As part of #30CountriesUnder30, I selected Paris as my next destination. There was something special about this trip though – it was my first ever solo trip!
The lead up to this trip took a lot of thought. I wanted to go, however was seriously scared to book it. I had constant mental battles over whether I was making the right decision or not. It didn’t help that my Mum wasn’t 100% keen on the idea. She was worried about my safety and thought it would be wiser to go with a friend. She did have a point, so I started asking around to see if anyone was interested. Most people were unavailable on my selected dates and deep down I knew I wanted to go alone. The mental battles continued and as time went by the price of flights and accommodation increased too. It was about 3 weeks until my selected dates and flights alone were £200. Don’t even get me started on accommodation! I was aware accommodation in Paris was expensive, but the prices I was seeing were absolutely ridiculous!
Saving money became my main priority at that point. I had a look at alternative travelling methods. Eurostar was an absolute no-no (The journey there and back was £300). I had a look at Coach as well, and this was more reasonable. It was £40 for a return journey, but was 8 hours long. Then I had a look at accommodation. Hotels and the local Airbnbs were so expensive, so I had a look at Hostels. Hostels were significantly cheaper, however part of me did not want to share a room. I didn’t know what to do, so I went back to my mum to discuss my options. It was between my preferences vs a reduced cost. My mum still wasn’t keen on the solo trip idea and at this point I was ready to give up on the trip completely.
I went to bed a bit upset that night. I knew I wanted to go, but I wasn’t taking charge of the decision. The following morning, I had a mini epiphany – I realised 2 things; 1) I am actually a big woman and 2) You only live once and regret is one of the worst feelings to live with. There and then, I booked my trip. I went with the cheaper option and booked a coach and a 4-bedroom Hostel. I was shaking as I paid, but I kept reminding myself that this was worth it. I went downstairs to tell my mum what I had done and she laughed. She thought I was joking lol. I showed her all the evidence and she just smiled. (I don’t know whether she was impressed or couldn’t be bothered to disagree anymore, I am just going to go with the former). I know our parents want the best for us, but sometimes we need to make our own choices. I believe there are times when our parents talk from a place of fear and it can be so discouraging.
The total for trip was just under £160 (for 4 days, 3 nights).
So now it’s 2 weeks until my trip and I start preparing myself. I was watching numerous YouTube videos and speaking to different people. I don’t even understand what happened, but all I keep finding/ hearing were negative things about Paris. Now don’t get me wrong, some did say it was a beautiful city, however naturally you always pay attention to the negative. It got to a point where I was so scared, I tried to find ways to justify throwing £160 down the drain.
Have you ever had those moments where you say to yourself, “Jesus, what have I done?”. This was me.
Fast forward 2 weeks, Thursday 5th July came and I finally jumped on the coach from London Victoria to Paris. First of all, the 8 hour coach journey wasn’t that bad. Personally I thought it went quite quick. There were about 3 stops for fresh air and I spent most of the journey sleeping or reading. I arrived in Paris around 5pm and found it quite easy to move around. Their metro system (equivalent to our underground) was cheap and easy to use. My hostel wasn’t too bad either. It was a bit smaller than expected, but I was planning to spend majority of the trip outdoors so I wasn’t too bothered. My roommates were cool as well. By the end of the day, I was so proud of myself. Miss Noelle Donkor finally plucked the courage to go on her first solo trip.
While I was in Paris, I was able to see a lot. I went to many Tourist attractions (Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame) and had the chance to go to Disneyland too! Disneyland was fun, but the experience would have been more enjoyable with company (oh wells, next time!). Overall, my trip to Paris was amazing! Solo trips teach you how to enjoy your own company, take you out of your comfort zone and just give you some peace of mind! I would encourage everyone to do at least one solo trip in their life.
Here are a few pictures from Paris:
Few Tips for anyone considering a solo trip:
– Just do it; Cliché, but it’s the truth. The thought of it is scary, but outside of your day to day concerns there isn’t much to worry about.
– Itinerary; I mentioned this before in a previous post. I planned every detail of Paris; from the sites I’d visit to the time it would take me to get there. I didn’t follow it 100%, but the guidance was useful.
– Pick Pocketing; I was told this was an issue in Paris, but I was fortunate enough not to experience this. Pick pocketing is an issue in any tourist area, so it is important to be extremely vigilant. Be on the alert; make sure your phone isn’t out 24/7 and keep your bag in front of you.
– Language; I was told French people do not like to speak English. I still think this is true, but I was lucky that most people I came across were English speaking. My French was so rusty, so all I said was “Merci” and “Tu parles anglais?”. I think generally knowing a few common phrases is useful for any trip.
– Pictures; This is the most popular question I got funnily enough. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that I posted so many pictures from the trip and the main question was “who was taking the pictures?”. The answer is strangers. I literally just asked random people. You need to be strategic though. I asked young people, photographers and anyone I knew I could run after if they tried to steal my phone.
But that’s all I have to share, but I am open to answering any more questions you may have!
Here’s to all the future solo trips *raises glass*