I’m still walking on air after an inspiring night that came courtesy of Meet, Plan, Go and one of my guiding lights in Las Vegas, JoAnna Haugen, who herself learned a LOT by organizing the Vegas version of this national event. One of the most important ideas that I feel the audience soaked up like a sponge was that in the world of travel, there’s something for everyone. One person doesn’t like hostels, another is on a tight budget. Me? I can live in a very tight space or stay in a very modest room. But it has to have air conditioning. And… I do not enjoy solo travel.
There, I said it. I am not a solo traveler. I do not like solo travel.
By any definition, I’m a loner. I need lots and lots of time alone and really only recharge by having “me” time. I rejoice when I have a weekend mostly to myself, enjoy movie matinees with strangers, and often make huge moves (NYC to Austin, to Las Vegas, L.A., Costa Rica and back to Las Vegas) with no one to help but my trusty guys at Mayflower. Not only that, but I prefer to drive cross-country by myself and fly solo – there’s nothing I like better than being at a new airport by myself, bellying up to the bar to meet other travelers or perusing the shops.
And yet I do not enjoy solo travel.
I know I might have to get used to it. Someday. But so far, this is my truth.
I’ve never been even the slightest bit interested in hitting the road solo. When I backpacked for three months after college, I toured Europe with my best friend. We had a blast. Since then, among my many other trips, I’ve visited friends in Rio de Janiero, Shanghai and Borneo… So I’ve spent a lot of time in faraway places by myself, while my friends are at work, for example – let alone press trips. (Oh, if you guys could see my framed picture of me alone on a boat from my romantic solo [press trip] vacation in Maui.) But I always feel uncomfortable even taking day trips by myself, because I hate the feeling that I’m trying to latch onto other groups. (Yet, I still do it.) While I enjoy wandering around a new city alone taking pictures, I often then lack the oomph to find hole-in-the-wall places to eat lunch or check out a dinner show, things I love to do when traveling with others.
This dislike came to light a year ago during a trip to Turkey and Bulgaria.
When I accepted a job in Las Vegas after a year of living as an expat in Costa Rica, I knew I needed one last adventure – and off I went. I met up with an old friend from Vegas who was currently on her RTW trip, Diana, from DTravelsRound. (She was one of my fellow speakers last night – fate brought her back to Las Vegas with me!) Poor thing – not only did I catch her during a phase of Major Travel Fatigue, but she came down with an awful cold. I didn’t bat an eye.
We raced through Istanbul, since she’d been there way too long, waiting for my arrival. (I love that city and can’t wait to go back.) Off to Bulgaria it was – and new adventures! Since she was feeling under the weather, I went out with
strangers every night from our hostel in Sunny Beach. I acted way younger than my actual age, and it was awesome. Then we got to Varna, a much more grown-up town without the lively nightlife scene of Sunny Beach. I moved to a modest hotel in the center of town, where I felt safe walking around alone. And off I went, without thinking twice. But while I loved my dinners alone, there were no other backpackers to meet. There was a folk dance festival I would’ve liked to go to, but I didn’t care enough to go alone. I just lacked, well, the spark.
I didn’t hate being alone, and I know I’ll end up someday taking an actual long-term trip alone. I’m well into my 30s, single, and a travel-holic; I know my fate. But I also know that solo travel isn’t where I shine.
The bottom line is, I’m just not that into it. When I travel, I want someone to share my experiences with me. I prefer having a friend, so we can jointly plan that day’s activities. I get shy going to do some things alone, and then I miss out.
I might get over it. Or, I won’t. It’s OK. Travel makes every one of us a better person, no matter how you do it.
I relearned last night that it’s ok, no matter what my travel style is.
Who cares if solo travel is not for me?
I get out there, and I do it. And anyone who doesn’t, shame on you.
An earlier version of this article originally ran as a guest post on one of my favorite blogs, Spunky Girl Monologues.
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