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Inspiration, Travel

How to Enjoy Cities Solo

I’ve just got back from a great two weeks in L.A, a place that’s rapidly becoming something of a new home in my heart… I’ll be doing a diary post soon with lots of the places I was discovering and favourite spots I was revisiting, but in the meantime I wanted to write a post on enjoying places solo as it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

I was in L.A with my boyfriend for his work, and while I’m not living alone, I was spending plenty of time during the days by myself. Now, I’m not a natural fan of alone time while travelling. I love ‘me’ time at home, in my house but truth be told, having dinner alone out in a restaurant still brings me out in hives aged 30. However over the years thanks to my job mostly, I’ve spent lots of time in cities by myself and slowly learnt how to embrace it… From a disastrous work trip to Italy six years ago, my first proper experience of travelling solo, to spending multiple trips in Paris, New York and L.A by myself, I’ve learnt a few things along the way to get the most out of a city if you find yourself spending some time alone in a city that isn’t home.

Whether it’s 24 hours before heading home from a work trip, or you’ve just moved to a new city for 6 months or forever, I hope this might help a little. 

Walk Everywhere

Ok this isn’t always possible in L.A that’s for sure (beware of those hills in East L.A is all I can say after almost fainting at the top of some surprise death stairs), but I still walked around my neighbourhood (Venice) as much as possible. Instead of seeking out a Pilates class (I mean, I don’t anyway but you might), take time walking from A to B instead. It’s the best way to get the lay of the land, discover streets or cafes you might not otherwise and beat jet lag at the same time. Pretty much the only cardio I get is making sure I get at leat 10K steps in a day (my phone has a pedometer) and in L.A I would walk down to Santa Monica and back every other day pretty much. Obviously stay safe, don’t walk through places that might not be safe or at night alone. But during the day, it’s my favourite mode of transport. Plus in Venice, you can walk around the canals or the head down the beach, both great for pictures and peaceful alone time.  In New York and central London, you can spend a whole day wandering, getting food and drink on the go and popping into stores along the way. Also in L.A, hikes like Griffith Park Observatory and Runyon Canyon are pretty well populated, it’s easy to do them alone in the comfort of strangers and make pals with dogs (and people) along the way.

Work Remotely 

I’m never very good at this but it is a great way to feel more a part of a city whilst still working. Take your laptop (or a book or magazine if you’re switching off) and set up camp in a brunch spot/cafe you’ve been wanting to go to. It’s a nice way to get some emails done while working and in somewhere like L.A you’re likely to meet people to chat to too. Much more of an American thing than Europe (you won’t see this in Paris pretty much anywhere), but it’s definitely a great way to get breakfast or juice somewhere you’ve been wanting to try if you’re flying solo. I even get geeky about it and google something like ‘best cafes to work remotely in xxx’ and use resources like Timeout or L.A eater to narrow it down.

Head to the Beach 

Ok this is L.A specific I concede, but it’s a pretty easy way to enjoy the weather, get some rays and people watch all at once if you happen to find yourself somewhere sunny. It’s not that crazily expensive to Uber out to Malibu too and get a takeaway sandwich from the end of Malibu Pier at Malibu Farm to sit of neighbouring Surf Rider beach for a few hours. Take a hat, a book or a phone loaded up with podcasts and soak up some sun by yourself for the afternoon.

Set Up Girl Dates 

Don’t be afraid to look up those long lost friends or the new ‘only on instagram’ pals in the real world. I’ve met some real life friends of friends after they reached out online and have done it myself if I’m in a new place and have time to kill. Just don’t take it personally if not everyone has the time; you’re a visitor whereas they’re going about their real, daily life and chores. It might come to nothing, or it might lead to a new lifelong friend in a new city. Worst comes to worst, you have someone to chat to over coffee or lunch. I always ask local friends for their favourite spots too so I can add them to my list.

To Market, To Market 

Shopping is of course an easy solo activity and can easily take up a whole day if you have the time and credit card limit (note, never endorsing spending beyond your means but you get me). But flea markets or farmers markets are a great way to get to know a city better and the good one’s are often on ‘must-do’ lists too. From Rosebowl and Santa Monica farmer’s markets in L.A, to Portobello in London and Sunday bric-a-brac markets in Paris along the Seine or in Pigalle. I love doing stuff like this by myself even out of choice sometimes. Plus farmer’s markets really make you get a feel for living in a place and buying fruit and vegetables for your Airbnb is like playing make believe for a morning.

If In Doubt, Takeaway

If you want to eat somewhere and you really can’t stomach sitting alone, get it to takeaway. I love the idea of being empowered and sitting alone outside for lunch or dinner (I did it all of two times in L.A), but I just haven’t reached that point of mature enlightenment just yet. Instead, try ordering food to takeaway or better yet, get it delivered to your hotel or Air bnb. If I’m away for work somewhere and have zero dinner plans or am jet lagged on the first night, we’ll fall back on this plan if we’re are in an apartment. Equally, taking an Acai bowl or a breakfast smoothie to the beach in L.A is a great way to feel like you’re in holiday mode all by yourself. In the states, Chowhound and Uber Eats have tonnes of good places while in London and Paris, there’s Deliveroo.

Art Schmart 

The first time I ever went to New York, not that long ago either, I had a raging cold, it was minus 100 but I was determined to see the city. Me and my enormous parka took ourselves uptown and I walked around the entire MET while dosing myself up on day nurse. The first time I ever went to Paris too, my friend who I was staying with had to work so I went to the Louvre by myself followed by Shakespeare & Co and walking down the Seine. Galleries and exhibitions are a great way to get a culture fix, get inspired and not have to talk to anyone, especially on a rainy, cold day. And yes, even L.A has the latter….

Go Easy on Yourself

Lastly, don’t feel the pressure to cram everything in or seek out company 24/7. Enjoy those little moments having room service in your hotel room, or doing emails in a different environment and just getting wander around a new city. It’s cool to just chill in your hotel and have a bath with Netflix rather than hitting up an amazing restaurant. It’s moments like these I’m sure our mothers and friend’s with kids would tell us they wish they had more of from time to time so relish it rather than race for it to be over. I try and remind myself of this when I start putting pressure on myself to do, do, do in new places rather than just enjoying what I want to do in that moment and sometimes, that’s sweet FA. 

 

If you have any key travelling alone stories or tips, pop them in the comments for everyone else….

Grey jeans | Citizens of Humanity 
Tee | The Great 
Woven bag | Vintage Balenciaga via Vestiaire Collective
Shoes | Mari Giudcelli 
Woven leather flats | St Agni
Shades | Folk and Frame 
Polka dot silk shirt | Realisation Par
Flip flops | Havaianas 
Blue jeans with embroidery | Sandy Liang
Stripy top | Bec & Bridge 
Multi coloured bag | vintage Chanel
Striped bikini | Faithfull the Brand 
Beige shorts | Zulu and Zephr
Black top with holes on sleeves | Chloe 
Woven basket box bag | Wood Grey 
Grey cashmere track top | Zoe Jordan 
Black denim skirt | ReDone
Trainers | Veja 

Ph. by myself and Scott Leon 

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Comments

  • This is a great guide! Museums and galleries are my favourite for some me-time, bonus points if I have my headphones in. And walking too!

    LEXI LIKES

  • I’m the same way – I like to be solo at home, but when it comes to travel, not so much. I love the tip with meeting people from online, and the shopping one (I don’t really like to shop with others because I want to go my pace)! So helpful! When it comes to seeing something cultural or artsy though, I still feel like I’d like to share that with someone, so for me, those would be difficult. Thanks for the great tips!

    Natalie | http://nataliesalchemy.wordpress.com

  • I love all outfits are so beautiful, your style its fantastic and so inspiring
    New post:http://thepinkpineappleblog.blogspot.com/2017/08/haute-couture-street-style-2.html
    Blog.http://thepinkpineappleblog.blogspot.com/

  • The Gold Lipstick

    Absolutely love it!

    Mireia from TGL
    https://thegoldlipstick.com/

  • Mia

    Great post as always. Your writing is such a pleasure to read. Anyhow just a though; who takes the pictures of you if you are alone? Do you ask people in the street or use a selfie stick / tripod?
    Do you still like the Olympus pen and use it? I am asking because I really want to get a new camera but don’t want to waste money on something which won’t come out with me much. I’ve done that too many times with cameras lately; the iPhone somehow is almost just as good.., and thanks for such insightful blogging!

    • Thanks Mia. Like I said, I wasn’t totally alone on this trip :) This is also my job, creating content for my site and instagram, so I work with photographers to shoot projects and we will snap a few things along the way while getting coffee etc too. I’m way too embarrassed to ask people in the street haha and selfie sticks are definitely not my bag. I love love love the Olympus Pen and use all the time for travel photos. It’s great that it’s reasonably compact but you can change lenses too… If you can afford it, I really recommend the Pen-F. It’s pricier than others but is really beautiful and has great functionality. I also use a Canon 5D for most of the outfit photos I post on here and I have a little Olympus Mujji film camera I’m really enjoying too. Hope that helps! xx

  • Catarina Mira

    Yap, same. I would love to be able to embrace that “eat pray and love” attitude but I’m miles away from it. Still, those are great tips.

    http://www.catarinamira.com

  • Maddy Anderson

    No way! That’s my vintage shop with the American flag/behind the green cadillac! Would love to have you come by next time ur in town! Looks like u did Venice well tho:) Thx for sharing this post, needed it before my first solo shopping trip next week!! XX M https://www.instagram.com/madlyvintage/

  • Dean Baker

    Love checking out your blog for fashion ideas and tips, thanks for the share!
    Dean

  • All the looks are so cute, and your denim collection is the best !

    http://www.pardonmyobsession.com/

  • Laura Munday

    I know what you mean about not feeling comfortable about eating out alone. I have travelled alone quite a lot mainly just because I wanted to go to certain places and no one wanted to come with me. And, while I love pleasing myself, I do miss out on those moments of stopping off for a drink or some food with someone else and tended to just get food from the supermarket. In fact, one of the very few times I ate dinner alone was in Hanoi, and the waiters looked at me like I was the saddest girl in the world.

    I would recommend staying in hostels to meet people, plus you can chat to the people working there for advice. The first time I went to Madrid I went alone and I had a great time wandering around the city and seeing what I wanted to see, and I met a nice group of boys in my hostel. The second time I went with two friends and didn’t enjoy it as much as all they wanted to do was eat and drink. Walking tours and day trips are also a great way to find fellow tourists. I met a really nice group in Seville on a walking tour and ended up going out for dinner with them later, and then in Porto I went on a walking tour and then went on a night out with the tour guide and his housemates.

    Travelling alone is definitely a different kind of fun but it’s better than going with people who aren’t a good fit or not going at all.

  • Julia Deutschen

    It defenitely takes some confidence to seat on a table all by yourself in a restaurant, but once you do it, it’s actually quite nice and relaxing.
    I went to spain last year for 10 days alone and I loved it. I visited Valencia and Barcelona and explored both cities by foot – something I haven’t done before that excessively, but I enjoyed it so much.

    xx Julia

    http://www.talesofjules.com/

  • Katrina Luder

    I’ve travelled alone SO much and absolutely love this article. I think it can be daunting to sit in a restaurant or beach completely alone but once you realise that no ones actually staring at you funny, it’s absolutely fine!

    I think my main solo tips are:
    1) if you feel too scared to strike up a convo with new people – ask for the wifi password – i’ve had some amazing convos in new places just from that one simple sneaky Q – probs had data on my phone anyway haha
    2) Don’t keep your head down – smile :) it’s pretty contageous

    Great post and AMAAAAAZIIIINNGGG photos as per <3 x

  • Ciccollina

    I used to have terrible social anxiety and thought I would never, ever travel alone, but finally I decided to go to Berlin for five days just because I was desperate to check it out and no-one was available to come with me. All my solo-traveller friends told me that the most important thing is to go on the walking tour right away (usually offered at hostels), so I did that, and found people to hang with on my very first day. Turns out lots of people travel alone, and while not everyone wants to hang out and go to museums together, almost everyone wants someone to eat with!

    I recommend getting a private room in a hostel so that you can escape and have some privacy, but staying at a hostel for the social aspect. And yes, do the walking tour. You’ll make friends, learn heaps of cool stuff about the city you’re visiting, and get your bearings a little bit.

    After braving Berlin, I did Barcelona and Paris solo, and realised….I actually kind of love travelling by myself! You can do everything exactly how and when you want to, it’s super empowering. My number one tip is to download a bunch of Woody Allen movie soundtracks (Vicky Christine Barcelona, Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s Movie Music) and listen to that while you walk around. I promise the music will provide your adventures with a whimsical soundtrack and you will feel super dreamy and chill as you listen.