Michela Fantinel was born and bred in Pordenone, Italy, but she has lived in other European countries for a long time. These days, she splits her time mostly between Italy, Australia, and new destinations that she likes to explore. In 2010 she founded Rocky Travel, a blog for the active solo traveller to Australia and Italy. This year she launched her own small group tours for women who like to travel alone but also love the idea of exploring new places with like-minded travellers.
Michela was kind enough to answer a few of our questions below.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Michela: I've been travelling for +30 years. Seeing the Colosseum in Rome at the age of 18 got me hooked and inspired me to see the world. As a young woman, London was the first city that inspired me to travel alone. My first solo trip to New York in '93 was a fantastic experience that got me started with overseas travelling.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Michela: Female solo travel and outdoor adventure Travel: hiking, walking, biking, etc.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Michela: My first backpacking trip in Australia in 2004. I travelled alone around Australia, for two months, no phone, no social media. I was cut off from the "humdrum life" and immersed in nature. I only had a small pocket camera and a backpack with 10 kg. Isolation and throwing out the clutter was a real blessing.
TA: What's one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Michela: A thermal base layer, I never travel without it.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Michela: Travelling goes deeper than just seeing places. So travel purposefully and invest in your travels as you invest in your education.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Michela: There are many but don't have a favourite one. I like to discover new ones all the times. Facebook is an excellent place to find new travel communities.
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Michela: Australia and New Zealand. In Europe: Croatia, Spain, and of course Italy.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Michela: Make sure you book your overseas flights with a reasonable layover time and consider a one or two-day stopover to help you break long-haul flights. It enables you to recover from jet-lag quickly.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Michela: Packing. While it's a good thing to travel light and create a packing check-list for every destination, too many people worry about what to pack and fear to leave home something important.
TA: What are the best places to travel solo and why?
Michela: Australia and New Zealand. They are female travellers friendly and these countries are safe places for a woman who travels solo.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Michela: No doubt, Italy. I know I'm biased but the excellent food you get you will not get anywhere else. There are too many things to list in here. I would not eat the touristy stuff or menu but more of the local recipes.
TA: What's something that other tourists do when traveling that drives you crazy and why?
Michela: When they travel irresponsibly and do silly things, do not respect the place and people they visit -- for instance, jump onto a monument or into a fountain to take pictures, or they are loud in the night and disrupt people's sleep. And the list goes on.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you've ever visited?
Michela: George Town, Penang Island, Malaysia. The Street of Harmony will make you emotional.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Michela: Way too many! In every country, there are lesser-known places that deserve to be more famous, but they get fewer visitors because most people focus on the highlights. Northeast Italy, for instance, is beautiful and you will have no crowds, a chance to get closer to the locals and learn more about the Italian culture.