Traveling Solo

This one got kinda long….oops.

Traveling with my brother made me realize that I hadn’t traveled with a buddy in a while. When I was getting ready to go to Italy for 10 days by myself some people asked me why I would want to go alone. Why not?! If I always wait for someone who wants to come along I’ll never go anywhere.

There are lots of articles floating around the Internet about the benefits of solo travel, like some kind of trendy juice cleanse. Same with female solo travel. I’m not an expert and honestly don’t care if you read this or agree with me. I can tell you why I like traveling on my own though.

When I’m on my own I just do. No considering another person’s feelings, no debating our options, no worrying if s/he is going to be bored at that museum I’m dying to check out. Big groups always move slower. On my own I just pick a direction and go. “That’s shiny, I think I’ll go that way,” is my usual thought process.

I love wandering aimlessly. Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a terrible sense of direction. I’ve come to embrace getting lost. Sometimes I even look forward to it. Wandering aimlessly is like actively getting lost. I even do it in New York (my hometown). No plans for today? Ok, I’ll wander and see where I end up. Now, with a smart phone, you’re never lost for long anyway.

My mom always worries when I tell her I’m going somewhere on my own. When telling her about my recent trip to Kuala Lumpur her response was, “Doesn’t anyone want to go with you?” I picked up and came to Asia knowing that once the job was over I would basically be on my own. But, still she worries. Mom, I always meet cool people when I travel. I think that is part of why you travel. You travel to explore new places, but you also travel to meet new people.
In Rome I met some great people in my hostel. I only ate dinner alone one night. That was only because I got lost wandering and got hungry before I made it back to my hostel. In Kuala Lumpur last week I was hardly ever alone.

I think something that is really hard for people (which I have trouble with sometimes too), is being alone. It can be scary. No one to talk to but yourself. I definitely talk to myself more when I’m alone. While I always meet cool people when I travel, sometimes I’m on my own either by choice or necessity. Lots of people say going to a movie and eating at a restaurant are 2 of the hardest things to do alone. I’ve officially mastered both. I only went to a movie on my own recently, and realized it’s basically the same. You don’t talk during a movie anyway, so what’s the difference if you’re with a friend or alone? Eating alone is different. Eating alone in a restaurant without a book or your phone to distract you can be daunting. However, when you are in Italy, enjoying a life changing dish of pasta and a beautiful glass of wine, there really isn’t room for anything else. You are too involved in the perfection of your meal and people watching in whatever perfect setting you are sitting in, to worry about not having a companion or a book.

However, there are times I think traveling with a buddy might be nice. Sometimes when you say wow, you want someone to agree. You want to share those wow moments with a friend. Telling them about it later isn’t the same. I’ve shared wow moments with strangers, but again, not the same. There are also some activities that are not really geared towards solo adventurers.
Gelato festivals is an example of such an activity. Thankfully the gelato gods waited for me to get to Florence before ending the festival. A gelato festival is not an easy thing to do alone. First of all, the initial site of said festival is a wow moment you need to share. The smart way to take on a festival like this is to have a buddy to share each gelato sample with. If 2 people share a rather large sample, then you have more room for more samples. On your own you feel required to finish each sample, as it is a sin to throw away uneaten gelato. If I had a buddy I could have sampled a larger selection of gelato. I discovered that I could only eat so much chocolate gelato before becoming extremely ill. At some point it is too much chocolate even for me.

This too is why we travel, to learn new things about ourselves.

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