Who here has gone on vacation entirely alone? No conference or professional meeting to take up your time, no friend waiting at the airport to whisk you off for a chat. Alone. Alone.
I’m asking about solo traveling. Sacajawea without the hangers-on, Lewis and Clarke. Amelia Earhart without the scary flying goals. Just you with your kit-bag and a smile.
I’m asking because I need tips.
A little backstory. I spend a lot of time alone. I am often on the road for speaking engagements, conferences, family, and more often than not, I’m alone. But, I usually know at least one person, often many people, as I move through my schedule. This time, I went on a trip all by myself. I needed to finish the book I am working on, and I needed to do it in the sunshine with no interruptions.
Also, and on purpose, I wanted to know no one. My goal was to get away from my dog, needs to pee every fifteen minutes, and is a major pain when I’m writing. And to see if I like me as a travel partner.
How did it go, you ask? I’ve transcribed my thoughts for you, so you can see inside my brain as I walked the beach alone, sipped my coffee with myself, nibbled an egg salad sandwich—party of me.
6:00 AM: Ohmygosh, this is awesome. I love this.
6:01 AM: Oh, look at that group of women traveling together in matching t-shirts.
6:02 AM: Why don’t I have any friends with t-shirts to travel with?
6:03 AM: Look at those lovers.
6:04 AM: Why don’t I have a lover?
6:05 AM: Oh, there’s a pretty seashell.
6:06 AM: Ohmygosh, this is awesome.
6:07 AM: Oh, look at that group of women traveling together in matching t-shirts.
6:08 AM: Why don’t I have any friends with t-shirts?
6:09 AM: Look at those lovers.
Repeat. and this is how I felt about it.
I was on a roller coaster of joy, self-consciousness, and introspection that bordered on manic.
It was so weird to feel insecure. I also felt obvious. Traveling with people you know is like having an overcoat that shields you from onlookers –if there are any onlookers—which honestly there isn’t. People are interested in themselves, not the random woman eating a grilled cheese at the bar.
As to my insecurity, I think it’s about—Am I still me, if the people who know me aren’t around?
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it and all that.
You know how “they” say you should do one thing every day that scares you?
(for the record I think if you’re doing something every day that scares you, you might need medication). That said. I made myself do some things I didn’t want to do.
I went on a date. I don’t think this violates my alone experience-I wanted to see if I could do it.
Pretty sure this will be in the next letter to all of you. It was fascinating.
I sat under the stars at a bar alone and listened to a guitarist play really great music.
I ate dinner, in a restaurant with my phone in my purse.
I struck up a meaningful conversation with a woman on the beach who was also traveling alone. And, as we spoke, a dolphin swam into the shallow water near us and played for a full minute. Of course, I believe he was supporting us as only dolphins can.
I asked her for tips, and she gave me some.
Plan ahead, she said. Be open. Be flexible. Do not drink the water in the back of your Uber in case there is a roofie in it. (real talk, people).
When you want to stay in your room, get out.
Let your thoughts flow until they stop and try to think of nothing. If you meet someone who isn’t interesting, say, No, thank you. If you meet someone who looks interesting, say, Come sit by me.
I flew home after exchanging information with the woman on the beach. She lives in the UK, and I’m going to visit her sometime in the future. We might travel together.
Would I travel alone again? Absolutely. Will I accept all the tips and advice you offer? Yes, I will.
Tell me everything.
PS. I read about women traveling alone here and it really helped.