Feeling the Fear: Adventures of a Woman Traveling Alone

 

"Do the thing you think you cannot do: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face."   Eleanor Roosevelt

Traveling alone as a woman can be an exhilarating and transformative experience. 

It offers a unique opportunity to discover the world on your terms, pushing your boundaries and gaining a profound sense of self-reliance. 

In this blog post, we'll explore my journey traveling alone, highlighting the empowering aspects and offering tips for a safe and enjoyable solo adventure.

Empowerment through Independence

I had traveled alone in Europe, but it had been many years. I was nervous, scared, and aware that I’d make all the decisions by myself…a thing that always makes me nervous.

My solo adventure was for only two days. I left the friends I’d been traveling with for two weeks in Greece and flew to Rome.  I‘d booked a room near the Vatican. The host had arranged for me to be picked up at the airport, so I felt relieved I didn’t have to negotiate the Rome metro system. Plus, knowing I only had two days, I wanted to have as much time to walk and discover the sites in Rome. 

I arrived without much of a hitch and was greeted by Georgio, the host, who guided me into Rome's top things to do.  I told him I’d need a ride back to the airport two days later and he said “no problem” and called the company to arrange for my transport back. 

I felt relieved to have Georgio’s support.  

Embarking on a solo journey as a woman is not for sissies

Traveling alone allows you to break free from the constraints of everyday life. You get to make every decision without compromise. In other words, you can do whatever the hell you want. This kind of experiences increases your self-confidence and personal growth, helping you become more adaptable and resourceful.

Self-Discovery and Personal Growth 

Traveling alone forces you to leave your comfort zone and face the unknown. You'll discover hidden strengths, navigate challenges, and overcome obstacles you never thought possible. Solo travel provides a unique opportunity for introspection and self-discovery, helping you better understand your values, and desires. 

On arrival, Georgio handed me a map of the city and quickly showed me how to walk to the main sites. It was a bit dizzying as the map had tiny letters and was all in Italian. I had been up since 3:30 a.m. in Athens to see my friends leave and then back asleep for a couple more hours. 

I asked him to write down the restaurant's name so that I could put it into Google Maps. I asked him for a good place to get pasta, and he immediately recommended a restaurant with handmade pasta. It was intense. I loved it but it was VERY rich. 

Building Global Connections

Traveling alone makes you more likely to engage with locals and fellow travelers. The absence of a travel companion encourages interactions and connections that otherwise you might not have made. 

One of the things I love to do is headstands wherever I go. It’s quirky, and I’ve been at it for years. I always want a photo or video of my headstand, but when traveling alone, you can’t just walk up to a stranger, hand them your iPhone, and expect that person not to run off with your phone. 

Or can you?

Well, that’s what I did. Standing outside the coliseum, I saw two women admiring the view. I debated with myself…do I ask them? They’ll think I’m crazy, but I decided they were strangers and I'd never see them again, so what did it matter? Besides, they looked honest.  

I asked if they spoke English, and one of the women said, “A little.” They were Russian and were willing to video me. I don’t think they had any idea that I would do a headstand, and while my feet were up in the air, I heard them gasp. They took a perfect video. I thanked them and asked if they wanted their photo made, to which they said yes. It was a lesson in trusting others and trusting myself to walk up to strangers and ask for help. 

Flexibility and Spontaneity

One of the joys of traveling solo is the freedom to change your plans on a whim. You can adjust your itinerary based on your mood or interests without considering anyone else's preferences. This flexibility allows for spontaneous adventures and discovering hidden gems that may not be found in guidebooks.

After wandering around the first day, I decided to ditch Georgio’s plan because I had no idea what I was seeing. I knew I needed a guide. So, I arranged for a tour of the Coliseum and the Roman Forum early the next day. 

Expect the Unexpected

One of the things about traveling, whether alone or with others, is that anything can happen, and you have to be ready for when things suddenly change. 

On the day of my departure, I was up early, waiting for my ride at 7:30 a.m. At 7:35, no driver had appeared. I texted Georgio to see what was up. 

He replied that he’d call the transport company and get back to me. Five minutes went by, and he delivered the news that the company wasn’t answering their phones and, sorry, that I should get a taxi. 

I could have freaked out, I felt like freaking out, but I didn’t. My flight was leaving at 10:30, and now it was  8:00. I asked, “Where do I get a taxi?”

He directed me to Piazza Mazzini to find a taxi, and I started walking in that direction without knowing where the heck Piazza Mazzini was.  I put it into Google Maps, but after walking for 10 minutes, I realized I had taken the wrong turn. 

Then, I noticed a man on the street assisting a woman in getting into a cab. I rushed up to him and asked, "Are they going to the airport?" He said she couldn’t get a taxi, so she was going to the train station. I told him my predicament and that I needed to get to the airport immediately. He said it was doubtful but that he would try to call a cab for me. 

The cab company did not answer, and I heard him say, “There’s a strike today, so it’s almost impossible to get a cab."  OMG. 

After about 10 minutes of asking other people getting into cabs if they were going to the airport & hearing “no,” Luca, the kind man helping me, said that I might be able to get a shuttle to the airport. I said, where? And he walked with me to the next block while on hold with the taxi company. 

I’m not sure what happened that I didn't panic but in my mind, I just let go. I stopped pushing to get to the airport, worrying and panicking. I told myself you’ll get the next flight if you miss the flight. 

Suddenly, Luca said…"someone is answering."  And then I heard the most wonderful words…" A cab will be here in 1 minute." It felt like a miracle had happened. 

I repeatedly thanked Luca and tried to give him money, but he would not accept. Now, I thought, that’s a truly kind and generous man. I know that the way I will pay him back is to pay it forward. I hope I can help someone like he’s helped me one day. 

On the way to the airport, I realized that the traffic was horrible, and I didn’t know if we would make it in time, but I just told myself to let go. You’ve done everything you can.  Just look out the window and enjoy the view through Rome. 

And then I started visualizing myself getting on the plane. I saw myself relaxed and boarding without any stress. 

And that is exactly what happened. 

I arrived at the airport at 9:20. It was surreal. I even had time to go to the lounge and get a coffee before I boarded. I felt so grateful and proud for staying calm and overriding my fears. 

Empowering Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone

While solo travel can be empowering, it's crucial to prioritize safety. Here are some essential tips for women embarking on a solo journey: 

  1. Research Your Destination: Thoroughly research your chosen destination, including its safety, cultural norms, and local customs. My trip to Rome was unexpected and I didn't have time to do the research. It's not necessary but very helpful to know what you want to see and do. 
  2. Share Your Itinerary: Keep someone informed about your travel plans and regularly check in with them.
  3. Trust Your Instincts: Listen to your gut feelings. If a situation feels uncomfortable, remove yourself from it.
  4. Stay Connected: Ensure you can access your phone, maps, and GPS. Download Google Maps. It's your best friend. 
  5. Blend In: Dress modestly and respect local dress codes to avoid unwanted attention.
  6. Secure Your Valuables: Use a money belt or hidden pouch for your passport and money. 
  7. Stay in Safe Accommodations: Research and book accommodations in reputable, well-reviewed places. I used Booking.com with a rating of 8 or higher. 

Conclusion

Traveling alone as a woman can be a life-changing experience, empowering you to explore the world on your terms, creating personal growth, and creating new connections. 

Embrace the adventure, trust your abilities, and prioritize safety to maximize your solo journey. Remember that the world is full of wonders waiting for you and you have the power to explore them all.

Over to You

When have you traveled alone? Is this something you would like to do? If you hear yourself saying, "I could never travel by myself, or that is way too scary," then we need to talk. Schedule a free 1:1 consultation with me. GO HERE to schedule an appointment. 

Now, start feeling the fear and do it anyway like I did.  You’ll remember this as one of the best times of your life. 

Feel the fear and do it anyway. You can be brave even when you're afraid. And the rewards are enormous. 

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