|Image credit: BrittneyBush, Flickr|
The other day I was talking to someone who told me he rarely goes to movies anymore because most of his friends are married and he doesn't have anyone to go with. I thought it was weird because I've been going to movies by myself for years- you're not supposed to talk during the movie anyway, and it's a great way to spend a Wednesday afternoon when I'm off and everyone I know is at work,
But I admit I 've been guilty in the past of not going places when I didn't have someone to go with. A few years ago I made a decision to stop waiting around for someone else and just go. In town I generally run into someone I know, and when I travel I always enjoy myself.
I spent some time in New York City a couple of years ago. My friend from high school and his fiance live there, so I had a place to stay and people to hang out with in the evening, but during the day I was on my own. I was worried beforehand that I wouldn't have a good time, but actually it was the start of my solo travel epiphany: when you're on your own, you can get up when you want, eat when and where you want, and do and see only what you want.
|Like you can arrive at the Empire State building at 9am and not wait in line!|
The NYC trip helped me work up the courage to go to Ireland by myself. I booked a small group tour to make the planning easier. When I met my trip mates, I found out that there were five other solo travelers in the group. It seems like I really got to know the other travelers better because I wasn't focused on a companion. I had two days alone in Dublin, but after spending five days with a group I was happy to have some alone time. And, as with NYC, there was a great feeling of freedom in doing just what I wanted to do.
|Some of my fellow Irish Adventurers|
Next month I'm taking a trip to Peru. When I was in the third grade, I learned about Machu Piccu, and I have been wanting to visit ever since. I couldn't find anyone with the time or funds to go with, so it will be another solo adventure. I picked another group trip, but this one might not be the same cohesive group the whole time. I'm also practing my rusty high school Spanish with the hope that I will be able to converse with some actual Peruvians (we'll see how I do). One day I might get brave enough to travel completely on my own.
I still really enjoy spending time with friends. I love having the opportunity to relax with people I feel comfortable with, to discuss things after they happen, and to create those goofy stories that later have you laughing over drinks until beer comes out your nose. But I'm also really thankful for the courage to go out and do things when I can't find anyone to go with me.
|It's hard to wear silly hats when you're alone!|
Before my Ireland trip I was really nervous about spending so much time alone. I found a great guide for solo travel, a book called Travel Alone and Love it, by Sharon B. Wingler. The author is a flight attendant who had been all over the world by herself. She covers tons of practical topics (planning, packing, safety) but also discusses the advantages of traveling on your own. My favorite lesson from the book is that sometimes you get a little lonely while traveling on your own, but lonliness isn't the end of the world. Most of the time you're busy enjoying your trip, so it's not a big issue. Really, it's a small price to pay for having the opportunity to do things you always wanted to do.
But I admit that I still dislike eating dinner in a restaurant by myself. What things have you been relucatant to do alone?
So long for now, KISS (keep it simple stupid), and try doing something you really want to do, even if you can't find anyone to go with you.