With some of that adventure still in me, I found myself six years later deciding it was time to go out on my own and see what I was capable of when left to my own devices. It was scary but ultimately one of the best things I have ever done. I quit my job, bought an interrail pass and meticulously planned my route so no stone was left unturned.
Before I left, I had the normal concerns as a female solo traveller, but knew that I wanted to go regardless. “If not now, when?” repeatedly went through my mind and I doubted myself until I actually got on the flight to Norway, my first destination. Now that I have had time to reflect on my personal journey and how I made such a trip possible, here are my top five tips if you are thinking of interrailing alone:
1. Definitely go on free walking tours of your destinations
Most cities offer this great service (just search ‘brasov free walking tour’ for example) and the guides are mainly local people who are proud citizens that have lived there their whole lives. You will find they know really specific facts and figures you might otherwise miss. These tours also provide a way to relax a little as someone else is taking the reigns and you can not get lost! Check with the operator but generally the tours start and finish in the same place so you always have a strong point of reference.
In all honesty, if you can not lift or easily carry your bag by yourself, it will make travel a lot more of a chore and less like the fun time you may be after. At times strangers and train station staff did help me when I had trouble lifting my bag and everyone was very friendly, but it is best to be able to rely on yourself as you can not guarantee someone will be there to help.
3. Book all of your accommodation in advance
Booking in advance can also mean you get a good deal and can budget the remainder of your travel money on activities, food and everything inbetween. Along the way I did alter a couple of bookings as it is only natural that plans change, however having guaranteed accommodation for the full two months before I set-off was a huge weight off my shoulders and will be for you too.
Are there any downsides? Well, you do not get to choose who you share with. At times I had lovely families and other times the carriage was quite loud with gap year students. One plus of travelling is that you will probably be tired enough to sleep through anything! You can also find yourself in a new destination very early in the morning when it has not quite come alive, but you can make the most of this by going somewhere great for breakfast and planning out your day. A couple of times it was also very hot, which made it hard to sleep, but this will depend on the time of year you travel.
Note: Some trains supply a small breakfast in the ticket price. This was typically a hot drink and a croissant in my experience.
5. Make choices for you and do not be afraid to change your mind
Something I learnt quickly was not to feel selfish for making up my own mind and having my interests structure my days, whether this was to plan or completely off-road. As you do this you will gain a confidence that will come home with you and it is one of the best life skills I picked up from travelling. That and how to find a loo in any country.
Guest author: Frances from the travel and lifestyle blog Get Jaunty