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Alone in Rome: Traveling Alone as a Woman

Photo by Reagen Fausett

It was about five a.m. on a hot Roman morning. Between the jet lag and the heat, I was used to the early hours, but something else had awoken me. I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I rolled over to check my phone, and as I stared bleary-eyed at the light, my heart stopped. A single text message flashed across my screen:

“Hey, do you think I really could come to your apartment? Some guys are acting a bit strange.”

It was from a young woman I had met earlier that day who was traveling alone from Switzerland and happened to be staying in a hostel nearby my AirBnB.

Having never traveled alone before, she expressed to me how nervous she was. To make matters worse, she had accidentally booked herself in a mixed-gender hostel room, where she would have to stay the night with four grown men.

I immediately called her to make sure everything was ok, but received no answer. Three texts and two calls later, she finally responded: “Ok thank you so much. I’m coming.”

I could hear the nervousness in her message. When she arrived, she was visibly shaken. She recounted a few of the things that happened, and I was relieved to learn

that the situation hadn’t escalated to a dangerous level. Thankfully, the rest of our time together was thoroughly enjoyable: we ate wonderful food, saw beautiful art, and met some charming (and handsome) locals.

When I set out to plan my trip to Italy, I knew that I might face some scary situations. I worried about finding my way around a new place, not speaking the language well, and being thousands of miles from my loved ones. But I wasn’t about to let that stop me. I knew that if I took the necessary precautions, even when tricky situations did arise, I would be able to handle them.

It’s true—traveling alone as a woman can be a little nerve-racking, as I learned from the previous experience. But it can also be an empowering and exciting experience, when it’s done right. By changing your mindset, you can stay safe and take that trip you’ve always dreamed of.
that the situation hadn’t escalated to a dangerous level. Thankfully, the rest of our time together was thoroughly enjoyable: we ate wonderful food, saw beautiful art, and met some charming (and handsome) locals.

Photo by Reagen Fausett

Be Vigilant.

It’s easy to get distracted when traveling in an unknown place. There are new things to see and explore, maps to figure out, and foods to try. But while you’re enjoying the world’s wonders, make sure to take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe, as well.

Whenever you are in public, be aware of your surroundings. Make sure to keep your belongings on you at all times to avoid those pesky pickpockets, and avoid constantly checking or being on your phone. This sounds excessive, but keeping your eyes up allows you to observe the people around you and watch for suspicious behavior.

If you find yourself needing to check your phone frequently for directions, try making sure you have your route and plan figured out before you leave the place you’re staying. If you do need to spend a bit more time looking at your phone, pop into a coffee shop or restaurant and sit down somewhere more secluded and safe.

Be Confident.

Being confident in a new place isn’t as simple as it sounds. Between getting lost, navigating through crowds, and figuring out new transit systems, it’s easy to feel lonely and small. Even if you don’t feel confident, however, it’s important to at least look confident (if you play the part well enough, you’ll probably even start to believe it yourself!).

Walking purposefully with your head up will let others around you know that you’re in control and you know exactly what you’re doing (even if you really don’t). Onlookers with sinister intentions are much less likely to try their tricks on someone who seems confident and strong.

Being confident doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions—just be sure you ask the right sources (like a city official or tour guide) so you don’t key an untrustworthy individual into the fact that you’re lost or confused.

Photo by Reagen Fausett

Be Smart.

When you’re in a different country, it’s easy to forget that things work a little differently than they do at home. For instance, if you’re from a small town, you might be used to walking around at night without having to worry about your safety. Though this might be perfectly normal in your hometown, walking alone at night might not be a great idea in a big city.

Before you start your trip, get acquainted with the local customs and social behaviors of the places you’re visiting, and try your best to adhere to those standards. If you know the customs, you’ll know how to act and react in different social situations—a skill that might save you from offending someone or even unknowingly encouraging inappropriate behavior.

Be smart about whom you engage with, where you go, and what times you’re out. If people with questionable intentions approach you, whether that be street vendors trying to sell you something or strangers asking too many questions, don’t be afraid to be blunt or even ignore them altogether. It might seem rude at the time, but ignoring these kinds of characters can save you a lot of trouble!

Traveling Alone Is Possible!

Traveling alone as a woman is not just possible—it’s incredible! Traveling alone through Italy was an experience I’ll never forget. It taught me so much about myself and the world around me. Sure, it was a little daunting at times, but what good things in life aren’t?

So if you’ve been putting off that long-awaited solo trip for fear that it might be too dangerous, here’s your sign to get out there and explore. And although it might be a bit scary at times, if you make the necessary efforts to be vigilant, confident, and smart as you travel in new places, you can take the trip of a lifetime and stay safe!

Photo by Reagen Fausett

Reagan Fausett