There’s nothing like being told what you can’t do to make you want to do it even more.
here we are, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and all I can seem to think about is where the heck I’m going to go when all of this is over.
I know that sounds bad. and to be honest I feel terrible for thinking about something so unimportant at times like these–where people are literally fighting for their life. but I can’t seem to help it. Besides the overload of information I’m being fed each day (and the uncertainty of it all kicking up my anxiety) I am actually just grasping for anything to take my mind off this crazy situation.
Traveling is my thing. Solo traveling, to be specific.
everyone always asks me..
” How can you go so far away from home all by yourself?!”
“doesn’t it get lonely?”
“aren’t you ever scared?”
And the simple answer is Yes.
I escape to far off places all by myself because I want to… and I’m blessed to be able to. Ever since I could get around on my own I’ve been starved to see the world. In my younger years, I burned up the highway. hitting all the major cities on the east coast… Atlanta, New York City, Jacksonville, FL, Miami, D.C., etc. I’d just gather a couple of my girlfriends and we’d up and go. Sometimes, with no planning at all.
I know, I know…When I was younger I lived life a little on the edge.
But then, when I got older I began to think about how big the world really is. How there were six whole other continents with almost 200 countries that I have never seen. As a child, I read a lot. And though I don’t seem to make much time to do it these days, it will always be my favorite past time. With books, I am able to see and experience different worlds, while being firmly in my own.
Now, here I am in my thirties and my life’s choices have afforded me the luxury of feeding my cravings for adventure. I’ve capitalized on the certain freedom that comes with being a childless, single woman. Without a partner in marriage, there is no discussion of time and money with someone other than myself. And I also have no need to consider how the livelihood of another human being will be affected by my traveling choices. I can leave home for however long and spend as much as my budget allows at any given time.
But why go alone? Well, within my small circle of friends there aren’t many who have this same freedom. Their choices of marriage and having children have given them a different set of responsibilities, and therefore, the task of traveling is also quite different. It makes planning a bit more complex and budgeting a bit more strict.
But, more importantly, I also just enjoy being on my own. Maybe it’s the “flower child” in me or perhaps it’s because I’m an introvert. Either way, I know that when I look to make an escape and recharge, I simply prefer to do it alone.
When traveling solo, the itinerary only needs to go through one checkpoint, you. I get to choose how to spend my vacation days and when to subsequently stray from those plans. There are absolutely no compromises. With itinerary or spending. If I want to have an extravagant dinner on the Seine River, I can. And if I want to skip breakfast to explore the Gothic Quarter and get local coffee, I can do that too. I guess it all boils down to being Free. I love the woman I am able to be when I only have Me to depend on.
On The Flip Side
Being alone doesn’t always equate to loneliness, but sometimes loneliness can come from being alone.
And with that said… Yes, of course there are times when I get lonely. I’m out here in foreign countries seeing new and beautiful things without someone to experience it with. Going on adventures will always more fun with someone else to stumble along with. There’s nothing like making memories with someone you love and care about. There are also many opportunities to share romantic experiences with a partner, like sharing a kiss under the Eiffel Tower. But I have yet to do such things.
When I get lonely or long for a companion the feeling doesn’t usually last for very long. That’s because I’m quickly reminded of all of the things I have been able to see and do, regardless of who I didn’t have with me. And I realize that if I had waited for the perfect time a friend could go, or for a man to become part of my life, I may not have had these experiences at all.
I can’t really think of a time when I was scared or feared for my safety while traveling. Granted, I’ve only been to a handful of places abroad, and highly populated cities in the U.S., but I can truly say that I’ve only been afraid when traveling maybe two to three times total. And it was more or less because I was lost.
I remember a time when I was in Italy. I was staying in Naples and wanted to take a day trip to Pompeii. It seemed easy enough, just take the train and it was a straight shot.
turns out it wasn’t a straight shot, there were actually two trains that go south, AND I got on the wrong one. *facepalm* In no time I was completely lost and what was supposed to be a thirty-minute trip turned into a 3 hour one. At one point I was in a very residential area and feared that (forget Pompeii) I wouldn’t be able to get back to my Airbnb!
I eventually figured out the way back to the train station nearby where I was staying. It took a lot of google translate and attempts at basic Italian words, but I finally ended up back where I started.
Instead of going back to my room and calling it a day, I realized I didn’t want this crazy experience to all that I remembered about this day. Also, it was just shy of 12 noon and although I wanted to be in Pompeii earlier that morning to avoid the crazy July heat, I picked up my face and made a “big girl” decision. I ultimately decided to seize the day and continue on my way to the ruins. I mean, who knows when I would ever be here again?! But this time I used my resources wisely, paid much better attention, and made it there in no time.
It was extremely hot, but I enjoyed myself. More importantly, I was proud of myself for not letting the scare of being lost that morning deter me from living that experience.
I believe maintaining one’s mental health is one of the most important jobs we have as humans. And we owe it to ourselves to be mindful of what we need to stay healthy and whole. For me, It’s not really about getting away, it’s more about being able to scale it back. Traveling provides me time to slow down and get back to truly listening to myself. The woman I am on the road is one that is fearless, open, and happy.
I can’t wait to not only find out what our new normal is, but also being able to get back to old, comfy familiars like TSA checks.