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.