Loyal reader Rhona has been traveling Germany solo for the last three months and has been enjoying her experience. There are a lot of women who like to travel but only go when their friends or family go with them. That limits your opportunities if you need other people to go with. Now you are not only dependent on own your schedule and money, but someone else’s.
Rhona explains how she started traveling solo and why you should too! Check out her blog about her Germany adventures at the end of this post.
Rhona in Austria
What was your first first trip solo – where and how long?
My first international solo trip was to Barcelona, Spain over the Easter Weekend of April this year. I was supposed to meet some friends that weekend in Spain but at the last minute, they bailed. Since I had already paid for my trip, I went alone. I was upset at first to not be sharing the weekend with my friends but in the end I had a fantastic time!
This trip to Barcelona was a great intro into my travels as a solo female. I was able to set my own timetable, go where I pleased, when I wanted to and for how long. It was truly liberating and exhilarating.What prompted you to go? Did you try ask friends and family to go with you? What happened when you did?
I am currently in Germany on a 3 month program for work and I decided to see as much of Europe as I could in my short stay and I am proud to say that I have and am. For Barcelona, my friends and I agreed on this locale for a short break.
I am not going to lie, I was nervous about certain things as this was my solo trip and away from my comforts zones (home in Ontario, Canada and family, friends, familiar surroundings, being able to speak the language) but I made it a personal mission to enjoy myself and see as much as I could of Barcelona.
Once I got to Barcelona and found a place to stay, I was able to relax and totally enjoy where I was. I became so excited that I was in such a romantic and exciting city.What was/is the reaction of your family and friends when you take off by yourself?
My family and friends know and understand that I am an independent person so they were not too surprised about this first solo sojourn. My parents were obviously a bit nervous but I made sure to send my sisters emails and texts on my whereabouts to sooth my family’s nerves.
Where have gone since then by yourself?
I have gone on all my weekend trips here alone! And, I love it! I have visited a lot of places in Germany as it is my favourite country thus far. German locals include: Heidelburg, Ludwigsburg, Düsseldorf & Köln, Berlin, Munich, Tübingen, Ulm and Bremen. Not to mention the numerous cities all around the city I live which include Kornwestheim, Stuttgart, Degerloch, Bietigheim. There are too many to list off here. Around Europe I have been blessed to visit Salzburg, Austria. Strasborough and Paris, France.
Any crazy experiences abroad as a woman? Men trying to pickup, mistakes in customs or culture, etc?
Everything with customs or train travel (my prefered method of travel around Germany) has been hassle-free. I will say that the men in Germany are very forward for the most part. In Barcelona an older gentleman tried to ask me out. In Strasborough I was fed some flattering compliments. I took all (not that there are much) with a little laugh. I have never once felt threatened though.
The Bavarian Alps
What tips would you give women who want to travel by themselves?
I would say confidence is key. Be confident in whatever you do as you travel. Be confident in asking questions and the way you conduct yourself around locals. Most people I have encountered were only too happy to help me with any inquiries I had. I was always friendly and gave a smile which opens a gateway for conversation.
If you are unsure of anything, ask, ask, ask! A great resource are taxi drivers. For myself, when I ask for a location of place or site etc., I am always given correct instructions.If you are unsure of how to get to a hostel from the airport or main station, simply send a message to the hostel or hotel on complete directions a few days before you actually leave. I have always received timely responses.
Having a map, itinerary or some sort of vague plan for the city you are planning on visiting is somewhat key if you are alone. Of course it is not necessary but it might help to avoid missing tours or airplanes or trains etc..
Of course, listen to your gut instincts and practise common sense. No matter how “safe” the country, be safe. Investing in a purse that has a long strap so it can be worn across the body is wise. Making sure to always have extra cash just in case a taxi cab is needed is also a good idea. If you are staying at a hotel or hostel, making sure you have the address on you at all times is a good idea.
Also, keeping your family or friends aware of your location might be something to think about. Most internet cafes are inexpensive so shooting a quick email to advise of change of local or new plans etc., may be a good idea.If travelers, especially women, need to be reassured about traveling by themselves, what would you tell them?
Please, just take the plunge and do it! There is a giant wonderful and exciting world waiting for you.
If you are not shy, making friends anywhere you go will be a no brainer. But, for people like me who are semi-introverted, don’t be afraid to talk to other people. Making conversation at hostels is a great way to meet other people and open your world completely.
Last but not least, do it!! The first trip alone might be scary but I promise, the second, third and others will be exhilarating, eye opening and wondrous. By traveling alone you have the option of being by oneself when one wants to be or inviting others into your world.
As a woman, I have felt that people are a bit more eager to help me out if I have a question. There is nothing to fear. Go, practice common sense as you do at home and see the world. You will never regret it.
The only regret I have is the limited amount of time I have to spend in Germany. Also, you will come home a completely changed person. For the better!