In January I spent 24 hours in Paris where the majority of the time, I was spent on my own. Here how I got on and how easy it is to plan a solo trip in a foreign country.
This post I suppose is kind of a squeal to the blog post, ‘How to Plan a Spontaneous Trip in Your Home Country’, only this time I’m talking about planning a trip in a foreign country.
When I did my 24 hours in Paris trip back in January, admittedly I wasn’t entirely on my own as I had Richard travelling with me. But he has to go off to do some work, so this is when I spent time alone in Paris.
I knew this was the deal when we were travelling to Paris, where he would be spending the majority of the day working, and I would be entirely on my own.
Now, this next part might sound a little silly but bear with me, I never been a foreign country on my own before. When I wrote, how to Plan a Spontaneous Trip in Your Home Country, I mention that I have never taken a trip on my own before.
It was drilled into me the whole stranger danger scenario and girls shouldn’t be out on their own. Which I know is such an old fashion thing, and this isn’t 1800 where women need to be escorted by a gentleman. But I was taught both at school, and by parents, that is not a good idea and it better with safety in numbers.
That was how it has been for me, till pretty much up to my adulthood, where I always had a company with me while travelling. Whether it’s a mate, or family or just my husband; I always had someone with me and was never alone.
But a lot of the stranger danger advice given to me as a child was before smartphones was around and the super digital world we live in now. But as a child, we had a paper map, and only a few people had mobile phones.
That has all changed now, and it is all ok travelling on your own as smartphones and certain digital advances such a sat nav, and smartwatches let you plan your journey and helps guide you where you want to go.
For example, Richard and I when we do our backpacking across Europe, we have two interrail passes (*), and we would go wherever we want. We would often look at a map on our phone and decide on the spot to go there.
Which in my parent’s time would be unheard off and every part of a trip would be carefully planned out.
What I’m getting at, times have changed and it no longer unsafe to be on your own while travelling.
Which bring me back to Paris. Richard spent a good amount of the day working, and I pretty much had the entire day to myself. We only got back together in the evening and to travel back to London.
It was a daunting thing, being alone in a foreign place. Ok, so it Paris and I been to Paris many time before. But for me, I had to overcome my fear of the Metro and navigate around Paris and do the things I want to do.
Here are a few tips that I did to help me plan my alone time in Paris and how easy it is to plan a solo trip in a foreign county.
Before going, I did plenty of research on what I wanted to do in Paris. I made my mind up I wanted to go into a Sephora shop, I also wanted to walk along the Champ-Elysees. My job was how to get to those places from our hotel. So I did what any online geek girl does, used Google. I research on how the Metro worked and basic French phrases. Any web pages you find that you think will help you while out there, save them and you can keep referencing them.
Don’t stand out like a sore thumb tourist
My advice is to blend in and try not to stand out like a tourist. You can do that by learning a few basic phrases. It also makes you politer in the host county. Also look into their customs and follow along. I hate seeing people being insulting by not looking into their languages and customs; it does make me angry.
However, be a tourist in tourist places
While in Paris, to help me see more of the city, I did a big bus tour. Yes, it did make me stand out like a sore thumb tourist. But It helps me get around, and it lets me talk to a tour guide who was able to give me advice on Paris. I also got talking to another British couple, and we were able to help each other out.
Have a coat with lots of pockets
My big parka is a big coat with lots of pockets. So when walking around Instead of having to nose dive into my bag to get my purse or phone out, I stuffed everything into my pockets. I have lots of inner pockets, so I there where I stored my money and other valuable items. I found this so much easier with buying a metro ticket, and I could look at my phone to find out where I was.
Be aware of your surrounding
When walking around don’t be in a hazy dream, but be mindful of your surroundings. Make sure you are not getting lost, and you are not getting into any trouble. If you sense that someone or something feels wrong, then head off to somewhere it safer. Plan your route and look for certain landmarks to help you.
If something seems odd – then walk away
One of my time using the Paris metro, there was a person who made me feel uneasy. So I thought I would get off at the next station and wait for the next train, hoping he doesn’t have the same ideas as me. Thankfully this person didn’t. So yes, my advice would be that if something makes you feel unsafe then think of a solution where you can get out of it and walk away.
Those were my tips on how to plan a solo trip in a foreign country. These tips were a little something that helps me on my first solo trip abroad. I think, now I done it once – I feel more confident to do it again. Are you planning a solo trip aboard this year?
(*) Affiliate link.