Friday, October 3, 2014

Why you should travel by yourself at least once

Occasionally when traveling, by which I might mean a lot, my travel companion (i.e. the ex husband) and I didn't see eye to eye, and we would disagree (some might say FIGHT).  I thought of our travel experiences as amazing journeys punctuated by the occasional tantrum and underlaid with anxiety.  Then I started (note the "ex" above) traveling by myself.

What a difference!  I'm not suggesting you travel by yourself all of the time, but if you're like me, and your potential journey companions can't afford it/don't have time/have kids/don't want to do the same stuff, go anyway! (Insert cautionary note here:  of course, be sensible where you are planning on going.  Europe would work, anyplace with Ebola, probably not).  Here's why:

1.  You don't have anyone to vent to.  At first this might seem like a bad thing, but it's not.  If there's nobody around to complain to about 2 hour immigration lines, annoying people, or pushy taxi drivers, you just deal with it.  You might actually feel sort of Zen about the whole thing.

2.  You get to do what YOU want.  Want to climb mountains instead of sitting on a beach?  Tired of trying to fit in a run around your partner's sleep schedule?  Want to keep going on the trail instead of turning back?  You can, and all without guilt.

3.  You're a lot more approachable.  Couples, or even friends traveling together, tend to want to hike together, tie in on the same rope, and do the same things.  They're harder to get to know, even on the trips I've taken where I've met up with a group to climb a peak or hike a trail.  I tend to drift between the other loners, hiking a few miles with each one, and finding out about them.  As someone traveling alone, I'm also approached often by locals who start firing away in their language, not seeing me as American (which these days might be a good thing).

4.  You don't have to worry if someone else is having a good time.  The afore-mentioned ex husband would have been perfectly happy lounging on a tropical beach instead of teetering on the edge of death on the side of a mountain, where we often ended up.  I didn't realize how stressful it was worrying about someone else's happiness until I traveled alone.

5.  People back home think you're cool.  Kind of weird, but cool.  "You went to Antarctica/Nepal/Patagonia by yourself?" they ask, intrigued.  "I couldn't ever do that!"  Here's where you get to smile smugly while maintaining a mysterious air.  "Yes," you say, "I did, and it was great!"

14 comments:

  1. Many times, that's the reason I hike by myself. I can set my own pace, stop for photos whenever the mood strikes, and I don't have to worry about making sure everyone is happy.

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    1. I agree! I have a few friends who seem to have the same pace and mindset when it comes to hiking, but because of our schedules I end up going by myself a lot too.

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  2. Agree! Even with a good companion, there is a special sense of freedom going by yourself. I smile when I .ALWAYS get the comment "You went by YOurself? Did you know anyone in the group? Er, no, why is that a concern?

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    1. Sometimes it's better if you don't know them!

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  3. I've even had people say, when I lived in another, larger city..."You went to the movies by yourself? After dark?" Why, yes, I did, and lived to tell the tale. Should be reasonable about safety, but living in fear of loneliness is paralyzing. We have one life, gotta live it!

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  4. I just got back from a solo trip and there were definitely a lot of pros to it...but I did miss my family. But that's what Skype is for right?

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    1. Your trip sounded great! And yes I have run into people Skype-ing away all over the world.

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  5. I love travelling by myself; in fact, I like doing a lot of things by myself - cinema, walks etc. I know people find it odd, but sometimes it's peaceful and actually exciting to do things independently without having to worry about making conversation or trying to be the 'calm one' if you're lost or something happens!

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  6. Yes to all of these. I fully encourage people (especially women) to travel alone.... nothing will make you feel more confident and on top of the world than navigating bus schedules in a developing country or not accidentally ordering horsemeat. Besides, if you're going to fork over all that cash to travel, you definitely don't want a whiny companion bringing you down.

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    1. It really does make you feel more confident, especially when you don't understand the language and yet can figure it out and make yourself understood.

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  7. It took me a while to break out and go by myself, but the destined I have, I've figured out that I love it!!

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    1. Glad to see all these independent women on here!

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