I traveled Europe with a backpack during my eight month teaching séjour in France and I came home from my adventures unscathed.
Here are my top tips for being prepared and traveling intelligently, while making the most of your time in a new location, and doing all this alone.
1. Travel with copies of your important documents such as your passport, residency card, travel tickets and debit or credit card. Keep the copies in a safe location of your bag, separate from the originals. Keep another set of copies at home as well. These copies can be invaluable if you are ever faced with the unfortunate situation of being pick-pocketed.
2. Leave expensive jewelry and unnecessary electronics at home. Will you really need them?
4. When exploring a city by foot, alone and in the evening, walk down well-lit and populated streets. Walking with a group
of other people within sight can be smart as well. Nighttime is not my suggested time to be lurking down unpopulated, dimly lit, dodgy streets. What is also smart is to arrive at one’s destination during daytime hours. Limit solo travel in unfamiliar cities at night as much as possible.
5. For the sake of fun, and added safety, make friends with the other travelers at your hostel! Chances are high that many others are traveling alone or in small groups, and want to make new friends with whom to venture out into the city and make new memories.
6. Ask for help from local shopkeepers if you have questions or need assistance. Most anyone should be able or willing to help.
7. Ladies, remember that you do have the option to request a women-only couchette (sleeping bunk) when traveling by overnight train. This is safer and more comfortable than spending the night attempting to catch some shut-eye in a regular train seat, and it is only a few Euros more expensive; but well worth it, in my opinion.
The moral of the story is to use common sense and make wise, level-headed decisions in order to have the most positive travel experience possible. Safe travels!