What am I possibly going to do with myself for the next six days? – My first thought after checking into the hostel in Florence.
I had never traveled solo before and until that moment, hadn’t thought what it would be like to be alone for days at a time. Despite my initial question, it didn’t take long before I fell into a routine of drinking espresso after morning yoga, journaling in the park, eating bruschetta outside in a piazza, and making friends at the hostel. Below are a few thoughts about my experience:
I realized it was best to blend in
Italy was a last minute decision. I had no idea I was going to be stopping in Florence when I packed for my trip. The contents of my suitcase clearly reflected this. I had lightweight yoga pants, tank tops, and sandals. All of my clothes were meant for too-hot-to-breathe weather, not breezy springtime in Tuscany. So when I first arrived in my yoga flip-flops and thin, cotton pants, I got a few stares from the locals who were still sporting jackets and scarves. Normally I wouldn’t have cared about being looked at funny, but in the interest of my safety as a solo female traveler, I figured it was better to blend in. I traded my flip flops for running shoes and bought a cheap jacket. I felt much more at ease after looking as if I belonged.
There were a lot of selfies
Since I didn’t experience my trip with another person, there is no one else who could help me remember it. No one else I could reminisce with. When I wanted to document the moment, I took a selfie. At first, I felt a little awkward and slightly vain pulling out my phone to take a picture of myself. But I quickly got over it when I realized no one was looking at me. No one cared if I took a selfie at the café. No one cared if I took a selfie in front of the Duomo. Only I cared. And once I stopped caring I started to compile a whole camera roll of selfies to remember my trip by.
I could do everything at my leisure
When I was hungry, I went to a trattoria. When I was tired, I went back to the hostel for a siesta. When I wanted to write in my journal, I found a quiet place to write in my journal. I only had to answer to my own desires. Everything was on my own terms. I was blissfully selfish for the week and, man, did it feel good!
Strangers quickly became friends
Engaging in conversation with other travelers was all it took to make friends. While relaxing in the courtyard of the hostel, I met a guy from Australia and invited him to come to dinner with me. We bonded over our love for adventure and swapped stories from countries we’ve visited. I told him all about my current trip, barely stopping to breathe. “You probably won’t believe me,” I told him. “But I actually am such an introvert.” I also met a lovely Moroccan woman at breakfast one morning. Like me, she was alone, but had plans to meet up with her sister to do more traveling around Tuscany. She told me she planned to be in Siena in a few days and invited me to meet them out there. We connected on WhatsApp and sure enough, a few days later, we were eating raviolis in a restaurant outside the Piazza Del Campo in Siena.
Would I do it again?
Yes. I thoroughly enjoyed traveling by myself. I learned that I enjoy my own company and that being alone doesn’t mean being lonely.