Recently, I embarked on my first solo trip, which felt like stepping into the great unknown. It wasn’t that I hadn’t tasted the freedom of solo travel before. No, but this time was different – a short, spontaneous trip to a whole new country, just for the thrill of it. I felt like a proper adult. After an intense three-day debate on which European city to explore, involving Google Earth and binge-watching TikTok travel vlogs, I decided on Budapest, Hungary. Why Budapest, you ask? Well, it fits my student budget. Because, let’s be real, I’m not exactly rolling in cash.

Arming myself with knowledge about Budapest became my pre-trip ritual. From deciphering the local language and currency to studying the best ways to navigate the city and searching for the best sights in the city, I was on a mission. Of course, the most crucial research was finding those fun spots that wouldn’t leave my wallet sobbing. After all, I’m a broke student – budgeting is simply my superpower.

Of course, the trip turned out to be a whirlwind of discovery for me. That is expected. But here’s the lowdown for fellow solo travelers, especially if you’re a young, Black, broke female exploring Europe.

First things first – Europeans take time seriously. Budapest buses wait for no one, not even a broke student, no matter how pretty you are. Shocker. I learned this the hard way after missing buses, shivering in the cold while waiting for the next bus, stomach growling in hunger, and fatigue setting in. Lesson learned: Google Maps’ timings are your lifeline; follow them religiously. Stick to them like your favorite comfort food, or you’ll end up with an inconvenient disruption of plans, or worse, spending money you don’t have.

Now, let me tell you the truth – because of your skin colour, you will stand out. You’re different, so expect the stares. I felt like a walking spectacle, a rare sight that locals eyed with quiet astonishment. It wasn’t the uncomfortable, creepy stares you might imagine. No, it was more like a quiet gasp, a raised eyebrow of gentle curiosity. As if the city itself whispered, “Hold up, an African adventurer in Budapest? Now that’s something!” In Salzburg, it’s easy for me to forget that I stand out a bit. I think the locals there have perfected the art of subtle nonchalance, gracefully avoiding prolonged gazes. However, Budapest had a different script for me. There, I became the star of my silent movie, I strutted and glided, feeling like a unicorn. Of course, I spotted a few faces like mine, and I could tell how rare we were. Frankly, this added a unique flavor to my solo adventure. 

Lesson learned – you are not just a tourist, you are a living, breathing cultural exchange. Embrace it.

And ah, safety – Being female, it’s not just a precaution, it’s non-negotiable. It’s about intuition and street smarts. As a woman navigating the world solo, it’s about channeling your inner ninja, feeling the streets, and taking those extra precautions that make you a guardian of your adventure. As a female solo traveler, there’s usually a symphony of unsettling glances that might play your way. You might catch those leers, but hold onto your valuables and try to look extremely confident. Let’s show those creeps that solo female travelers are not to be messed with. 

Lesson learned – confidence isn’t just a shield; it’s a powerful ally. So be vigilant, keep your wits sharp, and let your every move declare, “Not today, creeps!”

Finally, budgeting. The unsung hero of every broke student. It’s not just about numbers; it’s about mastering the art of financial juggling, a tango between desire and necessity. Unless you are super duper rich, budgeting is your trusty sidekick. On your solo trips, resist the temptation to splurge on that second chimney cake or hot wine (even though the struggle is real). Yes, I was dying for another round on the Ferris wheel despite my fear of heights, but a budget is a budget. It’s not just about penny-pinching; it’s about having an experience that leaves value. Every coin I saved on that second chimney cake was an investment in a memory that would outlast the temporary sweetness it would have had on my lips. Prioritize experiences based on their value and relevance, and you’ll thank yourself later. 

Lesson learned – a budget is like a guardian angel, it helps you resist the temptation when your weak spirit desires a treat.

So, my dears, solo travel isn’t all nerves and anxiety; it’s a thrilling ride of self-discovery. Plan meticulously, have backup plans for your backup plans, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Shop owners are your best bet for advice and questions, and if language becomes a problem, don’t be scared to whip out Google Translate; your language superhero. Soak in the adventure, embrace the challenges, and enjoy the fact that the world is your oyster!

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