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First steps to plan first trip
Adina
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Does anyone have some advice for what the first step is to plan your first trip across Europe? Are there any books that you would recommend for good routes to take for a month long adventure? How about safety advice for women travelers?

Thanks!

Jester
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Start by deciding why you are traveling and what kind of a trip you want. It pretty much depends on what you are like and what you like. There’s many guidebooks that can help you, I personally used the internet, forums like this one where people tell you their experiences based on what they lived rather than how much money they’ll earn by brainwashing you are very helpful, because people here may have different opinions but they’ll be honest. We have nothing to sell here.

The internet also let’s you google pictures, guides, maps, etc. But you can also take a look at artbooks, travel magazines, etc, it depends on your preferences.

As for safety tips, just be aware, not paranoid, but keep your eyes open, and have that kind of an attitude that shows you are aware. And basically, just don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home. Trust your gut more than anything else, if something tells you not to do something or go somewhere, don’t, when you travel solo, you learn to trust yourself more than anyone else.

Hope this helps, for more specific answers I need more specific questions.

jbarrow013
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If you are looking to travel and want to feel a bit more safe you should look into a Contiki Holidays. Its not backpacking but you really get a good sence of a ton of places and where you would want to return to. Plus you are sure to have accomidations and transportation. I was a bit concerned about safety when I went to Europe this summer but at no point did I feel scared or threatend on my trip. Good luck and happy trails!

oldlady
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Do not be overly concerned about safety. Just use common sense, rely on your intuition and remain aware of your surroundings.

I think safety issues are more a solo vs. being with somebody issue than a gender issue. You are more vulnerable, more easily distracted so you aren’t using street smarts, when you’re alone. The major safety issues in Europe are pickpockets and purse snatchers — danger to your belongings, not to you. If you’re alone, a money belt or neck safe is probably a good idea plus the common sense of don’t flash lots of cash and cards, split up your cash and cards so a thief is unlikely to get much, etc — all the stuff that’s in any basic guidebook.

Sometimes females attract unwanted attention from males. A firm "no" usually works, particularly if you make a sufficient amount of noise to attract attention. Older females seem to be invisible to European males. On an American college campus, eye contact, a big smile and "hi" to a stranger would probably be seen as friendly. I think that behavior is more likely to be interpreted as a come-on in Europe.

For a first timer, I think the best starting point is a trip to the travel agency. Pick up the brochures and books for guided tours of Europe. Use those to figure out where you want to go and the logical route to follow. Those little maps with each tour description are great for visualizing a logical route. Realize that you’ll probably want a slower pace as an independent traveler — don’t try to accomplish the 21 day guided tour route on your own in 21 days. Once you have a list of places to visit check out guidebooks from the library and begin refining. Then post back on the other forums for answers to specific questions and additional advice.

For some personal advice: I much prefer Eastern Europe and the less touristed parts of Western Europe to the standard tourist destinations in Western Europe.