traveling to paris alone

How Traveling To Paris Alone Inspired A Global Adventure

She never knew it then but traveling to Paris alone set Danielle Desir on a path that she has continued to this very day. Since she first took that solo adventure many years ago, she has traveled all over the world and made overseas voyages a regular part of her journey. In this blog she talks about how traveling has changed her life and more importantly – what habits you need to adopt so that you can have your own unforgettable voyages.

There are few things better than the feeling of being in another world. That’s how it was for Danielle Desir when she first set eyes upon Iceland. The glaciers, waterfalls, lava and volcanic rocks were stunning and beautiful and stretched for miles into the distance.

Falling In Love With Iceland

 At least it seemed that way to Danielle, who fell in love with Iceland when she saw it. Danielle is no stranger to adventure. She has been to more than 26 countries and has travelled across Europe extensively. 

 She has now written her own guide book called Iceland: Nature, Nurture & Adventure, which is all about travelling to Iceland. The book will be published by a small publication called Travelling Black Women. But Danielle is no stranger to the limelight. She balances her time between working as a hospital manager and crafting her career as a writer and podcaster.

 Danielle grew up travelling to her ancestral homeland of Haiti from a very young age. Her childhood journeys and natural curiosity instilled a love of adventure travel in her which she still retains until this very day. As a city girl who grew up in Connecticut, encountering the natural landscapes of Iceland was a particularly memorable experience for her.

 She said: “Iceland is one of my favourite countries, because the nature is so prevalent and untapped. One of my favourite experiences was exploring an 8,000 year-old lava cave. The most profound moment was we took out all the lights, and we made no noise and it was just still and silent. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that in my lifetime and that is something that was really interesting to me.

“Iceland is the most unusual place I’ve been because it really feels like another planet. There’s so much volcanic activity, it just looks different. The air is fresh and clean and it really is just a special place.”

                                                  Traveling To Paris Alone

One of her first solo trips was to Paris, which set the scene for all of the other European countries that she would later visit. Traveling to Paris alone inspired her to go to Belgium and reinforced her love of adventure. She added: “Paris has always been one of my favourite places to go to. So a year after I started my full-time job, I saved up enough money and I took my first solo trip to Paris.

“I also ended up taking a solo trip to Brussels after traveling to Paris alone, which was a huge thing for me back then. Once I felt like I could just continually challenge myself and be in new places, I really felt like it could just open me up to be in more places.”

traveling paris alone

                                        A European Adventure

Some of the other countries Danielle visited after traveling to Paris alone include the UK Portugal, Spain, Austria, Croatia, Iceland, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Montenegro and Ireland. 

In addition to her love for Iceland, Croatia was also top of the list for Danielle. The beauty of the country, combined with the friendliness of the people is what really made her fall in love. She has also travelled to Austria, where she indulged herself in fine wine and pumpkin seed oil.

She added: “Austria is fantastic. The food is amazing and the people are so friendly. I went to Graz, the second largest city. I spent a few days in the wine region of Austria and they have really good wine. I also became obsessed with pumpkin seed oil because it is big over there. 

“They are also focussed on eating clean and making sure that the animals are treated correctly. There are also not a lot of American tourists that go to Austria or the Graz region. So it was a really refreshing experience for me when I went.”

Other countries that were really memorable for Danielle were Montenegro. Of all the sights she saw while she was there, the cliffs and the Adriatic sea were the most stunning.

She explained: “If you go to Dubrovnik, it is really stunning and close to Montenegro. We were able to drive two hours to Montenegro on a tour. I didn’t think it was that expensive in terms of taking part in activities and doing fun things. 

“I enjoyed my stay in Dubrovnik and I think it is a little more high class than Montenegro, which was more down to earth. By that I mean the locals had a more elevated lifestyle more so than the average person. However, Dubrovnik did not seem as chilled and relaxed.”

travelling to paris alone

                         Challenges of A Solo Black Woman Traveling Alone

However, travel is not without its challenges. As a solo black woman traveling alone, sometimes feelings of isolation or not fitting in can rise to the surface. It comes from years of being a minority in a world that is dominated by prejudice, injustice and lack of visibility.

Although the vast majority of her experiences were overwhelmingly positive, Danielle did state that sometimes the feeling of being out of place could be worse than the actual experience.

She explained: “When I went to Ireland for the first time I was very self conscious about being the only black person around. Nobody around me made me feel that way, but I felt uncomfortable. As a black person you may feel self conscious about being the only person that looks like you. But my attitude is ‘hey, I’m here. 

“I’ve spent a lot of money to be here and have a good experience and so that subconscious layer sheds away and I actually don’t feel that way anymore. If you’re new to travelling you may feel a little bit out of place. But know that it’s up to you to feel really confident and you have a right to be here just as much as anybody else, and I think that’s important to note.”

Danielle recounted one negative incident in a Barcelona restaurant when the owners would not allow any black people to sit in the front section of the restaurant. Instead, she was ushered in the back – where all of the other black people were made to sit.

Instead of accepting the status quo – she simply upped and left, unwilling to spend her hard earned money on businesses that did not appreciate it.

Her advice was simple: “Just remember that if you are being treated differently, it is your money and if organisations do not respect you, vote with your feet. You do not have to subject yourself to feeling different or weird.”

For more information about what it is like to travel as a person of colour – check out the following vlog ‘My Overseas Experience As a Black Traveller‘.

traveling to parios alone

                                                            Saving For Adventure

But travelling is not always easy for some people. The biggest challenge for most people is the expense. The flights, food, tourist activities and accommodation costs can soon add up, so just how is it possible to travel so much and so often?

For a financially savvy traveller like Danielle, it is all about budgeting carefully for the journey. She treats travelling like any other expense. Not only does she save up carefully for her upcoming trips, she also teaches others how to do the same. She added: “If travelling is a priority for you, you have to treat travelling like another bill. It has to be right up there with your rent, your mortgage, your car payments and anything else that you pay for. You are essentially paying yourself. 

“Save for it in a separate bank account that you can call your travel fund and give it a special name that you can be inspired by. Set up for flight deal programmes and newsletters that will alert you when there is a good flight deal so that you can spend that money on travel. However, you would be spending way less on travel because you are doing things in a financially savvy way.”


traveling to paris alone

Another big challenge in her life was getting her loved ones to understand her ambitions. However, that is a challenge that she has now overcome: “My biggest challenge while travelling is getting my family on board, particularly my mum,” she added: “But since I’ve made it a part of my lifestyle, they are used to me travelling. Travelling has become synonymous with who I am, so now, all my family really want to know is where I’m going and whether I have access to the internet so I can call them every day.”

Who would have thought that traveling to Paris alone and visiting the volcanic highlands of Iceland could lead to so many wonderful adventures? What Danielle demonstrates is that one intrepid decision to save up for a destination she wanted to go to and the fact that she just went ahead and did it, opened the doors to the world in so many other ways.

To learn more about Danielle and her adventures, visit her blog and her podcast.

You can also read her book, ‘Iceland: Nature, Nurture & Adventure’. 

To read other stories of black travellers be sure to visit the Diversity page.

This blog is designed to inspire you and build an online community where you can get all the resources you need to travel. The Backpackers Travel Hub was created to make travelling accessible to everyone – not just the posh people! So drop by and visit the Facebook Group Backpackers Travel Hub. The group contains exclusive tips, and content designed to inspire, motivate and empower you. No sales or annoying gimmicks – just good, solid content. You can also take a peek at the JaninesJourneys Facebook page here. Happy travels!

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