A solo traveler’s guide to Europe

city-village-boats-canal

Who wouldn’t want to travel and experience Europe, except maybe people already living there? From the Eiffel Tower to Colosseum and thermal baths to Ibiza, Europe has it all. I had to be out of my mind to turn down an opportunity to visit the enchanting continent. With a budget of $5,000 to get me through 4 months, I set out to wander and soak in the wonders of Germany, Belgium, Austria, Hungary and touristy Prague, Rome and Vatican. Here’re a few tips I got from the locals to explore without being cheap or giving up on the good things like food, shopping and adventure sports.

 

1. Mitfahrgelegenheit.de or carpooling.co.uk

This car pooling service between cities and countries is a #must-save-to-itinerary#. If you plan to travel back and forth from a select home base in Europe, like I did, you better save this. Since I didn’t speak much German, I used the UK version of the site which offers the same rides and car pools, but in English. I met the most interesting people and got a wonderful insight into the culture of the country communicating with the fellow riders and drivers. Look for drivers who speak English. ┬áIf a single Indian woman can carpool at nights and get back to the home country safe and sound, you can bet your money on the safety. According to a friend, there has never been a bad incident reported with the carpools. The site also offers train and bus tickets.

2. Air travel

Ryan Air! Ryan Air! Ryan Air!! Cheap and best if the distance is too long for road/rail travel.

3. Hostels/ Airbnb

Hostelbookers.com is one site you must check out for lodging. I recommend hostels as they are more fun with diverse set of people. I always chose hostels that had free wi-fi and breakfast:) Most hostels have women only sharing options but these book quickly. I met wonderful people and made good friends at these hostels. Maps and good travel advice is free.

4. Free sightseeing tours

Sandeman’s new Europe tours offer free tours in multiple cities at convenient hours. The tour guides know what they are talking about and the itinerary covers pretty much all the major hotspots. Tips are expected though. Tip generously if you are a sucker for British English like me and the tour guide happens to have a Londen accent;) Also, some museums offer free entry for a few hours in a day, which can save some moolah on entry fees.

5. Local food markets/flea markets

Being a total foodie willing to experiment anything and everything like Andrew Zimmern, it was pure heaven to walk into the local food markets that offer an array of local foods and drinks. The food is cheap, fresh and absolutely delicious. Take a stroll through the flea markets on weekends or Christmas markets(in the season) for some amazing souvenirs.

The famous Sunday market in Hamburg

DSC00812

Trdelnik in Budapest

Divine chocolate in Rome

Divine chocolate in Rome

6. Money and phone

Use international partner ATM’s of your local bank to draw money as needed, in the local currency. There is a transaction fee, but it is safer to carry as much as you will need.

International roaming is expensive. I used skype with a locally bought prepaid data USB from Oxygen. Pretty cheap and the speed is good.

The fun of traveling is in getting lost and wandering. I planned and booked only the travel and accommodation. Once I got there, I picked the brains of roommates, hostel managers or tour guides as to what to see, where to eat and what to steer clear from. You never know who you may get to see or what may enthrall you. So put your wanderlust on and enjoy exploring..

DSC01293

Got to see the Pope at the Christmas Eve mass in Vatican, thanks to a roommate dating the local Italian Carabinieri. #Blessed

Dental instruments at Nuremberg main train station 11-11-11

Dental hand instruments sold at the train station in Nuremberg, Germany. Now you know why Germans have good teeth. They buy their own instruments and do their own cleanings:0

Look out for my next topic- “Why women must travel solo, at least once in their lifetime.”