Last week while in Columbus I was enjoying dinner with some new friends and one said, “Melisa, I think it’s so great that you and your husband travel alone sometimes.”
Naturally, I agreed wholeheartedly, and I’ll tell you why. It’s not that I don’t enjoy traveling with Jim, because I do (very much!). It’s not even that I prefer solo travel, because I don’t. It’s just a different kind of experience. I love any and all kinds of travel: solo, with Jim, with the whole family, with friends…get it? I LOVE TRAVEL.
It’s definitely not that I need to get away from home and my family. I have found that many people make that assumption when they hear about a person of either gender who goes on vacation alone, that he or she must have had it Up-To-Here with the family, the house, the job, whatever, and needs to get away. That’s a fine reason for a vacation in general–as long as you plan to come back!–but I don’t enjoy traveling solo because I’m running away. I enjoy it because I’m running towards something:
~ New experiences
~ People in their own habitat, different from my own
(Just to name a few.)
Frankly, enjoying the world with eyes wide open and having opinions and reflections that aren’t colored by a traveling companion’s opinions and reflections is something I highly recommend to each and every one of you. That said, I know that there are a handful of very valid reasons why many of you can’t imagine having your own solo travel adventures:
~ Logistics (Kids, job, whatever.)
(Just to name a few.)
The first one, logistics, I totally understand. Logistics are tough, especially when others depend on you. The logistics involved in traveling alone greatly eased up for me last month when J went to college. My job? No problem. I work remotely so I can work anywhere as long as there’s WiFi.
The second reason, finances, I also understand. There are ways around that if you’re creative. Though it may not be as exciting to you as going to a faraway land, driving a couple of hours to stay with a friend for a long weekend is extremely inexpensive. If the friend is someone who you truly enjoy being around, you don’t have to plan any activities that cost anything at all, and before you know it you’re laughing and having fun in a different town from your own with someone you adore. Save the bigger trips for later when you have socked away some money or when your life situation allows you to afford to spend more. (By the way, I have had big fun just by hopping a train to Chicago and spending the day walking around by myself, snapping pictures. Super cheap!)
The third reason, fear, I understand in theory but haven’t experienced to the degree that would keep me from solo travel. Naturally that doesn’t keep me from providing some advice, because of course it wouldn’t.
If Fear is the only thing keeping you from going places alone, you just need to take baby steps. Start small!
~ Go to a movie. (Yes, alone.) I have gone to see lots of movies by myself, including Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never”. (Yeah, I did. I live-tweeted it, too. Details here.) A movie is a small commitment time-wise (and money-wise, if you go to a matinee!). Besides, nobody will upset you by complaining that you’re talking too much and–best of all–YOU get to pick the movie (See above: Justin Bieber).
~ Go to lunch or dinner. (Yes, alone.) I’m not talking about sitting at Panera behind your laptop, either. Go to a restaurant with no technology other than your phone that will stay in your purse and then tell them “Party of one” and then get your own table and then don’t feel self-conscious about it. Nobody is going to say anything to you about it, I PROMISE. People-watching while you’re alone at a restaurant is great fun. Oh, and you get all of the bread in the basket, too, and two desserts if you want. Not that I’ve done that.
~Go to the mall. (Yes, alone.) And not because you’re running an errand like picking up some underwear and socks for your husband, either. Just go, with no purpose, like it’s a mini-vacation. Wander around acting like you’re a teenager in the 80’s, because that’s all we had to do back then. If there’s an arcade there, even better because Pac Man! Spend a couple of hours reacquainting yourself with yourself and what you like. Try on some clothes, shoes, or jewelry. If you must be productive, jot down some gift ideas for your loved ones so they’re not at a loss when your birthday comes around.
The point is, if you’re not used to spending time by yourself, with yourself, you’re missing out on an important part of life. Starting small with movie, dinner, or mall adventures just might give you the courage to go somewhere solo for a half a day, and then a full day. Before you know it, you’ll build yourself up to a weekend and then the possibilities will blow right open.
Besides, if you don’t enjoy spending time with yourself, how can anyone else?
(Actually, I’m not sure if that theory truly works but I thought that substituting “love” with “enjoy spending time with” sounded good, and plausible too. Humor me.)
So…what are you waiting for? Go plan your next adventure! Alone!