By Martina Sala

I still remember the exact moment I fell in love with travel. When I was ten years old, my aunt, uncle and I were on holiday in Tuscany. On a drizzly day we decided to visit Lucca, a small city surrounded by hills. The reddish bricks, cobbled streets, trees and flowers, shops, restaurants and cafès, and the atmosphere that many years later became super popular on Tik-Tok under the name of “Italian aesthetic” or “Italian summer” totally enchanted me.

From that moment on, I repeatedly exhausted my parents with my impatience, asking them to bring me here and there until I was old enough to go with my friends.

Since that day, my passion has grown stronger. I still haven’t mastered the art of packing clothes properly, but the airport feeling is one of those emotions that I wish I could bottle and enjoy more regularly.

I have travelled in my country, Italy, and taken many planes and trains to Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Budapest. Then on another rainy day, fifteen years later, I landed in Dublin, all on my own.

Why Travel Solo?

The COVID-19 pandemic, marked by lockdowns, restrictions, and endless repetitive days stuck in the house, has renewed the wanderlust and curiosity for exploring new places in many people (22%, to be precise). It also made us more appreciative of the value of our time. The suffocating feeling of empty days encouraged people to make the best out of their lives and prioritise desires, for once, without compromises.

As anyone who has travelled with friends, partners or parents well knows, compromise is essential for a successful group holiday. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that sometimes this can be a little bit tiring. That’s why travelling solo and taking time to explore new places and things at your own pace is one of the best presents you can give yourself. It has many benefits: it opens up your mind and is inspiring. The sensation of freedom it gives you is beautifully overwhelming. 

It gives you the perfect opportunity to think and clear your mind. And, whether it is to celebrate a special moment or to simply pause from reality, it always does its magic. Travelling always makes you rich but doing it on your own is completely on another level.

Women Travelling Solo

Statistics say that more and more women decide to travel on their own. There has been a 230% increase in solo female travel companies in recent years. Still, sadly, as a young woman myself, I know that sometimes it can be daunting to explore a new city alone.

The positive news is that, based on my own experiences, travelling alone as a woman is not as dangerous as you may think. However, it’s still clever to be super careful. Generally speaking, wandering around cities alone during the day is safe. Of course, traditional tips, like avoiding certain areas of cities, not walking alone at night and not bringing too much cash or valuable items, are always valid. 

There’s no reason to give up on this incredible experience if you take the right precautions. An excellent way to feel safer is to travel prepared by doing your research on the destination.

A particularly problematic moment can be the evenings. If I don’t feel comfortable staying out late, I enjoy the sunset and return to my room. I will have a warm shower, order dinner and lie in bed having a Netflix night with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, depending on my mood. It leaves me refreshed for another day’s exploring too!

Another problem, more cultural this time, is the idea of a woman who travels alone, being this “sad” stereotype. There’s nothing more wrong, misleading, and antiquated. Travelling solo is empowering, and it boosts your confidence. Spending hours in vintage shops, libraries, museums and cafès without worrying about someone getting bored outside is exceptionally satisfying. In fact, 59% of women who travelled solo last year stated that they would repeat their trip.

Women who still think that travelling solo is “sad” are totally missing out.

My Experience

When I was getting ready to move to Dublin for an internship, I was overthinking everything. My home was my comfort zone, but I also felt that I had outgrown it. I couldn’t stand the boredom anymore. Then the moment came, and I decided to leave. 

In short, it was honestly one of the best experiences of my entire life. I can’t explain how much joy, help, caring, and good times this experience has brought me. I have learned so much and gained a new perspective on life. 

I met so many lovely people and found Saoirse (which means freedom in Irish), which happens to be my new Irish name and personality. Or that’s just what my new friends say!

My advice? Be brave, and just do it!