Italian Solo Traveler Michela Fantinel Shares Her Best Tips for Packing and Travelling

Michela Hiking Wilson Promontory Australia

I’m Michela, Italian born and bred, but with an European background: 12 years spent living in Germany, one year in Austria, two years in UK and seven months in Spain. I love foreign cultures and languages, that’s why I learnt to speak fluently four languages: English, German, Spanish and Italian. In 2010 I created Rocky Travel, a site for the solo traveller who loves to explore places and plan in a simple and smart way.

Travel has been part of my life since I was a teenager, when I started travelling with family and school mates. The biggest inspiration I had was my own country, Italy, and especially the Colosseum: when I first stood in front of it at the age of 18, I first was moved and then I had that kind of feeling inside me: I want to see the world. Well, 35 years later, I still haven’t seen the entire world, l but I have been travelling consistently for business and leisure alike.

Michela Wilson Promontory Walks

How and why did you get into solo traveling?

I started travelling alone when I was a student abroad in Austria and UK, I couldn’t wait for other people to commit and felt I had to go alone. To tell you the truth, I’ve never been afraid of travelling on my own, because I was used to spending time alone so I naturally grew into it. While travelling around Europe, I noticed that I liked it so much, I was blown away. So from short city tours it became weekends and weeks, and from a week-getaway to long-term travels. From cultural trips, I moved onto more adventurous travel, like road trips, hiking solo and walking trips.

Michela Wilson Promontory Walks

How do you prepare for your adventures and travels?

The biggest inspiration was my own motivation to see different places. I walk, hike and bike on a consistent basis at home too, because I have fun, but the end-result is definitely better physical health. I plan my adventures using the internet by 95%. I like to use trusted resources for booking flights or other method of transportation. If I’m looking for specific information about a destination, then I google or search on Pinterest for relevant blog posts. This is by far the best way to find very detailed information about a place. I start 3-4 months ahead in average depending on the destination, but if the destination is nearby I eventually plan it spontaneously, unless it’s during peak season, but I try to avoid peak season or school-holiday-season. I am a free spirit and love the freedom that travels brings with it, its natural adventures, so prefer hidden-secrets places or remote and uncovered areas rather than the touristy paths.

Michela in Ocean Reef Perth copy

How do you finance your travels?

I fund my travels by 95% by myself through savings, only a tiny fraction of my travel is sponsored, it can be a day-tour, an activity or a transport mode like a bus or train ride or a car rental. But these are exceptions not the rules, I usually always pay for all my travel arrangements. I work remotely from my computer as a solopreneur, and love to be independent. Even when I have a sponsor, I make sure that I am free to write about my experience the way I want. When I travel I am frugal, cause I believe that we shall use resources wisely and travel in a mindful way. Now and then I also like to splurge on that kind of luxury that adds real value, but I would say occasionally, and regard it as a treat.

Why is traveling important to yo?

Travelling is very much part of my life. Paradoxically, I love to travel more now than when I was in my 20s and 30s because at that time I was more focused on other things like education, work, career. These were the core interests, and time and funds for travel were limited. Traveling is important to me because it’s the best way to have fun and learn new things, while growing your personal and social skills.

My Samsonite Travel Bag

How do you bring your things with you?

I like to travel light, with max seven kg for a carry-on but for long-term travel, I need a larger bag and the threshold is 15kg. Not easy but travel packing is a skill you learn it by doing it and you learn something new from each single trip. I once travelled for five months covering all climate zones and ended up packing my Samsonite Duffle bag with 22 kg. It really sucked, cause I have difficulties in handling this heavy bag. One day while I was walking I strained my right arm in an attempt to stop the bag falling aside. I was in pain for six months. One thing I can recommend is to work out your own weight limit and pack accordingly.

Choosing a travel bag is a matter of trust, in my case I like Samsonite bags, I have been using them for a a long time. In the past, I also used no-brand bags, there are some great ones too, but the only major drawback is that once something breaks you can throw your bag away, as no spare parts are available for common bags, whereas for a brand name there is always a way to repair it through the spare parts. Over the years, I have tried different brands, but my top picks are Samsonite for carry-on, travel bags and laptop bags. As a day-pack, I use Pacsafe Venturesafe 25L, and for personal travel bag I use a hip-pack from Pacsafe too.


How do you organize things in your bags?

For packing my own bags, I use smaller zipped bags, I have many and of different sizes, colours and shapes. Sometimes I re-use the cover from a rain-jacket or the goggles cover can be used for storing small things too. I cannot think of anything I would change in my travel bags. I love the long zip that goes along 3 sides of my Samsonite bag, that is so darn handy as you can open it you can immediately find what you are looking for.

How do your bags and gear hold up?

Well, waterproof or water resistant bags are indeed a great idea, especially for backpacks when hiking, you definitely need to have a waterproof pack or a cover that will do the job. A cover for bags is something I wish I could get or purchase for my Samsonite bag as this is not something you get when you buy the travel bag. For now I am happy with my gear. I never had to repair anything on the road, fortunately.

Travel Sleep Mask Flight Perth Hobart copy

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

I don’t have any particular gear in mind that I missed or wanted from the beginning. I always pack foldable bags just in case I need to repack, at the airport you never know, or you can use a smaller bag for a short getaway, within your main trip, and you can also use it to repack and checked bag if you need to add more stuff. Generally speaking, you need to create a map of your travel bag and know where you place things, so that it is easy to find them again and most importantly you need to place things in the same organiser or zipped bag. Misplacing things is very annoying because it takes lots of time to find them and it may also lead to loose things.

What has been your best travel-related purchase below $100?

I think it was my hip-pack which I am completely in love with. Have been using it for two years by now and not only when I travel, I use it every day. So practical and safe! I love having all my valuables in one place and fully in control.

As for other favorite gear, I try to travel in a minimalist way, as much as I can. I don’t carry much gear with me, apart from a small DSLR camera EOS 100D, a Joby Gorillapod, an iphone 6plus with a Tech 21 cover, a MAC PRO, a hip-pack from Pacsafe, a 25 liter from day-pack from Pacsafe, a Samsonite Travel Bag.

Wilson Promontory Wildlife 2017

What inspired you to write your book?

My book is Your Australia Itinerary a compact guide for creating your own itinerary around Australia. It is written for the solo traveller but in general it suits everyone who loves to travel around Australia independently. The most difficult part was writing the book while keeping in mind that the person who will read it know little or nothing about Australia. The best part was going through all my years of travels and focusing on all aspects of my travels, that aren’t really so obvious and often forgotten.

What is your best advice for other travelers?

My best piece of advice is to get out and start with something small, you don’t need to start with the trip of a lifetime. You can start in your own backyard too and see how it goes and what you like most of travelling. Travel is often too general and It is important to understand what type of travel you like where you like to go and how you want to travel. So test out various things and see what more appeals to you and go with it.

Wilson Promontory Road Trip

What will the future bring?

2018 started in Australia, while travelling and will be going to Europe in a week. I’m working on a project that I’ll reveal in the next months, which will be a new products of mine (not a new book though). As for travels, this year I’m planning to do more trips in Italy and in Europe and a good mix: from cultural to outdoor adventures. I am a nature lover, love hiking, walking in the nature, and biking so I want to do more of outdoor adventures.

As for gear, I’d like to test out the GOPRO camera or add a nice lens for my iPhone, and yes super light gear like a tent or a hammock for the solo traveller and good hiking shoes would be also something I’d like to try out. As a solo traveller I am always keen to test out gear that can simplify my life on the road.

Visit Michela Fantinel on her website and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

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