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Old 01-19-2006, 06:03 AM   #1
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Well, I'm travelling Europe solo in August and since I originally came up with the idea a few months ago, I've had a long time to plan things in my head, and I'm at the point where I need to decide whether or not it will all work in practice, so yeah, a reality check may be called for

First of all, I'm definitely going regardless of anything, the only things in question are minor details such as budget, length of trip, accomodation etc. (Ok, so major details :P )

My plan is to start in Estonia, I've found an Estonian air line that will get me there for around £30, then from there my possible route is as follows -

Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy.
And then at some point I want to head over to Bulgaria because my parents have a house there, that will probably happen at the end of the trip.
Now, in my head, I'm wanting this trip to last six months or more.

Is that too long for someone that has never travelled solo before? I mean, I've visited Berlin, Bonne, Paris, and Amsterdam with experience of staying in hostels etc, so it's not like it will be completely alien to me.
Although, I was with my ex g/f then.
I don't want to find myself in over my head.

Although doing a short trip isn't really an option for me because of work. I'm stuck in a dead-end job at the moment, and I have to leave it before the last of my brain cells deteriorate. So what better time to travel than inbetween jobs?
That's what makes this trip a one-off thing, it will probably be my only chance to do it. So that's why I feel the need to make it a long one.

That's my first concern, the second is money.
I'm budgeting to spend about £1000 a month, bearing in mind that I plan to do everything as cheaply as possible, ie, I'm not going to be visiting restaurants daily, I'm not interested in paying out to go to tourist hotspots, and I plan on camping as well as hostelling.
Some people have suggested that the idea of spending 1k a month is unrealistic, I've attempted to do the maths, and if anything I should be able to do it cheaper. Unless there are factors that I haven't considered?

As for getting about, I want to do it as cheaply as I can, obviously there's only so far I can go on foot before I die of old age.
Trains don't seem like a cheap option to me, although everyone I talk to about it disagrees.

Thirdly, is my character.
Travelling solo seems like something that 'outgoing' people do. I've never been great at talking to strangers, I tend to be fairly quiet until I get comfortable around someone, although after that I'm fine.
Is that going to be a problem?
I'm hoping that the experience will bring me out of my shell a bit, that's part of the reason that I want to go in the first place.

Any thoughts, suggestions, or just general comments would be welcome...this is the first time asking for feedback on my plans, so I'm hoping to be able to refine them and come up with something that will work for me.


(Btw, I'm not sure if this is in the right forum, but it seemed more relevant to solo travel than anything else.)
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Old 01-19-2006, 08:58 AM   #2
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Well, first off, let me say welcome to the boards...

I just got back from my first solo trip abroad two days ago. And though i was only gone for 8 days thru Costa Rica, i think i can give you a few tips:

1. Have a rough itinerary, but be flexible. I flew in thinking I was spending one nite in one spot, 2 in another, 2 in another, 2 in another, and the last nite where i spent the first nite.

Wound up 2 nites, 3 nites, 3 nites, home. (technically missing my flight and spending a nite in Miami with food poisoning doesn't count.)

You should plan on meeting folks. Not ones you know. If luck happens to be in your favor, folks you meet will get you in on wacky adventures (like climbing mountains at 1am while drunk) and may influence where you travel to.

Solo travel affords you the luxury to change your itinerary. I fell in love with the mountains in Costa Rica and spent far more time than I'd ever thought in Monteverde/Santa Elena, and it was well worth it. However, San Jose left me cold and I would have rather moved on after the first night. You catch what I'm saying? You have more freedom that way.

If anything, when it comes to budgeting, getting a few guide books and estimating costs of living is the best way to do it. I established a rough budget of $500 and was determined to see it through (i met it, with $2 to spare.) This means accurately tracking receipts, etc, and establishing a per diem for every day. For instance: You know that Monday-Thursday are going to be light on spending. But Friday night is going to be heavy. So budget accordingly. If, to throw a number, you budget $20 per day for food and housing, and $40 for friday night, spending $25 on each of the previous 4 days means you can only spend $20 on Friday. Stick to it.

Sure, you're gonna splurge on something- it happens. But do your best. Keep accurate notes in a journal of what that cab cost, the beer, the hostel, the bus, etc. This is the only way to make the $$ last.

Your budget doesn't compute to me, since I've not done Europe, yet. But like I said, see what Rough Guide and Lonely Planet say. Then add 15%.

Lastly, your personality will change. I am fortunately very outgoing, so i didn't hve the problem. I would strike up conversations with folks on a whim. And I was outgoing to folks that didn't say much at all. You are likely to change your personality a bit when traveling solo- you will find ways to work your way in. If it means something as simple as throwing some money to a collective dinner, then so be it. Don't worry about it. You'll get along fine.
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Old 01-19-2006, 10:42 AM   #3
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I'm actually fairly shy in person (unless I'm shitfaced...) but I prefer to travel alone. I think it brings out the outgoing side in me and end up meeting all sorts of new people and going on great adventures. I think that's one of the reasons I love traveling so much - it lets me be someone else that I don't always get to be at home.
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Old 01-20-2006, 08:58 AM   #4
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Shyness won't be an issue, I'm prety shy you'll just end up forceing yourself to talk to people and it get's easier then. Whatever you may think everyones on the same buzz and want to meet strange or odd people, staying in hostels for months you may even get sick off people.

Buses are cheeper than trains but if your under 26 you get a discount and I never got asked for any confirmation. I used trains all the time I got from Barcelona to Paris for €70 on the high speed train. I couldn't stick sitting on a bus for too long.

You can cut down on accomidation costs by using couchsurfing.com
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Old 01-20-2006, 10:56 AM   #5
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Don't worry about travelling alone! Before I went I was in tears freaking out because I was going to be by my lonesome and after it was done, 1001 experiences later I was not ready to go home at all.

Just make sure you keep your schedule open and just go with it

Buy your own food, no restaurants
Camp (like you said you will try to do)
Buses for sure
Ryan Air is god (book in advance)
Just have a good time

Also, welcome to the boards and bonne chance!!
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