Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Often Alone, Seldom Lonely

There’s a difference between being a tourist and a traveler. The way I see it, tourists do what make them comfortable. Travelers seeks discovery. We take more risks. We get pleasure in overcoming difficulties and discomforts. We seek out people not just places.

I’ve traveled in many different ways. With family, with friends, and with girlfriends. And alone. I enjoy traveling alone most of all. You are never actually alone when you travel alone. If you are open minded and allow yourself to open to opportunities right in front of you, you never know who you might meet and what you might discover that will lead to a great experience. With me, that is the best part of travel.

I do what I want. I go where I want. I relax. I meet locals. I feel the intensity of the experience and the thrill of the unexpected. It is much easier to meet people, make plans, and get in touch with where you are and who you are when solo. Traveling alone can be the ultimate travel experience.

Reframing popular misconceptions:

Don’t you feel lonely? Alone does not mean lonely, I long ago separated these two words. The worst travel experiences that I have had were with people who were incompatible—not only did I feel lonely, I also felt frustrated and angry.

I don’t like being by myself, how do you do it? It’s up to me how much of my time is actually spent alone. I spend time with people that I meet day and night. I’ve also met up with people that I had previously conversed with online.

Aren’t you afraid of danger? I’m smart enough to realize that the world is not always a friendly place. I’m certainly not going to lock myself inside four walls and miss out on life itself. I think most of the vulnerability people feel is irrational. I don’t go out looking for trouble, but I don’t avoid it either. I just remain sensible at all times.

Eating alone is no fun. Sometimes it isn’t, but eating with someone incompatible is worse. Eating solo is cheap. I eat on the run or on the road—“meals” have no social importance, so my time is freed for other pursuits. I buy fruit and protein bars and avoid fast food. Since I have been traveling solo, I have adopted a more healthy diet (with occasional indulgences—but hey, since I am alone, no one is there to make judgment). As such, a home-cooked meal with an interesting companion is a relished experience.

Do you want people to feel sorry for you? People admire what I am doing and they often seem a little envious of my independence. I get comments all the time about how it takes “guts” or “balls” to do what I do. I largely don’t care what people think anyway. I more often concentrate on my own attitude and reasons that make sense to me.

I don’t trust my judgment. Traveling solo forces you to make choices all the time. I’m learning to trust my choices as I succeed. This is one benefit of solo travel. Sometimes I make spontaneous choices, sometimes I get lost, sometimes I wind up in undesirable places. Sometimes these impromptu judgments have led to rewarding experiences.

I can’t afford it. Work a money job, save, and simplify. Be thrifty at home to live as you want on the road. Or be a tightwad on the road too (like me). I will have to find work soon. Remember that time is the only real commodity that we have—spend it wisely.

Traits to have for solo travel (GoneSavage Method Self-Evaluation):
Resourcefulness, Resilience, Curiosity, Risk-Taking Attitude, Passion, Self Confidence, Sense of Humor, Openness, Keen Observation, Patience, Creativity.

Joy of solo travel (My Favorite Bubble Words):
Freedom, Discovery, Adventure, Experience, Pleasure, Romance, Spirit, Possibilities, Fantasies, New Friends, Solitude, Competence, Independence, Silence, Change, Lingering, Simplicity, Intensity, Opportunity, The Offbeat, The Unpredictable

Bubble phrases:
Living in the moment
Succeeding on your own
Trusting your instincts
Understanding better who you are
Appreciating your own impression and opinions
Confronting and conquering fears
Following your dreams and passions
Doing what you want, when you want, for as long as you want, with whomever you want

If you are alone anyway, why not travel?
Most solo travelers are women, tired of waiting for friends and lovers to join them.


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