Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Its not always "All by Myself"

I do a lot of traveling alone.
When I started, there was some discomfort in setting out solo but it didn’t take long to get used to it. And then, I started to prefer it.
However, in recent months a dormant desire to take more trips with a travel buddy keeps trying to surface like a tulip bulb pushing up through the dirt in springtime.
There are many things I enjoy about taking trips on my own – things that if I had someone by my side, I may not come to realize.
I didn’t know I could do that..
I started my first ever solo travel last February 2012 to a very far but exciting place. I don't know anybody else but just myself and my sense of adventure. I talked to locals, long hours bus rides, walking under the heat of the sun. Its quite inconvenient if you imagine bit its all worth it. Since then, I have done many things that some would think are risky or unreasonable but traveling without someone to lean on forces me to do things I might not otherwise do and continues to teach me that many limitations are self-made.
Give me some time to think about it. Being an introvert, alone time is what recharges my batteries. I gain strength from the moments I steal away for myself. When I travel alone I often take time to process life and the experiences I’m enjoying along the way without feeling guilty or anti-social.
It’s all about me. I know it sounds selfish but a lack of interpersonal complications is also a plus to being a party of one.
I make my plan. I see what I want, when I want to see it and I don’t have to consult anyone else for his or her opinion. If I want to take a 3-hour detour to nowhere or get on the road before sunrise or go on a weekend getaway on the spur of the moment, I can. My agenda is the only one I have to consider.
As much as I revel in being an independent lady-traveler, there are definitely tough things about being the one-and-only. There’s always a flip side.
It’s all about me. While it is less complicated to gallivant alone, it can also be isolating. Sometimes I want to engage the opinions of a companion. I like getting a different perspective on where to go and what to do and bouncing plans off a trusted friend can reveal a change in the itinerary that might lead to places I wouldn’t have discovered on my own.
There are many times in my solitary excursions when I would welcome help and ideas and would happily defer to the wants and needs of someone else, were he or she there sharing the experience.
You had to be there. This is my biggest issue with traveling alone. There is no substitute for being there – even phone calls and text messages in the moment (if that’s even possible) does not convey the feeling and the experience you find in a certain place at a specific time.
How many times have you listened to other people’s vacation stories that meant nothing to you or wanted to poke your eye out instead of look at every photo in your friend’s 15 full-sized photo albums?
Going to new places and doing things I’ve never done before are important pieces of my life. The memories I catalogue while traveling are often monumental – good or bad – and just like all monumental things in life, it’s more meaningful when those things are shared with someone.
As I contemplate less solo adventures and more buddy travel, I recognize there’s a time to travel alone and a time to travel with others. One isn’t better than the other, just different and perhaps, different is exactly what I’m looking for right now.
Let’s get to know each other better. Traveling with another person is an exercise in vulnerability. It takes a level of openness to share excitement and frustrations and logistics with someone else.
It’s not always easy to maintain my best self when I’m out of my environment and everyday isn’t as predictable as my normal routine. However, this is a good thing.
Taking a trip with a friend, significant other or family member is a mix of highs and lows, for sure, but when I give myself and the other person room to be who they are it allows each of us the opportunity to appreciate the other in ways that simply going out to dinner once a week won’t do. Getting past the surface creates real relationships and traveling together is one way to get past the superficial.
If you don’t believe me, try getting lost in a suburban place at 3am with your phone dead, you know no one else and taking a 12 hour bus ride. You’ll get to know your travel partner in a hurry – and then you’ll laugh about it for years to come.
Do you prefer to travel alone or with a partner?

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