“That’s the real trouble with the world. Too many people grow up.” – Walt Disney
Whenever I get into a conversation about solo travel, people seem to be really split on the subject, and whether it is something they would be able to do or not. Many seem amazed at those who pack their bags and head off solo, thinking it takes so much bravery, and worry about being lonely in the process.
I recently got back from another solo travel trip, and I wanted to write a little bit about the experience. For those of you that are regulars here, you’ll know that solo travelling isn’t something new to me, however, I wanted to dig a little deeper into the amazing experience, as I know it’s something that seems so daunting to many!
The first thing to remember about solo travel, is that it doesn’t mean you have no friends, are lonely, or that you are running away or isolating yourself from something – these are huge misconceptions. The power and freedom that comes with solo travel is freeing, and it can be the most amazing experience, allowing you to discover a new part of yourself, grow your self confidence, and experience things you may not if you were waiting on someone else to go with you!
Solo travel can be a big step, and it can feel scary, but the experience you have far outweighs anything you might be feeling about the trip beforehand. With good preparation, and a little bit of courage, it could be the best decision you ever make!
MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE
The Bank Holiday at the start of April had been playing on my mind for a while, and I knew I needed to just get away and have a change of scenery. I have spent most years as a child visiting Disneyland, and it is somewhere I feel like I know, and could visit comfortably …. plus it’s also the most magical place on the earth… is it not?!
I travelled early Friday morning to Disney, and then caught a late afternoon flight back on the Monday, so I had the full weekend, and then the two ‘half’ days. The park was open until 11pm each evening, so I was really able to make the most of all of the days there. Despite going over Easter weekend, and everything telling me that it would be the worst time to go, and too busy to move – it didn’t feel that bad, even with the park tickets selling out on all 4 days.
I caught a 7am flight, so I drove to Bristol airport for around 4.30am. I flew with Easyjet, and it ended up being cheaper to pay for hold luggage than a cabin bag, but bag drop and security were surprising quick. I got some breakfast and a Bloody Mary (of course!!) at Cabin, where I have eaten a few times now, and have been impressed with the meals. I ended up sat next to an Irish guy who was also off on a solo adventure, so we got talking about our trips – the great thing about being solo is that you can end up talking to really interesting people that you may have never spoken to before.
I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, and I got the TGV train to Marne-la-Vallee, which is the stop outside the front of Disneyland Paris. Previously I have either got the Eurostar, or flown but got a taxi to Disney. The train couldn’t have been any easier – it is just 1 stop, and took about 10 minutes. I went straight to the park, as my hotel was out of Disney, so I just left my luggage at the designated area, and collected at the end of the day.
The park really didn’t seem that busy, and I managed to get on pretty much every ride (I didn’t visit Hollywood Studios on this day). I think the longest I waited in a queue was 20 minutes – so really reasonable wait times, I was also able to use single rider lines. I found I was able to cram a lot of the longer queue time rides towards the end of the day, as the park really starts to quieten down between about 6pm and the fireworks. I managed to meet Goofy, over in Frontierland, which I absolutely loved! I also caught the Dream and Shine Brighter parade, which had the most catchy song. These parades always make me cry – they are just the happiest thing to watch! I had dinner at the Silver Spur Steakhouse, which I had rebooked, which I highly recommend and was incredibly well priced. I did stay and watch the fireworks here this night, in case I didn’t get the chance on either the Saturday or Sunday.
I did have a bit of a struggle getting to the hotel this evening, as I couldn’t work out the train stops and when I got to the station it looked closed. No Ubers were working, and the Taxi prices were crazy. In the end I paid for a Taxi, which I am kicking myself for because if I had actually looked at stations I would have realised my hotel was 1 stop away, 2 euros, and the trains run all day/night!!!
My hotel was opposite the train station, and 1 stop to Disney. The trains were running around every 10 minutes so it was really easy to get back and forth to the parks. I headed straight over to Hollywood Studios for park opening, and straight into the queue to get a quick picture with Goofy. It was then onto Hollywood Tower of Terror, which is one of the only rides without a single rider queue, so I wanted to get on it whilst the wait time was around 10 minutes. They will call you forwards in the queue as a single rider if they have a space though. One thing to remember about Tower of Terror in Paris, it is NOT the same as Florida! I remember being in Florida and thinking oh gosh the immediate drop is coming, as soon as you get on, but no no in Florida you get the story before you plunge from the sky. Paris is the opposite! In Paris you drop pretty much immediately and it is so much more aggressive than the Florida version!! I got a lot of the rides done over in Hollywood Studios, utilising single rider where I could, and also got a picture with Woody. I watched the Mickey and the Magician show which was just amazing (and also made me cry!!), then headed back across to the main park for the afternoon.
I managed to get on some of the rides, and then headed over to watch the Lion King Show at the Frontierland Theatre. Words cannot describe how amazing this performance was, it was chillingly good. I also watched the parade again, because who can resist a little bop to the ‘Ready for the ride’ song. I then made my way across to Disney Village to have a look around the shop, and grab a cocktail before dinner at the Tex Mex all you can eat. I really like this all you can eat – and again, it is really well priced. It has a Country Western theme which of course is right up my street. I then actually went back into the part of rides some of my favourite rides in the dark – like Indiana Jone and Big Thunder Mountain! It was then 1 easy stop back on the train to the hotel, ready to do it all again the next day!
I caught the train in and again headed straight to Hollywood Studios as I found this easiest to get the rides out the way here with the single rider queues. I went on Tower of Terror first, and rode it a couple of times, then head over to meet and take some pictures with Jessie from Toy Story! I then left Hollywood Studios to spend the day in the main park.
I spent time on the Sunday mainly meeting with the characters, I met See, Captain Hook, Peter Pan, Mickey Mouse and Jafar (who was terrifying!!). The queues for the characters can be quite long, so if you join, be prepared to be there for quite a while! I watched Stars on Parade which was an amazing way to see so many of the characters and then headed over to Captain Jacks for dinner. I have a really mixed review on this restaurant. The restaurant is set against the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and it has really great theming, however I just didn’t find the service very good this time around, and to be honest, for the price, I wasn’t overly keen on the food. Previously I have had amazing experiences here, and I think they were extremely short staffed and struggling, so I took this into account. I left feeling a little deflated, but as the sun was starting to set, walking around the park and getting on the rides as it was turning dark made everything seem magical again!
For the 30th celebration, they were doing Champagne in branded flutes, which I was able to enjoy in front of the castle – this felt absolutely magical, but… at this point the thought of leaving the following day was starting to sink in. I wanted to make the most of my last evening, so I was really soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying every last minute on all the of the rides.
I checked out of my hotel and took my luggage on the train with me, to again leave at the park for my final day. I dropped this off and headed straight over to Hollywood Studios, where riding Tower of Terror was on the cards again. I then went back over to the main park to get back on my favourite rides, before grabbing some lunch and thinking about wrapping up my time in the parks.
I made a slight mistake on this day though, as I had been so confident in the train, I hadn’t overly planned out the train times, which meant the train I had then been planning to get ended up selling out. This meant I had to get the earlier train, which worked out about an hour and a half earlier. This meant I had the realisation whilst tucking into my Mickey shaped pizza, that I actually needed to leave… like right now. I did manage to swing by Lily’s Boutique on Main Street on my way out to pick up a couple of gorgeous mugs I had seen. I then collected my luggage, hopped on the train and headed back to Charles de Gaulle. I ended up being at the airport really quite early because of this train change, and my plane was also delayed slightly, but other than that, I managed to make the most of the time I had!
If you’re thinking of travelling to Disneyland alone, all I can say is …. GO FOR IT!! I didn’t have time to think about being on my own, and it was so nice being able to make all the decisions about what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to plan and spend my time. I had such an amazing break away, and I really managed to reconnect with myself, and gain a bit more confidence again, something that I felt like I lost this year!
TOP TIPS FOR SOLO TRAVEL:
~ If you’re looking to solo travel for the first time, my best advice is to just get stuck in. You could choose a destination you have been to previously, or somewhere that speaks your first language, so that communication is easy if you should need help.
~ Do your research before you go. It’s likely you’ll be able to find a blog online from someone who has solo travelled to your destination – you’ll find this information really helpful. It is useful before leaving to check distances between hotels and landmarks, or areas you want to visit, and also the transport system there – and how much it all costs!
~ You can get travel cards which work really well, however I have had a couple of issues topping mine up once abroad. The whole reason why I took one was to have both cash, and then a card I could top up as required. This is maybe just something to consider – I used the post office travel card – which is the one I had some issues with!
~ If you are travelling on a budget, I would just consider where you want to spend your money. If you will be heading out early and getting back late, you may want to spend less on a hotel and more on experiences, whereas if you are looking to spend more time on the hotel experience, you may want to look for hotels with increased experiences and facilities. I generally do a mixture of the 2 when I travel alone.
~ It’s ok to have a wobble. If this is something new to you, there might be a time during the travel where you feel a little overwhelmed or like you aren’t sure what you are doing. But remember how brave it is to travel alone, and the experience you can have will far outweigh any of those wobbles. Check in with friends or family from home, and just keep going!
~ Something people always mention to me, that I never really think about, is eating out alone. I have done this for years due to my job, so I really don’t feel anxious by it, but I can understand why it may feel daunting. The main thing to remember is that NO ONE CARES. No one is looking at you, no one thinks you’ve been stood up, no one feels sorry for you or is pittying you, literally no one cares. Resturants are used to business people dining alone, so honestly, no one is even looking. If you feel more comfortable, take a book, laptop or iPad to give yourself something to focus on.
If you have the chance to solo travel, or if there is somewhere that you are dying to go that your friends or partner are not keen on … GO ANYWAY!!! Life is for living, don’t put your life on pause or miss out on the amazing experiences you could have, even if that means going alone!!
See you in my next blog Darlings 💖
Lots of love, Lucinda xo
“You must go on adventures to find out where you belong.”– Sue Fitzmaurice
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