I was determined to spend my birthday this year in Paris. Preferably with friends, but none of the 10 people I invited could come. I know, LAME!
So I ended up doing a solo trip to Paris. Was it an amazing time? Yes. Would I do it again? I don’t know. I personally enjoy having people to share experiences with. Am I glad I did it? Yes.
If you are planning a solo trip and don’t want to be the lead role in your own remake of the movie Taken, here is some advice to keep in mind.
- Stay at a hostel. If you have never stayed at one you may think this is a crazy suggestion. However, everyone at a hostel is in the same boat as you. Many are solo travels looking to explore the city. You will find they are all very inviting people. Aside from the other travellers at the hostel, it will help you make friends if the place you stay at has activities. Some hostel organize pub crawls (safest way to explore a place at night) and other things like walking tours or trips to major touristic areas.
- Don’t tell people you are travelling alone. If you are out and someone asks if you are alone always say “no, my friend just went to the bathroom.” Or “no, I’m on my way to meet up with my friend that went to see some cool thing somewhere.” The only people you can’t lie to are those at the hostel, since they will see you walking around by yourself.
- Limit your use of a map. Maps can be your best friend and your worst enemy. Look at a map before you head out for the day and try to remember some key points. If you don’t have a photographic memory, take out your map to see if you are hopelessly lost or not. BUT don’t do it in the middle of the street. Don’t make yourself a target. Go into a coffee shop or store and take out your map or cellphone to see were you are heading. It is a much safer space to do so. If you need to take out your phone in the middle of the street to see where Google is taking you, make sure you have a death grip on it.
Pro tip: download the map of the city you are travelling to on your Google Map app. It can pinpoint where you are on the map even if your data is turned off.
- Make friends. The hostel is a great place to make friends, but so are tourist locations. You’ll be able to spot other travellers at major tourist locations. Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers, just be conscious of your surroundings. Another safe way to make friends is to go on a tour. It is a safe situation; everyone is a tourists; the tour guide needs to get you back to your hostel/hotel safely.
I never thought I would end up doing a solo trip, but it is actually an experience I encourage everyone to do. You will end up learning a lot about yourself. It turns out I like being by myself but I prefer to share experiences with people. If you don’t have time to practice self-care and put yourself at the top of your priority list, travelling solo will force you to. AND THAT IS AWESOME.