My recent January Paris trip has shown me one thing, I have become a selfish solo traveller and I also have become hooked on travelling alone.
I have tried had to overcome this addiction, to become a social traveller but somehow I have failed. People who know me think it is strange, because for them travelling with a companion is part of the trip.
The only exception of course is my husband, with whom I can be alone and together at the same time. Ironically , when I was discussing this post with him he said that he doesn’t like travelling with other people either, except me. ( good answer Michael!)
On solo trips I like meeting up with people for a coffee or a meal, in fact I love it. Meeting people from different countries and cultures is all part of the fun. Also having to make the effort to speak to strangers is a challenge I enjoy. But after that I need to go home with myself, sleep with myself and get up alone. Wander about without any plan and see where the day takes me. See what will evolve in the trip.
My January trip is supposed my retreat from the world. To be with myself in solitude. To meditate and contemplate on the meaning of my life. Face up to some of my demons, find myself again and recharge my batteries ready for the new year. etc, etc.
People who know me think it is strange… I think it is strange. I used to think, like them that people who travelled alone were sad, had no friends, so had no choice. Now solo travel is like a secret indulgence to me. A forbidden pleasure, that nobody really knows about or understands.
If you share a trip with another person or persons, there is some responsibility there. You can’t just go off and do your own thing without taking them into consideration, so there is a degree of compromise. Compromise I have discovered, I selfishly don’t want to make, on what is a special trip for me.
How I admire those people who can go on a tour, or a cruise with a gang. This would be my worst nightmare. Having to conform. I fear that I am becoming very antisocial. Maybe I will end up as one of those eccentric old ladies who live alone in the woods!
When you are with another person, no matter how much you go off and do your own thing , One is still concious that there is somebody waiting at home and one can not just go off and stay out all night, change plans or whatever, if you want to.
Of course the big bogeyman with solo travel is loneliness …and of course there are moments when I am lonely. Moments when I acutely miss my husband and family. This is one of the demons I have overcome, the fear of loneliness. Once I “faced the fear and did it anyway” I realised that loneliness it is no longer the bogeyman I thought it was and this realisation is SO empowering.
I can be alone with myself. I can eat out alone, I can go to a concert or film alone. No longer is there any fear of being alone, being self sufficient. No longer is there any dependence on other people.
Having said that, I am eternally grateful to have somebody at home I can ring and share the joy of a an uplifting concert or the wonder of some beautiful sunset.
Now I don’t even notice I am by myself. A couple on a Krakow trip last year asked me if I was alone and I laughed as I said “yes” because I had forgotten.
I love my friend Lizzie dearly but on our recent trip, I obviously irritated her. Just small things, habits we all have, like putting the tea bags in the cupboard and covering the butter etc….. and this in turn irritated me.
Maybe it was because we were both a bit off colour,that we had this irritation, but it is an irritation I do not want to compromise on.
Don’t get me wrong. We had a great time and our shared activities were fun. I would go away with Lizzie again….not sure whether she would go with me again. LOL!
…..but lesson learned. if I want my retreat I need to go alone!
Watch this space.