Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Solo Female First Time Traveler - Scared to Death

Solo Female First Time Traveler - Scared to Death

Old Jun 21st, 2013, 12:54 AM
  #121  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great thread. Thank you for starting it swoosh35!
I haven't read every reply yet but I will.
I am off on my first o/s trip in 74 days and it is going to be solo. I see more cons in doing it with someone else. I am scared yes, but I think I will thrive and blossom. I (hope) to write a blog while I am away to encourage other females to travel alone.it is also to keep my family in the loop.
the blog name is www.bronvoyage.com
I am going to take cooking classes and go on day tours to interact with people. I am not shy so interacting is not an issue. Then I can go back to my apartment at the end of the day and enjoy not sharing. woohoo.
I will go packed with my common sense and gut feelings to help against unwanted bad events.
I think research is key.
bronvoyage is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2013, 07:50 AM
  #122  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,160
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Nobody's answered your train question. And time is fleeting. This site is very useful for all train information: www.seat61.com. In particular for France: http://www.seat61.com/France-trains.htm#.UcXE5fnVDIU. Rick Steves also has a lot of good train info on his site: http://www.ricksteves.com/rail/itinplan.htm.

Yes, buy your Eurostar tickets NOW. It's much more convenient and time saving to take the train from city center to city center. No getting out to the airport, no being there 2 hours early, no getting into town from the airport. Not to speak of luggage issues.

PREMs are cheap French TGV (or equivalent) fares bought early, like 3 months or so ahead of time.

Nice to Florence requires a local train to the Italian border at Ventimiglia, then a switch to an Italian train for the journey to Florence. I would reserve the second leg. You can get savings on Trenitalia tickets also if you buy early.

Hopefully this response isn't too late for you. I was expecting one of the Fodorite train experts to chime in.
Mimar is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2013, 10:09 AM
  #123  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 45
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you for taking the time to respond... again!

So I booked...

*Eurostar from London to Paris
*PREM from Paris Gare de Lyon to Nice
*ItaliaRail Florence to Venice
*ItaliaRail Venice to Rome
*Ryanair Rome to London (I initially did open jaw, long story...I'm going back to London the night before my flight back home to the US from Heathrow)

Only thing I haven't booked is the connection from Nice to Ventimiglia - then to Florence with another connection from Pisa and/or Genoa. Am I just not researching this well? Is there a more efficient way to get there than 3 connections? Any flights? I might be with friends so we could split the cost - has anyone used a car service and know what the cost would be?

Thank you for your generous feedback!
swoosh35 is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2013, 10:34 AM
  #124  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 66
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Note carefully the luggage restrictions on Ryanair. You want to book hold luggage (= checked baggage) ahead of time AND print boarding pass. They charge a phenomenal amount if you leave it to the check-in desk. They are also the only airline I have been on that weighed carry-ons, even if they were permitted size. On the other hand, they gave us a pass on being about 250g (1/2 lb) over.
drlaz is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2013, 10:50 AM
  #125  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,824
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
I was unable to read all of the posts because it looks like there is quite a bit of overkill, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised by Europe.
kerouac is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2013, 12:08 PM
  #126  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 45
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh boy, I didn't hold luggage! Crossing fingers I can still change it.

kerouac: I cannot agree with you more. This sounds cheesy, but really true.... I have dreamt of going to Europe all my life. Simply being able to plan the trip has been a dream come true already
swoosh35 is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2013, 08:28 PM
  #127  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The segment between Nice and Florence by train can be really tiring and personally I wouldn't recommend it at night in some segments, if you're concerned about pickpockets, etc. Try and find a convenient flight on one of the budget airlines. Read the airline's luggage restrictions carefully. You can also pay for an overweight bag to go as checkin luggage. The restrictions usually apply to the carryon luggage (except for weight limitations).

I usually like to recommend skyscannerdotnet as a good website to search for airfares. That's because the price quoted includes all fees and taxes. Sometimes, on some other website you think you may have a great airfare, but if you add in all the fees and taxes, it might have been better to book just a regular fare.

The other website for trains is bahndotcom/bahndotde, the German train website. It may seem strange to refer you to a German train website when you're not going there, but it's the best website, IMHO, for trains in Europe. The website is easy to use. You can see at a glance the departure and arrival times as well as how long the trip is and how many changes of trains are involved, also what kinds of trains you will be riding on ("Products", e.g., "R" means "regional", which can be a pretty slow train stopping at every possible stop along the way).

At the moment, the shortest trip time between Nice and Florence appears to be 6 hours and 35 minutes with 2 train changes. If you have a lot of luggage, this may be a consideration, as many train changes don't really give you much in-between time. In fact, often people have to run to catch a connecting train. It's especially not advisable for you to have a short in-between time in huge train stations such as the Milan central train station.

Good luck on your planning! I'm picking up tips from this thread!
easytraveler is offline  
Old Jun 24th, 2013, 06:41 AM
  #128  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,160
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Glad to see you've got most of your train trips booked.

Re: your return trip, Ryanair uses inconvenient airports, with fewer transportation options. I assume you're flying from Rome Ciampino and to London Stansted. You can get to Ciampino by bus from Rome's main train station, Stazione Termini: http://www.terravision.eu/ciampino_bus_info.html.

From Stansted you can take a bus or a train: http://www.stanstedairport.com/trans...central-london.

Picking a day at random on skyscanner.com I see you can fly from Rome Fiumicino to London Gatwick on British Air for $160, no extra charge for your checked bag.

Traveling by yourself it's important to pack lightly. You're going to have to lug that bag all around and lift it up, onto the train and maybe overhead.

Good luck, swoosh!
Mimar is offline  
Old Jun 24th, 2013, 05:08 PM
  #129  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 66
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Don't worry, swoosh. You have until 24 or 48 hours ahead (don't remember) to add checked baggage to your Ryanair reservation. British Air, by the way, also charges for checked bags, but they disguise it by offering a discount cabin-baggage-only fare.
drlaz is offline  
Old Jun 26th, 2013, 07:25 PM
  #130  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 69
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It is a bit scary to travel alone but many people prefer it. One option you may want to consider is finding women travel companions interested in your destinations online i.e.:
http://www.women-on-the-road.com/fem...ompanions.html
annie_pie is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2013, 07:36 PM
  #131  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 45
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hello again!

I just want to thank you all for the very generous feedback you've given me thus far. I know it takes time to respond and I appreciate all your efforts in trying to help me. You did! I now have a greater sense of confidence than I did when I initially started this thread. I was truly scared to death! Now, not so much anymore. Okay, maybe a little. But ignorance really ain't bliss for me and I thank you for all the encouraging, super informative and kind words.

As for my planning, I/ we (friends) are going back and forth whether to take the 3 connections from Nice to Florence or get a car service. I have no idea how exorbitant this might be but with a few people pitching in who are also going that direction, it might make sense to share the cost? I have a feeling this wont be decided any time soon.

Ahhh... I'm already feeling the beauty of solo traveling. This would've been decided already! Oh how weeks of reading Fodors can change a gal

Thank you for the bus info for my Ryanair airports, MImar!

Now I just need to zone in more closely on the specific sites, restaurants, tours and whether to take a chocolate tour in Paris or see an opera in any of the places.

If you're not sick of me yet and care to share your favorites in London, Paris, Florence, Venice & Rome, well I would be more than ecstatic, of course.

Thank you!
swoosh35 is offline  
Old Jun 28th, 2013, 11:09 AM
  #132  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 97,281
Received 12 Likes on 11 Posts
You're most welcome. And you're doing great!

I have nothing to share because I'm the least planning-est person I know. As long as I have a plane ticket and a hotel reservation, that's all I've ever done in advance (Venice, Paris, Amsterdam, and parts of Switzerland). When I arrive I get a map and just wander around every day. Sometimes planning one day in advance what I'd like to do.
suze is offline  
Old Jun 28th, 2013, 12:33 PM
  #133  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 45
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I really like your approach, suze & am actually a little envious of your carefree, no-stress take on going on a vacation! Being the neurotic planner that I am, I'll try harder to implement a similar strategy once I'm there & leave some days where I plan nothing at all and just be brave enough to see where the day leads me. Kind of ironic... stressing about relaxing! What a hoot. After reading some reports on here, I get the sense these chill days will prove to be the most fun because I won't be running around trying to catch something or be somewhere.
swoosh35 is offline  
Old Jun 28th, 2013, 11:39 PM
  #134  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 4,845
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Check weekly listings, and play it by ear. And yes, your chill days will turn out to be the most memorable. How's your french by the way? Because the Franglish thing might be a fun way to get to know people both in London and in Paris. At least you get to places you wouldn't have visited otherwise and it's a super positive and interesting crowd. There's always demand for English speakers.

There's one in Nice now as well!

http://www.franglish.eu
menachem is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2013, 12:01 AM
  #135  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 4,845
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My favorite for a sunday morning followed by lunch is a visit to Jardin des Plantes, followed by tea and then lunch at the Paris Mosque, then stroll back towards the Seine with a slight detour to visit the Arena

http://www.jardindesplantes.net
http://www.la-mosquee.com/htmluk/entreeuk.htm
http://www.aviewoncities.com/paris/arenesdelutece.htm

then you might visit the roof of Institut du Monde Arabe for a great view of the Seine, Notre Dame etc.

A great store for browsing music (not on sundays) is Crocodisc in Rue des Ecoles http://www.crocodisc.com

Next door is my favorite bookstore, Harmattan (african studies mostly)
http://www.harmattan.fr/groupeharmattan/

not on the internet and a shop I found quite by accident but go back to again and again is

le petit souk on rue des carmes, a side street off rue des ecoles

http://goo.gl/maps/mcOUd

what you might call a "curated" collection of linen clothing for men and women reminiscent of country work clothes.
menachem is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2013, 05:30 AM
  #136  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,109
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Glad that you are getting over the jitters and are so excited about your trip! Just want to add another woman who travels alone(have done so for nearly fifty years) and enjoys it immensely. The first time I was too dumb to be scared. Then once my feet were wet, there was no looking back!

Have a wonderful trip! Glad you decided on more than two days in Venice. I only had three and really want to go back!
irishface is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2013, 08:02 AM
  #137  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 87
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Last November I took the train from Nice to Genoa - and have taken the train from Genoa to Florence - which requied a change in Pisa. And I have also taken the train from Florence to Venice on prior solo trips.

Your change in Ventimiglia is easy and the ride along the coast is beautiful. Make sure you pack some snacks if you decide to do the whole trip in one leg. You might want to consider breaking up the trip with an overnight in Genoa. There are several nice, inexpensive hotels right aroung the Principe station and also some trattorias all within walking distance.

I am a solo female traveler so here are some tips. I'm sure you have been warned about persons dressed in "uniform" style offering to help you with your luggage on the trains. Make sure you alert your bank and credit card companies that you will be travelling. I only use an ATM when I know the bank is open incase the machine takes my card. When I go out, I tell the front desk about how long I expect to be gone. Make two copies of your credit cards and passport - leave one at home with a trusted person and take one copy with you separate from the real things (I usually hide it in the lining of my carryon). I also register with the State Department web site - an old habit from when I travelled to Third World countries. You just never know these days. Finally, it is the one time that I "check in" regulary on Facebook so freinds and family know where I am.

Now, some simple tips on how to enjoy your trip. If you like perfume, don't bring any, just buy some there. It will always serve as a reminder of your trip. Plus, it will give you something to "shop" for. Buy a nice leather bag at the market in Florence. You'll need something by that point to put all your little treasures in. Finally,just wander around get lost in Venice. Remember to savor the moment you are in. You will make new friends and have a wonderful time.

Buon viaggio!
flirtinfilly is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2013, 08:10 AM
  #138  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 87
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
One more thing (as I was reading the post bottom to top!) you might want to do in Florence is the Opera Theater at St Marks English Church. I did this and it is fantastic. Ticket purcase is seemless on the ClassicTic site.

http://www.classictic.com/en/search/...isplay=concert

Sorry about all the typo's in my earlier post - sticky keyboard! Ciao!
flirtinfilly is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2013, 08:27 AM
  #139  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 97,281
Received 12 Likes on 11 Posts
Let's be honest... Sometimes stuff does go wrong.

Oh there was the time I got the piece of paper with my Italian train reservation mixed up with the actual train ticket and was trying to hand the conductor the wrong one and thought I'd thrown out the right one (fortunately I hadn't just buried it in my bag).

Or you get lost (my best tip for this is always carry the business card of your hotel & taxi fare in exact local currency). I was once soooo turned around & lost in Paris I coulda cried on the street corner (I was about 5 blocks from my hotel as it turned out!).

Whatever happens. Don't freak out. Find a cafe, sit, collect your wits, have a cup of coffee or glass of wine, calm down, then carry on
suze is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2013, 09:56 AM
  #140  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 45
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I loved waking up to all your replies! Thanks a million, I'm so happy to read this.

suze: I could totally see myself breaking down in the street corner as I am bad with directions. Without my phone GPS, I still get lost in my own town. Yes, really bad. This is genius advice that is often forgotten in the middle of a panic. In fact, I'll write it on a piece of paper and stick it in my wallet as a visible reminder.

"Sit. Drink. Carry on."

irishface: Thanks for cheering on! I'm happy you loved Venice, makes me even more excited about extending. Would it be too weird if I ride the gondola solo while the gondolier serenades me? Just after the experience. It's a serious question.

flirtinfilly: Snacks will be packed, Facebook re-activated (maybe), & perfumed soaps now on the list. I will have a phone with all my apps so hopefully that'll be sufficient. I've been researching operas & couldn't pin one down & wasn't sure of seeing it in a church. I was hoping to see one at Garnier or Verona but they don't coincide with my dates. Reconsidered St Mark's Church after your comments - intimate & unique, plus I've always wanted to see Carmen! I think I just made a decision, thank you!

menachem: As usual, so reliable with gems! Thank you for continuing to share, your info is always spot on - stuff you don't find in guidebooks.
swoosh35 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -