When I tell people about my propensity for solo travel, something I’ve written about before (here and here and here to name a few), the most common reaction (well, the most common positive reaction at least) seems to be about how bold and brave this is.
I think that perceived bravery stems from the fact that I am “all alone” in this.
It was stated to me once “I can barely stand going to the grocery store alone, I couldn’t imagine being in another country completely alone.” This boggled my mind and not just because I happen to very much enjoy grocery shopping without the distraction of company.
Maybe that is where the big disconnect lies, where this fear, this awe, this misplaced badge of courage comes from. Even traveling solo, I don’t feel alone.
There is the obvious answer that I am not alone because I’m generally surrounded by other humans when I travel. My trips aren’t me solo on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean. (Though I would be lying if I said that this doesn’t appeal strongly to me. B could totally be a boat cat.) I interact with others from the airport to where I’m staying to restaurants, street vendors, the list goes on and on. As as I’m sporadically friendly, this interaction can be rewarding and give that sense of connection with other individuals.
Alone physically or not is beyond the point, though. I really don’t feel alone when I travel alone. My loved ones are with me and involved in all my travel in some way, shape or form:
- When I’m planning a trip, I bounce ideas of places to stay and activities off my mom. We have too much fun researching and finding hidden gems for me to check out. (Or places to DEFINITELY avoid)
- On the trip (and in a location that provides the opportunity) I’ll post pictures on Facebook to share the sites and experiences with friends around the world.
- Ditto for trying to send a quick text or email or phone call to the parentals. They tend to like knowing that I am alive and well.
- Different sights, sounds, smells or stories I encounter remind me of people in my life, so I take special note so I can share these details with them when I return home.
- I also look for trinkets or fun things for friends and family. It is super rewarding to find a perfect little something to bring home and share.
Even walking through foreign streets alone, I have my loved ones with me in my thoughts and in my heart. My experiences are shared with them all, both after the fact and for me, in the moment. Alone isn’t the same as solo.
(Proof that Solo isn’t a bad thing.)
I think this idea of alone is often more of a state of mind vs an actuality. I don’t ever really feel like Whitesnake‘s “drifter, born to walk alone.” Feeling alone, feeling isolated or disconnected or like you are going it alone is a terrible feeling. But that is not what I face when I travel by myself.
Am I ever physically alone when I travel? Yes. Alone alone? Alone as in isolated and on some lonely road?
My heart is full of loving company that never leaves me alone.