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Why Not…Travel Alone?

June 20, 2013


by Shannon Ables
Portland writer
The Simply Luxurious Life

Why Not . . . Travel Alone?

 

“My solo travels in Paris have brought many perfect hours of being alone but not a moment of loneliness. People who depend on other people are often in hiding from themselves. Two and a quarter million people live in the City of Light: you will see many of them and you will pass them in the street, but when you see Notre Dame after dark and walk home and perhaps stop to have a drink in the Marais, you can feel that the only thing that is missing from your experience is the common dependence on someone to distract your attention.  You are living without it: you are on vacation.” –Andrew O’Hagan in “Party of One” article in T: The New York Times Style Magazine

 

The subtle mystery, confidence and elegance of a woman who chooses to travel alone knowing precisely where she is going and knowing exactly how to dress for it is the image that dances around in my mind when I envision a woman traveling solo to her destination of choice. Whether it be Paris, the English countryside or the wine country in California, I can’t help but smile and count the days until such a trip commences.

One of my first flights as an adult was by myself, and since then I have only traveled fewer than a handful of times with others compared to the innumerable times in my own company.

I have come to enjoy both options and highly recommend traveling by oneself to gain experience that only traveling solo can provide. Whether domestically or internationally, making the choice to unleash your wanderlust and allow yourself to see whatever may be calling your attention or curiosity should not be quelled simply because you don’t have someone else who is interested or available. Life is far too short to wait around for a travel companion. You are your best travel companion with the right arsenal of advice and pre-planning because you get to go wherever your interests which to lead you.

Today I would like to begin a two part series on an absolute must-do at least once in your life, and in doing so, perhaps you’ll fall in love as I have and regularly incorporate solo travel excursions into your travel plans.

Benefits of traveling solo:

 

 

1. Get to Know Yourself

“Traveling alone offers the chance to test the limits of what you think you know about yourself.” –Andrew O’Hagan

 

 

 

Click here to read about Travel’s Most Wonderful Gift.

 

2. Be Reminded of What Stirs Your Passions
Each time I travel alone, I end up doing something, seeing something, tasting something that causes me to be fully present and absolutely moved. It is in these moments that I am reminded of what I’m truly passionate about, and I immediately have to write it down in my journal. As to what becomes of my journal entry, it could be a handful of different outcomes – a change in my daily routine to incorporate an evening tea, a blog post to share with my readers about Parisian style, or a dream to pursue that I had long ago let go. The beauty of traveling solo is that you wander unexpectedly, but almost certainly into the direction that you were meant to go.

3. Seek Out What Piques Your Curiosities

Perhaps the theater district is calling your name while traveling through London or maybe you are giddy about the flea markets in France. Prior to stepping on the plane or train, make a list of what you want to experience, learn as much as you can prior to boarding, and then . . . make it happen. Traveling solo allows you to satiate your travel curiosities. There is no excuse not to try to learn how to surf or take that culinary tour that’s been pinned to your idea board in your office. Remember, you are the curator of your own life.

4. Flexible Itinerary
Creating an itinerary prior to your trip is a must. Map out where you would like to go, make reservations for tours or dinner if need be and make sure you have done your homework as far as what clothes and supplies you will need. But then . . . go about each day in such a way that is in sync with your mood, your energy levels and your interests. Feel like spending the entire morning in the Louvre? Go for it. Would rather sleep in and enjoy a late breakfast at Café de Flore watching passersby? Why not? Perhaps you’d rather jump on a train and head to the country? Do it. The flexibility solo travelers have is a wonderful gift for those who are self-motivated and do not need to be told how to best enjoy their vacation.

5. Build Your World Social Community
One of the gifts I have discovered as my travel resume lengthens is that having people to visit at your destination is a wonderful way to feel more connected and at home while on vacation. Since the people you are meeting up with are people you most likely already know and care about, you are able to thoroughly enjoy a dinner, relax and be yourself, feel safe and then return to your hotel or rented apartment and enjoy your personal, private space as well. The best of both worlds.

6. Boost Confidence
Each time I travel somewhere alone, I try something new. And if I happen to have the opportunity to travel to the same place again, I take a few more risks and attempt to visit a few new sites because my footings is more secure and my understanding of how the culture or city works is more familiar. In doing anything new, we reveal to ourselves what we are capable of and often are pleasantly shocked. This newfound knowledge lifts our confidence and when we return to our daily routine, we come home different and often more motivated and inspired to create the change we now know we are capable of.

7. Realize the Difference Between Alone and Loneliness

“The first rule of travel is that you should always go with someone you love, which is why I travel alone.” – Andrew O’Hagan

 

 

 

If you have never spent time alone while traveling, you may have moments of loneliness, but I encourage you to come to understand why you are lonely. Because once you truly enjoy your own company, the opportunity to travel alone will strengthen your appreciation for the time you have with those you love, but it will also strengthen your inner purpose, clarify your direction, and remind you of what you want your life to become. Alone is simply the physical description of not having other people you know around you, but loneliness is best described by Paul Tillish . . . “Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”

 

 

When you choose to travel alone, you have the opportunity to revel in solitude and unearth the priceless gifts it has to offer. Imagine the combination of spending time in a destination of your dreams when you are fully at peace with yourself and thoroughly enjoy your own company – not running away from anything, not hiding from your life, simply reveling, celebrating and enjoying – a dream realized.

 

 

Whether you wish to travel to a different destination each time or get to know your favorite travel locale by returning each year, indulge your sense of wonder and have an amazing, life-changing and unforgettable experience.

Be sure to stop by next Wednesday when I will share tips on how to travel safely as well as ideas on how to create a trip that meets and perhaps exceeds your expectations. Bon voyage!

  
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