The Independent Girl's Guide to Traveling Solo8/22/2014
Originally posted on The Style Optimist A few weeks ago I traveled alone for the first time to Paris. It was a dream come true and then s...
Originally posted on The Style Optimist
A few weeks ago I traveled alone for the first time to Paris. It was a dream come true and then some. You see, learning to be alone is somewhat of a new concept for me within recent years. When I expressed to family and friends my plans to travel to the city of lights alone, I received many questions as to why I would do that or even consider it. I had already made up my mind, so their thoughts didn't deter my plans, but I did travel with caution. I thoroughly enjoyed my solo trip to Paris. Not once did I feel alone, unsafe, lonely or regretted my decision to travel solo. Below are a few things I learned through this experience.
- Traveling alone provides you the opportunity to learn how to be okay and at peace with being alone. Learning to be alone is a vital aspect of life. There's a certain sense of Independence that comes along with traveling alone.
- Traveling alone also provides you the opportunity to do exactly what you want, when you want, and the outcome of your trip is solely based on your decisions.
- Traveling alone, provides you the opportunity to be more engaging socially and talk with people you wouldn't otherwise engage with were you Traveling with others.
- While Traveling solo you lose all perks of splitting cost with another person, so budgeting wisely is a must.
- There's another downside to not having someone to share your travel experiences with. Remember when something funny happened on day two? Yeah.
- Worst case scenario: if you were to need help of some kind, if you were to become stranded or ill in a foreign country, you'd have limited support. Which is why taking necessary precautions such as packing over the counter medications, and visiting your local travel clinic prior to travel for proper immunization is vital.
1) Do your research. I cannot STRESS the importance of safety while traveling alone. Research neighborhoods where you'd like to stay. Read travel blogs. Ask people who've traveled to where you're going to get a personal perspective.
2) Use common sense. While Paris is relatively safe and I did not feel alone, scared, or nervous, I made it a point to not be out past 1am, and be aware of your surroundings. I also made it a point not to wear heels at night in the event I needed to run or make a quick escape.
3) Utilize tools that make navigation easier such as relevant travel apps. An app I found helpful was the Paris metro RATP app. It provides an itinerary for your travels and tells you what metro you'll need to take to where you are going and the duration of the trip. I also downloaded currency converter and language app since my french is pretty limited.
4) Pack and travel light. I swear my Old Navy bucket bag came in super handy. In fact, I purchased it specifically for this trip. It's large enough to hold my blazer, sweaters, and DSLR among many other things, while the long straps allow me to wear it cross body keeping my hands free and also making it difficult for someone to snatch.
5) In a city like Paris where you literally walk almost everywhere, sensible shoes are a must. If you can trek up those cobble stone streets in pumps for hours on end, more power to you. I would suggest keeping a pair of flats in your bag. Just in case.
6) Utilize hotel lock boxes for your wallet, credit cards, passport and other pertinent documents. I made sure to make a copy of my passport and left my wallet, drivers license and passport in my apartment locked up for safe keeping.
7) Follow your instincts and trust your intuition. From what I experienced, Parisian men will literally follow you in attempt to get your number or ask you out until you talk to them. I had a man follow me for a good two minutes, if not more, to the point where I thought he was going my direction. He wasn't. My advice is to ignore them if you're not interested as to avoid giving the wrong impression, and eventually they'll turn around and be on their merry way. If you get a good vibe from someone, it's okay to engage with them. However, if its someone you wouldn't normally want to be involved with, it's best not to give the wrong impression. Your safety comes first.
8) Utilize local transits. I purchased the weekly metro pass which provided me access to metros and buses for the duration of my trip, which also saved me quite a bit of money.
9) If you can, travel with a carry on or ONE checked luggage. See, I traveled to Paris after visiting family in Liberia, so I had a bit more luggage than I would've preferred.. I had a carry on, a checked bag, and a overly stuffed purse which made getting around a tad bit difficult and potentially made me a target.
10) Finances; be prepared. Make sure to have current currency on you. Inform your bank of your travel plans as to avoid having your account locked or frozen. Also, most banks charge an international check-card fee, so lets say I used my check card about 15 times, I was charged an international purchase fee per purchase which added up to almost 18.00if not more. That's almost a box of macarons people.
Traveling alone, like most things in life, has benefits and drawbacks. However, with adequate planning, Traveling alone can be an enriching and rewarding experience. I'm most certainly looking forward to my next solo trip. Maybe Capri, Italy? We shall see.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock