I never imagined I would come to love travelling alone as much as I do. Of course, I still thoroughly enjoy travelling with friends and family, but there is something about travelling alone that refreshes the soul. I have a very full but hectic life. I am a single mother to three teenage/adult children and two boisterous cats. I run my own business (well, two of them!) and a busy household and try to keep some kind of fitness routine going in between trying to cook healthy meals and stay chilled meditating. Sometimes it’s exhausting. It’s then that travelling alone calls to me.
Five years ago the thought of travelling alone would have thrown me. I don’t mean the logistics of getting places, but the thought of filling all that time, of eating alone, of being the lonely figure at breakfast. To be honest, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence.
Now, it’s a different story and travelling or holidaying solo is part of that journey.
I have to admit that I get nervous. That time just before I leave for the airport is the worse. I worry that I’m not going to make it on time, yet I worry equally about leaving the children in charge of the house. Do they have enough money? Will the house still be here when I get back? When you’re on your own there’s no one else to distract you or say “Enough of that”. There is a time when you just have to say “enough” to yourself and look forward to the trip.
Once I’m at the airport it’s then that the real pleasure kicks in. I can visit however many shops I want; try a myriad of different perfumes and people watch in Giraffe if I like. Slowly the fact that I can do whatever I want with my time starts to sink in. Sometimes it’s the delight of picking up trashy books I can leave at the hotel when I finish them. Every trip involves the pure joy of shopping for a new notebook and pen (one of my travelling rituals) and, if possible, the decadence of an exquisitely chilled glass of Champagne I can sip at my own pace. Or maybe two. Why not, there’s no one to raise an eyebrow!
It’s that ability to decide to do exactly what I want that is so freeing and confidence building. I’ve been with travel companions who want to walk the toes off me and see every part of the city. They don’t know how to just sit still and absorb the city instead. I’ve travelled with people who are obsessed about where we’ll be eating our next meal, with children who want to be entertained, with friends who just want to shop, and whilst I love all these and don’t want to stop travelling with them, I refuse to let go of my solo travel treats.
I admit that travelling alone may be an acquired taste for some. There is a lot of responsibility if you’re just not used to the logistics of getting places on your own, and navigating a foreign country can be daunting. But these can be surmounted and even enjoyed with time. Top confidence building but sometimes challenging activities that travelling alone provides are:
Another thing that you learn is how to slow down and listen to what you want and need that day. Sight seeing? Great! You can wear those ancient trainers and baggy combats and not give a damn what you look like if you want. Want to just sit and read a book on the balcony. Then you can do so as long as you want, without someone moaning that you can “read at home”!
Alone Moments I treasure:
None of these moments sounds particularly mind blowing I have to admit, but isn’t that the point about travel, and indeed our lives… that it is all a collection of moments and to really make it special we have to stop and savour as many of these as we can, and doing that without distractions is sometimes easier.
Above all, accept that it will feel a little odd at first, but this does change. And what a difference in your confidence when you return!
Originally published at thebitchnetwork.com