Solo travel. The two words that always made my spine shudder in utter fear and anxiety. Something I would have never considered doing if you asked me a few years ago. However, as you get older, you get braver, well in my case anyway. I recently went to Paris which entailed of a three day press trip with an option to extend for an extra night and day. Going all the way to Paris, it felt like the right thing to do especially as it is one of my favourite European cities too. I had it in my head there would be others that would be doing the same thing but I was so wrong…
Everyone was heading home on Sunday afternoon which left me on my lonesome in the middle of a foreign country faced with a dilemma and what I could only call a panic attack. I felt anxious like no other moment in my life, but I couldn’t let it show. Getting back to my hotel room after the trip had ended only to lie down on my bed thinking “What the hell am I going to do?!”. The thought of actually leaving my hotel on my own made me feel physically sick. It didn’t help that we had been chauffeured around for the past 3 days so I didn’t have to use the Metro either until now.
By all means, i’m not dependant on others to do things. In fact i’m an extremely independent person but when i’m on foreign grounds with a language barrier it becomes more daunting than normal. Especially as I am the sort that prefers to share memories with others.
There was only two ways to spend my last 36 hours in Paris. I could either sit in my room wasting what is an amazing opportunity to see more of the city or I could brave it and leave, explore and actually try and enjoy myself. As a travel blogger, I thought about blog content and I said to myself let’s do it for the blog. BE FEARLESS. After all, that’s one of the reasons I named my blog accordingly in hope I would be exactly that one day.
I popped into the shower to try and reduce some of the tiredness that by body had held onto from the past few days, changed into a fresh set of clothes and set out. By this moment, I was reminded by a Parisian friend of mine that I lived with in my first year of university that we had planned to meet on my visit. Winning. I had something to look forward to in the evening, but I needed pass the next four hours before meeting said friend.
I ventured onto the Metro, with a blind eye and no tube map. Opened up City Mapper (which is a god damn life saver) and searched for the nearest station to the Sacre-Coeur.
Somewhere I had visited before on my travels to Paris, but something just felt so right about visiting all the touristy spots whilst I was here.
I went on to explore Monmarte, the surrounding areas with which is filled with lots of small boutiques, fromageries, restaurants and of course pharmacies. I think it is amazing how the use of building space is so well utilised with the smallest and cutest places to eat are packed to the brim with tourists and local Parisians. So lovely to see.
Something just didn’t feel right though. I was used to pointing things out to my company, having a giggle at weird names of shops and having a fun time together. I felt a bit alone. Trying to hold it all together, I was counting down the hours until I was going to meet Adele. It couldn’t come any faster.
It wasn’t long before I was in the company of a familiar face in the beautiful Bercy Village in Cour Saint-Émillion. Back to doing what I do best, eating good food, drinking wine, reminiscing and catching up on 2 years worth of updates.
Before I knew it, it was almost 11pm and time to get back. Grabbing the Metro back to the hotel was a doddle, as I soon realised it was exactly like how it was in London. I started getting a little bit more comfortable with the whole solo travel situation, but tomorrow was another day.
You know the saying, a new day, a new start? Well I found myself back in yesterdays anxieties again. Eating out alone is something that I struggled with doing back in London, even though many of my friends encouraged me to give it a go. When you’re in a different country, you have no choice or you starve. So I let my guard down and popped into a local cafe near the hotel for traditional French croissants. It’s the first time I had ever said “for one” but I guess I had to get used to it. It being a weekday, it was fairly quiet and with other local residents seated nearby having their morning coffee it seemed like a much less daunting moment than expected.
Onwards and upwards. My whistle stop tour around Paris included visiting a beautiful Mosque, French pharmacy for a few skincare bits, Notre-Dame and The Eiffel Tower.
The great thing about being behind your own camera is being able to get the shots you want, but sometimes it’s nice to have a portrait of yourself in front of some tourist attractions. Having someone with you allows you to take pictures of each other and perfect them, but when you’re asking other people around you whilst you solo travel you sometimes end up with shots like this…
Annoying? Yes. Frustrating? Oh so very, but it can’t be helped. That is one of the things you soon have to accept if you solo travel. Luckily I had been to Paris a couple of times before and had already had captured those memorable shots.
The last stop of my time in Paris was at the famous Angelina tea room. How could I possibly come all the way and have a taste of the divine hot chocolate and a piece of tarte au citron?! It was another “for one” moment in a full tea house, but the staff were very accommodating by putting all the single diners together in one area. A nice touch for those who feel awkward dining solo, like me. There were a few looks and mutters coming from various angles, but I took a deep breath and looked around. I shouldn’t feel unwelcome for wanting to go somewhere on my own, so I indulged into a mass amount of sweetness with pride and it was utter bliss.
Before I knew it, I was making my way back to Gare Du Nord in my chauffeur driven transfer to return back to London.
Thoughts of my first solo travel experience? Challenging and a great experience but it certainly is not for everyone. I loved being able to do what I wanted, when I wanted without having to worry about others. It was also nice just to have some peace and time to myself just exploring a city. Boundaries were pushed and things I wouldn’t have done at home were achieved, which I was pretty proud of. However, all in all nothing beats having a friend or family member to enjoy your travels and take pictures with, especially as travelling is meant to be memorable. I certainly would not rule out solo travel in the future, but it’s not the first thing I would jump at the chance of.
Have you travelled solo before? If so, what are your opinions?
Until next time…