I love challenging myself and doing the very thing that scares me most to prove to self that nothing is impossible. I loveeeeee traveling but I’d never done it alone, I always had family or friends with me. However, this time around I decided to take a vacation and travel to London, England by myself. If I’m being candid, I was extremely anxious, nervous and somewhat scared that I’d get lost, wouldn’t be able to figure the "Tube" (the subway system), or that I’d be bored or feel lonely. At the end of my vacation, I found myself giving other tourists directions to places, lol that’s how you know you made it!
I made it to London and explored the city without a single hitch. I made friends within the first 5 minutes of arriving at hostel- (oh yeah, my germ-a-phobe a** REALLLLLLYYY stepped out of her comfort zone) stayed at a hostel for the first time as well. It was an interesting and positive experience and I’m open to the ideas of hostels now lol. I'll make sure to talk more about this later in the post and also include the website to search for hostels worldwide!
I absolutely loved London, the weekend I visited was an eventful one, it was Queen Elizabeth's 92nd birthday which they celebrated by shooting countless cannons in her honor, and it was also The London Marathon which was pretty cool to witness! The city of London reminded me a lot of New York, but a cooler more cleaner version lol. Everyone I encountered was so kind and pleasant, they were always willing to help or chat. Aside from walking around and admiring all of the beautiful architecture, riding the subway system, or what they call "The Tube" was definitely one of my favorite experiences of the city- it was so clean and filled with beautiful billboards and posters- NYC MTA, y'all need to step your game up lol! I visited Shakespeare's Globe Theater and it was such an amazing experience. As a Shakespeare fan myself, being able to see the famous Globe Theater in person was incredible. I also rode on the London Eye, the giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames in London. I am usually not afraid of heights but I have to admit that this was a little scary for me- the views were magnificent!
I was able to spend time in the city of Bath, some 2/3 hours west of London, and it was so beautiful! There, I toured Bath Abbey, the famous Roman Baths, where worshipers prayed to the goddess, Sulis Minerva and also visited the Jane Austen Centre! After visiting Bath, I headed to Stonehenge, yes, STONEHENGE the famous prehistoric monument and one of the wonders of the world. Y'all, it was incredible. I couldn't believe I was actually there, after learning/reading about it in school, it was so awesome to be able to see it in person.
If you know me well, then you know I'm obsessed with the Beatles, and although they're from Liverpool, they spent a lot of time in London, so I had to take the walking Beatles tour of all the bars, recording studios and spots the Fab Four frequented. And yes of course I took a picture crossing the street at the infamous ABBEY ROAD.
Lastly, and my most favorite part of my London Trip had to be getting the opportunity to attend Sunday Worship at Westminster Abbey. The entire experience, from beginning to end, was AMAZING. I've attended many services but none have been as beautiful as this one. The inside of Westminster Abbey was jaw dropping. They walked us down the side aisle, sat us down in the wooden pews and gave us a booklet inclusive of the daily prayers, music and readings to ensure our participation in service. They had like a 20 man choir which sang sooooo beautifully. I just cant even put into words how beautiful this all was. If you ever find yourself in London, I highly recommend you attend Sunday Worship at Westminster Abbey- free of charge!
If you’ve always wanted to travel but couldn’t find someone to accompany you, you have yourself and that’s more than enough!!!! Choose a destination and book that flight N O W. Everything else will fall into place, unless you’re anything like me and all about scheduling a whole itinerary, then go on with your bad self. I can’t promise you’ll have a Julia Roberts “Eat, Pray, Love” life changing epiphany (or maybe you will?) but I can promise you’ll have an unforgettable time and memories to last a life time!!! Not to mention, a pat on the back for being FEARLESS, STRONG & Resilient!!!!!
Read on to learn a few of my travel tips!
When searching for flights and hotels these are my go-to websites:
-Expedía (bundle deals [flight & hotel] are great!!)
And most recently Wow Airlines, they offer affordable flights overseas, check them out!
My go to websites for hotels:
In London, I stayed at Wombats City Hostel. Yeah, a hostel. This was a first for me! I have always stayed at a hotel, I like my privacy and cleanliness and for some reason the thought of a hostel conveyed the opposite lol. This time around, I decided to stay in a hostel to step out of my comfort zone, force myself to make friends and save money, cause one must always have a budget when traveling! Spending tip: set yourself a daily spending limit, I usually try to set my limit at $100 per day including: meals, attractions, souvenirs.
I researched the best/most popular hostel in London and was redirected to Hostelworld.com. It's an awesome website that allows you to customize your search, choose location, price range, accommodations etc. After an extensive search I came upon Wombats City Hostel. It had a 9.2 rating, I read countless customer reviews all of whom left raving comments and encouraged others to stay. It had also won award for "Cleanest Hostel Worldwide” two years in a row, so of course upon reading that, I was totally sold! Lol check website here: https://www.hostelworld.com/
Upon arriving at hostel, I was not disappointed - everything looked just as I had seen in photos! The staff was wonderful, the rooms were spacious, the bathroom was big, modern and most importantly CLEAN. I chose to stay in an "all girls" room with 5 other women, one of which became my friend and explored London with. The other women in the room I spoke to a few times... we were all there for different reasons: on vacation, studying for an exam, passing by on the way to another destination etc. What was most surprising to me was that my "roommates" were of all different ages, ranging from 21 to 60!! Def something I was not expecting. Some of them were SO loud and inconsiderate lol, I even witnessed two of them tell each other off in their respective languages, y'all I was shook. But overall it was a good experience and I'd be willing to stay at another hostel in the future.
Planning Tours & Attractions
I've attached a snapshot of my itinerary for your reference. You'll notice that I like to make plans down to the hour but aside from pre-booked tickets, I like to keep my itinerary open and try to be flexible. The itinerary serves more as a visual reminder to so I can ensure I don't forget to do anything and it also helps me plan my outfits according to actives on that day lol. I always research “must see places” or “things to do” when traveling to a foreign place and build a custom itinerary via different websites. I also try and buy tickets or passes in advance when possible to ensure a desired time slot and always save myself from standing in never ending lines. I suggest if you can, to also do the same. Some places even offer discounts online as an incentive for travelers to purchase ahead. Do your research, become informed and save money!!
For my visit to London I bought the following tickets:
-Stonehenge Stone Circle & Bath City Tour
-Shakespeare Theater Globe
-Thameslink Train ticket to and from the airport
-Beatles Walking Tour
-Roman Baths in Bath City
Food & Dinning
As far as restaurants and bars/clubs, I like to research the most popular and make a list, but one thing I love to do is ask residents & natives the establishments they like to frequent or what they suggest I try. Often times you’ll find that the most popular places suggested online by travel websites are not the same venues locals frequent, therefore you end up going to a touristy spot and lose the chance to immerse yourself in the culture! Don't be shy, ask your hotel staff or others you meet out and about, more often than not they are willing to share with you their most favorite places.
Every person is different and will build their itinerary based on things they love and find important. Whether you're a "historian" (like myself) and love to visit historical/ancient sites or museums, a "foodie" like my best friend, Jennifer, who loves to build her vacations around highly rated restaurants, or maybe a more relaxed person that takes vacations to lay on the beach all day, read a book and take naps. Only YOU know what kind of person you are, so plan what works best for you!
Wishing you all a year full of trips and adventure, both international and domestic! Bon Voyage, VAGAS!!!