Traveling Alone in Europe


Courtesy of Rebecca Tatera

Photographed: Rebecca hiking in Poland

First off, the University of New Haven Study Abroad Office does not encourage traveling by yourself. It has been my choice to travel alone.

This is my third time studying abroad in Prato, Italy. I was here for fall 2016, worked here the summer of 2018, and now I am back for the fall.

The Prato campus is magnificent. The staff tries to make sure that each student has a wonderful educational experience. That is why I keep coming back here. In addition, the Pratese people have been welcoming and the culture intrigues me.

During each semester, there is a 10-day break where students can travel with classes or each other. For this break, I chose to go independently to France and Poland.

In France, I spent two of my days with friends from different schools, and two days by myself. In Poland, I spent three days on my own and three days with those friends from France.

This was the perfect balance for me, because half of the trip was precisely what I wanted to do, and with my friends, I did things I may not have chosen to do alone. As an avid traveler, I tend to go off the beaten path. By doing the activities I wanted to do, I was learning, exploring, and growing in each location.

In Paris, I walked through Pere Lachaise Cemetery, ate breakfast at a gluten-free cafe, walked along the Seine, and bought a book, but Krakow is where the adventure began. My last name, Tatera, originates from the Tatra Mountains in Southern Poland. So the first thing on my list was to take a hike through the mountains.

A hostel employee assisted me in the planning process, and this is not unusual, finding locals who want to help. This was true for the rest of Krakow. Everyone was pleasant, kind, and willing to engage with me independently.

Three mountain trails and 17 miles later, I was thrilled. This was what the entire trip was for, and taking in the size and nature of these mountains was something I would not have been able to do if others had been there.

Traveling is all about stepping out of your comfort zone. Hostels will push you out of your comfort zone, fast. Most recently, I stayed with 11 other people, and our entire floor of five rooms shared three showers and two toilets. If this doesn’t scream uncomfortable, I don’t know what will.

Travelers come from all over the world for adventures in the same city, and some may be interested in the same things you want to do. I’ve met people from Germany, India, Australia, England, Canada, Poland, and more, all in hostels. I’ve exchanged Instagrams, gotten dinner, and even toured cities with some of them. Even when you travel alone, you may not be alone the entire time if you stay in a hostel.

Traveling alone is easy, as long as you are confident and comfortable being independent. To ensure you can comfortably see the world the way you want too, here are some tips:

● Always make sure someone knows your daily and nightly plans. That way, this person can check on you and ensure your safety.
● Make sure you fill out the travel documentation for the Study Abroad Office. That way, the school can contact you in case of an emergency.
● If you go on a day trip somewhere without cell service, share this with the place you’re staying, and let them know the time you intend to be back.
● Google the city and study maps before your arrival. This allows you to do more in a short weekend trip.
● Grab a Prato campus travel flyer. They have five things to do in different European cities.