or Scandinavia, for instance, are really disciplined and generally tend to be on time.

8. Don’t go for a hug, go for a bise

Meaning two, three or four air kisses on the cheeks. Usually starting from the left. Number depending on the region of France. For example : Paris - 2. Brittany - 2 or 4. If in doubt, go for a handshake. People will gently suggest a bise if they think the situation calls for it. Also, don’t worry if you feel unsure or are afraid of/ have suffered missteps. It’s not a bad icebreaker. Paradoxically, one sole kiss is quite an affectionate gesture. Use wisely.

9. Complaining about people smoking or vaping

You’ve already lost that one. They won’t stop, they won’t leave and they will scowl at you. Besides, a cigarette with coffee in the morning or a nice glass of wine on a terrace is a wicked pleasure. Terrible for you but so good all the same. Smoking is a real thing here, and if you find it immoral, try not telling it to those whom you don’t know well.

If someone is smoking in a bus stop, it’s in your best interest to stand in a place where the smoke doesn’t trouble you. Don’t try telling Sir, please don’t smoke, it’s a public place. The fellow will look at you with a face that says Who the hell are you? And even young ladies smoke, so don’t get shocked and try not to flinch.

10. Yelling at waiters or waitresses to catch their attention

Just lift your hand and try to make eye contact. If needed, just say S’il vous plaît? a little loudly in their direction.

11. Learn Basic French

Learning basic French will go a long way to making your trip successful. When visiting a new country, it’s important to learn at least a few basic words and phrases in the local language. Yes, many people in the touristy areas speak English, but you shouldn’t arrive without being able to greet someone in their native tongue.

Learn to say hello and thank you in the local language and you’ll have an even better experience with the locals. In Europe you are supposed to apologize even if you touch someone by mistake. Not using these in most of your interactions with strangers or acquaintances will be seen as terribly rude. Dismiss them at your own peril and face the cold wind.

French people do not demonstrate friendliness or welcoming through huge smiles, empty how-are-yas and hugs. But through politeness, restrained but sincere smiles and appropriate greetings. Not quite in the same manner as our British neighbours do, but not far off. Solo traveling is not always about staying in fancy expensive resorts, eating lavish food. It's about eating and exploring local food, local culture. Even sometimes, if you speak to people and know them well, you can even stay there for free.

When entering an establishment such as a shop or restaurant, it is always polite to say “Bonjour” in greeting. It is also polite to say “Au revoir” when leaving. Of course, the use of “S’il vous plaît” and “Merci” are important just as in the U.S. and other countries. Learning the numbers 1 – 10 will also be beneficial.

12. Use public transports instead of cabs

This will not only optimize your trip budget but you will also have the option to explore more. Try to stay close to the centre and walk everywhere. Unless you need to visit a spot outside the city, public transportation tickets are not necessary. This is also why traveling by train or by bus is the best mode of travel in Europe when it comes to proximity to centre and reducing your travel costs.

Travel in Local transport as much as possible. You will save up to 80℅ in travelling. Take the train. Trains are relaxing, sometimes taking scenic routes. European rail travel is provided by frequent, fast and reliable trains. Many routes are scenic in their own right - notably across Switzerland and Norway. High speed trains link major cities. There are numerous rail passes making travel more affordable.

There’s also a network of overnight sleep trains providing combinations of berths and bed. Many of these are provided by Austrian Federal Railway’s NightJet train. This allows a day’s sightseeing in one city, followed by overnight travel before arriving in another city the next morning.

Sleeping cars, dining cars and a convivial atmosphere makes for a great travel experience. Trains are an easy and budget way of commute in Europe. Within cities, use local subway trains and outside cities, travel by connecting trains. Check out the official website of Eurail Pass to understand the route and pricing. A Eurail Pass is the cheapest way to travel around Europe.

There are sleeper cars and a lot of long distance trains have restaurant cars that serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Train travel also provides a great opportunity to meet other travelers and hear about where they have been what what places they recommend. Germany has an extensive high-speed network, connecting all major cities in Germany. The German long-distance trains have a bistro on board.

The German train network uses line numbers just like regular buses. This makes it easy to navigate. In Germany, long-distance trains have a silence coupe. In the Netherlands, all trains have a silent coupe, both the Inter-cities and commuter trains.

The Dutch train network is therefore very busy and runs almost like a metro network. Even in all small villages, a local train runs in one direction at least every half hour. Due to the dense train network, it is quite normal to commute 100 km, because all cities are easily accessible by train.

The Dutch OV chipkaart is a national public transport card that can be used throughout the Netherlands for bicycles, buses, trams, metros, ferries and trains. The OV chip card must be uploaded with an amount (online or via smarthphone) and can be used throughout the Netherlands. Whether you are traveling in Amsterdam or Maastricht, the OV chipkaart can be used everywhere.

With the OV chip card you pay per kilometer. Prices differ, as in the big cities 15 cents and in rural areas 10 cents per kilometer. That is why you have to check in and out with an OV chip card, so the system can calculate the number of kilometers between the check in and check out. Another advantage with the OV card is the discount, a 20% to 40% discount during off-peak hours and on weekends. When traveling with the train and it has a delay, just make a refund.

Budget airlines in Europe are abundant, and it’s normally as cheap or cheaper to fly than it is to take a bus, train, or definitely to drive yourself. EU doesn’t tax jet fuel, so that keeps airfare low. If you are crossing large distances, do check out cheap flight options such as Ryan Air, Easy Jet and Wizz Air.

The only catch is that they do not allow a checked luggage and have very specific carry on dimensions. Check-in bags can cost a small fortune, and you really can pack a lot into your hand luggage suitcase or soft back. Always take a drawstring bag, too - it is a lifesaver in so many cases!

After a few days or hotel changes, there is a good chance that a storm will hit inside your luggage. Solution? Get a few small collapsible tissue boxes from places like Target or Bed Bath and Beyond and you have an easy-peasy compartmentalized system inside your suitcase! A box for toiletries, socks, underwear, bras, shorts and pants, shirts – you call it, there can be a place for it.

The best are the adjustable ones so you can change the sizes of the boxes on the go to fit your needs and allow for a "dirty laundry" compartment.

Bookmark sites like Skyscanner and Expedia for staying aware of offers and discounts on flights. Keep checking them months before your trip. Always use Google flights and a few other websites to compare flight prices. Always take a look at flights price on incognito mode. Also, some countries have visa restrictions for transit.

Not always flying will be the best option - it’s always worth checking the price of trains or even buses. It can turn out that they get you from point A to point B in similar time, but lower price. Traveling solo in Europe is easy thanks to the excellent public transportation networks which crisscross the country.

When looking through traveling organization tips, you’ll hear a lot about using public transport. Yes, that works for big cities. Aircraft travel is cramped and disorientating.

The Netherlands is a cycling country, which is why the Netherlands also has many cycling facilities at stations. Bicycle garages of 10,000 places or more are quite common at the larger intercity stations.

Tourists stretch public transportation capacity to its maximum. Some metro stations in Prague, Paris or London to name a few random names, are sometimes über-crowded.

But when you’re exploring remote destinations, it doesn’t work. Plan to rent your vehicle before getting to your destination, so you won’t waste time searching around. It can wait for you at the airport. Car rentals in southern Europe are often so cheap they’re almost free. You can rent a car in Spain for $11 a day, and one in Croatia for something like that.

Explore all travel options. Buses in Europe are very cheap and comfortable. Also, when you book overnight buses you can easily save money on accommodation for a day. For an early morning flight, you could even consider reaching the airport the night before if you are really thrifty.

So why not take the time to opt for the road less travelled on your next vacation with our travel destinations?
Kalyan Panja