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  • Lisa Grisanti

I’m still claustrophobic but fly anyways & other answers to questions about my solo travel


Welll, I certainly get my share of questions before, during and after my many solo trips to Europe so here’s some of the ACTUAL common questions and my final answers. Yep!

1) QUESTION: “SO YOU DON’T LIKE TO FLY, WHY DO YOU KEEP TAKING SUCH LONG FLIGHTS to EUROPE?”

ANSWER: Yes, I don’t like to fly especially long flights (6+ hours), I’m claustrophobic, and I barely sleep on airplanes PLUS I am always near crying babies. Seriously. I love babies and I like that people travel with babies, but, even when I try to sleep, I can’t. I fly long trips because I really want to get to these exciting and beautiful destinations (Italy, Spain, Sicily) and that is the only way I can get there!

2) QUESTION: “WOW. YOU’RE BRAVE FOR TRAVELING TO SPAIN BY YOURSELF.” (asked by a woman traveling with her husband during a group tapas tour in Barcelona).

ANSWER: I don’t really consider myself brave but I am very curious and excited about certain places & would rather experience solo than not at all, plus, I meet people wherever I go & have had great experiences, including out salsa dancing where I’m going next! Do you want to join me? (Note: I also travel as smart and as observant as possible being fully aware of the areas of pickpocketing of Italy & Spain and heeding other necessary precautions for my safety. Before walking to some places at night in Barcelona & Italy, I observed, asked questions and armed myself with information. Spain is a late night country and streets were lively with people at night with plenty of taxis available at all hours of the night when I thought it best not to walk back to my hotel or I was too tired to (at 3 a.m. after a night of salsa/bachata dancing). However, the room next door to mine got robbed where I stayed at an Airbnb Apt. (the apartment itself & location seemed good) but when that happened, I needed to get out of there quickly for my safety. Thank God for my hotels.com app, I found a hotel (during high season!) right away with an in-room safe, etc. in great location.

3) QUESTION: “YOU’RE GOING TO ITALY & SPAIN ALONE?!! OMGOSH! YOU ARE GOING TO GET HARASSED BY THE MEN!

ANSWER: “Thanks for the heads up. I will have to see for myself.” My experience primarily while single (prior to my July 2016 trip): Harrassing NO. Perfect gentlemen in ITALY who were charming, courteous & respectful and yes, they definitely have an appreciation for women and were not the least bit hesitant to pull over on their vespa and ask you out and if you wanted a ride (which I said yes to the Vespa ride, both times when asked.). Or ask you out in front of your group tour at the Glass Factory in Venice (Actually happened to me in Venice during my 2007 trip when the tour guide asked me out for espresso after the tour. Yes, I accepted and had a personal tour of Venice that evening,…..and made a good friend).

In SPAIN, my experiences with meeting men were mostly out dancing at salsa/bachata clubs. (It is perfectly common for woman in the Latin dance world to show up to a club solo and take a dance class; followed by social dancing which I did in Barcelona & Madrid.). In Barcelona this past summer, it was strictly dancing a couple times; not open or trying to meet men as I am not single now. Men were friendly and less aggressive than in Madrid. In Madrid in 2014, I found men more aggressive here but definitely not in a hostile way. Yes, they are very handsome, they all wear cologne, and dress well so I guess you can get caught up in that. But ladies, listen up! Keep your wits about you, don’t drink too much, know how to speak & understand some Spanish, don’t broadcast that you’re alone, and you could have a really great time without putting yourself in compromising positions. Unless you really wanted to! I had the BEST weekend dancing in Madrid and met great people. As a rule for my solo safety travel, I keep my social interactions on the dance floor and in public places and don’t take rides and all was well. But, just my experience, whatever yours is, well, that is your experience and no judgment here.

4) QUESTION: “HOW DO YOU FIT ALL THOSE OUTFITS IN A LITTLE SUITCASE?”

ANSWER: I have become pretty good at packing light & only bringing what I need. It makes my life easier and less stressful while traveling since I have to carry my luggage on trains, up hills, and wheel it through brick roads and over stone bridges. Since I usually travel on my long trips in the summer, the clothes are light and don’t take a lot of space (plus I roll them which saves space). I wear some things more than once, wash cotton clothes in a bathroom sink or washing machine (Airbnb apartment) & also leave room in my suitcase because I buy clothes when I’m there. And since I was in my bathing suit at the beaches a lot this past trip to Spain/Italy/Sicily, who needs a lot of clothes!

5) WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO NEXT? Always and always back to Sicily where my roots are, my family is and where I have the most authentic experience. And also for next, Guatemala, Portugal, Chicago.

6) WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR BEST EXPERIENCES TRAVELING? There are sooo many, too many to write in this space…. Traveling to the small town of Vallelunga, Sicily and reconnecting with my family since over 20 years, during my trip to Sicily in 2007; celebrating my birthdays in Sicily with my family, long dinners and practicing my Sicilian; seeing the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, Statue of David, Leaning Tower of Pisa for the first time all in the same trip and experiencing Venice (including those magical dates with the Glass Factory tour guide) during my first trip to Italy also in 2007, dancing the night away & meeting new friends in Madrid & Washington D.C; time spent with my friend MK in Venice this past July as we both love taking photos (in quaint village of Burano of all the different color houses and all around Venice) but there’s also help from a stranger who helped me with translation at the Naples Ferry Port during this past July trip, views of Tuscany while on the train, a portrait of myself done by 7 year old artist Mila on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, the tour of churches of many places I’ve been (Basilica of St. Anthony in Padova Italy, St. Francis of Assisi Basilica & Sagrada Familia in Barcelona left me speechless), the FOOD, the views, and oh, that coffee, the BEST! And ahhh, the beaches in Positano, Taormina, Lido, Mondello Sicily, & Barcelona.

7) SO YOU MUST HAVE A LOT OF MONEY TO TRAVEL? NO! I save, and save, and save and make many luxury sacrifices while home so I can continue to travel.


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