Four countries in one week: How I survived my impulsive solo adventure Part. IV
“Cheap Flights, Hostels, & Public Transportation”
Heart Eyes @ Indirect flights
Let’s take a step back. I don’t want to miss any details.
Adrenaline pumping, I decided it was time to plan my trip even after considering the “alone” aspect.
I started pricing direct flights and they were so pricey so I had a great idea, I’d look at all of the indirect flights, see where the common stops were, and plan my own trip by purchasing individual tickets modeling the indirect flights’ layovers (from Philadelphia to Accra).
Not only did I prematurely plan a trip to Africa I had this wild idea to take the most elaborate route to get to Accra; all in the hopes of seeing as much of the world I could before reaching my final destination.
The most attractive and exciting thing about planning this trip was the affordable flights; they seemed so inexpensive at first. I thought I was catching a break but I soon realized (and I think most seasoned travelers could agree) that all that glitters (cheaps flights) ain’t gold (aren’t the best vacation/solo trip ideas).
I am able to admit all of my travel mistakes ( but there’s light at the end of this tunnel, I promise).
After deciding Africa was a no-go I was stuck with all of the individual flights I ended up purchasing. I chalked up the non refundable money for the flight to Africa and I decided to continue planning a trip that would include the “layover/pit stop” flights I purchased (the Hopper app displayed so many flight options including long layovers in London so originally I thought I could enjoy London all in ONE day; yeah, that would have been enough time to explore (insert rolling eye emoji).
Since I was no longer going to Accra the money I would have spent on the visa/vaccines were now free for fun in London, Portugal, and Paris.
I was a bit relieved I didn’t continue with my original plan because I would have spent all of my money to just get there and probably would not have had a good time…
I figured “ok I’ll still take that bus ride and explore a bit of Canada, go to London, Portugal (for a day trip) and go back to London”. Paris was the last minute addition to my itinerary and I’m so glad about that (click here to find out why)!
I started researching sightseeing activities for London, and again, the cost started adding up between accommodations, spending money (FOOD & transportation), and of course, everyone should have disposable (“oops/accident”) money.
PubLove, Corujinha & Safestay @ Elephant & Castle
After many hotel confirmations and cancellations, I finally settled on the cheapest option: HOSTELS.
For my first night’s stay (London, England) I stayed at PubLove; a hostel not conveniently located close to Buckingham Palace. This hostel was pretty bad; I hated that it was literally on the second floor of a Pub and that it wasn’t clean.
I opted for a mixed dorm and that was a HUGE mistake. I stayed with smelly, loud, and drunk guys. The linens weren’t clean so overall I gave this hostel two stars (the two stars are only because the staff were extremely friendly and let me check in early); I’m glad this was only for one night.
For my second night’s stay (Portugal), I stayed at the Corujinha Hostel and I will gladly rate them five stars. The Hostel was extremely clean, had an awesome common room full of musical instruments and TVs, and the staff was very helpful. I ran out of Euros toward the end of my night and only had twenty American dollars. Currency exchange near this Hostel was closed and wouldn’t have opened until 8:30am (and my flight was at 6:00am); if it weren’t for the nice owner of this Hostel I would’ve missed my flight (not having enough money (Euros) for a taxi). I am eternally grateful that he took my American dollars in exchange for Euros! He even called my taxi for me early the next day and I got to the airport just fine. If you ever read this please know you were such a blessing!
I was happy to get back to London (on the third day of my trip and after my failed adventures in Portugal) & for the duration of my London stay I occupied a dorm in the Safestay @ Elephant & Castle hostel which was eh, just ok. I had some trouble finding it at first (thanks a lot Google maps) but once I located it, it was easy to find from the Elephant & Castle tube station.
Check-in was fast and easy, but once I settled into my room and I noticed it was extremely hot and I was unable to adjust the temperature. The room was extremely hot and this made it hard to sleep…It was to the point the window in the room needed to stay wide open (this was inconvenient when it rained).
Anyway, I had two other roommates who were from France (one guy and one girl) and they were semi-friendly. When I said “hello” only the guy spoke back to me. What did raise some concerns was when I opted for an all-female dorm and this guy showed up with all of his luggage. When I asked the front desk to confirm my reservation that confirmed that I opted for a mixed dorm. I checked my confirmation and it said otherwise…this may have been an error on booking.com but either way they were booked and it was nothing I could really do about it.
Since I didn’t spend too much time in the room, I wasn’t concerned with making friends with my roommates so no harm no foul…also I purchased luggage with a built-in lock so I was fine with my luggage being left in the room unattended.
I kept everything valueable on me (even when I slept). I had a fanny pack attached to me 24/7 with my passport, money, room keys, and phone because I would be damned if I had them stolen everything else was replaceable. I had some unusual dormmates although that isn’t the Hostel’s fault.
I gained another roomate later that day who convinced me she was a vampire; she was always sleeping no matter what time I came into the room (whether it be 10am or 10pm), then around 3am each night for five nights I would hear her get up slam some shit around and leave the room. I didn’t see her face until the day she checked out and that’s OK and all I just think she was a vampire!
I liked that area; this particular hostel was located conveniently close to the tube (Elephant & castle station) which allowed easy access to central London. I spent most of my time traveling on the tube. I would encourage anyone traveling to invest in an Oyster card. If you load 20 pounds you should be good for at least 5 days of traveling (bus & train) and this is much cheaper than buying day travel cards each day.
I ended my adventures in Paris; I stayed with family for the weekend and in a nutshell, I saved a ton but not staying in hotels over the course of my trip!
Paris’ train system was pretty simple to follow just like London. Although everything was in French I had a cousin that spoke English and she gave me explicit instructions on how to travel from the airport to her house (a two hour trip from CDG airport to Viroflay); this trip only cost ~15 euros vs. a 100 euro taxi ride.
I really don’t see myself traveling anywhere and paying 50-100 euros, pounds, or dollars, for any taxi ride. Oh, and Uber works around the world but all of the Uber gift cards & credits that I stocked up on didn’t work AT ALL!!! Thanks, Uber for failing me…
Sometimes you can think you have everything planned out and realize you are not as prepared as you think. I’m here to tell you that this is OK because you can improvise! When in doubt, ASK and just take a train!!!
I feel so accomplished traveling throughout the world while using public transportation; it definitely gave me an unforgettable experience, makes me feel so independent and travel savy, and I have beautiful pictures while traveling through cities; what an awesome way to experience the culture!
Traveling solo can be a bit scary but it is a growing and learning opportunity; I think it’s what living is all about…
You don’t have to take my word for anything you read…prove me wrong! Get out the and create your own adventures and then tell me all about it! If you have something you would love to share please don’t hesitate to contact #youngloudproud: firstname.lastname@example.org