Hello All--First Time Traveler

Oct 16th, 2013, 12:41 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 2
Hello All--First Time Traveler

Greetings!

My name is Izzy! I live in California. *waves*

So after delaying traveling for quite some time now, I finally decided to take a trip to Paris a couple of days ago. I'm dead set on this decision and I'm really looking forward to it.

Now to say that I am completely clueless as to what to do is a massive understatement. As I stated in the title, this will be the first time I travel internationally. (well sort of...my family is from Mexico & I have traveled there by plane quite a few times but I was always under adult supervision so I should say I'm a first time traveler as an adult. *shrugs*) The only details I have about the trip is that I want to go December 2014, I wanna be there for at least a week and from the looks of it, I will be going by myself.

So pretty much my question is...where do I start? what do I do? what do I need to take? how much money should I take for myself? Is it weird that a single girl wants to go to Paris by herself? SO MANY QUESTIONS!!

Anyone that can help me get started on planning this is more than appreciated!

-Izzy
IzzyCh05 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 12:50 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,921
You start by going to a travel bookstore and browse through the travel guides on Paris.

You do not take money with you but your credit card and ATM card, forewarning your bank that these will be used abroad during the dates specified.
Michael is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 12:56 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 696
I'm a solo traveler to Paris myself. My first thing to do was get a couple of guide books. What was that that "I" liked. Found them and narrowed them down. You're a year away so don't get into a panic.

Set a budget...if your budget allows, you can stay at the George V for thousands of Euro's or Fodorites have recommendations for more budget conscious rates. An apartment or a hotel is a choice. (For a first timer, I'd suggest a hotel).

Paris is a great City and I think very doable solo. GREAT FIRST FORAY to Europe choice!

Get a credit card and an ATM Card...ATM's are everywhere so you don't need to carry cash, just have the money in your bank. (I have 2 ATM's because I'm a-retentive and worry about if one doesn't work, I have backup.)

I'll let others suggest the best time to start looking at the airlines..certainly not a year in advance I wouldn't think...

When you know or can plan how much your budget is ... THEN you can get the answers you need.
sueciv is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 12:57 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,905
You'll need a passport.
tomboy is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 12:57 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,066
>> Is it weird that a single girl wants to go to Paris by herself?<<

It would be weird if you didn't want to go.

For a full week - consider renting an apartment so you can have more room to lounge in, go to the local market to purchase a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, and have some meals at the apt. Lots of "take home" options in Paris in addition to the restaurants.

I suggest that you get the Michelin and Fodors guide books to Paris & read them. There are so many diverse things to do & see in Paris that nobody can assume what your interests are and suggest some things to do. We don't do museums with paintings - so we've never visited the Picasso museum or sections of the Louvre. We have, however, visited dozens of other museums in Paris.

Many many options in Paris.

Spend an evening with the guide books.

December is our favorite time to go to Paris.

Lots of Christmas stuff to see - decorations on the grand department stores, booths along the Champs Elysees, no tree leaves obscuring views of the pretty architecture, even outside cafes.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Oct 16th, 2013, 01:08 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,212
<< where do I start? >>

Go to your local library and check out guide books on Paris (get city-specific guides as they have more information than country guides). Read the introductory sections as there is lots of information on traveling and culture then read about the sights.

Get a map of Paris (Streetwise are good) and use post it flags to mark those sights you want to see. That will give you an idea of how to plan your days - group things in the same area into a daily itinerary.

<< what do I need to take? >>

Warm and water proof clothing. electronic adapters, credit and ATM cards. Don't pack a steamer trunk as Paris hotel rooms are small. Leave the hair dryer/flat or curling iron at home so you don't fry them or blow the hotel circuits.

<< how much money should I take for myself? >>

None. Get Euros at the airport when you arrive using your ATM card.

<< Is it weird that a single girl wants to go to Paris by herself? >>

Thousands of women go to Paris on their own. How weird could it be.
adrienne is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 01:27 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 947
You've gotten good advice so far. For me, narrowing down where I was going to stay first and foremost freed me up to plan and research the fun stuff. So, I'd suggest learning about how Paris is laid out and where you want to stay. I liked being in one of the more central neighborhoods and have mostly stayed in the Odeon section of the 6th. But there are lots of great neighborhood and hotels within each to fit most budgets.

I also came up with a list of restaurants that sounded good and within my budget. Paris has an amazing number of dining options and it's easy to get overwhelmed if you don't have at least a loose plan.

Figuring out the Metro and how to get to and from the airport are also good things to understand in advance. From there, it's mostly just a question of figuring out what you want to see and do, learning a few key phrases if you don't otherwise know French, and learning a few customs. Paris, in my view, is a relatively easy city in which to be a tourist.

As for traveling alone there, I took several solo trips there myself. I have so many happy memories of those trips. I went there on my honeymoon and love my husband though I do, I missed the feeling I had as a solo traveler. Those trips were very liberating.

Have a blast!
indyhiker is online now  
Oct 16th, 2013, 01:44 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,777
It's really easy. People make too big a deal about this stuff.

You need:
1. A current passport
2. A plane ticket (look online and book with the airlines that has the best route, times, prices for a round-trip ticket to Paris from your home airport)
3. Make a hotel reservation somewhere central (the 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th arrondisements/neighborhoods are good) by reading for recommendations here on Fodor's and Trip Advisor.

Voila!

That's it. That's all you need. Everything else you can figure out after you arrive. You don't need to plan every single activity and meal in advance (like some people here prefer to do).
suze is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 01:44 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,777
It's really easy. People make too big a deal about this stuff.

You need:
1. A current passport
2. A plane ticket (look online and book with the airlines that has the best route, times, prices for a round-trip ticket to Paris from your home airport)
3. Make a hotel reservation somewhere central (the 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th arrondisements/neighborhoods are good) by reading for recommendations here on Fodor's and Trip Advisor.

Voila!

That's it. That's all you need. Everything else you can figure out after you arrive. You don't need to plan every single activity and meal in advance (like some people here prefer to do).
suze is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 02:23 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,066
>>plan every single...meal in advance (like some people here prefer to do<<

We spend 2 months vacationing in France most years. We've been doing this since '99. Before that, for 20 years we've spent usually 3 weeks in Europe.

When we get to a new area (Paris, Dordogne, etc), I always have reservations for dinner for the first 2-3 nights. Nice dinners are important to us, so we don't want to be "checking out" restaurants/menues the afternoon we arrive when we're perhaps jet-lagged. On day 3 & beyond I reserve a day or two in advance. Many restaurants are closed on Sunday and/or Monday - but you can always find a place open in Paris.

Also, when we arrive in a new area, I have the first day planned - usually getting familiar with the immediate neighborhood. Beyond day one, I have "trips" planned - usually in the same general region to reduce transit time. I also note which days places are closed (like museums) and their opening hours. I pick & choose which "trip" I'll go on that day based on my mood & perhaps the weather. Almost always I eliminate the most ambitious/longest transit "trip". A few years ago we were in Paris for 3 weeks in Sept/Oct. I had several day-trips planned for outside of Paris - Versailles, Fontainbleu, Chartres, etc. I ditched them all - Paris was too much fun. And this was about our 10 trip to Paris and our 7th to 10th week there over the past 27 years.

After 30 years vacationing in Europe every year - I have learned from my mistakes to always have a general plan of what you want to do & see. On our first couple of "no plan" trips to Paris, we just wandered around - often in circles going through the same areas which we were familiar with. "Wandering around" is fun - but plan where you want to wander and you'll experience more stuff. Last July we had a half-day in Paris at the end of a 5 1/2 week trip to France. We went to the Canal St Martin area and just wandered around. Then I mapped out a circular bus route (3 bus connections or so) through the 10th, 9th, 8th, 1st, 4th, then back to our hotel near the Gare de Lyon.

We always arrive with at least 300 euros in our pockets. We have experienced ATM strikes, our ATM card not working (inform your card issuer in advance that you'll be in France), and other obstacles to getting cash. Plus I really don't want to bother with getting cash at the airport - I just want to get in the taxi or get the rental car & go.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Oct 16th, 2013, 03:05 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,777
I don't disagree that advanced planning can help people better get what they want out of their trip.

But for a freaked-out first time planner, my point is that kind of detailed planning is not absolutely necessary to going to Paris.

Passport/money, plane ticket, hotel reservation... GO!
suze is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 03:19 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,066
>>But for a freaked-out first time planner, my point is that kind of detailed planning is not absolutely necessary to going to Paris.<<

I think "freaked-out" is all the more reason to plan in advance & become familiar with the turf and know what your options are in the quiet stress-free comfort of your home.

We were in Budapest 3 year ago, and we spent our time sightseeing and then relaxing at the B&B before dinner. The other couple there spent all their "relaxing" time on their PC trying to determine where to do/what to see. They were still doing it when we left for dinner in the evening.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Oct 16th, 2013, 04:12 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 5,082
As a first timer, use a hotel. The front desk staff will be there for answering questions, help making reservations, for general advice, as well as acting as backup if you have an emergency.

Take a half-day bus tour of the sights so you will be oriented, or do hop-on-hop-off.

Use guide books and the internet to make lists of the things you might want to do. Locate the places on a map. Do things near each other. Change plans as your mood suits. Take your time. You won't do everything and some things will not be on your list. You can always do a second trip.

Pack light. Buy what you forgot to pack and call it souvenirs.
AJPeabody is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 05:17 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 475
While I have not done it myself, I know people who rave about
the day or evening boat tours on the Seine. I think this would help you to organize your stay.

I also recommend that after doing your research and determining the areas of the city that you would like to see, take a walking tour of one of these areas. We used Paris Walks
last year and found it to be very informative about the Marais.

Pack light Pack light Pack light! Enjoy!
wanttogo is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 05:30 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Nothing weird about wanting to go. But I wouldn;t do it in December. Midwinter, cold and rain or snow, gets dark very early and many sites are open shorter winter hours.

If I had a choice I would do a week in May, when the weather is gorgeous, days are long, and the trees and the trees and gardens are at their best. That makes 1 or 2 day trips into the country a good idea - seeing Versailles and the gardens/fountains are fantastic.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 06:06 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,989
Hi IzzyCH05,

Welcome to Fodors. You will find many solo travelers to Paris on this forum. May I ask, why December? Is this the only time available to you? Granted the holiday spirit and decorations will add dimension to your trip, but don’t forget the very short daylight hours and unpredictable weather at that time of year.

In any case, I would not recommend an apartment for a first timer. Suppose you have a problem with the key, the utilities, or other mundane matters? Better to secure a hotel room with full services of a “front desk” where you can ask for advice, suggestions for dining, easiest Metro routes etc. Fodorites will be very happy to make suggestions about hotels. Most prefer those in the lower arrondissments nearest to the River Seine for first timers.

Many of us on Fodors. have traveled solo to Paris. Check out trip reports. Just remember that Paris is a great destination which takes multiple trips to even begin to know. No doubt, this will be your first trip of many. Please let us know what you decide…
latedaytraveler is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 10:46 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 2
Thank you everyone so far for your input.

I'm more concerned about the getting there process than the being there part. I haven't really thought of an itinerary yet. Should I decide to do one, it'd be closer to the day. But mostly right now I wanna plan the trip to and back and again figure out the stay closer to the day.

I have been told about renting an apartment cause from what I understand it's cheaper, but I didn't think it was such a good idea considering like most have said, it's my first time there. So I'd much rather prefer the hotel.

After this semester is over, I will spend a day at the bookstore looking through guides and books about Paris.

I chose December for various reasons:
1. I have seen pictures of Paris during the holidays and since Christmas is my favorite holiday, I decided I wanted to combine the two.
2. I have a weekend getaway to Vegas sometime between March to May next year so I wanted to have enough time to save for Vegas and for Paris without them being too close together.
3. I want to add up my vacation hours at work.
4. December is when the Fall semester ends at school.

Another budget question: Flight and hotel to the side, what would be the ideal amount to take with me?

Also, forgive my ignorance but what's a steamer trunk?

Thanks again everyone!
IzzyCh05 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 10:56 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 21
It's not weird for a girl to go alone as long as you're going to enjoy your trip.

From suze's reply: "Passport/money, plane ticket, hotel reservation... GO!" That's what you need to prepare, and be sure to get a travel/map guide if you need directions. Bring additional (valid) ID for identification purposes and some warmers that you'll need because it'll be cold in Paris in December. For a place to stay, if you have options to stay anywhere near the place you want to go in Paris, you can book an apartment at Lodjee - http://www.lodjee.com/. I heard that the rental service has many vacation rentals available in Paris for Christmas season.
marartin is offline  
Oct 17th, 2013, 01:25 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,881
You've got a year. Spend plenty of time, especially days of dull weather or after a stressful work day, just browsing travel guides, maps and wider literature about Paris, its history and daily life.

There's a wealth of resources on the internet about both the immediate and everyday things (like how to use the metro, or how the different arrondissements and districts are laid out and what the atmosphere is like) and many other aspects of Paris - get Googling, and use Youtube as well to get a feel of what Paris looks and sounds like to different people.

You can use these to combine the daydreaming with the practical planning with maps, etc. Might be worth setting yourself some planning deadlines - best time to book a flight or hotel for the best price, for example - but once those are fixed, don't try to tie yourself down to a rigid itinerary for each day. Allow yourself time to wander, sit and people-watch. Bear in mind the daylight hours will be short at that time of year.

And also spend the time to make sure you're got some basic French vocabulary and pronunciation practice in. Remember to say your "Bonjour", "S'il vous plait" and "Merci", at the very least.

Then you shouldn't feel at all weird when you get there. Lots of single French women live in Paris, after all. On which note, in December you may find yourself accosted by a fireman trying to sell you their charity calendar; if he's in uniform, it's not a scam or a danger but the calendar may make a handy souvenir.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Oct 17th, 2013, 02:36 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,212
<< Also, forgive my ignorance but what's a steamer trunk? >>

I'm surprised you didn't google this. It's an expression, meaning a very large suitcase. Some people believe that you have to pack every piece of clothing you own for every trip. A steamer trunk is what people used to use for trans Atlantic boat crossings when they wore several outfits each day and dressed formally in the evenings.
adrienne is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:56 AM.