Posts tagged “traveling the world solo

Four countries in one week: How I survived my impulsive solo adventure Part. I (“Ghana was a FAIL- why do vaccines and travel visas cost so much?”)

“I’m going to Africa and I ain’t going back and forth with yall!”

My impulsive, solo, trip started with just an idea: Investing in myself will be my top priority and I would kick this idea off my by committing to international travel.

It was my birthday and I wanted to celebrate myself like I never had before so I thought “what better way to celebrate (my 27th trip around the sun) than to plan a trip to Accra, Ghana 🇬🇭

I decided I would travel to West Africa which was a no brainer because I have roots there; my father was born and raised in Ghana and I wanted to explore his old stomping grounds, possibly meet some of my family, and overall get a feel for where I come from.

What would be so terrifying about traveling to Ghana solo?

It is completely beautiful and I don’t care what the narrative may look like through mainstream America’s lenses…

I wanted to find out all about Africa’s beauty for myself (and solo if need be!).

I figured if I waited around for other family/ friends I could possibly lose my nerve…there’s no time like the present…right?

No time to answer that! I just began booking!

SHE did it & so can I!!

While being so inspired by the many female travel bloggers/IG influencers making their mark all over the world (like “@thecatchmeifyoucan”) I convinced myself I could do the same thing.

This is so true HOWEVER, planning, researching, networking, and just being honest with myself would have been key and it took a few mistakes for me to realize this.

I dedicated the past couple of years to facing my fears and accomplishing so much; I was about to cross out another “need to do” up off of my list (or so I thought)…

RESEARCH is key

I began “researching” and I started accumulating some of the “must haves” every solo female traveler should have.

I had gained all of the materials but none of the actual knowledge it would take to carry out a successful trip to Africa.

The materials included (but weren’t limited to): an awesome carry on suitcase (with a built in TSA approved lock, a great sized traveling backpack, rain proof slip on sneaker protectors, Anker power bank, travel adapter, new digital camera and mount, selfie stick, travel SIM cards, and a variety of apps downloaded on my phone to help with everything else (what’s app, hopper, WiFi map, cash app, money exchange, google translate, hotel tonight, etc.).

Before I knew it I was in the hopper app finalizing the flight arrangements because I set set, right?

WRONG!

Yes, I would have the physical things I needed for traveling, but the most important question was “could I actually meet the requirements to enter into the country?”

Caught up in excitement, I was overlooking key elements, like securing my safety all in the name of trying to live my best life.

I didn’t consider all of the vaccines until I contacted Penn’s travel medicine and looked into the type of travel visa I needed.

I told the angel and demon on my shoulders “I’ll be fine” and “I ain’t going back n forth with Y’all” (in my best Lil Duval impression).

Without doing the ACTUAL RESEARCH needed to actually be prepared for Africa I booked an expensive flight…

If you’re catching on to how irresponsible this trip was about to be you’re keeping up.

My biggest mistake was not doing enough research first! If I had, I would’ve realized in addition to paying almost $400 for the flight, I needed a visa to travel to Ghana (~$280), and needed to get pumped full of vaccines (averaging over $300).

At this rate, I needed to spend at least a month out there in Accra & Kumasi (and not just a week of vacation time I saved up.

For someone who was balling on a budget, I sure started off by wasting a TON of money I already didn’t have…and needed to dish out more if I wanted to step foot on the continent.

I was honest with myself and admitted I just couldn’t afford this trip (not at this point in time).

I would’ve spent all of my money just trying to get there and one week wouldn’t be enough time at all to enjoy it all!

I was going to keep this trip a secret but as discouraged as I was becoming I decided to talk to my mom about it.

I was so reluctant about that because I knew she would freak out at the idea of me going anywhere solo let alone the place where she had the worst experience of her life.

My parents honeymooned in Ghana with back in 1990 and my mom was so homesick and out of her element so I just knew she would be totally biased against me going.

Anyway, I decided to share my dilemma with her I started off with “mom, I booked a crazy trip” and smiled reluctantly.

She asked where and when I told her she said she was sad and didn’t want me to go but I already knew that.

She said it’s not like it’s Cali it’s Africa lol okkk I realized that I started explaining the money situation because I value her opinion.

Finally, I decided I wouldn’t go all the way but stop in some places where I didn’t need any vaccines or visas, just my passport which I had and was eager to get it stamped.

GHANA WAS A FAIL (for now…but with better planning I’m definitely taking a crack at it again)!!Hopefully I’ll go when I turn 30!!

We all make mistakes and sometimes they cost us big time. I’m thankful I listened to my gut and my mom (and went back and forth lol) because I could’ve spent all of my money just to get to Africa and I probably would’ve had a terrible time (being short on money which isn’t a good look!).

For more on my impulsive solo adventures, and to see what four countries I actually ended up in after this FAIL, continue on in this series!

Click here to visit Part II of “Four countries in one week: How I survived my impulsive solo adventures”

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Four countries in one week: How I survived my impulsive solo adventure Part. IV “Cheap Flights, Hostels, & Public Transportation”

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: proudloudyoung@gmail.com

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