Last week, I was having dinner at a restaurant.
I glanced to my right and saw a group of diners staring at me, then whispering to one another.
I smiled at them, turned back my steak and laughed. This wasn’t the first time I’ve had this happen.
Often, when I frequent a restaurant or cinema alone I’m met with stares, whispers and a puzzled hostess asking “Just for one?!”
In the last month, I’ve been traveling extensively and sometimes alone when I can’t find a travel companion who maintains a similar schedule.
Here is what people have been telling me:
“It’s dangerous for a women to travel alone”
“Be careful!! Have you seen Taken?”
Last year, I was having a bad night. I went for a walk down the street and heard a band playing 90’s cover music at a local bar. A sucker for some Third Eye Blind and Enrique Iglesias, I sat down at the bar. I had a few conversations with other patrons and ended up meeting a close friend who lived a block from me. Over the last year, we remained friends and we would have never met if I had just thought “But I’m alone – I’ll just go to sleep.”When you’re traveling alone, you meet so many incredible people. Some are taxi drivers. Some are hotel staff. Some are fellow travelers And some you meet when you decide to go parasailing. Though I enjoy traveling with friends, traveling alone has given me conversations and experiences I would have never had if I had been accompanied.
If I had waited for someone to accompany me to every place or activity I wanted to do – I’d still be waiting. Though I love my friends (Hi Mom!), everyone is at a different point in life and has a different schedule. If there is something you truly want to do, you should do it. If I want to go to dinner and no one is free, I’ll go myself.If there is a new movie out and my friends don’t want to see it, I’ll buy a ticket for one.
If I want to take a trip and my friends don’t have vacation time, I’ll fly solo.
If there is an activity you want to do, but can’t find a partner, strap on your Nike’s and just do it. You’ll be glad you did.
A few days ago, I awoke in the middle of the night heart racing and light headed. I dragged myself to the ER, explained what was going on, and got the help I needed. Sitting in a taxi back to my hotel, I thought “Wow, if I can bring myself to the ER, explain in Spanish what’s wrong, and make it out alive – I can probably solve anything!”
I am great at solving problems – but it’s only because I’ve had a lot of problems as practice. When you’re traveling alone and will encounter many problems – which in turn will make you a better problem solver.
Get on the wrong train? A lesson in overseas navigation.
Lose a passport? A crash-course in European bureaucracy.
Get sick? A unique learning experience in foreign hospitals.
You Appreciate Your Friends & Family
Absence does make the heart grow founder. Traveling alone isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes being alone, is well, lonely. Even though I’m having incredible experiences, I sometimes find myself thinking “I wish X were here!”A solo-trip offers you an enormous amount of time for self-reflection.