SOLO TRAVEL, YOLO TRAVEL
Contrary to popular opinion – often volunteered by me – I don’t travel alone due to not liking other people. I like to travel alone because I find it very empowering.
When traveling with other people, I find the trip becomes more about the experiences with those that you are with; when I travel alone the focus tends to be more about the destination itself.
I like traveling with other people, but I love the freedom of traveling alone. I say freedom, you may say selfishness. I can do what I like, see what I like, I can eat what I like and when I like. I can get up early, or I can get up late (ok anyone that knows me, knows that it’s always the former and very rarely the latter)
When I travel solo I like to plan my spontaneity. I know that seems like a contradiction, but I like to have an idea of what I want to do or see and “tick them off”. Then I like to just wander and explore, or lie on a beach.
I enjoy the sense of achievement of mastering the local transport system in Tokyo, or successfully navigating the maze-like alleyways of Mykonos old town or knowing exactly where you are on a map in Istanbul, even if you are not where you are meant to be, you know that.
When traveling alone, everything is an adventure. Just catching the Subway in New York is a different experience when you are with someone as they get to share the “blame” if you end up on the wrong train, or if you find yourselves in the wrong part of town…there’s always safety in numbers.
“Table for one, please”. These very words can instill fear into people.
One element of solo travel that I hear worries people is the “dining alone” part. I have never found this an issue. I don’t know if people in a restaurant are looking at me with pity and thinking “look at that sad lonely person eating all alone, he must be a loser”. They possibly are but I don’t care. I generally use meal times to catch up on my thoughts and put pen to paper…so I often think that those same people are actually thinking “hey, look at that dude eating alone and writing in his book/laptop…he must be a food critic or a travel writer…wow how exotic, I wish I had a job like that”
When traveling alone you do have to be prepared to say “yes”. You must be prepared to go with your gut instincts and say “yes” to the travel experience that is being offered to you when the opportunity arises. You must be prepared to lower your inner guard and forget about “stranger danger” for a while.
I actually find traveling alone makes you interact more with the locals, as the waiter will ask you where you are from and why you are alone…and this could actually turn into sitting down with the Yiayia after she has finished cooking and drinking ouzo with them all until the wee hours of the morning (true story), or being asked by a hotel driver if I wanted to go and drink beer at a soccer game at Macarena Stadium in Rio (true story) or agreeing to be transported across a lake in Nepal in a rickety wooden canoe by some young lads barely old enough to ride a bike (true story), found myself wine tasting in Uzbekistan with my new Iranian friends (true story), agreeing to join in a feast of Guinee pig in Peru (true story), ending up on a felucca in Cairo trying to avoid the pesky touts and having a wonderful and peaceful afternoon sailing on the Nile (true story) or having a few “nightcaps” on the beach with some people I met at dinner in Folegandros (true story) or ending up being the “face of Australia” at the Anzac Day dawn service in Gallipoli (true story).
I’m more in tune with my thoughts when traveling alone. Sometime they may be a bit melancholic, but in general, they are thoughts along the vein of “wow, I’m doing this”, and very rarely are they thoughts of loneliness.
Solo traveling makes you very good at taking selfies…in fact, I think a solo traveler probably invented the selfie.
I find traveling solo is good for the soul, well good for my soul anyway. I want to say that I think everyone should try it at least once, but I know it’s not for everyone.
Go on, you only live once.