“Aren’t you scared traveling by yourself?”
Almost every time I talk about travel, I am asked that question. Yes, it’s a scary thought being abroad in a new culture all by oneself. Anything can happen!
But is that reason to not travel at all?
We cannot let fear run our lives. Think about all the things you could miss out on if you passed up opportunities due to being scared.
I know I would have missed out on a lot had I let fear take over. Skydiving, diving the Great Barrier Reef……..travel in general! All would have been missed if I didn’t take that risk and try something new.
Deciding to travel alone for the first time
Until my mid 20s, I always had a travel buddy. I never really ventured far, so that might have had something to do with it.
I had been wanting to see parts of Europe for the longest time, and I was ready to go…..even if that meant traveling by myself. My friends were going to be in Barcelona for a few weeks, and they and invited me to come stay with them for part of it.
Why not make the most of my time overseas? Why not start in Paris!?
I had been dying to go, and it wasn’t too far from Barcelona. I could fly into Paris and make my way to Barcelona. Easy as that!
I originally invited another friend of mine to join me, but we couldn’t agree on some travel plans and decided it best not to travel together.
My trip was set! I was going to Paris for Christmas and Barcelona for New Years!!!
Not only was it my first Christmas abroad but it was my first Christmas not being spent with my family. Every year I would head back to the midwest and spend the holidays with my family. I didn’t know what it was going to be like without them. I was scared that I wouldn’t have anyone to spend Christmas day with and that I would be lonely, but it was worth the risk to me. Surely somebody was traveling at the same time.
As I boarded that plane, I felt so elated. I was doing it! I was going on a trip by myself, not knowing what to expect but open to accepting whatever happens. Who knows. Maybe I would find my future home. Maybe I would fall in love. I had to keep my mind and heart open.
I was finally in the City of Lights and Love
I landed in Paris around 8 in the morning the day before Christmas. The hostel didn’t allow checkins until 4 pm, so I had to figure something out. I dropped my bag at the hostel, took a map, and started walking. I didn’t know where I was going, but I figured I would come across something interesting.
After a day wandering around a park, eating baguettes, and touring the Pantheon, I could finally check into my room. I hadn’t showered in almost 2 days and I was good and ripe.
I lugged my heavy backpack up 3 flights of a winding staircase to get to my room. I didn’t know what to expect behind that door. I had read great things about hostels, and I had read horrible ones as well. Opening that door was just a little scary.
Meeting a new best friend
I walked in and saw this lovely woman from Brazil…..Rio to be exact. She too had just gotten into Paris, and she was solo traveling as well.
Neither one of us had traveled alone, so it was the perfect match up. We became best friends instantly!
That night we went to Notre Dame together and were inseparable for the rest of the week.
I couldn’t believe I made such a good friend so soon!
My Brazilian friend and I spent the holiday together walking all over Paris. We walked the river and back. We went to Notre Dame for a 2nd round and managed to be there during their Christmas Mass. We walked all around that city just looking for anything and everything open on Christmas Day.
By the time we were able to get back into the hostel, I had pretty much forgotten being worried about being alone on Christmas. Quite frankly, I had almost forgotten about being alone all together.
Our group continued to grow throughout the week. Our other 2 roommates were traveling alone as well, so they quickly joined us. We met other travelers in the commons area. We met people while out grabbing a drink. I don’t know why I was so scared to travel alone.
I was lucky I found such a great group of people. We were all adventurous and ready to explore. If one person didn’t want to go to a particular place, we would make plans to meet up later that day. It felt like our group had been hanging out for years!
Without them, I doubt I would have experienced nearly as much as I did. We tried to help each other navigate the Louvre and cheered each other on as we hiked the staircases up the Eiffel Tower. We looked out for one another when we were out drinking and helped motivate each other next morning.
The week went by way too fast, and I didn’t want to leave my new friends.
One last blowout
Our last night together in Paris we decided to cook a nice (enough) dinner and just hang out at the hostel. Downstairs was a common eating area with minimal cooking utensils. It was worth a go.
We grabbed groceries and some of the cheapest but also the best wine I’ve ever had. This was the beginning of a great night.
We cooked. We ate. While we were sitting around talking, a couple of Italian girls came down to eat. We started chatting them up and they eventually joined our group. Then a few guys, also Italian, heard us talking and decided it was a good opportunity to bring in a deck of cards.
The wine was flowing and we were all having a great time. Once I grabbed my iPod speaker, it was on! We were having dance offs and learning different moves from different countries.
By the time the common area closed, we were ready to party. Our now large group of travelers took to the streets of Paris looking for a place to continue our celebration.
We all stayed out til the wee hours of the morning not taking into consideration the strict 11am check out….but it was worth it. That night proved to me that there is nothing to be scared of when traveling alone. There will always be a great group of people out there to meet.
Now I have been traveling solo off and on for the past 7 years. I needed that push to be OK with doing something alone and knowing everything will work out. I’m getting ready to start traveling more with my boyfriend, but I will always make room for my solo travel time.
What do you prefer more solo travel or traveling with a partner? And why? Let us know in the comments below.