Preface: My husband & I have traveled to Europe 10 times. Other than our 3 RS trips, I have been the person who planned the details of our itineraries, researched places, etc.; it’s a major hobby of mine. Last Fall, my husband thought we should skip Europe in 2018. I still wanted to go, and since the RS Village Tour would have duplicated places we had already been and missed some I wanted to see, I planned my first solo vacation to Europe. I read some place that “Solo travel is empowering, renewing, intellectually challenging and gives you the opportunity to reintroduce yourself to yourself - much cheaper than therapy and certainly more fun.” Since I retired in July 2018, this trip was perfect timing.
What I did differently since this was a solo trip:
1. I didn’t book any apartments. For safety, I wanted to make sure there was either a front desk person or the owner lived at the location (or was at restaurant next door).
2. I planned more 2-day stays vs. longer stays. I knew that I could cover what I would enjoy in a town faster since it was just me. (I was in Lucca four days, and I felt like it was at least one day too long.)
3. In my planning, I was much more thorough. For example, I not only had each train ticket, but I had the info readily at hand for Plan B & C if I missed any train. This allowed me to really relax during the trip, knowing that possible issues were already considered & solutions decided.
4. I never left my money belt in my hotel room. I wore my passport, cc, ATM card & larger Euros at all times.
5. I planned periodic activities during the trip where I would be with other people speaking English. I figured this would be a nice way to avoid feeling lonely, and it was an excellent solution for me.
6. I connected with my hubby on FaceTime at night. We enjoyed catching up on our days and only had a couple of locations where the wifi was too slow.
What happened differently because this was a solo trip:
1. I spoke more Italian. I had concentrated on studying Italian with Duolingo, reviewed my Italian for Dummies book & some games that filled in the gaps for clock times & numbers. Since I was by myself, I felt less intimidated to try speaking Italian, and the more I tried it, the more confidence I gained. Most of my communication up to Montepulciano was just Italian language & hand charades.
2. I talked to more people. If I heard anyone speaking English, I would ask them where they were from. I talked to many people from England and others from Australia, USA, Poland, France & Canada. I also had an interesting conversation with an Italian biologist on the train about the difference in job career opportunities in countries. Her dad had worked in the US with an opportunity that they could have moved when she was young.
3. I didn’t enjoy dinners as much. It just wasn’t fun to eat a long dinner by myself. A few times, I would have a nice lunch & just pick up some veggies & fruit from a local market for dinner.
4. I was outside earlier in the morning. Possibly because I wasn’t staying up too late, I really enjoyed my mornings. I would eat a nice breakfast and be out taking photos while the colors were still vivid and before the streets were filled with people.
5. I shared my journey with my friends on Facebook. Previously, I never posted photos until we were home due to home safety, but since my husband was at home, I shared a few photos of Stresa, and people enjoyed my photos & commentary so much that I continued. It felt like I was talking to friends throughout my trip, and it even caused me to take other extra types of photos to help share the story.