My First Solo Trip: Day 1
Recently, I stumbled across an old trip report from my first solo trip that I took in the spring of 2017. On this particular trip, I spent a total of eight nights in London, a city I had been to previously and felt comfortable navigating on my own, and six nights in Krakow, Poland. Even though my notes from this trip are roughly a year old, I thought they might be helpful to anyone else who is considering a solo trip or a trip to these destinations themselves.
Rather than a simple summary of trip highlights and travel suggestions, each day of my Trip Report will be posted in a single journal-like format. I’ll be recapping each day’s highs, lows, and everything in between.
I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3, around 09:30 in the morning. I’m guessing it took me roughly an hour to get through immigration and collect my checked luggage. I wasn’t in too big of a rush because I knew I wouldn’t be able to check in to my hotel until 14:00. I made a quick stop to grab some pounds at the ATM and then headed for the Tube where I bought an Oyster card and loaded £40 on it. Once on the Tube, I made a cross platform change at the Hammersmith station, in order to avoid carting luggage up any stairs, and continued on to St. James’ Park. While there were a few steps to the exit at St. James’ Park tube station, it was nothing that I couldn’t manage with one suitcase and a small carry-on. I will also add that I thoroughly enjoyed using this particular station during my stay, because it is much smaller and not nearly as busy as many of the larger Tube stations.
My hotel for the first leg of the trip was the Hub by Premier Inn at Westminster. I knew that the room would be small, but the price and location won out and the room turned out to be just perfect for me as a solo traveler. I also want to note that my room had a window and the staff were all very friendly and helpful. I arrived too early to check in, but the staff kindly took my bags so that I could head out and explore for a few hours.
I decided to wander around in a somewhat circular route, through Horse Guards, a walk over Westminster Bridge to snap a few photos, back up to Trafalgar Square, where surprise! There was a St. Patrick’s Day parade in full swing. I finally ended up at the Costa Coffee near Embankment where I stopped to grab a soy latte, before meeting up with Steven from London Walks for the Westminster at War walk. This was the first walking tour I’ve ever taken and I have grown to love them ever since. The price for a London Walk is 10£, but there is no need to book the walks in advance. Simply show up at the designated location and pay your guide at the start of the tour. I love the flexibility this setup provides because you can change your itinerary according to your needs each day. London Walks has so many different tour topics that it's easy to find a topic that will pique just about anyone's curiosity. Walking tours are also a great option to help you fight off jet lag on the first day of an overseas trip because they keep you moving.
Because I love history, especially WWII history, I went on the Westminster at War tour, which encompassed both WWI and WWII history in regards to the Westminster area of London. Our guide was very knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions, he pointed out quite a few locations that would have been so easy to miss if you weren’t aware they were there. Some of the sites we discovered were the first R.A.F. headquarters and the home where Charles De Gaulle was lodged during WWII. Towards the end of the tour we even passed by the film set where they were shooting scenes for the second season of Netflix’s The Crown, which I thought was really cool. At the tour’s conclusion, there was an option to proceed to the Churchill War Rooms at a discounted rate. I declined the extended tour because I had toured the War Rooms on a previous trip, but its a great place to visit in London if you haven't been there before.
After the walk, I made my way back across the gardens of St. James' Park to the hotel to check in to my room and grab a quick dinner at the Pret-a-Manger located just around the corner, before calling it an early night.
If you've traveled solo before, I would love to hear about your adventures! Feel free to tell me all about your trip by dropping a comment below.