11 Tips on Traveling Alone and/or Abroad

traveling alone abroad Antwerp Belgium Europe Cherie Dawn Haas 20220924_103949 Antwerp Belgium

Tips for traveling alone and/or abroad > What I learned while taking my first solo trip to Europe.

Just recently I had the opportunity to travel to Belgium on a writing assignment. Although my immediate response was an enthusiastic “yes, please,” there were many fears that I had to overcome. It would be my first time traveling to Europe, and I would be alone to navigate the planes, trains, and automobiles. 

traveling alone abroad Antwerp Belgium Europe Cherie Dawn Haas 20220924_103949 Ghent
My first awestruck moments in Ghent, where I visited the Ghent Altarpiece and much more

The first thing I did was renew my passport, and then I began researching everything from what language is spoken (Dutch, but English is also common) to Baroque artists and the local art history (for my article*). Then I spoke with friends, colleagues, and mentors about what to expect when traveling to Europe, their advice for traveling alone, and even how to stay on top of jet lag (thank you, Carrel, Eric, Kelly, Lori, Olivia, and many others for their guidance!)

This could be an entire book, but I wanted to at least briefly share the best advice I received about traveling alone, as well as how I controlled my fears of the unknown and instead stayed grounded.

traveling alone abroad Antwerp Belgium Europe Cherie Dawn Haas 20220924_103949 Mercure Hotel
My room at the Mercure Antwerp City Centre / Hotel in Antwerp

Tips for Traveling Alone and/or Abroad

  1. To start, plan on avoiding jet lag by “forcing” your sleep, and get on local time asap.
  2. Carry your cash in multiple places in case you lose your purse or wallet.
  3. Make a photocopy (and/or take a photo with your phone) of your passport and other important documents.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the currency so you’re not fumbling at the cash register.
  5. Study maps of the areas you’ll be visiting.
  6. Leave a note in your hotel room about where you’re going, when, and with whom.
  7. Make sure you have the right outlet converter for charging your electronics.
  8. Eat like a local** – if they put mayonnaise instead of ketchup on French fries, give it a try at least!
  9. If you’re confused about anything at all, smile and ask someone. I found that almost everyone was willing to show some compassion; even one gentleman who at first said he didn’t speak English warmed up to me quickly after he recognized my confusion about having to pay to use a public restroom. (I had never seen this in my life; you put a coin into a machine to get through a turnstile!) 
  10. Don’t get arrested abroad! (Does that need to be said? Always.)
  11. Use a mantra. More on this below because it’s more than a short bullet point. 😉
traveling alone and abroad - Antwerp train station
Above and below; the Antwerp train station
Antwerp train station - traveling alone in Europe

I used a mantra to stay grounded and on top of any fears that tried to take over, throughout my initial planning through the entire trip itself. It was “I am here,” inspired by Ram Dass. So instead of sitting in the train station worrying about how I’ll know where my stop is, I considered, “I am here,” and focused on the amazing architecture, familiar and strange sounds, and the awesome fact that I was simply sitting in a train station in Europe. When nerves crept up, I considered that I was safe, warm and dry, and well fed – I had everything I needed.

I want to veer a bit off course here and share something else … As my plane was crossing back to America, the pilot said something about the winds from Hurricane Ian possibly affecting our path, or speed, or something like that. I was tired, and comforted myself with “I am here. I am safe.” 

Andi Clemons - Andi's Island Studio - and Cherie Dawn Haas
Me with one of my best friends on the planet, Andi

Some of my friends, Andi and Michael, were not as safe, though, and have lost everything from their home in Ft Myers, Florida, to the hurricane and storm surge. Footage shows their house during the storm, the roof just feet above the risen water. Some mutual friends have set up a fundraiser for them, and so I’d like to share that here in hopes of boosting the signal and getting them some relief as they rebuild their lives: Help Andi and Michael Clemons After Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian Ft Myers Beach Florida
Andi’s neighborhood in Ft Myers Beach, Florida, after Hurricane Ian

As always, thank you for reading this! My intention is to create positive change in varying degrees of my life – taking care of my immediate family, helping my friends and neighbors, and hopefully inspiring the world as well. If you’re here, I hope you’re within that light in some way.

Until next time,
CherieDawn

*Check out my first Fine Art Today article on the art museum reopening that was the main purpose for my trip: “KMSKA: We’ve Missed You”

**While in Belgium, I had some of the most delicious and gorgeous food in my life to this point. I’ll be sharing all the #foodporn in a future post, so stay tuned …


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6 thoughts on “11 Tips on Traveling Alone and/or Abroad

  1. Lol I didn’t do #4 a lot, and always fumbled at the cashier for the appropriate coins. Most times the cashiers would lose patience and just pick out the appropriate coins from my hand. But as the world grows increasingly cashless, I’d have to say I’m glad this will be a thing of the past. Great list and thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha – I fumbled once (at the bathroom turnstile, lol – it was the first time I thought cash would be easier). I will say it cost a fortune to convert my American currency to the Euro, but I did that at the airport upon arrival…maybe consider that Tip #12, lol (convert somewhere else, or yes, use a credit card that doesn’t charge for international usage). 🙂 Happy travels, Stuart!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I moved to Germany I was warned about the food lol. Mayo instead of ketchup, no ice in drinks, bottled water is carbonated etc. I did end up loving mayo and fries and still est them that way lol..

    Like

    1. Haha – that’s right, I didn’t even really notice how little ice was used. I think I had it once in my still water (I accidentally took a sparkling water, once, lol). Glad to hear you’re still enjoying the fries & mayo! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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