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.

Croatia, my love

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Eight days, good friends, ferries and locals. That was it.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed Croatia making its way into the public eye through word of mouth and mediums like ABC’s hit show The Bachelornow I’m beginning to understand why.

Croatians love their seafood, love tourists and genuinely want you to get to know their country. I spent 8 days venturing through the the town of Split and the islands of Hvar and Brač. We also hopped on a bus from Split to a seaside port called Trogir.

The country was nothing like I expected. Every person we met was so eager to help us get around, find restaurants, meet other locals and discover hidden secrets. Coming from Paris, where they seemingly hate American tourists, it was a nice change. There was the famous Diocletian’s Palace dating back to the Roman Era, where you could get lost and feel like you’re in The Gladiator. It was indescribable walking across the stone paths and stumbling upon tiny, family-owned shops and bars.

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Watching small Croatian children fish on the island of Hvar.

Split is right on the edge of the Mediterranean sea. There are restaurants lining the water just like Barcelona, but something felt different. The community is always bustling around the palace talking to each other, laughing, fishing, buying foods from the outdoor markets and playing music. As I sit here, I can’t help but crave to go back. I  loved lying by the sea in the sunshine and hearing all of the different languages being spoken.

We met a hubbub of the friendliest travelers from all over Europe and Asia. Even all of the little cats walking around seem uncharacteristically snuggly. This country might be small, but it’s the home of some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.

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Public transportation in Croatia was more like having a constant tour guide. Riding the ferries was a genuine pleasure because they moved somewhat slowly, so you could sit on the top deck outside in the sunshine. The water was so blue, it almost seemed straight out of Photoshop. On any island we visited, there were young kids sitting on the side of the piers fishing beside the adult fishermen who were selling freshly caught sea bass, octopus and squid right off their boats.

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Croatia’s token octopus salad.

Cuisine in Croatia easily became comparative to what I might find in Seattle. I live on the Pacific Ocean, but it seems that the Mediterranean had something more to offer. In the morning, owners of restaurants walked to the pier, bought local seafood off the boats, and properly showed you a tray of the freshest daily options that evening. It was just magical. Our world is moving so fast, yet Croatia has the ability to slow things down. Even in gelato shops, there were machines that made daily gelato right in front of your eyes. I can’t brag enough about this country.

The first restaurant we visited was an accident and something right off Pinterest. Konoba Korta, oh how I miss you.

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Vegetable couscous with a spicy kick.
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Bacon wrapped chicken skewers with grilled vegetables.
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This was anything but your typical creamed tomato soup.

Our experience consisted of one kind server, two perfectly homemade brewed Croatian beers, a tomato soup, an octopus salad, two bacon-wrapped chicken skewers and a whole lot of smiles. When we got the check I almost dropped it when I saw the total. A meal I thought would cost $45, was only 80 Kuna, (the Croatian currency) which is equal to about $11.36. Unbelievable.

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That afternoon, we casually played soccer with some local kids who constantly made fun of our lack of skill. It was adorable.

Croatia reminds me that that even though there is a lot of darkness in the world, there’s good as well. Sometimes our minds are bogged down with such negativity, but if we take a minute to connect to one another, we can feel our purpose more easily.

Croatia, thank you!

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.