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Thoughts about traveling solo (as a young woman) in Italy?

Thoughts about traveling solo (as a young woman) in Italy?

Mar 16th, 2011, 05:41 PM
  #1  
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Thoughts about traveling solo (as a young woman) in Italy?

I graduate from college in May and REALLY want to travel after graduation. I've always wanted to go to Italy so figured that was a good place to start. I love the idea of traveling solo, but I have a lot of family telling me its not safe for a single woman who has never been to Europe. I've been researching and definitely want to go to Florance, but not sure what else I should/can do in a 12-14 day period. Any suggestions or thoughts?
exwray is offline  
Mar 16th, 2011, 06:21 PM
  #2  
 
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There are 18-year-old young women who take trips like this straight out of high school. You've just completed college. If you plan to stay in hostels, you will quickly meet others your age and can spend time together.

What attracts you about Florence? Knowing your interests would helps us make other suggestions. Tell us what you hope to do in Italy.

If the 12-14 days include traveling to and from Europe, then you really only have 10-12 days since the first day is flying overnight to Europe and your last day is all about getting to the airport to fly home. Plus part of your arrival day (Day 2) may be a bit foggy because you might experience jet lag.

Personally, I don't like 1-night stays, because you arrive at a new place and then have to leave again the next day. Even a 2-night stay means you just have 1 full day at a place with parts of 2 other days tacked on. And every time you change hotels/cities, it takes up at least half a day to check out of the hotel, get to the train station, ride the train, find your next hotel, and check in. All this is just food for thought as you begin to consider the possibilities.

If you have only 12 days (10 days on the ground), I'd recommend no more than 3 different places. This would give you enough time in each place to possibly take a day trip to another place close by without changing hotels. If you have 14 days (12 days on the ground) I'd recommend no more than 4 different places, again with the possibilities of day trips.

Some would say to slow down even more, but I think you are young and energetic, so this would be pretty busy, but not frenetic.
ellenem is offline  
Mar 16th, 2011, 07:50 PM
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That was all very informative, thank you!

After reading forums and blogs it sounds like Florence is more compact along with being absolutely beautiful. I know anywhere I go will be beautiful though! I've also read the people there are really nice and its a safe city to walk around in.

I know I will go a second time because my mom wants to go in a few years, so squeezing every little thing in isn't going to be my plan of action. I'm just ready for a new adventure and cant wait to experience other parts of the world! I want to meet new people and learn about other cultures... and of course soak in all the beauty this region of the world has to offer. I love anything that has to do with history so definitely want to do a lot of site seeing, but also think it would be fun to hike between the Cinque Terre villages for a more relaxing outing. As you can see, I'm pretty much up for anything.

To summarize what I've read about Rome is that its chaotic, a little crazy, but also a very special city and that Venice is perfect solo and its a great city to wander around. I know I won't be able to fit all of this in though...
exwray is offline  
Mar 16th, 2011, 07:57 PM
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Alot depends on how self confident you are. Serious problems are unlikely - you might get propositioned or, at worst, pinched. But the Italians are wonderful people. I agree with previous reply - don't get too ambitious and consider flying "open jaws" - fly in one place and out another. Venice is magical - rivaled only by Paris and Rome, IMHO. I would fly into Venice, spend 2-3 days, train to Florence (assuming you like art - see "David"), for another 2-3 days, rent a car and spend some time in Tuscany, especially Sienna and San Giamonano (?) for 3 days. Then you could either train down to Rome or over to the south of France. The Riviera (if not too late and too hot) and Provence are great. Fly home from Nice or Marseille, or if you go south, Rome.
Barry2108 is offline  
Mar 16th, 2011, 08:24 PM
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You might consider arranging a few activities that connect you with others (I don't mean strangers you "meet" on craigslist or facebook or whatever!) simply because if you have never been totally solo for 14 days or 10 days or a week or three days it could possibly be a little lonelier than you imagine.

I'm thinking a cooking class or a language class or walking tour or something every few days. Just in case you want people to talk to and you tend to be a little shy. Staying in hostels might help with this issue too--if it is an issue.

Have a great trip!
Leely2 is offline  
Mar 16th, 2011, 08:56 PM
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I travelled in Italy albeit - older...I found Italy very accessible and the people friendly and helpful. You have to treat any place you go to as you would any major city - keep your eyes open and watch your valuables - common sense stuff. I would highly suggest Rome....walkable, full of amazing energy and like no other city I have been to...you won't regret it. Venice is, indeed, magical.

One activity you might do so as not to be alone all the time is a walking tour. I met some nice people and then had some company for dinners. There is a company called Contour - I believe - I will look it up for you. I didn't get a chance to take it there but it looked interesting. There are city based walking tours in most ciities.

There is also walking tours with longer walking - if you look up walking tours on google you should be able to find some or feel free to email me and I will tell you the one I have chosen for the UK but I believe they have tours in Italy.

In any case, you will love everything about the experience. Have fun!
kelsey22 is offline  
Mar 16th, 2011, 09:08 PM
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The walking tours in Rome and a few other ciites is Context Travel - other Fodorites have written about it. There are many other walking tours when I looked at my notes.
kelsey22 is offline  
Mar 16th, 2011, 11:20 PM
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Traveling alone is a fantastic idea but it might be lonelier than you expect. So be mentally prepared for that. I used to travel in europe alot for work and had alot of weekends on my own. Even a 2 day weekend seems really boring and i dont really consider myself that much of a "people" person. But as a single gal on your own, you will meet alot of wonderful people at hostels of your age to travel with (which was my experience when I traveled alone during college). Just beware of your surroundings and exercise common sense - you will have a wonderful time!
Piccolina is offline  
Mar 17th, 2011, 04:52 AM
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"I have a lot of family telling me its not safe for a single woman who has never been to Europe"

Tosh, apart from the mafia, a defunct political system in italy and the wandering hands of italian men on public transport there is little to worry about. A bit like NY really.
bilboburgler is online now  
Mar 17th, 2011, 05:30 AM
  #10  
 
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Go a lot Italy headed there in April.

wonderful for solo female travel

www.journeywoman.com

www.eurocheapo.com

www.ultimateitaly.com

Usually find my cheapest flight RT into a major

city usually Milan or Rome and train cheaply around

from there.

Otel.com nice site for cheap hotels recently booked

www.hoteldelfino.com 40 euros

www.hotelpausania.it Venice 59 euros

with them.

In 17 days for me Amalfi/Pompeii Rome Florence Venice

would be plenty... Have fun,

3 good s
qwovadis is offline  
Mar 17th, 2011, 09:24 AM
  #11  
 
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Hi exwray,
As a woman who usually travels solo, and usually to Italy, I can't say enough about what a great experience it can be! My family also used to worry a lot about my safety but after a few trips, they settled down and stopped fussing.

A few tips: it really, really is worth it to stay in the historic centres of whatever cities you pick -- say, Rome, Florence, Venice. It's often tempting to stay further out because hotels/B+Bs tend to cheaper outside the centre. I've tried that route and it really is a false economy -- especially for a woman travelling solo!! What I found was that when I stayed outside of the historic centre, I felt more isolated and lonely; after dark, I didn't enjoy walking through empty, dark streets to find a restaurant; then hurrying straight back to the hotel again. Nothing bad ever happened, but I was deeply uncomfortable and my freedom felt pretty constrained.

So, I'd suggest budget a bit extra for decent hotels and stay right in the centre of cities. That way you can comfortably wander around at night, soaking up the atmosphere because there will be so many others out and about ; you can stroll around after dinner, get a gelato; if you need something in the middle of the day (a change of shoes or a warm sweater) it's easy to just dash back to the hotel.

Don't worry about eating alone. I've noticed in European cities that there are often plenty of other solo diners; maybe other travelers, university researchers (in the art cities) business people. I've seen individual women surrounded by shopping bags eating dinner -- perhaps they're in the city for the day and catching the last train home at night. I've sometimes felt self-conscious eating alone in North American restaurants, but not usually in Europe.

I also like the idea of signing up for walking tours -- I enjoy them in and of themselves and usually, I do meet other travelers. I've bumped into other guests I've recognized from hotel breakfast rooms and wound up having a meal together. People are often more friendly with a solo traveler, I suppose an individual is easier to approach than a group.

Good luck planning!
sacc is offline  
Mar 17th, 2011, 10:24 AM
  #12  
 
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Definitely go to the Cinque Terre, it was a real highlight of my trip to Italy and just what I needed after a week and a half rushing around Milan, Florence and Rome. I was there in mid-September, which was perfect - warm enough to go swimming, but not so hot that you can't do the hiking, and not *too* crowded. I imagine May would be similar (plus maybe more lovely flowers etc.).

I was a bit older than you, but also a woman travelling alone and I had no problems at all. Just be sensible - keep a tight hold on your purse, don't cut through a park at midnight, don't flash a lot of cash around etc. etc. While petty street crime is probably higher in Italy than where you're from, I don't think violent crime would be. And with the street crime, I think people just lose their heads sometimes on vacation and forget to use common sense about safety because they're too busy admiring the sights or taking photos!
gwan is offline  
Mar 17th, 2011, 11:31 AM
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The "solo female in Italy" thing sometimes misses the point - whether you are likely to be hassled, molested, robbed etc might not be the question you should be asking. You need to be honest with yourself - have you ever spent a prolonged period by yourself? If yes, and it was fine - then do your solo trip. For many - perhaps most - people, travelling alone is a very dispiriting experience. No one to turn to and say "isn't that great?", eating alone (does ANYONE voluntarily do that?), no one to discuss the options with. There ARE truly independent individuals who don't need anyone - true loners - for whom architecture (or whatever) is the all-consuming axis of their lives - are you such a person?
constant is offline  
Mar 17th, 2011, 11:42 AM
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Right on constant..Good points to consider..
kismetchimera is offline  
Mar 17th, 2011, 12:51 PM
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In response to constant: No, I am not at all a "loner" (lol!), but I am independent and enjoy alone time. I'm sure no matter what there would be lonely moments, but honestly, I'm not too worried about that. You do make some good points though. As I continue planning I definitely will include walking tours with a group or any other kind of tour I might want to take and I thought about staying in hostels to prevent further isolation and for socializing opportunities (as well as the lower costs!)
exwray is offline  
Mar 17th, 2011, 01:30 PM
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Even at hotels in Italy you may have an opportunity to meet and talk with others, since many hotels of every class include breakfast, a time to chat with other travelers sitting near you. You'll figure the best balance for you.
ellenem is offline  
Mar 17th, 2011, 01:35 PM
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You can do it exwray! My kids have all done it in various countries. I don't know what your budget is, but my kids in their teens and early 20s still enjoyed hostels when traveling solo because of the easy way to meet people their age. All met people almost instantly and found fun with their new pals.

And, yes, you will have lonely moments - but that's just a cue to get to to go explore.

Now, if you want to stay in hotels I certainly understand. My oldest, 24, is now able to afford some nice ones. But she makes sure they seem to have a younger clientele and are well located in the midst of things. It's much harder to be on the outskirts when you're traveling solo, IMO.

Your idea of walking tours and day tours (like on a bus for 6 hours to somewhere) is great. They have bike tours and maybe still Segway tours (one of my kids did that a few years ago). You can look for pub crawls at hostels. The good hostels usually have some sort of organized activities. Look at www.hostelworld.com for some ideas. It's a good idea to pick the highly rated ones and look at the activities they have and the feedback that is given.
soogies is offline  
Mar 17th, 2011, 04:35 PM
  #18  
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Soogies - Thank you for the encouragement! Its nice to hear from a mother... because it seems they are the most pessimistic! Thanks for the advice and information!
exwray is offline  
Mar 17th, 2011, 05:09 PM
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You're welcome!

I'm kind of a rebel mom here in my neck of the woods. We had our kids traveling to Europe solo by age 15 or 16 (shocking here!).

Just be safe and keep your wits about you as you normally would in the USA. And be open to any experience - good or bad. My kids have had plenty of smallish problems that they quickly solved or, lived with, and then became fabulously funny travel stories to tell everyone on their return home!

Have a wonderful time exwray. Right now my two younger ones are planning a trip to Greece and my oldest is planning Switzerland- can't wait to hear their stories.
soogies is offline  
Mar 17th, 2011, 05:10 PM
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You'll be fine, as many have said. You definitely do not have to be a "true loner" to enjoy solo travel. I am not even a very independent person but I love dashing off somewhere by myself. I must be a weirdo, though, because I also enjoy solo dining. Not "It doesn't bother me," but "I like it."

After having made several solo trips, I've discovered that for me it's best to make plans/reservations every few days just to avoid becoming a completely relaxed slug who doesn't get out of bed until noon. And even if I'm traveling on a tight budget, I have found it's good to include a few select splurges because solo travel means I have no one to rely on but myself. That can get tiring! So I like to treat myself every once in a while--within reason, of course. For me this might be fine dining or going to the ballet or opera or simply taking a taxi when I don't want to walk or take the bus. You probably have some idea what activities would be worth splurging on for you. And they're probably not old-lady activities like mine.

Have fun. Bring a laptop or iPad or something so you can easily email friends and family.
Leely2 is offline  

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