I just returned home from a few days solo trip to the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. I had a blast and really loved the city. Before writing about my experiences there, I felt like sharing some thoughts about solo travelling and how I learned to love it – maybe you will find inspiration for yourself, too. 🙂 This is basically a story about how I finally bought a flight ticket to Paris and fell in love with solo travel – and ended up changing my life for good!
A few years ago, I had already taken some solo trips and even lived abroad, but I had never been to Paris. I wanted to see the city more than anything. From what I had read, heard and seen, I knew I’d love the place. But I had this silly thought in my head that for the first time, I should go to Paris with the love of my life.
I was dreaming about romantic walks along the Seine river; candlelight dinners overlooking the Eiffel tower, magical kisses in the most romantic city… I kept postponing my trip to Paris – I went to see other cities and places, but Paris was put on hold. Actually, I was putting my life on hold – I just didn’t realise it.
I had perfect opportunities to go to Paris when I was living in Belgium – there was a direct train connection from Brussels; even super cheap bus routes. But I didn’t go – it was the one place I didn’t want to explore with my friends for the first time. Now I have a hard time to understand why I was so fixated to that idea of being in love to go to Paris…
A few years ago, I was living back in Finland and really wanted to take a trip somewhere. Then, one day, I just bought flight tickets to Paris. Just like that. My need to see the city of my dreams beat my ideals of how the dream trip should look. I didn’t even ask anyone to join me – I thought I would rather discover Paris on my own; do all the things that I wanted to do. I didn’t want to wait any longer for the perfect relationship – I might end up waiting forever, who knows. Even if I would have been in a relationship, it’s not like I could say “btw, I want to go to Paris with you as soon as possible” 😉
I didn’t want to share the experience with whomsoever – I wanted to be sure to that I would go there with the right one. And if I’d be with Mr Right, there might still be many ifs and buts in the way – for example, they might not have the time or money to travel. I started to understand that I was counting too much on others (even people that were not yet in my life!), and I would keep missing opportunities if I continued living like that.
It was a rainy May day when I landed in Paris. The Paris magic caught me, and I felt the romance there. Contrary to what I was afraid, I didn’t feel sad or pathetic being there solo. I didn’t need to share the moments with someone to enjoy my time. This trip ended up being one of the most important ones in regards to changing my attitude.
I started creating the kind of life that I dreamed of; the life that I well good about, not waiting for someone to complete or approve it. I learned to like more of my own company – after all, the most important relationship is the one that you have with yourself as Carrie Bradshaw said in Sex and the City. When I feel good about myself and my life, I have something to offer to other people. If I’m constantly putting my life on hold, trying to please others and live by their expectations – it’s a guarantee that I will be miserable.
So I explored the dream city – spent days in museums (finally saw my favourite Monet paintings!), sat in the lovely cafés watching people and writing, wandered the streets, ate croissants and read novels in beautiful parks, had a glass of wine in the evening and enjoyed walks along the Seine. I was happier than in ages – I was finally living the life I had always wanted. And the best part was that I had figured it out myself. I dared to go after my dreams on my own; I’d stopped waiting for the perfect moment, person or situation.
When I discovered the beautiful city, I also learned more about myself. I knew that I wanted to travel more by myself. I wanted to see the world, and not wait to have someone to do it with. That trip to Paris was one of my best ones so far, and it gave me the courage to start going more often solo. Some of my friends had already got married and had kids, and many were going on the same road. Others were too busy with their careers or didn’t have money to go. My lifestyle and situation were no longer compatible with travelling regularly with my friends. It was a fact that I needed to deal with.
What has changed after Paris
After that trip to Paris, I have taken many solo trips – the longest one was a bit over a month this summer. I love solo travelling. On every journey, I learn more about myself, what I want to do with my life and what kind of person I want to become. I think travelling alone has made me a lot better person – also much more robust and fearless. It has taught me skills that I would have never learned if I’d been able to lean on a partner or friend. More and more, I’m feeling more confident and have faith in myself. I can survive the challenges and genuinely enjoy the adventures I have by myself.
So that is basically how I completely fell in love with solo travelling – I had enjoyed the few trips even before, but I was still afraid to truly let go and start exploring the world on my own. After the first Paris trip, I’ve grown a lot as a person. I’ve finally had the guts to change my lifestyle, discover what makes me happy and go after my dreams. I no longer care that much what other people think of me or my life. Of course, all these things are ones that need to work on consistently – and nothing happened overnight. But I have to say I am much happier and more balanced in my life nowadays than I was some years ago.
Ps. On my last day, when I was on my way to the airport, a gentleman stopped me at the train station. He said something in French, and when I didn’t understand, he told me in English that he would like to take me out – I was magnifique, he said. 😀 I apologised that I was leaving the city and didn’t have time, but that encounter was a nice reminder that things like that can happen when you go and live your life.
If you love solo trips, what has been the most significant factor? Or are you still thinking about taking one? Have you ever had doubts about going to somewhere alone? What gives you the courage to go after your dreams? 🙂