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Traveling Alone

Traveling Alone

Lonely Los Ayala beach

Lonely Los Ayala beach

Traveling alone can be a wonderful experience–don’t be afraid to give it a try!

September 11, 2007

I like to travel alone.  That’s not to say that I wouldn’t rather travel with Omar or friends and relatives, but I still enjoy traveling by myself.  It opens you up to adventure.  I am much more aware of what’s going on around me when I’m on my own, and I see more.  When I am with someone I’m usually talking (ask Omar) and could pass under an elephant without noticing.  That’s fine—a good conversation is one of the joys of life.  But I do find I’m more part of my environment when I’m alone.

Traveling alone isn’t for everybody.  If you feel uncomfortable eating by yourself in a restaurant or going solo to the movies, it probably isn’t for you.  But traveling alone can be a wonderful experience, exhilarating in the freedom to come and go with the wind, without a word of explanation or hint of disagreement.  It’s really very exciting and liberating.

I traveled Mexico and Central America on my own for a year.  I went just where I wanted, and if I didn’t like it when I got there, I turned around and got right back on the bus.  Or if I fell in love or liked the food or heard of a nearby cave to explore, I’d stay longer.  It was the freest time of my life.

I was never lonely.  The fact of the matter is, unless you are hiking the Arctic ice, you are rarely really alone.  There are always fellow travelers and native citizens to talk to, and sometimes to spend a few days or months with.  It is amazing what wonderful friendships you can form on short notice.  I shared my experiences with many people along the way, and it was always a positive experience.  As a matter of fact, you are probably more likely to meet interesting people if you are alone than if you are with someone else.  Just stand on a street corner and look lost, and someone is bound to show up with directions and a possible friendship.  Or approach someone with a smile and ask them to recommend a restaurant.

You need to read the signs, of course.  Some folks don’t want company.  There is a subset of travelers who need to feel they are the first person to discover, say, England.  They won’t like you to intrude upon their reverie with hotel reviews and suggestions about visiting the town down the road.

And there is another percentage of travelers who are miserable at home and no different on the road.  You get to recognize them quickly by their negative attitude–avoid them.

What are the drawbacks to traveling on your own?  You have to lug your backpack with you to pee at the bus station.  You have to keep an eye on your stuff at the beach when you are in swimming.  In general, you sometimes would like to have someone watch your back.  Or cuddle your back.

And then there is “price per person, based on double occupancy.”  Have you seen those single rates?!

It is almost certainly more dangerous to travel alone.  I swam on deserted beaches, climbed volcanoes solo, and ran around with my luggage at three in the morning in Managua looking for a hotel.  When you go alone you take a chance.  But there isn’t always someone else to accompany you when you are ready to go, and if you are like me, you don’t want to miss out on the experiences life offers you.

Through it all, I’m extremely happy I traveled as I did.  I do have one regret—I have no one to share the memories with.  In the case of some of the memories, that’s maybe for the best!  But I like to share, and while I wouldn’t hesitate to travel alone again (under slightly more comfortable conditions, I would hope!), I’m as happy as can be to now do all my traveling with Omar.

Dan and Omar

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A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.