I did it!
For those of you who haven’t taken the plunge and ventured off in to the world of solo travel – I highly recommend it. Yes it’s hard, yes it’s scary – yes it’s worth it.
I expected to feel lonely, to get bored, to feel embarrassed about being alone – and to be perfectly honest, at times I did. At least at the beginning anyway. But that’s part of it. You can see it as lonely, boring and/or embarrassing – but on the flipside, when else do you have no one to answer to, no one to report to and no one knowing your face or name? Kinda exciting really. My first morning was scary, my phone didn’t work (no google maps?!), it was raining and I wasn’t in the safest of areas…but I gave myself another pep talk and trouped on; heck – you can hardly complain about having 3 days in one of the most beautiful cities in the world! Time for a reality check, alone or not – Paris is Paris!
You learn a lot about yourself when you travel solo…I honestly had no idea how I would fare – and actually didn’t know if I would cope – but I’m happy to say that I made it – and along with the typical tourist photos, the few extra kilo’s I gained from copious amounts of cheese and pate I also brought back to London some more personal, holistic souvenirs;
* I’m stronger than I have ever given myself credit for – mentally, physically and emotionally
* I can work with a public transport system with the info graphics and assistance in a foreign language and actually get around
* I might be directionally challenged but I am actually really good at getting to know a city and how to get around (despite walking in the complete the wrong direction for nearly an hour one day…)
* Going out for a meal by yourself is actually beautifully relaxing and a real treat – a book, a glass of wine, delicious food and peace and quiet – bliss
* People don’t look at you differently for being alone – you realise that everyone has far more important things to look at, talk about and think about than you being alone – these days it’s easy to have a manufactured self awareness but solo travel will knock that back a few pegs
* Gare du Nord isn’t the safest area to be on your own at night in the dark…
* I am a good judge of character and situation – I knew when to leave situations, I knew who to make friends with and who to avoid! (French lawyer/castle owner!)
* To trust your instincts and follow your gut – always – even if they’re wrong, you learn from that too
* It’s liberating – you are your own person, completely anonymous in a foreign city/country – you can do what you want, when you want and with whom you want – complete freedom is such a rarity these days – embrace it!
* I need to up my selfie game – trying to get a photo of myself with Arc de Triamphe, Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur was practically impossible (and no, I’m not suggesting buying a selfie stick)
* I’m wiser and more street safe than I think a lot of people would give me credit for – i’m not always the naïve Cinders off in my own fairy world all the time…
* Travelling solo is a huge accomplishment – remind yourself of that and be proud of it!
At times I did get lost, I did wander more than necessary to get from place to place as a result of replying purely on my own directionally challenged brain – but at least that way I challenged myself and it enabled me to see a different side of Paris; the back streets, bus stops and the real people (who actually are a lot friendlier when you’re a young blonde travelling alone!). The main thing I have learnt however, is that life is short. If there are countries to explore and cities to get lost in but your bucket list and calendar don’t align with friends or loved ones – just go. You can’t regret giving something a go – or exploring a new place.
Travelling is a conscious departure from our mundane lives. It is a vehicle which propels us in to motion. One which sets off a string of events that requires us to engage all of our senses. No second guessing, no over analysing, just pure instinct. The moment we give in to this is the moment we feel most alive. We’re out of the box and we are free to be whatever shape we want to be. There’s room to breathe and time to savour the luxury of being yourself. By yourself. No expectations, no nagging voices, just the vision of the road ahead of you.
I did it, I survived and I really enjoyed it – and you know what – I would do it again.