I travelled alone to Europe… and it was wonderful

In 2015 I went on my first trip overseas. It was a bus tour through Europe, all organised and I

In 2015 I went on my first trip overseas. It was a bus tour through Europe, all organised and I have to say I was very well looked after.

I was reluctant to go as I don’t like travelling alone. But it was either that or not go at all and since my children had given me strict instructions with a travel voucher to use it on travel outside of Australia I had no choice but sign up for this tour.

As I had never been before I figured the sensible thing to do was to be on a tour with people who knew where they were going. I looked at it as a fact finding mission.

Living in Australia you quickly realise we are a long way from anywhere else. Going overseas means sitting a long time on a plane where the seats seem to get harder by the minute and comfort soon becomes a distant memory.

I did make it and the tour was wonderful. From London to Brussels via train and then by bus through Europe.

Our tour group was interesting as I imagine every tour group is. It was made up of people from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Being on your own has its challenges. You do get to pal up with people your own age and you do get to sit with different folk at meal times. The downside is you are often on your own, you don’t have that person with you to share those moments of wonder and on a tour of Europe there are many each day. You can’t help but feel it would be so much better sharing those moments you found captivating.

But one of the things I did was to share each evening on Facebook my day’s adventures and where possible I added in a section: ‘What I learned today’. As I realised every day was an adventure in countries I had never been to before there was always something I learned, like discovering in Italy that road markings were nothing more than suggestions as most drivers appeared to ignore lane markings, parking rules and indicating…it seemed like you drove along and if there was a space in front of you, you drove into it….it was actually most entertaining mainly because I wasn’t driving and our coach driver was a man of considerable driving skill.

My trip wasn’t the longest trip you could take but it did contain a lot of people my age. Like so many folk our age we can get sick from time to time, and some of my fellow travellers did so. There was that collective concern for each other.

My adventure into ‘illness and or injury’ was falling over in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. Just tripped and over I went. Being a single traveller there was no shoulder I could cry on to hide my embarrassment so I grinned and bore it and in the privacy of my hotel room later I checked out my injuries pleased in a perverse way that I now had a bruise on my ribs anyone would have been proud of.

Despite all that I made it home and recall so much of my adventure with great affection. You adjust to your circumstances, you learn to cope with the things you don’t have, you do all you can to connect with other travellers and you appreciate what it is you have in front of you.

I am tempted to do another such trip as someone taking me places I haven’t been before when I am alone makes sense to me.

Have you ever travelled alone? Share your stories with us.

  1. Mary Heffernan  

    I live alone and often travel alone, mainly on group tours, and find it a great way to meet people from other countries, who are, for the most part, very friendly and welcoming. I have had a few exceptions to this, especially amongst groups of Americans, who are, supposedly, very friendly, but for the most part I found the opposite. My main effort at “alone” travel was when I taught English in Shanghai for 2 years, and did a number of trips into SE Asia, notably two back-to-back by Intrepid Tours, small groups where we drove Bangkok to Siem Reap, then on to Phuket, then by boat into Vietnam, then by bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Hannoi, then on through Southern China by bus to link up with a couple of other teachers in Nanning and fly back to Shanghai. It took about 3 weeks, but was enjoyable for the most part.

    • Thanks Mary, I guess we all have different reactions to our environments but the tour groups I think are good as all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride so to speak….I have to say I haven’t thought about touring Asia…

  2. G’day Michael,
    I’m glad you enjoyed your trip. Yes, it can be difficult travelling alone, especially the first time. I became “single again” in 1993 and have travelled alone with a couple of exceptions ever since. One thing I do enjoy is the freedom to do what I feel like.

    I’m newly retired and am about to embark on reducing my bucket list. In October I leave for the USA, Cuba, The Bahamas, England, Scotland, France, Madrid and Dubai. All in six weeks. I’m travelling solo again including on the cruise and the train travel, single supplements have to be endured unfortunately.

    I planned it all myself apart from the actual travel component as it started to become rather complex, a good travel agent did those bookings for me. All the accommodation was booked by me online although Cuba was a little more difficult. The planning made me feel as if I am already on holiday! I really enjoyed it. I take your point on the lack of comfort on long haul flights (Melbourne to L.A. is a long time in the air) so I’m going Premium Economy with our own airline.

    I like your idea of posting your experiences to fb. I’m hoping (if I can learn how to in time) to have a travel blog.

    I do hope you will travel again and enjoy it as much as you seem to have done.


    • Hi Tony,
      You are far more adventurous than me doing it all yourself. I went to Japan in 2013 and had a great time but I was with a cousin who looked after me and showed me everything. I did all the flight bookings myself and I did try premium economy, more leg room, same hard seats….
      I’m hoping at some stage to go traveling again and Eastern Europe seems very attractive to me.
      Good luck with your 6 weeks away, sounds very exciting.

    • Natalie Meyle  

      i love the planning too. I’m off in 3 weeks for a 6 week trip – Canada, USA, Scotland, London, Frankfurt, Singapore. 3 short tours but quite a bit alone too. Got my travel agent to do the RTW air travel but did all the internal stuff myself. Using Air bnb in a few places too. Travelling alone for the first time, so a little anxious but sure I’ll be all good. You are going to be very busy Tony. Enjoy it all, I know I will.

  3. Joan Marshall  

    I traveled alone from Perth Western Australia to London met at the Airport by pick up service for the group I would be traveling with the next morning by Coach to see the British Isles. I was in awe! The British Isles is stacked with history and beauty seeing England then Scotland Wales and Ireland. It just took my breath away. Yes there were moments i wish I had company to share it all with but I say only moments. By and large I loved being on my own for Peace and Quiet to soak in history and beauty. Up to Manchester for five days to meet up with a cousin of mine who I had not seen for 48 years or more which brought back many happy memories. Back to London after five days in Manchester and then on to the Continent with another group starting in Holland seeing Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Paris then back to London and home to Australia. What a spin!! It was the holiday of a lifetime. I wish I could do it all again. I nearly burst in to tears at the airport in Perth that the spectacular holiday was over. I am the luckiest blessed woman by the grace of God.

    • Wow Joan that sounds a fabulous holiday..when are you going again?
      Yes being on your own does have some advantages like doing what you please and being able to sit with different folk each day.

  4. Maree Bloxham  

    I haven’t travelled alone as yet. But plan to do some overseas travel in the next 2 years alone. I am going to try some single travel groups as I think it may be easier with other people who are in the same boat.

    • That’s an interesting direction to be going in Maree. I have to admit I had no issues with he people I was with, not everyone was happy all of the time but that is people I think.
      Good luck in your travels.

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