Single in Paris; Why You Should Travel Solo in Your 20's

When you think of Paris, you can’t help but think of all things related to love. It’s inevitable; the pastel painted buildings, a romantic rendezvous under the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower, and the wonderful fleeting feeling of being somewhere so special and rich with history. I’ve always dreamed of going to Paris, just like every other little girl obsessed with fashion and fairytale endings. So when I studied abroad in Italy my junior year of college, I absolutely could not miss the opportunity to visit. 

The problem was that I had no one to go with. Two of my roommates had already traveled to Paris with their boyfriends at the time, and my other roommates had already been when they were younger. Well... I didn't have a boyfriend to go with and everyone I knew at my school in Florence with me had already booked weekend getaways to other destinations. I even resorted to trying to bribe my sister to fly out and meet me from Bloomington, IL. After multiple failed attempts of trying to convince my friends to go, It was time to make an executive decision. Either I go alone, or I don't go at all. 

I had saved up enough money that I would be able to book a cheap round trip flight and hotel for a great price. I could leave Thursday night, stay all day Friday, and get back to Florence Saturday afternoon just in time for a "Christmas Tree Festival" in the piazza. It was a stretch - of course, but I just kept thinking, "who knows when i'll ever be in Europe again?" So I booked it. It's probably one of the most spontaneous and thrilling things I've ever done.

Overall, my entire abroad experience was such a rush. I grew so much and learned so much about myself, I became more independent and appreciative - something that I hadn't been in awhile. It was a reminder that I was capable of doing things on my own, I didn't need to rely on my friends or other people to do enjoyable things. That alone is such a self-esteem booster. You slowly start to come out of your comfort zone and just enjoy living, being in the moment. My entire weekend in Paris I took three pictures while I was out and about. I didn't feel the need to be on my phone capturing every single moment through my camera. But I could still tell you how beautiful the Eiffel Tower looked lit up at night, or how enchanting all the high-end store windows looked while I walked down the bustling streets alone. 

"Why didn't you just wait to visit when someone could come with you?"

For awhile, I kept telling myself I would just wait until I was older and had someone to come with me. Other people said the same thing, that I should wait until I had someone to share the experience with. "You're still so young and you have so much time to travel!" or "Just wait until your married and go for your Honeymoon! It will be so romantic!". I think that's when I knew I had to pull the trigger and go. If all of the strong, beautiful, and independent women in my life have taught me anything - it's that I did not need to wait around for a boy to do anything. I took it upon myself and did somthing on my own that was going to make me happy, and it was one of the best choices I've ever made! 

"Isn't traveling alone as a female unsafe?"

In this day and age it's quite hard to ignore all of the warning signs that may come to your attention of traveling alone in a foreign country as a female. The bottom line is that if you really think about it, unfortunate things can happen to you anywhere you go, at any time. Especially with all of the tragedies we've seen in America within the past couple of years, the people and places you would think are the safest - might not always be. You can't always control everything in terms of safety, but by making sure you are aware of your surroundings, keeping your wallet and other important documents in a safe place in your jacket or clothing, blending in with the environment your in, and being smart while conversing with strangers - you can avoid a lot of stress and avoid attracting unwanted attention from strangers who may cause a threat. 

"Isn't it awkward to do all of those things all alone?"

This was probably the things that scared me the most. A table for one at dinner, navigating through the airport and subways alone, and not having someone to turn and talk to. You won't believe how nice it is to be able to explore all by yourself. It's only weird if you make it weird! People watching is personally one of my favorite past times, especially when you're surrounded by people who live in a completely different culture than you!

Also, you'd be surprised by how many people you meet along the way who are traveling alone too! On my flight back to Florence from Paris, I met this 75-year-old man from the U.S. who was also traveling alone. He had studied abroad in London when he was in college and met the love of his life, they got married in London two years after they met and had been together ever since. She recently passed away so he was visiting all the places they went to together to celebrate their love (yes, I cried.) We shared a Taxi from the airport into the city and I was so grateful for his company! 

I will never forget the short time I spent in Paris. Most of it was just spent reading on a bench in Champ De Mars next to the Eiffel Tower, popping into Parisian cafes and ordering fancy cappuccinos, or just wandering the narrow streets of the city, wishing I could stay forever.

There are very few things in life as liberating and exciting as traveling alone. Studying abroad and traveling alone changed my life and is the probably the best gift I’ve ever given myself. Rather than making up excuses not to travel by waiting around for the perfect moment, or for someone to join you, book the trip and go solo - be reckless, spontaneous, independent and all of the above. The only thing stopping you from seeing all the things you've dreamed of doing is you.