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Old 06-09-2015, 07:56 PM
 
3,139 posts, read 2,175,645 times
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Hi All,

So Ive just been presented with a wonderful opportunity to go to Rome, Italy, for an international emergency medicine conference in Italy in a few months.

I have an old med. school buddy who's going to Italy. Due to our scheduling conflicts at work, she will be leaving ahead of me and she wants me to meet her at our conference hotel.

I don't travel often, but when I do, it's usually just to my home state in the South. I've only been to Europe once (Spain), but I was traveling with a group of 5 other females and safety was never a question.

This time alone, it would be me all alone, up until I meet with my friend at the hotel.

While I would love, love, love, to go to Italy (as it's a once in a lifetime experience!), I'm very nervous about traveling alone. In fact, I'm scared. Just the thought of traveling for 8+ hours on a plane, by myself, and then landing in a foreign land alone, is overwhelming. I feel inundated with so many "what ifs."
But I so want to go!

Has anyone had a similar experience with being fearful about traveling internationally alone?

For those who have traveled to Italy (specifically Rome), is there anything I should look out for or be worried about?

Any and all helpful advice would be greatly appreciated .
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Old 06-09-2015, 08:34 PM
 
1,804 posts, read 6,280,243 times
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Sounds like you really, really want to go. If that is the case then you most definitely should go. Don't let any fear diminish your opportunities or possibly have you regretful if you do not act!

Think of the the reward, the final goal, the fun you will have. You-can-do-it.
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Old 06-09-2015, 09:16 PM
 
Location: NoVa
2,125 posts, read 2,908,868 times
Reputation: 2929
Been there, done that. No matter when you go, it'll be impossible to be alone or lonely in Rome. Unless you choose to be. Google 'female solo traveler' and you'll receive tons of results that'll inspire you. I travel solo sometimes including to Rome, no matter where I turned, I heard American accent everywhere. I found the Romans to be friendly and helpful. I also found their drivers to be very tolerant towards pedestrians and clueless foreign tourists. Much more patient than the drivers where I live for sure!

The only thing I would caution you is the pickpockets, which can be avoided by wearing a money belt under your clothes.
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Old 06-09-2015, 10:24 PM
 
Location: Silver Spring, MD
1,300 posts, read 1,093,885 times
Reputation: 1515
Quote:
Originally Posted by erjunkee View Post
Hi All,

So Ive just been presented with a wonderful opportunity to go to Rome, Italy, for an international emergency medicine conference in Italy in a few months.

I have an old med. school buddy who's going to Italy. Due to our scheduling conflicts at work, she will be leaving ahead of me and she wants me to meet her at our conference hotel.

I don't travel often, but when I do, it's usually just to my home state in the South. I've only been to Europe once (Spain), but I was traveling with a group of 5 other females and safety was never a question.

This time alone, it would be me all alone, up until I meet with my friend at the hotel.

While I would love, love, love, to go to Italy (as it's a once in a lifetime experience!), I'm very nervous about traveling alone. In fact, I'm scared. Just the thought of traveling for 8+ hours on a plane, by myself, and then landing in a foreign land alone, is overwhelming. I feel inundated with so many "what ifs."
But I so want to go!

Has anyone had a similar experience with being fearful about traveling internationally alone?

For those who have traveled to Italy (specifically Rome), is there anything I should look out for or be worried about?

Any and all helpful advice would be greatly appreciated .
I was just in Rome with my sister last month and we felt safe walking around even until 1 or 2 am. Solo I would say that you you would find crowded enough until midnight that you wouldn't feel weird being on your own. The only unpleasantness was the selfie stick sellers, they seemed to be around 24 hours a day. I would recommend having your transportation from the airport to you hotel already figured out before you arrive. Rome was our second stop and we didn't research well enough, I don't think we got ripped off but it was just overwhelming to have people accosting you the second you leave the airport and not having a plan in place.

Being on the plane by yourself won't be that bad, even though I was traveling with my sister we barely talked to each other because the in flight entertainment was excellent (several just out of the theater movies and several good older movies) we didn't have wifi on the way there but did on the way back so that was another way to not be bored, and there is just getting some sleep. You'll be surprised how quickly the time will go by.

While you do have to be aware of pick pockets, it wasn't as prevalent as the warnings make it seem, but we did see an old woman get her purse snatched near Vatican City so you should make it a habit to keep your hand on your bag, it's not hard as it may sound. A cross body bag kept in the front will be fine, just make sure to leave your passport at the hotel (we carried a photocopy of our passport, just in case) and only carry the cash you think you will need for the day. Make sure to keep you licence or another card sized ID with you, especially if you are planning on doing tours that of places that may involve using audio equipment, they will want to keep your card to make sure you return the equipment.

I would recommend taking a hop on/ hop off bus tour your first day, it's a good way to take in the lay of the land and there are companies that offer wifi on board so you can research what is around each of the stops.

Like others have said you will encounter many Americans, and for the most part I found that most of the locals I encountered spoke English and were welcoming, the taxi drivers are the only ones that I remember not speaking English but we didn't use them often.
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Old 06-09-2015, 11:22 PM
 
Location: Hong Kong / Vienna
4,557 posts, read 5,118,811 times
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Don't be scared

First, if it's your first trip abroad you'll notice that not everyone will speak English (d'uh). Now, most people - especially in the touristy areas - will speak at least basic English, but just be aware of the fact that you'll certainly meet people you won't be able to communicate with. That's not out of rudeness, that's just the way things are.

Second, I'd print a piece of paper with the hotel's address just in case a taxi driver don't want to or simply can't understand your Italian pronunciation.

Third, Rome is a pretty big city with big city problems. Be street smart, just like you'd be in bigger American cities. Don't be scared of violent crime, though.
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Old 06-10-2015, 08:31 AM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
7,290 posts, read 4,145,583 times
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Everyone posting to this thread has given you really good advice. I'm going to give some more, but in a different, psychological vein.

When you think about the trip and find yourself becoming scared, ask yourself "What SPECIFICALLY am I afraid of?"

If you come up with a specific answer(s), good! That means you can research that issue and figure out in advance how you will deal with it before it comes up, which will significantly reduce your anxiety. For instance, suppose you find yourself answering "I'm afraid to fly by myself because I'm worried I might not be able to find the gate and I'll miss my plane." That's a problem you can proactively deal with in many different ways (study a map of your airport so you know how the terminals are laid out, get there early so you have plenty of time to make it to the gate, ask airline personnel for help if you get confused, etc.). Identifying solutions to the specific problem in advance will help you feel in control, and you'll naturally be less afraid as a consequence.

But supposed your answer is simply, "I don't know, I'm just afraid." That's not a real fear, but simply generalized anxiety at being forced out of your comfort zone, and the way to deal with it is to give yourself a mental shake by the scruff of your neck and to firmly tell your overactive imagination to KNOCK IT OFF! Like most of us, you've probably fallen into a comfortable rut over the years - but if you stop and think about it you'll realize that this isn't the first time you've been outside your comfort zone in your life, and it won't be your last. Firmly remind yourself of that, and don't allow generalized anxiety to keep you from going on a marvelous trip. The more often you push yourself a bit out of your comfort zone, the wider that comfort zone will become over time, and the more confident you'll be that in the future when you find yourself outside your comfort zone you WILL be able to successfully cope with it. It's like learning to swim: no one starts off in the deep end of the pool, it's a series of gradual steps that gets you there.

Oh, and as a single woman who's traveled alone many, many times I can tell you that you're going to LOVE Rome. It's a fabulous city! Enjoy your trip!
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Old 06-10-2015, 09:50 AM
 
Location: Howard County, Maryland
5,654 posts, read 3,638,226 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erjunkee View Post
So Ive just been presented with a wonderful opportunity to go to Rome, Italy,

[. . .]

While I would love, love, love, to go to Italy (as it's a once in a lifetime experience!)
My wife had a conference in Florence, Italy some years ago, and I had the opportunity to go with her. While I would have had to pay for my own plane ticket and local expenses, we could have shared the hotel room that her company was paying for. I would have loved to go, as I've never been to Italy and would dearly love to see it. But though she felt we could swing the extra cost, I was hesitant, because I feared it would have put too much strain on our budget. Ultimately I decided to stay home.

In hindsight, I wish I had gone, as it would have been the most economical way I would have ever had for visiting that country (thanks to her company paying for the hotel room for both of us, and for all of her expenses), not to mention it would have been a great "mini-vacation" with my wife (during her "off hours" from the conference). The opportunity has not arisen again, and it probably won't. It's been something like 10 years, and I still regret not going. Please don't make the same mistake I did.
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:09 AM
 
Location: New Mexico
6,542 posts, read 3,650,165 times
Reputation: 12300
After the first day you will be fine. Assuming you take the train from the airport, use a taxi to get to your hotel from Termini station...not the Metro (our mistake). Rome is a walkable city and the Metro is great...just not with luggage. After a day or so Italians were asking me for directions.
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Old 06-10-2015, 11:03 AM
 
Location: NoVa
2,125 posts, read 2,908,868 times
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I second the suggestion to pre-arrange transportation from airport to hotel. I'm not a fan of dragging my suitcase on a dirty street, or up and down the metro. It's really cumbersome. What if it rains on the day you arrive? Etc. Plus I have a nice suitcase and I'd like to keep it that way Airport transfer is one expense I don't skimp.

The other type of expense you shouldn't skimp is sightseeing. It's the whole purpose for your being there to begin with.
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Old 06-10-2015, 11:53 AM
 
163 posts, read 111,723 times
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I've been to 155 countries, alone. Italy is certainly on on the "easy" end of the spectrum of "challenge". Among other things, you'll find English speakers (young people in particular), familiar touchstones (McDonalds, familiar foods, cars driving on the usual side of the road for you US folks) and a tourist infrastructure that's sooooo well established. Others have already advised on the types of challenge you are likely to face, including minor street crime. There are lots of tourists in Rome, of course, which means lots of vulnerable people for the criminals, so keep your wits about you, but don't worry that you're likely to be injured or seriously threatened - unless you decide to "resist". Avoid the temptation to "resist" by leaving all your valuables at home or, if need be, the hotel.

Airports are designed for English speakers (almost everywhere). Allow yourself plenty of time at each juncture. It's easy to get "frazzled" and worried when airport security is slow, you miss a train, your flight connection is short. Do watch your bags at all times on the street/train/bus.
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