Hi everyone! I haven’t been writing for super long! I have no valid excuse, but honestly I was just busy conquering Europe alone HAHA. Well I’m joking obviously, but the truth is I went to explore a few cities in Europe by myself. I’ve also been trying to settle down since I got back home in Bali, re-adjust myself with the heat and my dog just gave birth to 6 puppies! So yeah, I’ve been puppy-sitting a lot LOL. Back to my story, for those who know me personally, you guys would know how much of a ‘princess’ I am, like really really spoiled and overly protected by my parents. Growing up, for safety reasons I wasn’t even allowed to ride on a motorbike, and up until today (I’m 26 years old by the way) my dad would still scold me if he finds out that I was riding on a motorbike.
Growing up, I had so many privileges when it comes to traveling. I come from a family that have been in the tourism industry for as long as I can remember. Hence, I have never traveled alone, or worse, traveling on a budget. I’ve been to a place like India and stayed in 4 or 5 star hotels, provided with a car, driver and a tour guide wherever I went, had meals in prestigious restaurants and all that good stuffs. I have stayed at so many luxurious hotels and villa all over Bali, never had to worry about public transportation or thinking about meal budget every time I traveled anywhere, even when I went to an expensive country like Singapore.
And then Europe happened.
My world was turned upside down. Not only because of the beauty, art and history that the continent holds but also because everything is so freaking expensive. I come from Indonesia, we are famous for a lot of things but not for the strength of our currency. So coming from a country that is using rupiah to a place where I had to use euro was tough. Everything was expensive. Even using the public toilet was expensive, for me at least. I was not the kind of person who can handle money well, I’ve always been such a big spender (not proud of it but that’s the truth), but Europe has changed me a lot. I was in Amsterdam for a few months, and let me tell you, Holland is expensive compared to some other EU countries that I visited.
In April, I knew that my time in Europe was coming to an end, so I thought about traveling to some cities that I really wanted to see. I would’ve gone everywhere and traveled all over Europe if I could but I didn’t have enough time and it will costs so much money. So I had to deal with the ugly truth:
1. I couldn’t find a friend who could travel with me because everyone was either busy working, or living on a budget to achieve their financial goal. Therefore, I had to travel solo.
2. Europe was and still is expensive, so I had to travel on a strict budget (this point was worse than having to travel alone for me LOL)
So yeah, I had to gather my strength and boost my confident level to 100 and go on my first ever travel solo to countries I’ve never been to before. I was nervous, I even had trouble sleeping because I had nightmares of being robbed or scammed during my trip. Oh I also lost my appetite because I was sooo super extremely nervous before I started the trip to Barcelona, Paris and Rome.
Okay, let’s cut my long blabber and let me tell you how I faced the ugly truth as mentioned above. I will though make a dedicated, more in depth blog post for each of the cities that I visited, so stay tuned for that. Let’s get started.
How I dealt with ugly truth number 1 (please refer to my statement above if you have already forgotten what you just read 30 seconds ago)
Honestly, I didn’t know a single soul at every cities I went to. I really went there alone and was planning to go places alone. But, I’m just one blessed girl, I met so many amazing people during my trip. You may ask, ‘how/where did she meet people?’, okay I will tell you how I did it.
- I shamelessly just asked everyone I know if they had a friend or knew someone at those cities that I went to. And it worked! One of my church friends in Amsterdam helped me out, she contacted her friend in Barcelona. What was so amazing about it was, she took the whole family with her! Her husband, mother, aunty and even her nephew! So my advice is, don’t be afraid to ask for help whenever you need it. And be kind to people, make friends with anyone, this might lead you to so many kind people too ❤
- I remembered googling ‘Affordable Local Guide’ before I went to Barcelona and then stumbled upon Showaround.com. This app helped me find local people who would show me around their city, either for free or for an hourly rate because some of them were legit tour guides. I used this platform throughout my entire journey and I really loved it! It’s really safe and I met so many cool people through Showaround, I highly recommend using this app if you are planning to do solo traveling. It was and still is very important for me to meet the locals, because they might give a totally different perspective from the standard ‘tourist guide’. What I also loved about meeting the locals is that they will take you to the places only locals would know, even take you through a secret ‘queue free’ entrance to the Louvre, or take you to the best tiramisu place in Rome, and other cool stuffs.
- Well, I just went around and being friendly to everyone. Seriously. I stayed at dorms instead of 3 or 4 star hotels with a single room. I stayed at 4 bedded dorms, so I was able to meet people when I was traveling solo. I’ve always been the kind of person who talk to anyone and be friends with anyone, so I was able to make new friends while waiting for a bus at a bus stop, as well as while hanging out at the park. Just keep in mind to be careful every time a stranger approaches you, keep an eye on your belongings and just relax, trust to your intuition and make loads of new friends.
How I dealt with ugly truth number 2
Like I mentioned earlier, having to travel on a budget scared the hell out of me. But I dealt with it with an open mind. I was thinking about the experiences I will gain instead of how comfortable the trip should be. Once the trip was done, I realized that it wasn’t bad at all. Travelling on a budget wasn’t a problem at all and I was happy all along.
- Low cost airlines. I flew with Transavia and Easy Jet. They are seriously cheap and time efficient, considering I didn’t have enough time to do train hopping. I would suggest that you plan your trip and book the flight few months ahead of time to get better deals, but although I booked my flights last minute I still found the tickets to be moderately cheap.
- Although I prefer to fly because it was more time efficient, I still ended up riding a bus to Paris from Rotterdam. I took the Flix bus, and it worked out really fine because we departed from Rotterdam Central at 12.30 AM and arrived at 8.30 AM in the morning in Paris. I didn’t lose a good night sleep and saved up a lot of money because the ticket was like 50% cheaper compared to the Thalys (fast speed train) or the plane.
- Hostels & Dorms. Staying at hostels and dorms really helped me save a lot of money, and also most people who stayed there were solo travellers, hence I got the chance to meet so many interesting people. I booked most of my accommodation through Hostelworld.
- Budget your meal allowance. What I did was I only ate bread and drink milk in the morning, and then eat better food for lunch and a more fancy food dinner. I also always had bottled water and a piece of bread ready in my bag for whenever I need ed a snack. I bought my bread for breakfast at a supermarket or bakery near the hostel instead of paying for breakfast at the hostel, I found this method to be the cheapest alternative for me back then.
- Walk instead of hopping on and off the metro or bus. I love sightseeing so if I think I can make it to the destination by walking, then I would walk instead of riding public transportation. By walking I had more chance of capturing pictures and enjoying my surroundings.
Well you guys…I think I have shared everything based on my experience of travelling solo in Europe. I know it’s not much for some people, but it meant the world to me to be able to travel another continent on my own. I still can’t believe how blessed I was to have that chance to see another part of this world, to do it alone and came back home safe and happy.
I lost a big part of my life last year, and I was so lost I couldn’t even recognize the girl that I was throughout 2016. Deciding to go to Europe alone wasn’t easy, I was terrified and worried about leaving my family for a few months. But I had this dream, I wanted to see the world, so I hopped on this incredible journey. This trip helped me discover so many parts of myself that I didn’t know exists. I gained so much courage, confidence and happiness. It changed me in so many ways that I can’t even begin to fathom how it was possible. This world may not be the safest, or the kindest place, but it doesn’t mean we can’t move on and take charge of our lives.
I hope you guys enjoy another one of my blabber, I still cannot believe that some people actually read my messy writings. But because you do, thank you thank you thank you.
Dreams do come true…I should know that. Don’t ever give up!
Wherever you are and whatever situation you might be in right now, be happy..always ❤
Sending you warm hugs from the island of Gods,