Lol I had originally started this post with a disclaimer like oh lol don’t worry Ollie I like travelling with you too – but he’s probably not going to get round to reading this, nor is he that insecure, so whatever. Sucks to be you, Oliver.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love to travel with Ollie. We had an amazing time in Bali and Marrakech, and all the times he came to visit me in Paris. And I have also had a whole host of great trips with my family. Canada was incredible. There is, however, something so nice about travelling by yourself a little bit.
It’s not secret that I spent most of my time alone when I lived in Paris. I made some amazing friends, of course, but couldn’t be around them 24/7 and I was very transient in the grand scheme of things. I lived alone, wandered Paris alone, sat outside cafés alone, and generally had a really great time of it. Living alone suits me a lot better than living with people – I like to be clean in my own way and I like to be in control of my space.
Being alone in Paris meant that I lived by my own rules and followed my own timetable. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and took trips to museums and galleries and shops and whatever, whenever I felt like it. My happiest memories of Paris are of Sunday mornings – walking up to the market for a bunch of flowers, a croissant for breakfast and some fresh sausages to heat up again for lunch later. I don’t remember doing it in the rain. The sun is always shining when I remember it, and the birds are always singing, and the pianist in my building was always playing a beautiful tune, echoing around the courtyard and into my open kitchen window. I had no one else to worry about but myself and my magazine and I didn’t have to entertain or be on my best behaviour.
Sometimes when you travel with someone you have to take on a bit of a managerial role. With me knowing Paris so well, I often feel like I have to be in charge, leading people around, or like I’m solely responsible for finding places to eat or planning things to do when I’m there. If the café is a bit shit, or there’s a queue for something, I take it very personally. That’s not to say that I don’t love it when I’m there – I love seeing my friends and doing nothing like I used to. I just don’t especially enjoy having to plan a whole day of sightseeing when I’ve seen it all before. It’s a weird feeling, and isn’t specific to one person (before Ollie thinks this is entirely about our most recent trip – I found people staying with me in Paris quite difficult too).
I took a few solo trips abroad between 2015 and 2016. I did Copenhagen and Amsterdam, a weekend in Normandy and a trip to Bruges and Brussels. On the latter two trips I made some great friends that I went on to hang out with a lot in Paris. Sure, I was nervous about them. I’ll never be fully comfortable with having to share rooms with total strangers, as is the hostel way of life.
I did, however, feel incredibly free, and never once bored. I spent two days in Copenhagen and saw everything I wanted to see, and had to make no compromises at all. In Amsterdam I went to Wagamamas because I was feeling lazy one of the days and hadn’t had one in months and months.
I sat outside random cafés and restaurants and occasionally spoke to someone about something and had the time of my life. I ate iced buns in the streets and bought fridge magnets for my little Paris kitchen, and generally had a blast wherever I went.
I’d love to take another solo trip whenever I can. I’m not financially sound enough to just book something now, nor do I really have time to just head off for a few days, but when I’m a little less snowed under with work I’d love to try somewhere new. I’ve never been to Spain, ever. I had had plans to try Bucharest before I left Paris but never got round to it, so maybe there? Or Iceland! Who knows. Maybe even just a night in Edinburgh would be enough to give me that little kick of confidence that travelling alone does.
I’d recommend travelling solo to anyone and everyone. Grab your rucksack, grab your camera, and (if you can) go somewhere different for a few days. You’d be amazed at what it can do for you when you have to look after yourself completely. x