Destinations, Travel

How To Plan Your First Solo Trip To Europe By Lebogang Mgiba

Tips and tricks for a successful solo trip to Europe.

Traveling is exciting but there’s also some anxiety that comes with it, especially if you’re traveling alone. You’ll be thinking “who’s going to take pictures of me when I’m there” or “What if I get lonely because I will be alone”? These are valid questions and concerns but there are ways around solo travels to make it worth your money. I did an amazing solo trip to Stockholm and Amsterdam. It was the most liberating feeling ever. It’s the same feeling you get when you live in your own apartment without sharing, you don’t have to account to anyone but yourself.  Here are a few things I do to have a great trip.

Research, research and research.

You need to know the country you’re visiting, how they commute, the culture, what to expect and cool places to check out when you’re there. You probably won’t stick to the itinerary because you will always discover new things when you get there but this will help you figure out what you would like to do once you get to your destination because you will be overwhelmed by all the options.

Get a local Sim card at the airport.

It’s always best to have connectivity everywhere you go so that you’re not restricted by lack of Wi-Fi. It would suck if you only posted your curated Instagram content when you go to restaurants that have Wi-Fi or even have WhatsApp chats with your family and friends. Data is cheap in most European countries and it lasts longer.

Make use of public transport.

You can’t be in Europe and decide to use maxi taxis or an Uber. It’s going to be costly and unnecessary. I bought a 3 days train ticket when I was in Stockholm for +-R200 and I used it to access the buses, trains and trams. I could use it however I wanted and also travel anywhere in and around Stockholm. They were always on time and they end very late. I was commuting safely around 2am in the morning using public transport. It’s best you buy this ticket at the airport.

Make Google Maps your best friend.

I remember walking in the streets of Barcelona from a great lunch and wanting directions to my apartment and I decided to use Waze to find my way back. What a disaster and I didn’t know better, it took me 40 minutes for a trip that could have been 5 minutes. I didn’t know about Google Maps and it’s features but it’s literally a lifesaver. I can’t imagine my life without Google Maps because not only does it give you directions as a pedestrian but also a time table for public transport. You will see the name of the station, where it stops and which stop you’re gonna get off from. If you don’t have the app already, then do best today.

Who’s going to be my photographer?

When you’re outside of South Africa, you won’t be worrying about someone running away with your phone when you ask them to take a picture of you. You will be more worried about what if they say no. It’s not easy to ask strangers to take a picture of you but my attitude was “what’s the worst that could happen”? I was asking fellow tourists and sometimes the locals and I would just give them creative direction on the kind of image I wanted. It was painful because the first two people will take crappy pictures and the 3rd one will take a good one (most of the time). You also can’t be complaining that you don’t like a picture because you’re not paying them. You can also try Airbnb experience to hire a photographer for a day, it’s affordable and you can make the most out of the whole experience.

There’s always a lot to share when it comes to traveling but a lot of information can also be overwhelming. Listen to Chica Travel Podcast for more tips that you can use on your first solo trip to Europe and #ChasingSummer.

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