Musement speaks to Italian travel expert Francesca Di Pietro who shares some solo travel tips for those eager to venture out into the world alone.
All of us, at least once in our life, have fantasized about giving up everything and embarking on a solo adventure without having to answer to anyone. However, commitments and fears often pop up forcing us to put that trip we wanted to take alone on the backburner, even if it were just for a weekend.
There are those, however, who have made a career out of solo travel. Francesca Di Pietro is a professional traveler who specializes in tourism psychology, helping people see solo journeys as a tool for growth. She has been traveling alone around the world since 2011 and is a genuine authority on the subject of solo travel. Her blog Viaggiare da Soli (Traveling Alone) is written in Italian and features useful information for those who want to step outside of their comfort zone and brave the world alone.
Here, Francesca shares a little bit herself as well as some invaluable solo travel tips and insight.
1. Francesca, where are you from?
I’m from Naples, and I moved to Rome when I was 18 for university. I studied psychology at La Sapienza, then I worked for about ten years in human resources for a large company. In 2011, I left the company and took a year off to think and travel, and then I decided to launch my website in 2012.
2. What motivated you to create Viaggiare da Soli (Traveling Alone)?
The fact that when I traveled around the world, I never met any Italians who were traveling alone, especially in hostels with backpacks on their shoulders. So, I thought that perhaps they had the wrong idea about solo travel so I wanted to start to discuss it to try to unhinge some biases that might affect their choices.
3. What was your first trip alone and which was your last?
My first solo trip was Turkey in 2008 and the most recent was Vietnam this past September.
4. What do you like about traveling alone?
The freedom and sense of “power” it gives you. When you travel alone you are all-powerful. You can do whatever you want without limits and without guilt and you can meet a lot of people, much more than you would when you travel in a group or in a couple.
5. What are the negative aspects of such an experience?
Personally, I don’t find many. Sometimes carrying the luggage alone can be tiring and not have someone who can watch your backpack while running to the bathroom can be a bit frustrating. Another problem is perhaps the economic aspect, in the sense that it is easier for two people to amortize the expenses, such as the room and transportation, and this can add up. I often meet people when traveling and sometimes we share things to reduce expenses, but it only happens if I’m sticking to a budget and we are lucky enough be going in the same direction. The major drawback is that when you’re sick, you have to manage on your own, and that can be tiring and daunting.
6. Have you ever been in dangerous or unpleasant situations during your travels? If so, how did you deal with them?
No, I have never been in a dangerous situation. Once I got hurt and couldn’t walk so I called the insurance company, and a car with driver and interpreter came to bring me to the hospital. Luckily, after a while, I felt better and started traveling again.
7. When you are not traveling alone, who is your favorite travel companion?
My friend Margherita. We have similar tastes and lifestyles, and we are both very independent. When we travel together we never get bored, and we know that we can go our separate ways and do completely different things without feeling guilty.
8. Can you share three essential solo travel tips?
Let go of any preconceived notions, speak at least English, and always smile when you meet someone.