I had to give Solo Travel a try...
I'm super inspired by people like The Blonde Abroad who has the competency and confidence to go new places all alone - especially as a woman. Although my adventure to Rome was only a week, it was one of the best experiences EVER. There's nothing like taking some me-time, self-reflecting, dining alone, and exploring a new city.
What I did...
1. Vatican City
The best way to navigate all there is to see at the Vatican, save money, and avoid painfully long lines is to download an App such as Tiquets. You arrive at a certain time to a provided location, show the bar code on your phone, and you're in! I got the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Package. Then, to understand what I was looking at in the ENORMOUS amount of museums, I got one of the head sets to talk me through it. In the Sistine Chapel, you cannot take pictures, but it was definitely the highlight. If my neck didn't hurt from looking up after an hour, I would've stayed even longer! Before you leave, ask a curator how to get to St. Peter's Basilica instead of exiting and waiting on another line (and paying for that too). Also, you can Google if the Pope will be there on the day you go, it would be awesome to catch a mass! Oh, and dress modestly (covered shoulders and pants).
2. Trevi Fountain
I stayed in a cute Bed & Breakfast I found on HostelWorld (not all hostels) very close to the Trevi Fountain. You'll be walking through cute cobble stone streets and then just run into it! To get solo/aesthetic pictures of the fountain, you have to wake up early. Otherwise, it's very crowded. Also, the guards are super protective of it... don't sit on the ledge!!! :-) And I suggest seeing it both in the day and at night!
3. Colosseum and Roman Forum
I bought another package on Tiquets for entry to both of these amazing sites. Definitely the way to go! I read about each a lot ahead of time so did not buy the tour, but that is an option, too.
I had dinner at Ristorante M. Agrippa in the Pantheon Square on my last night in Rome and it was AMAZING. The sun set on the face of the Pantheon, there was an opera singer performing, and I got free dessert (big bonus of dining alone!) It was magical. Go a little early for dinner so you don't have to wait for a table.
5. Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps are in the ritzy-shopping part of the city. There was amazing people watching and I sat there for a while as the sun set one evening. A nice Italian boy kept me company, though, and practiced his English ;)
Going out to bars and clubs is not something you might think to do when traveling alone (and my mom wouldn't approve!), but I met a fellow American on one of my tours who was also traveling solo. I really wanted to check out Ice Club Roma, a bar lounge completely made out of ice with amazing drinks. While I was there, being the tourist spot it is, I met other people who spoke my language (both English and into hitting some clubs) so I later went to Shari Vari Nightclub and Inside Rome Nightclub. Guys - make sure you have a button down and jacket or you won't be let in! And girls, as usual, you can get away wearing whatever. I was within walking distance at the end of the night, but took a taxi back to stay on the safe side (there is a ~6€ charge for taxi fares after 2AM).
Random tips on my mind
- heels are a no go because of all the cobble stone streets. It was actually so funny watch some women walking in stilettos
- dress nicer than you would in America
- use the bus system instead of taxis because it's way cheaper (Uber was banned when I was there as well)
- consider doing a hop on/hop off bus plan. I did it for 2 days when I was hitting tourist sites and it was so convenient
- don't leave cash in your pockets or your phone on the table while eating
- if you want your picture taken, offer to take one for someone else first. They will offer to take yours back!
- order prosciutto and melon!!! my fav
- you can ask for all menus in English
- eat gelato, and lots of it
- just eat a lot in general ;) it's Italy
Solo Travel Reflection
As an extrovert who has never gone a week without seeing someone I know, this solo travel experience was extremely powerful and I learned so much. I learned people really don't care and aren't looking at you, even if you're alone and don't know what you're doing. Fake it 'til you make it! It isn't embarrassing to dine alone, it's actually extremely enjoyable and you get free drinks and food - nothing better! Italian men are very forward and you'll likely get a few numbers sitting there alone, but none were smart enough to ask for MY number. I also learned the internet has all the information you need and you don't need anyone else. I planned my itinerary based on tours and other blogs I read and I saw everything I wanted at the perfect pace. BUT don't be afraid to ask. Italians love their country. Don't be intimidated! Lastly, almost everyone speaks English and if not, you can figure it out by running into a McDonald's and hopping on the WiFi. You might even meet some friends who are doing the same thing as you! You're never alone.
A week was the perfect amount of time for my first 'Solo Travel Experience' but I would rather be with people I love. Nonetheless, I'm now not afraid and won't feel awkward going somewhere by myself if it's what the situation is. Go take a trip alone!!! Solo Travel isn't just a fad, you will grow and love it! Thanks for reading, friend! :-)
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