I got back from my trip to Europe a couple weeks ago. I'm still in awe that I went to all the incredible places I did. I'm still digesting the experience, and the memories. I'm already looking forward to the next Euro Adventure.
On this this trip I visited: London, Salisbury, Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Bremen, Hamburg, Lubeck, and Copenhagen. 5 countries, 9 cities, in 12 days. I'll do a recap on the actual locations I went to soon.
I went on this trip alone, but through a tour group called Go Ahead Tours. I was naturally a little nervous about going by myself (this was my first trip to Europe) - mostly because I was scared I'd get lost in some random alley, or stuck with a miserable group of people. But neither happened - not even close. My group had a wide range of people: a few older couples, a family with two college kids, and a big ol' pack of solo travelers like myself. All of the solos formulated a group and we had a complete blast together. While you never know who you're going to end up traveling with on these groups, you have to remember that you have something in common with all of these strangers from the get-go, as everyone likes traveling and is looking to have an amazing time.
I'm thrilled that I took this trip through GoAhead. Here are some reasons why:
- I didn't have to figure out any logistics of getting from point A to point B. They arranged my flights, hotels, buses, cabs, ferries, some meals, excursions, etc. I really just had to show up.
- Their customer service was exceptional, and every person I spoke to from GoAhead was clearly passionate about what they do, and were determined to help me have the best trip ever.
- Met a bunch of awesome new people going through a group. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the whole crew.
- There was always someone who wanted to do what you wanted to do - you were only alone if you wanted to be.
- The itinerary that was put together was phenomenal. But it also included enough free time to do other things, and you were never handcuffed to anything in case you wanted to deviate from the path.
- There were a lot of extremely cultured people in my group, especially our Tour Director. He was with us on our trip from start to finish. He spoke 5 languages fluently, and literally knew EVERY nook and cranny in Europe (and beyond). I got a plethora of ideas of things to do/see that I wouldn't have otherwise known about.
Simply put - I don't think I could have pulled off a trip as extensive as this on my own. Not on my first trip to Europe at least. Moving forward, I think I would use GoAhead if the trip leans on the extensive side (several locations), or if it were in a country where barely anybody spoke English. But I learned the ropes well enough to feel comfortable to travel to most places in Europe on my own in the future if I want to... but I must say, I loved not dealing with logistics, and really had such a positive experience in the group setting.
A handful random observations I made:
- Overall, Europeans conducted themselves with better manners.
- You pay for water, and it comes in a small glass bottle (think old school Coke sized).
- Sometimes you pay to use the restroom. But when I had to do this, the restrooms were magnificently sanitary (even at gas stations!). Worth it.
- Barely any fat people.
- Barely any African Americans.
- Europeans dress far more practically - I saw only ONE pair of heels.
- Americans are more courteous as far as cigarette smoking goes, and will generally try to at least blow their smoke away from people. Europeans just smoke wherever.
- Everybody thought I was Dutch.
- The Dutch and the Danes are so much taller - loved this!
- Euros are way more energy conscious.
I'm Glad That...
- I bought and brought my beast of a camera/lens.
- Took pictures of the outfits I was going to wear throughout the trip.
- My mom made me bring a rain jacket.
- My mom made me bring a water bottle with a built in filter.
- I didn't buy travelers insurance.
- I brought a backpack.
- I left my laptop (i.e. work) at home. SO SO glad.
But most of all, I'm glad that I didn't let the slightly daunting idea of traveling alone to foreign countries stop me from going.