Continuing our series of blogs on different travel experiences, Tom Fish tells us why travelling alone is exciting, liberating and something you’ll never regret…
I was often greeted with dubious looks and expressions of concern when I told my friends and family that I was going to travel alone around Europe. There were, understandably, many questions – where would I stay? How would I get around? Was it safe? However, despite the fears of my friends and family I made it round the continent alone unscathed, and had the most incredible experiences while I was there. Here’s why you should do the same.
The single greatest perk of travelling alone is the sense of freedom you get. You can wake up in Paris one morning, Amsterdam the next. You don’t need to worry whether your friend wants to trek across the city to a museum that you’ve read about alone. You don’t need to worry whether your partner will also find trekking ten miles across the Swiss mountains romantic. You can do it because you want to do it. Of course sometimes your plans won’t work out. The museum you’ve trekked across the city to see might be closed, it might rain all the way across the Swiss mountains, but that’s the beauty of travel, there’s always something new around the corner.
Staying in hostels is the perfect environment for solo travel – being in such close proximity to five or six people in hostels forces you to talk to people, and lone travellers keen to meet people are everywhere in Europe. I met new people from China, Portugal, and the USA, some of whom I am still in touch with. You won’t be the only one daunted by the fact you’re in a strange country alone, and you’ll meet people in the oddest of circumstances. I met some Americans while we were both struggling to get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa – we’re friends to this day.
If you’d like, you can make use of the whole month of trains you can get with an Interrail pass and try to take in every European country on the map. If that’s not your style, you can spend a week in different cities, really immersing yourself in different cultures and countries. You can travel with a specific itinerary, tailored to the exact places you want to see. You don’t have to worry about any one else’s priorities – the possibilities are endless.
Travelling alone might cause your family slight panic attacks (easily overcome), and make your friends wonder why you’re not taking them, but I couldn’t recommend it more. You’ll make mistakes, you’ll get lost in a strange city, and you’ll meet some real weirdos. But you’ll also have the time of your life, come back full of stories to tell about the places you’ve been and meet all kinds of amazing, wonderful people. What are you waiting for? Get on a train and discover Europe alone, you won’t regret it.