Travelling Alone For the First Time: Frightening or Exhilarating?

Hello lovely people,

After making the decision to travel alone to Milan I had a mixed response from my family and friends. Some thought I was insane for undertaking a week of loneliness and danger, others thought it was a great choice to explore a new place exactly how I would want to. Regardless of what people thought though it felt like the right decision. I’m a pretty seasoned traveller at this point, and I don’t want to restrict myself from seeing new places just because I don’t have anyone to travel with at that point in time. So, here’s how I feel after my first trip alone.

travelling alone

My journey to Milan was, quite frankly, a bit of a trek. I had to take a 2.5 hour train to Manchester Airport, go through the airport experience on my own for the first time, fly to Bergamo, take a 1 hour bus to Milano Centrale, and take the metro to my hostel. It was time-consuming, but I can’t say I found anything too difficult. It’s really not that different to being in a group, you’ve just got to have more awareness of your surroundings. My main tip for this part is to account for the possibility of things going wrong, because when there’s only one brain working solving problems can be more difficult. My train to the airport was cancelled whilst I was on it (love our fully functional privatised rail network), but I was able to get on another one and still had time for a drink in the airport because I’d accounted to have spare time.

I opted to stay in an 8 bed mixed dorm at Meininger Milano Lambrate for a number of reasons pertaining to being a solo female traveller. I know and trust the brand, so I had the peace of mind of going to somewhere I knew would be safe. This particular hostel was located across the road from a train station too, so it meant I never had to walk too far at night. Staying a dorm was a new and interesting experience. I didn’t feel unsafe or uncomfortable at all, as most of the other people in my room were young solo travellers too. I even got chatting to a few of them, shoutout to the linguists from Oxford who quizzed me on my degree a bit too much for it to be normal. I obviously kept my belongings padlocked away at all times to make sure nothing was stolen or lost.

Being able to do exactly what you want whenever you want is such a liberating way to travel. I’ve travelled in a big group before, and whilst it’s obviously so much fun to hang out with your friends, it’s also enjoyable to be completely on your own agenda. I was able to go to museums that my friends perhaps wouldn’t have enjoyed, and didn’t feel like I was ever letting anyone down by things like getting up earlier or later on a certain day. I was also a big fan of sitting on benches or in cafes and watching the world go by for far too long, something I doubt other people would tolerate!

Eating and drinking surprised me as being one of the hardest things. I didn’t eat out very much as I felt the social stigma of being in a restaurant alone and I have a bit of anxiety surrounding ordering food (sounds ridiculous because it is). I also didn’t like that I couldn’t drink as much as I usually would on trips, because I definitely didn’t want to be even slightly drunk whilst alone. I did save money as a result of this though, so it wasn’t all a loss.

Now for the important bit – safety. I don’t think I once felt at risk. Obviously Italy is a very safe country, but it’s still dangerous to be alone anywhere at certain times of day or in certain places. I was catcalled a little bit here and there, but the sad fact is that I almost expect that now when I’m in a big city, regardless of if I’m alone or with female friends; #whyimafeminist. To stay safe I just took the normal precautions you would expect – not being out late at night, not having valuables on show, not walking around with earphones in and not giving away personal information. It can be more dangerous to travel as a woman alone inevitably, but I think as long as you take suitable measures to protect yourself you shouldn’t let it stop you.

I actually thought I would be a lot more lonely than I ended up being, as in the end I really enjoyed my own company. I was still in contact with friends and family back home as well which helped, but I was mostly distracted by all the culture and exploring so I never really got lonely. I also chatted to a lot of people in my hostel. I spent most of my evenings chilling in the communal areas, and got chatting to travellers about where they’d been and where they were headed – my favourite kinds of conversations. If I had spoken Italian I’d probably have spoken to more people when I was in the city, so perhaps socialising would’ve been more likely if I had been somewhere I spoke the language.

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Look at me with all my pigeon friends

So if I were to sum it up – travelling alone was the best thing I’ve ever done. I learned a lot about myself and how I cope with things, as well as growing in confidence even after such a short length of time away. It really was the best bit of relaxation before university and spending almost all my time with other people. Have you ever travelled alone? Would you, or would it worry you too much?

-Megan, listening to Brave New World by Iron Maiden (I rediscovered this album today and remembered how much I love it)

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22 thoughts on “Travelling Alone For the First Time: Frightening or Exhilarating?

  1. mancgirlmissing says:

    Now you’ve tried it you should go again!! So much freedom.

    I travel alone often. Friends are great for short weekends away but I can’t get anyone to commit to anything longer. They all have children and work commitments and don’t have enough money. I’ll finish work in a few weeks and I’m off to travel solo indefinitely! 😊
    Tsareena x
    https://mancgirlmissing.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bexa says:

    I’ve never traveled alone but it is something I would love to do! I love the sound of having the complete freedom to explore a place and do exactly what you like, when you like. Sitting on a bench and watching the world go by is something I find so relaxing too. It sounds you had such a great experience and what an awesome way to step outside of your comfort zone and grow in confidence. Go you! Thank you for sharing your advice Megan, this is really helpful and inspirational ❤ xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    Like

  3. beejayaitch says:

    Super helpful read! I’m travelling to America alone next summer and I’m quite nervous! I’ve travelled a lot but never alone so it’s nice to see what someone else has thought/experience by doing it!x

    Like

  4. hudapervez says:

    Loved reading this! So interesting reading about someone else’s experience of traveling alone! I definitely want to travel alone- I know I’ll be super scared and hesitant but I think it will be a great experience! xx
    Beaulife.org

    Like

  5. Elle says:

    I’m on a gap year at the moment and have considered travelling alone but I’m terrified! I’m glad you had such a great experience, it’s very brave of you. The fact that you enjoyed yourself so much has made me want to venture out and try travelling alone for myself. Do keep us posted if you do this again, I really enjoyed this post (and your pigeon friends)!

    Elle x
    http://www.ellemaryjane.co.uk

    Like

    • pixieskies says:

      It is a little daunting at first, but honestly if you’re prepared it will be amazing! I will definitely do, I’ve got a few trips in the works so I’ll keep writing. Thanks for your lovely comment x

      Like

  6. Kim says:

    I’ve travelled alone once which was to a book signing in London. My first time in the city by myself! Apart from that I’ve flown or got on a coach by myself but always meet friends the other end. I’d like to travel by myself on a plane one day.

    Like

  7. itsthespicybean says:

    I love travelling alone, and visited Milan when I Interrailed around Europe. That was actually the first time I ever traveled alone, all over Europe haha! Totaly agree with the eating out thing, it took me a while to get used to that, in fact I lost a bunch of weight travelling because I was too anxious to order food on my own for the first half of the trip! Sitting on park benches and watching the world go by is also awesome. Personally Milan was the place I felt the most unsafe, mostly because I got latched onto by a strange man in the big park and he would not leave me alone. If I went again I’d definitely stay in a hostel instead of airbnb, much safer and much less lonely. Great post, was nice to read your experience 🙂

    Like

    • pixieskies says:

      Wow, you really went hard on your first one! I kinda want to re-interrail on my own someday now. Yesss it’s so hard!! I haven’t fully overcome it yet, I’m thinking about going out for food on my own in the UK a little bit more before I head out on my travels again. I can see why Milan could be unsafe tbh, but I rarely went out after dark this time around. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

  8. lilyandr says:

    Love this so much, I’m always met with the “oh god you’d feel so lonely” response when speaking about travelling alone. But honestly i feel if i do, im ready to experience that feeling and grow from it !

    Like

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