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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My Fitness Routine & What I Eat in a Week: Summer Edition

Hello lovely people!

After posting about my Fitness Journey, a few people asked me to share my diet & exercise routines with you all. This post will be exactly that – what I eat in a week during summer and some of the workout routines I get up to at home. Full disclosure before I get into this, I follow a vegetarian diet and I’m not hugely pushing for weight loss, this is just my approach to an ethical and (vaguely) healthy lifestyle.

Monday

 

Breakfast: Baked oatmeal (cinnamon substituted for cacao powder), topped with strawberries, crunchy peanut butter & cacao nibs.
Lunch: Salad bowl with veggies, cous cous, boiled egg, chutney, hummus & lighter cheese, followed by a packet of Sunbites crisps. I’d just been to the greengrocers, and I always love a big salad when the veggies are still nice and fresh.
Dinner: Kidney bean curry with wholemeal rice, naan & sweetcorn. I wouldn’t usually go for naan but my friend had them left over, and in hindsight I probably won’t buy wholemeal rice in future – it’s pricey and not as nice.
Snacks: Apple with crunchy peanut butter (post-workout).

Workout: Leg day! Before all my workouts I do a quick cardio warmup (no more than 5 minutes of jogging & star-jumps usually) and stretch. I then move onto any workout I can find online, my current favourites being sexy leg toner (yes, cringy name) or HASFit’s butt and thigh workout.

Tuesday

 

Breakfast: Same as Monday. I’m loving this super filling breakfast! It’s great now that it’s starting to get colder too.
Lunch: Same salad as Tuesday, except I boxed it up to take with me whilst homeware shopping (and had to steal a fork from Asda to eat it with). Followed by Sunbites crisps (can you tell they’re on offer?) and an apple.
Dinner: Sausage casserole (made with Tesco vegetarian sausages & without the bacon) with wholemeal pasta & peas. I love this recipe so much, though the sausages tasted far too much like meat and it was a bit weird.
Snacks: Aldi Benefit Chocolate & Fudge bar, would not reccomend, they taste like cardboard.

Workout: Rest day! My only goals on rest days are hitting 10k steps and if I get time, going for a quick walk.

Wednesday

 

Breakfast: Smoothie bowl (frozen red fruits, spinach, water, banana, hemp powder) topped with strawberries, cacao nibs, chia seeds, granola & milled linseed. All these extra bits are mostly from Aldi by the way, don’t think I’m hitting up fancy healthfood shops.
Lunch: Tesco Healthy Living lentil & vegetable soup and two pitta breads. This soup tastes exactly like my Grandma’s, so I’m willing to forgive it’s high salt content.
Dinner: A second serving of the kidney bean curry, because when you’re living alone you just have to repeat meals.
Snacks: The curry was a pretty small portion, so I indulged and had pancakes made with soya milk for dessert (I regret nothing).

Workout: Run day! I’ve been working on increasing my distance, and I’m finding 6km my absolute limit at the moment. Not bad for a someone who detested running a few months ago.

Thursday

 

Breakfast: Porridge topped with banana & strawberry jam. Porridge is pretty much a winter student staple, it’s too cheap not to love.
Lunch: Pitta breads topped with hummus, fried veggies & 2 poached eggs. This is the epitome of “I don’t know what to eat for lunch so let’s just cook everything in the fridge.”
Dinner: A second serving of the sausage casserole because I defrosted it thinking it was chilli (I’m stupid). I had it with noodles though to change it up, because variety is the spice of life.
Snacks: Carrots & hummus (my favourite thing ever) and an Options white hot chocolate in the evening.

Workout: Rest day! I went for a pretty long walk to listen to an episode of Dear Hank and John, a totally awesome podcast.

Friday

 

Breakfast: Same as yesterday.
Lunch: Wholemeal wraps filled with hummus, falafel, veggies & lighter cheese, followed by strawberries and a Special K Biscuit Moments strawberry bar. This is an average lunch for a busy day at uni or work too, because it’s easily packable.
Dinner: Gnocchi with pesto topped with fried veggies and lighter cheese. This is a great quick dinner for busier days, as the gnocchi only takes about 5 minutes to cook.
Snacks: Apple & crunchy peanut butter, as I worked out in the morning and needed some post-workout protein. I also had a soya flat white whilst I worked in a cafe in the afternoon.

Workout: Arms & abs day! Sometimes I make up my own sequence using this chart or this one from Pinterest. If I want someone else to come up with my workout I use this abs & back workout, the muffin top melter (again, cringy), or something from Chloe Ting on YouTube.

Saturday

 

Breakfast: Red berries smoothie (frozen berries, banana, hemp protein powder, chia seeds, spinach, water), and then when I got back from Parkrun I had a banana with crunchy peanut butter and an Aldi Benefit chocolate & fudge bar.
Lunch: Wraps filled with hummus, falafel & fried veggies, popped back in the frying pan to toast. The wraps taste so much better when they’ve been toasted.
Dinner: I forgot to take a photo, but I had a stirfry made with Szechuan tomato sauce, veggies & fake chicken. I also had a beer with it because hey, it’s Saturday.
Snacks: Not sure if this counts as snacks but I went out for drinks with a friend that night so liquid calories happened. I also got chips on the way home because I’m a fake fitness blogger.

Workout: Today I ran my first Parkrun! I had a great time; the Durham course is beautiful and the people there were really welcoming. I also got my best 5k time to date – 33:39.

Sunday

 

Breakfast: Feeling a little worse for wear I dragged myself up to a bowl of baked oatmeal with jam.
Lunch: Wrap pizzas (think normal pizza but using a wholemeal wrap for the base instead of dough) topped with tomatoes & onion. This is easily my favourite lunch, and super filling.
Dinner: I call this “everything in the fridge” curry. I was trying to get things used up before I go on holiday, so I fried onions, baby sweetcorn, carrots, pepper & chickpeas then added balti paste & vegetable stock, and it actually turned out pretty nice! I had it with brown rice.
Snacks: Crispbreads dipped in hummus and a Special K biscuit moments bar (I get weirdly hungry after drinking).

Workout: After 2 days of workouts Sunday was a well-earned rest day.

 

So, that’s how I try and stay healthy in my daily life! You’ll probably see that it’s not the strictest diet and portion control, because to be honest I’m not a health fanatic. I’m a foodie and I don’t believe in diet culture, I just enjoy fitness and good homemade food. I will make an updated post when I go back to university to let you know how I fit fitness around studying, but for now, tell me what your favourite meal is in the comments!

-Megan, listening to JAWS and having a chilled morning