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Student Reflections

Travelling Alone For a Week

Maria Muhareb
November 24, 2021
Traveling Alone

I knew I wanted to travel for reading week but with everyone having plans of going to different places, I could not find someone going where I wanted to go. I had ambitious plans; I wanted to go to Santorini and Athens in Greece followed by Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome in Italy. Because my plan was so extensive as well as featuring a city such as Santorini which was not as popular, I was going to have to travel alone. Thankfully, this plan still had me meeting up with friends in Athens and Venice. I had never travelled alone before so to expect to do nearly 10 days of travelling was more than just ambitious; it was insane. 

Here is how my itinerary looked:

Travel Itinerary for Reading week

  1. Saturday, November 6th at 3:35 pm flight to Santorini from Gatwick 
    1. Arrive at 9:30 pm
    2. Three nights in Santorini
  2. Tuesday, November 9th at 6:40 pm flight to Athens from Santorini
    1. Arrive at 7:35 pm
    2. Two Nights in Athens
  3. Thursday, November 11th at 11:35 am flight to Milan from Athens
    1. Arrive at 1:20 pm
    2. One night in Milan
  4. Friday, November 12th at 11:20 am train from Milan to Venice
    1. Arrive in Verona at 1:15 pm
    2. Train leaves Verona at 1:22 pm
    3. Arrive in Venice at 2:37 pm
    4. One night in Venice
      1. Alternative: flight from Venice to London at 7:30 am 
  5. Saturday, November 13th at 2:14 pm train from Venice to Bologna
    1. Arrive at 3:51 pm 
    2. Take bus at 4:25 pm and arrive at Prato Centrale at 5:50 pm
    3. Train from Prato Centrale at 6:00 pm to Florence at 6:22 pm
    4. One night in Florence
  6. Sunday, November 14th at 1:14 pm from Florence to Rome
    1. Arrive at 5:05 pm
    2. Two nights in Rome
  7. Tuesday, November 16th at 7:00 am flight to London Stansted from Rome
    1. Arrive at 8:45 am
    2. Bus to Mile End at 9:50 am

Now, If I may direct your attention to point 4.i., It involves an alternative flight back from my travels a few days before the original plan intended. This was 100% due to travel anxiety. My trip started off with a change in plans due to the clouds falling from the sky. You read correctly. I had a direct flight from London to Santorini but the pilot could not land the plane due to the clouds being too low to the ground (see the image attached). They contacted the airline and the plane switched course to Crete instead. The airline got us all hotel rooms that were really nice and the hotel had a great breakfast buffet so it was a pleasant detour. 

After breakfast and multiple delays, we were flown out to Santorini which while lovely, was extremely dead. The place I had stayed at had no management and no reception. The room itself was fine and it was one of the beautiful white stone places but the only reason I was even able to get settled in was the other occupants helping me. It really should have been to no one’s surprise how empty the island is considering it’s off-season. However, I really was shocked at how many restaurants were closed. Do the locals not go out to eat? I am inclined to conclude just that. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the warm weather but there wasn’t much to do due to the lack of adequate transportation system. In other words, I was kind of stuck in the area I was in and if I’m honest, I was quite scared to go out alone to begin with. I underestimated the amount of anxiety I would feel and decided I could not do this whole 10 day trip alone. I texted my friend that helped me with the planning and told him I would book a flight out of Milan since it was cheaper to fly out of. He helped ease my anxiety and found me a cheap flight out of Venice so I could still meet up with him and our other friends. 

Travelling alone for that long was a task I could not complete but I did go longer than I ever expected and I am proud of that. There wasn’t an instant where I felt unsafe though there were moments of being confused and needing directions. Granted, I did choose fairly safe countries but it was a learning experience I will not forget. Learning to spend time with myself and be comfortable in my own company proved to be a challenge I was not expecting. However, I am much better for it and really recommend taking yourself out of your comfort zone with an adventure like this. It had many perks, the biggest of which was getting to choose all the activities I wanted to do and places to go without any debate. I can see myself doing this again with much less travel anxiety and I call that a win in my books.