If you’ve been keeping up with my Instagram, you know that:
1.) I’ve been solo-traveling in Italy this past week (details on why as my last comment below…) and 2.) I’ve been posting content non-stop about this more than beautiful place that is the Amalfi Coast – which everyone MUST visit at least once in their life!
I’ve been so busy running around exploring the coastal towns (Positano, Praiano, Furore, Emerald Grotto, Amalfi, Ravello, Maiori, and Salerno) that I haven’t had a second to share the experience outside of photos. Tons of people have been sending me texts and DMs about my content and asking me to share tips & tricks from my experience – so here are my answers to the most common questions I’ve gotten so far. 🙂
How do you travel on a budget?
I am just like you and every other twenty-something in this world, trying to make it in a constantly evolving world on a budget. Typically my travel hack to saving money when I travel around the world is to stay in Hostels (www.hostelworld.com/) when it comes to accommodation (or staying with friends you meet while traveling), and Hopper App for browsing and purchasing the best flight deals. I know it sounds kind of odd and sketch, but Hostels are honestly the BEST way to meet people (other solo-travelers, groups of friends, families, couples, etc) when you’re traveling alone and there are definitely some luxury-style Hostels you can find wherever it is you’re traveling if you don’t want to splurge on a Hotel or Airbnb.
Another trick is to see if your accommodation includes breakfast, coffee, and/or pastries because that saves you one meal during the day! I personally am a snacker and luckily my Hotel includes a breakfast buffet, and since I am a nibbler I really only paid for happy hours and/or dinners for my meals depending on how hungry I was.
Also – when you do go out to eat or for drinks (especially in Italy), a huge trick I learned that helped me save a ton was by just asking for the house wine, which tasted just as good as an expensive glass except it only costs about 5 euros compared to 18-24. 😉
Other smart must-do’s for traveling: no matter what you’re planning on doing or where you’re planning on traveling, ALWAYS be sure to call your bank to make them aware of your travel plans and dates so your cards (debit and credit) don’t get suspended for suspicious activity – trust me this one’s huge. On the topic of being responsible, also give your cell phone carrier a call before you leave to either make sure your phone number is set up for international travel pass (Verizon customers), or make sure that it is set up with whatever carrier you have, or else you’re going to rack up one massive ass cell phone bill and you don’t want that surprise! WiFi will also be your new best friend abroad, and it will allow you to save & use your available data sparingly.
How did you find activities ahead of time?
So before I left for my Iceland trip last Labor Day, I was doing some research of Icelandic excursions and found out about Viator – TripAdvisor excursions and booking company (yes, it is legit). I booked all of my Iceland adventures as well as my Amalfi Coast boat tour and Vespa excursion in Italy, and I am so grateful that I did!
They make it so easy to research the best tours, activities, deals, etc for whatever country/town you’re visiting, and provide great & timely service for any questions or hesitations you might encounter. HIGHLY recommend!
Everything else I just took it day by day. Sometimes the best, most memorable and calming experiences and stories come from just winging it.
Who takes all of your photos if you’re traveling alone?
Well, that’s an easy one lol. Literally anyone and everyone! Especially in a European Coastal town as picturesque as Positano, everyone wants to get the perfect photo. You walk five steps to the right and you’ll see a group snapping all sorts of photos and poses for their Instagram – same to your left except this time it’s an older husband and wife. Sure, you might have to step out of your comfort zone to ask strangers to take photos for you, but I promise you it’s so easy and normal, especially when everyone else is doing the same.
For me, I’ve become very comfortable (while being aware of my surroundings) with striking up conversations with random people I meet from all over the world. Sharing stories, experiences, and laughs – more often than not we’ll end up spending the afternoon just hanging out and they’ll be the ones snapping the photos, me doing the same for them. Literally, there were times in Italy where the individuals taking my photos would say “Ok now look to the left, great, couple more!” Don’t get me wrong though, when you travel alone you do need to get a bit creative, but that’s the norm for photographers. Nifty tricks can be as simple as propping your phone or camera against a bench or water bottle. Luckily in more popular travel destinations you’re likely to run into a million and one people who are more than willing to snap the perfect pic.
There’s also a level of comfort that comes from being able to genuinely connect with people from around the world. We all become a photographer on our travel adventures, so don’t be afraid to ask someone to capture your worldly, adventurous, and inspiring moment. 🙂
What filters do you use?
I use Adobe Lightroom Presets – typically the same three filters to enhance my photography and keep my content consistent with my style!
Depending on what platform you spend the majority of your time on, you can either download and edit via Mac or iPhone. I prefer editing on my phone, but totally your call. Once you get the hang of using Lightroom, you have the option of purchasing different Preset Packs that best suit your social media style in telling your stories through photography.
Why do you prefer to travel alone?
I posted about this one because I think in my first two days on my Italy trip I received, give or take, 10 DMs asking this same question. More often than not, I prefer to travel alone for the same reason – except this specific trip had a few additional factors that contributed to staying longer and being farther across the world on my own.
For my Italy trip, it came at the perfect time. I had just gone through the ups, downs, and the emotional/mentally exhausting roller coaster that is modern dating. Was trying to figure out how to navigate having to get biopsies as a 26-year-old because of concern for cancer. And had lost two people, a close friend, and a family member, to the darkness and confusion that is death.
I didn’t know how to deal with it all and not let it affect me as a human or my positive attitude around my friends, family, and coworkers. Even though so many things that were happening in my world were out of my own control, somehow I was left feeling like I was responsible – that it was all my fault. I felt stuck and lost, like I was being hit from a million different angles with a thousand different curveballs, and I couldn’t find a healthy balance to keep my mind at ease. I was starting to break, mentally and emotionally, trying hard to believe there was a much bigger and greater reason for all of it. But I couldn’t find that reason for staying in a place where I was surrounded by constant worry, doubt, fear, and confusion.
How was I supposed to be happy and content when important things and people in my life were being taken away from me in one single instant? What did anything I said or did matter when it felt like I was trying to be the best human I could while also feeling like my world was crumbling?
Needless to say, although I tried to stay strong and optimistic on the outside and trust that the pieces will fall where they may, I needed to be the one to find the greater reason and purpose for the unanswered why’s of my world. And that’s what traveling allows me to do.
So to answer the overarching question for you as to why I choose and prefer to travel alone?
I travel, and I travel alone, because it’s the one time I can put the chaos of my world aside, even just for a minute, to find my center ground again. Sometimes that’s through meeting new people every day, breaking far from my comfort zone, and being open to sharing stories and experiences from different cultures. But sometimes, it’s honestly just being present and connected with a new part of the world that allows me to be present and connected with my own life. I don’t need reminders or an understanding of the things that make me feel less than. I need to find a new perspective with a new part of myself – I need that reminder that I am so much more than. I need a reminder that there is always, ALWAYS, so much more to life, and too often we don’t even sit down and truly believe that statement. We just say it and continue to go through routine motions of life when we’re destined to do SO MUCH more than that. On the outside, I can hold it together pretty well, but I have a million and one struggles and failures that at times leave me feeling more broken than healed.
I travel everywhere and anywhere, and I do it alone because I don’t want any one person or thing to make me question who I am or how I want to live what I believe to be a fulfilling life for myself. I rely so heavily on maintaining a positive, encouraging, and accepting life, day in and out. Sometimes it’s a lot easier than people think – truly living like there’s no tomorrow. But sometimes, it’s genuinely one of the most difficult things in the world.
But it’s what we do. It’s what we have to do. We figure out what it is in this world that makes us whole again, what it is that puts our brokenness back together in a stronger piece, and we hold onto it with all of our heart and being. If you’re like me and feel like life has this massive teeter-totter effect, take time to really seek out what it is that makes your life worth living as a better human, every day. Because that’s what we all deserve. 🌍🖤
I have Italy to thank for helping me find my center ground – and with a little faith to get me through. And the good news? The heartache, the pain we feel, it’s only temporary. There is always more to this world – there is more good, healing, inspiration, and beauty. Sometimes, it just takes a little detour in order for us to find it again.
If you’re struggling in your own life, read this to yourself, remind yourself everything will be okay, and take the time you need to heal on your own terms:
I can see that your heart is true
I believe in good things coming back to you
You’re the light that lifts me higher
So bright, you guide me through
I believe in you
When you feel worthless
Like all the love you get
You don’t deserve it
Sometimes I feel my faith is just a burden
I can see your heart is true
I believe in love
You give me reason to
You’re the light that lifts me higher
So high up in the sky
I think we’re gonna fly. ♥️
Whether you’re new to the solo-travel world or just need a little inspiration to get you through your hurdles in life, know that sometimes you just need to take some time to yourself, no matter where it is in this world, to find your center ground again. 🙂
I’m nearing the final few days of my trip, but feel free to continue following along with my Instagram: @alexaraeloebel, and as always, reach out with any questions, stories, and inspiration – I’m always here to listen to your stories as well as continue sharing my own!
XOXO, from Italia