Many people have been asking me since my last post about traveling some parts of the Europe alone. How did I prepare for my trip, how much it cost me and etc.? So, with this article I will be sharing with you guys what were my preparations and so on. I will be discussing some important points we need to keep in mind if you are planning to do some wanderlust in a foreign place alone.
FIRST, APPLY FOR A SCHENGEN VISA
Before anything else, before booking and buying anything for your trip, you should apply for a Schengen Visa. Applying for a Schengen Visa you have the opportunity to travel 26 countries freely. The 26 Schengen member states are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. If only I have the money I will visit them all but with my trip, I got to visit only 3 countries. Anyway, you can apply to any embassy based on what will be your first destination. In my case, I will be entering Netherlands first since my main reason for the trip is to visit my Aunt in South Holland who was about to give birth.
Just visit the website of your desired embassy, there you can see the requirements based on what visa you will be applying for and make sure to complete the requirements. Because they can turn you down on the 1st day of your application if you have incomplete requirements. You can hire a travel agency to assist you or you can do it yourself like what I did. Please take note that you have to apply for the visa at least 3 months before your desired trip and you will have the result after 3 working days. You can claim the visa in the embassy or you can have it delivered to your home address if you want. It’s not easy but it is not impossible. Once you have that approved visa you can go on to the next step.
BOOK YOUR TICKET AND HOTEL
Once you have that visa and while feeling like you won the jackpot prize when you got the result. It’s time to hit the internet and book your tickets and hotel. Keep in mind that it's wiser to book your tickets and hotel as early as possible to get a huge discount so you can save more for your travel allowance. When you enter the Schengen area you can travel from one country to another either by plane, metro or bus. If you are not time conscious you can hit the bus to get the cheapest price for your trip. I have booked my trips online in www.flixbus.nl since I have the time to spend and it’s much cheaper. They have the greatest service and their buses always arrive on time.
Same with hotels, book early and you will get it on the cheaper price. You can also book through a website www.groupon.nl for great discounted deals; it is more like a metro deal here in the Philippines. But you have to call the hotel to confirm your reservation since you will only have to pay for the voucher when buying a deal in Groupon. In Paris, I stayed in Hotel Alpha, and they have a nice service, no hidden charges and no need for security deposit upon check-in. I also booked my hotel in Brussels through www.hotels.com, I stayed in Prestige Hotel since it’s near the center and it has a great accommodation for such a low price. Also, there were no hidden charges and accommodating people even though I arrived at 3 in the morning.
PACK THE RIGHT CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES
After having all your reservations, you have to plan the clothes you will bring. Double check what season you will be arriving at and what temperature will be upon your arrival to make sure you have the right wardrobe and accessories. With my cases, I went there during the coldest season of the year. It was exciting for me too since it would be my first time to experience winter since my existence in this world. So, I bought winter clothes, scarf, gloves and winter boots to keep me warm. Pack light and choose neutral colors to easily mix and match your clothes. Then, you don’t have to worry about your #ootd every day.
DO SOME RESEARCH
Do some research before hopping on that plane; of course, if you are planning to travel solo you have to do your own itinerary. Research the countries website on what to see and what to do. You can find things to see and do for free. You can also book yourself a free day trip tour through www.neweuropetours.eu and yes it’s free. It is also a great way to meet fellow travelers, you don’t have to pay anything but of course you can leave them a tip if you want.
BRING THESE MISCELLANEOUS THINGS
One thing I noticed every time I check-in in a European Hotel was that they don’t provide complete toiletries. When I was in Paris, they don’t have toothbrush and toothpaste and when I was in Belgian Hotel they don’t have any soap, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste too. Good thing I always bring my essentials with me everywhere I go. Also, always bring a universal adapter when traveling Europe. European power outlets are hermaphroditic, meaning that outlets have prongs and receptacles. You can also bring your own extension outlet so you can charge multiple gadgets at once.
HAVE YOUR MONEY BE CONVERTED TO EURO
Before going on that trip, I recommend you to have your money be converted into Euro so you can get a better value than having your money converted once you arrive there and also to save time. If you are planning to use the credit card then there’s no problem since Europe countries mostly use credit and debit cards anywhere, even in a flea market.
DON’T FORGET YOUR GADGETS
Of course, to preserve your memories while you are on your euro trip you have to take lots and lots of pictures and videos. Prepare your camera, go pro, phone and whatever gadgets you have to keep your friends and your travel planner updated.
Let’s talk about safety, always be alert when traveling alone in a foreign country. I think everyone knows that but in European countries pickpocketers are everywhere. They are everywhere, on the bus, metro and on the streets. Keep your passport and wallet in a secret pocket if you have. Avoid crowded, dark and shady areas. Avoid talking to strangers as much as possible.
TOP UP YOUR MOBILE FOR DATA
When traveling alone it is important to have a mobile data every time and everywhere you go. You will be using google map app most of the time when traveling alone. For it will help you to know what bus to take or what metro station to take off to.
TO SEE AND DO
If you want to explore every museum be it in Paris or Brussels you can go to their city website and avail a city pass card with free entrance to most of the museums and top sightseeing destinations. But if you are on a tight budget you can just ask for a city map at your hotel reception and explore the city for free.
Going around a European city is easy, just buy a carnet of tickets on metro station if you will be staying for 2 or 3 days but if you will be staying for a week or more you can buy their metro card for unlimited use and cheaper value. You can use those tickets and cards in a bus and metro. You can also explore the city by bicycle; there are bicycles ready for rent for an hour or more based on how long you want to travel around using wheels. You can also rent a car if you want to take the public transportations.
AND LAST, PRAY FOR A SAFE TRIP
And last but not the least, pray for a safe trip. Give thanks to our God for making your trip a possibility. Whenever I step out on a plane or a bus, I always ask for guidance wherever I go because we will never know what just might happen on our way. Prayer is the greatest weapon a solo traveler can have during hard circumstances. We are not a solo traveler after all since God is always on our side accompanying us wherever we go.
Now, you are all set and ready to go. And when that day comes, ready your luggage, passport and your heart to take that trip you’ve been waiting for and cherish every moment of it. Congratulations for you have just crossed out an item on your bucket list!
Published by Tina Maria