I am a believer in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone – after all, that’s where all the magic happens. I’ve never had to use public transportation before. The first time I pushed myself to do it was in Ottawa, Canada on a work trip where I went solo in the freezing rain to go see the Parliament Buildings.
I’ve been going back and forth on my decision to go solo to Europe for quite some time now. I think a lot of the time our own minds hold us back for so long, and fear can cripple us if we allow it to.
I had a few days off. I arranged for someone to watch my son, and with the help and push from a few friends, I decided to go buy a smaller backpack, do some research and just go. I chose Paris, France as my first solo destination.
When I’m home, I’m actually usually hiding. I kind of get away from people and stay in solitude just to regroup and face the world. After all as a flight attendant we’re around so many people per day that it’s nice to have that alone time to face the world all over again.
I was at the place where I either wanted to cry and hide, or just jump and swim. I chose to jump and swim – do I regret it? Absolutely not.
I was fortunate enough to have had some fellow flight attendants guide me through it who have been there before — and for whom I’m sincerely very grateful. Time waits for no one. I could either wait for the perfect time, the perfect setting, the perfect company, or I could just go. So I went.
Before I left I made sure I had the following: Passport, Backpack, Money Security Waist Pack (You can purchase this for $7.00 at Walmart, it holds your passport, money, etc underneath your clothes that way if your backpack or purse are stolen then you will have this underneath your clothes and on your person), small change of clothes (flip flops, yoga pants, gym top, change of underwear), some makeup, my iPod, phone and my intuition and courage. 🙂
I left Salt Lake City, Utah at 5:00pm and landed at the CDG (Charles De Gaulle) Airport at 11:00am the next day. Upon arrival you go through customs — Just follow the signs. I stopped at the airport to exchange my U.S dollars for Euros. Next I stopped at the information booths (most at the airport speak English) and received a map of France and the transportation systems. There are a few ways to get to the Eiffel Tower, however, I chose to take the Metro/RER System. Follow the signs to the RER into Terminal 1 or 2. The CDG Airport is no joke the first time. It’s crazy big!
You’ll arrive at the ticket station next. (Reminds me a lot of NYC.) The tickets were 10 Euro each way. You just throw your little ticket into the system, grab it on the way out and throw it in your bra! Don’t lose it! Take the RIGHT train (RER B or Blue Line Metro) to St-Michel Notre Dame. (You’ll have a little map with colored dots that light up at the top of the metro that tells you where you’re at). After you’ve arrived at St-Michel Notre Dame, hop off and make your way through the metro system and follow signs to RER C (Yellow Metro). Get off at Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel. The Eiffel Tower is only about two blocks away, and you’ll be able to see it once you come up from the Metro!
To get back to the airport just return the same way. Just make sure to get on the correct train going the correct way … I accidentally went the other way, and had to make my way back!
I’ve found through my experience that the hardest thing about traveling solo was that I had my guard up the whole time. I was so concerned about my own safety, losing my passport, or losing my money that it was hard to thoroughly enjoy the Eiffel Tower and other places. But in the end, my experience in going to France was one that forever changed me in a really good way.
From the United States this took me three days to get there and back. I recommend at least four to five days if you want to see all the good places.
Some major tips I have for solo travelers:
– Speak with the locals about your destination, preferably in the stores if you can. (I had some instances where I tried speaking to the locals on trains and they were trying to tell me where to go) When in doubt, I just stayed on my own route, and always trusted my intuition.
– Be aware of your surroundings. Stay in the public view as much as possible, and don’t necessarily announce that you’re traveling alone.
– Do some research before you leave. Clarify any questions with the information desk at the airport before you leave.
– Get a of couple maps. Keep one on your person, the other in a backpack.
– Walk with purpose. Tell yourself that you know where you’re going.
Any new trip or destination you take changes you for the better. Flying solo is hard, and requires a lot of bravery. It shapes you into a new person and you come out a lot stronger than when you went in. I love doing these things for personal growth, and I do recommend solo travel for that very reason!
Book that ticket, and go get lost. Bring your intuition and courage with you. Always believe in yourself and go face your fears!
Natasha is our newest Fitness contributor and a workout guru, flight attendant extraordinaire and traveling Mama! Stay tuned on TheFlightAttendantLife.com and our Facebook page for more stories of courage, goals and overcoming obstacles in order to live your life to the fullest – and healthiest! You can catch up with Natasha on Instagram or Facebook.