Tips for traveling alone

What if we love travel,  but we wouldn’t dare to leave home by ourselves? It can be daunting to even think of going somewhere you’ve never been without a friend or family member with you. All I ever read in travel blogs are ‘must-dos’ before you settle down, and they often include a bullet for traveling alone. So why is that no one seems to do it?

Here are five tips to build up the courage to travel alone and to make it worth while.

1. Start your adventure in your own town.

Be a tourist in your hometown for a day. Take yourself on a date, don’t go to your typical spots and walk around without looking at your phone. See your hometown as if you’ve never been there before. Remember though, don’t look at your phone while you walk… take a look around and see how it feels to wander by yourself.

2. Find a place you’ve wanted to go for a long time.

There’s got to be somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Pick out a place that you would feel safe if you were there alone. For some, it’s Charleston, South Carolina, for others it’s Dubai. Don’t put limits on yourself!

3. Plan specific places to go.

Once you’ve chosen a destination, find some of the best spots to hit while you’re there. Whether it be certain beaches, museums, restaurants or hikes, find them and write them down. Don’t stop there though, investigate and document all the intricate ways to get there. Keep the directions in a journal so you can take it with you. (Use pictures and maps as well!)

4. Plan for problems.

Bringing extra money with you while you travel alone will help you relax in tense situations. If you lose your train ticket, you need a late night bite in a decent area, or you want to upgrade to a better hotel room to feel comfortable, allow yourself that luxury. Traveling alone can be stressful enough, so keep yourself packed with financial support. (Not with cash, but money in credit cards.)

5. Don’t be afraid to make friends when you get there.

Yes, being safe when meeting strangers is imperative. But there are so many incredible people who embrace lone travelers as if they were family. Find a cafe that matches your style, bring your laptop and get some work done. I’ve found that working in a bustling place encourages new friends to inquire about what you do. From there, you’re able to share who you really are with them and potentially create new relationships that could last a lifetime. Or – perhaps sit at a wine bar before the dinner crowd arrives and befriend the bartender. Bartenders seem to know all the ins and outs of a town. Start there!

Traveling alone is definitely for the brave. Luckily, you’re brave… so don’t wait for someone else to find interest in places you’ve always wanted to visit. Get out there and make life what you want it to be.

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Let’s talk about salads.

So it’s common knowledge that salads are generally good for us. If we load a salad with ranch, which I know we love, then it might add about 500 calories to our “healthy” salad.

In Paris, I’ve come across a salad that is quickly becoming internationally famous. Its called “salade chevre chaud.” If you’ve been here, which most of my friends who are studying abroad have, then you know what this salad is. Sometimes it is just cheese melted on small toasts over arugula or some kind of bed of lettuce. Sometimes we will get les pommes de terre, or hard boiled egg with tomatoes, carrots, pomegranate, avocado, parmesan cheese, apples, walnuts, or whatever else they decide to throw in.

Still, this salad has puzzled me completely. How do the French take a simple salade chevre chaud and switch it up completely? At the St. Regis restaurant near the seine, they have the cheese melted on small toasts over a simple bed of lettuce. But in the 14th arrondissement, at a small restaurant I couldn’t find the name of, this is what they gave me.

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So there is honey on there…with cucumber. I was SO confused when the waiter put it in front of me on my tiny table. The other funny thing is, they won’t write all the salad’s ingredients on the menu. Sometimes you will get a menu in your hand or occasionally it is posted on the wall and they bring the chalkboard over to your table. This salad was fantastic. It looks good in the picture, but to be starving and see that salad placed in front of you…there’s nothing better.

We all know I love food more than anything…well, not more than yoga.

MY POINT is that when you come to Paris, which we know you all want to now, you must order a chevre chaud salad just because of how much fun it is to wonder what is going to be in it. The herbs they put in the goat cheese (that’s what chevre is) makes the salad. Or, sometimes it’s the honey drizzled all over the salad as salad dressing.

How smart is that? Honey rather than salad dressing? Think about how much we try to be smart with what we eat…yet the salad dressing we love, which might be 1,000 calories, is drenched all over the ingredients. We need to pay more attention.

But salad isn’t just about the way it tastes, it’s about the way it looks as well. The image of the salad gives your mind an impression of the experience you are about to have. The smells help with that as well.

Salad doesn’t have to be a boring bed of greens.  If you are making a salad at home, use butter lettuce. There is something about the texture and flavor that changes the dynamic of the salad. There are so many salads that are made with butter lettuce in Paris.

I think they get it.

Now go cut up some goat cheese, throw some herbs on there, cut up some toasts, bake them in the oven and make your masterpiece… 🙂

T.

We eat

Une croissant au citron
Une croissant au citron

Oh boy. I knew I’d be scared to begin blogging about food in Paris. But the thing is, the restaurant food is not the problem. It’s the crêpes. I can’t handle this.

Crêpes are made from flour, water, sugar, milk, eggs, butter and salt. From such simple ingredients, how do you build a reputation, let alone a country? To Americans, crêpes are Paris in a nutshell. When you put a crêpe in your mouth, you aren’t just giving in to your body’s sugar craving, you’re accepting another culture.

While walking along Rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st arrondissement, you know you are conforming to the idyllic concept of Parisian life. You have the seine to your left and the most high end shopping temptations on your right. What does this have to do with food? Gosh, everything. Because shopping takes up so much energy, you just want a bite to eat…sugar please!

What about the man on the corner with the large circular griddle, spinning the batter around with that tiny little stick? Doesn’t seem normal, but when he scoops that Nutella on his spoon, slaps it on to the hot crêpe and spreads it around slowly like your watching a food porno, you have to stop. You just don’t have a choice. Think I’m wrong? Try walking by that smell and not spending 4 euros.

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Le Pain

We’ve learned a lot about what food means to Parisians. We get it… cheese, bread, and wine. It seems to be all they need to survive and all be a size 0, men included. Plus, with a Pâtisserie on every single corner, except for Sundays or Mondays when they are closed, you are guaranteed to get fat. There is no surprise that bread in French is “le pain.”

Hate to break it to you, but what all this really means is that Americans have a hard time stopping. Now, of course I am generalizing from observation and personal experience, but we just can’t have one croissant. We want four. If we only eat one now, we will have the other four in about fifteen minutes.

Americans see French people eating exactly what we are told not to eat…and not just one time during the week… they eat their baguettes, croissants or quiches every single morning. That is the thing though, they have one…

So for my Parisian experience, I am aiming to avoid all corners with crêpe stands until the desperation reaches its peak. Until then, I’ll be good and eat macaroons.

T.

P.S. If you want to know what it feels like walking down the street in Paris, click on this link 🙂

Paris, from me to you.