Why Solo Travel Is The Way To Go
I?m in the process of planning a holiday trip, and although a good friend of mine is coming along, once we get to our Southeast Asia destination, we plan to meet only occasionally and go our separate ways. Why? Because we each treasure the many advantages of solo travel.
I?ve long enjoyed journeying to places both near and far on my own. In fact, when given the choice of going on my own or with a companion, I often opt for the solo experience.
I first became aware of the unique pleasures of traveling alone about 25 years ago, when my journalism work began propelling me to distant destinations with only a notebook, pen, camera and books for company.
With no friends, colleagues or family members to talk to en route or help plot itineraries, I was forced to take up the tasks myself. At that time I was so consumed by family and work responsibilities that the freedom to spend a few hours in an airport and plane without colleagues or kids in tow seemed like pure heaven.
Back then, I came to know what every young mother appreciates: ?alone time? and the chance to delve deeply into one?s inner self and be wholly self-directed are among life?s most precious commodities.
Undiscovered Perks to Traveling on One?s Own
But I discovered even more advantages to solo travel after the children were grown. I had serendipitous encounters with other travelers who not only delighted and provided useful information during the trip but turned into lifelong friends (especially now that we can stay in touch via Skype and Facebook). I made deep connections with residents of the places I visited and gained authentic insights into their way of life. In general, I enjoyed wonderful, unplanned experiences along with the ability to do exactly as I pleased, on my own timetable.
I rarely choose to skip the destinations and experiences that guidebooks call out, but I want my trips to deliver so much more.
Don?t get me wrong. I?m not a thrill seeker or a super athlete looking for extreme outdoor adventures. I go for culture, art, food, history and beauty ? not just the kind found in spectacular natural settings, palaces, cathedrals, mosques, temples and monuments, but also the more mundane variety. The sort offered up by the eyes of Cairo?s children, the tiles of Lisbon, the wood carvers of Bali, the pidgeons of Istanbul and the women of Salvador de Bahia who always seem to be dancing.
I like roaming about without a schedule or agenda since I have all too many of those ruling my days back home. My soul is ignited by surprise discoveries, and I have more of them when I am alone.
Solo travel requires a different sort of adventurousness than, say, scaling a tall peak or zip-lining through a rain forest. It demands an open spirit, a desire for authentic connection, a belief that fascinating experiences are just around the bend and that a lot of walking and talking will lead to them.
Contrary to what some may think, I don?t prefer to go solo because I?m a loner. I go it alone because that leads me to engage more with the people who live and move about my foreign destinations.
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