Alone and Abroad: How to Plan a Trip Overseas When Traveling on your Own
Jane on Mykonos with the Evelyn in Sky Blue.
This spring, our middle son called and invited us to visit him in Europe for ten days; he was studying abroad and realized he had a break between quarters. Unfortunately my husband could not go due to prior commitments; however, after twenty four hours I announced that I could go and wanted to go.
Now understand I have traveled often alone - always for work - but most often alone. Yet, I had not done a pleasure trip alone and I sure have not done a European trip without my husband. It was then that I realized that I have been spoiled - Greg plans every trip - with very little expressed gratitude or appreciation. So, I started thinking how can I plan this trip so that I am not nervous and we can relax and enjoy it.
This is a list of suggestions of things that worked for me in planning a trip to Europe alone and then with a 21 year old son.
First, I asked my son to plan the places he wanted to visit - all were new to me and I really would enjoy any place.
Second, after getting the locations, he is in Maastricht, and wanted to travel to Krakow, Poland and Athens, Greece and a Greek Island we booked the air fares - I booked my trip over and allowed for a day and one half alone in Amsterdam and then flew home from Greece. I gave my son these dates and asked that he book our other flights as he travels throughout Europe almost every weekend and knew the airlines to use.
Third, I looked at weather, coo/rainy most of the trip and warm and sunny predicated a couple of days. I started assembling clothing options - knowing I would pare it down before final departure.
Fourth, I researched private tour guides in our locations. For example, I would simply google "Best private guides in _________" and then read about each. I would cross compare with Trip Advisor, www.tripadvisor.com; Rick Steeves travel, www.ricksteeves.com; and other sites. When I found a travel guide with trips and reviews that matched my/our interests I scheduled a tour.
Fifth, I contacted the guide and asked for suggestions from a "local" about places to stay, whether I could communicate with cab drivers upon arrival at the airport, and other questions.
Sixth, as I only wanted to take one small suitcase so that I could travel easily I used layering techniques with my clothes and took only what was needed for the trip - five pair of pants/jeans, t shirts and light sweaters, underclothes and pajamas. Shoes consisted of tennis shoes and sandals. Minimal make up and hair brush with ties to pull my hair back on most days. I wore jeans, rain boots and a rain coat on the plane.
This was a once in a life time trip and I will share guides/locations in future posts. One thing that became very clear is that it is important to take the time to post feedback/reviews so that all of us can learn from one another and make the most of their time and money while visiting a new city. These worked for me, but I am sure that you may have other valuable suggestions for planning a solo trip abroad.