I stood, lost in thought at the taco counter in Pest.

“Are you OK?” asked the young man at the counter, in English seeping with a beautiful Hungarian accent.

I jogged back into the moment.

“Oh, yeah,” I said, grabbing my metal tray containing a junior burrito and large beer. “Just thinking.”

And I left it at that.

The truth was, I was OK. But, only kindasortanotreallymaybe.

In the past month of traveling, there was only 48 or less hours of being completely alone. Solo.

I am a big advocate of solo traveling.  I love it. I would recommend it to anyone.

As a solo traveler, you have the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

It is what afforded me the opportunity to decide to go to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, to participate in two VaughanTown programs, head to Toledo and Segovia at a moments notice and just do whatever it was I wanted. It is also what afforded me the opportunity to meet the people I ended up spending most of my time with the past month, namely Anthony.

The thing is, leaving Anthony and the comfort of having friends is also a downside of traveling.

There are those moments, alone in a big new city (Budapest), when all you want to do is turn to someone and tell them you are frustrated, or tired, or wish your hostel would answer the phone, but they won’t, so now you have to find another one and damn it all, you just want to put your bag down and chill.

It’s the same every time. You meet people. You travel with people. You say your “see you soons” and then you head off.

There is 24, or 36 or 48 hours where you are once again solo. The first few moments, barring unforseen circumstances (like not having your hostel even though you booked it), are bliss. It is nice to be alone. To gather your thoughts. To think about what you want to do next.

Then, there are the moments after that. Once you have done your thinking and moved on to the moment you are actually in. Those are the hardest for me.

My first day in Pest, I decided to take a walk through the town and head to the baths. It was a nice experience, dipping my body into thermal pools of varied temperatures, watching other people interact, but there were times I found myself longing for someone to share the moment with … to make it last a little longer.

Then, later in the evening, I decided to go and explore some of the local bars. They were cool, and I grabbed a drink in two of them, but again, I really wanted someone to talk to.

Fortunately, traveling solo also means it won’t be long until I meet someone like Anthony, or Emma or Abbey or Tina (or any of the other phenomenal people I have met) again.

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” explains this ridiculously eloquently. She is harassed by Lonely and Depression following her arrival in Italy. They tear at her until finally, she waves them off.

It isn’t always easy, but I know if I can keep moving, eventually those two beasts subside and give way to Bliss and Happy.

It’s just a matter of time. And patience.

19 comments

  1. When traveling solo I think that the most important thing is to be at peace with that state. If you hate traveling solo, being solo, you’ll not be able to enjoy yourself. If you see everything as an adventure and a tremendous opportunity to meet interesting people and, as you mentioned, do whatever you like, whenever you like, all will be perfect! I agree it is not always easy – but good practice leads to perfection.

    Like

    1. Amen! 🙂 I LOVE traveling solo and being solo (most of the time). I wake up every morning with an excitement, a feeling of “anything can happen” and that is truly a gift and something I treasure every day.

      Like

  2. When traveling solo I think that the most important thing is to be at peace with that state. If you hate traveling solo, being solo, you’ll not be able to enjoy yourself. If you see everything as an adventure and a tremendous opportunity to meet interesting people and, as you mentioned, do whatever you like, whenever you like, all will be perfect! I agree it is not always easy – but good practice leads to perfection.

    Like

    1. Amen! 🙂 I LOVE traveling solo and being solo (most of the time). I wake up every morning with an excitement, a feeling of “anything can happen” and that is truly a gift and something I treasure every day.

      Like

  3. I’m 26 days into my solo travel and I’ve had many moments on a bus where I’m alone and I’m so happy I did this on my own.

    I’ve had the same longing for people to share things with but more often than not I’m happier alone. I find I’m more spontaneous and I’ve met far more people than I would have as a couple.

    Like

    1. Absolutely — I definitely think you meet way more people solo than if you were traveling with someone. Don’t get me wrong, I am ridiculously happy to be traveling solo … it was just a moment I had and got over. 🙂 I simply wanted to write about it because I was feeling it. I would never trade being solo for being with people.

      Like

  4. I’m 26 days into my solo travel and I’ve had many moments on a bus where I’m alone and I’m so happy I did this on my own.

    I’ve had the same longing for people to share things with but more often than not I’m happier alone. I find I’m more spontaneous and I’ve met far more people than I would have as a couple.

    Like

    1. Absolutely — I definitely think you meet way more people solo than if you were traveling with someone. Don’t get me wrong, I am ridiculously happy to be traveling solo … it was just a moment I had and got over. 🙂 I simply wanted to write about it because I was feeling it. I would never trade being solo for being with people.

      Like

  5. As an introverted person, what I appreciate most about solo travel is that it trains me to throw myself into other people’s worlds, since even introverts need a degree of meaningful contact with others in order to maintain their happiness. Introducing myself the moment I walked into a hostel dorm room, or making some corny icebreaker joke to a complete stranger, became reflex actions during my recent three months of travel. These will be useful social skills for me to maintain throughout life.

    The steady stream of “good-byes” to new friends met on the road is the biggest downside to traveling alone; as soon as you begin to develop a rapport with someone in Budapest you are off to Pecs with a Facebook connection being the most you have left to bind you. It’s like speed dating (“friend dating,” I suppose) without the likelihood of a second date. This can wear you down after a long time traveling. On the positive side, you make a lot of new connections to potentially enjoy later in life, but in darker moments the rapid succession of fast friendships on the road can feel a bit superficial (inevitably so, since the deeper stuff cannot happen until the getting-to-know-you stuff is all out of the way, which usually takes more than one night of drinking beers together in Ljubljana).

    Overall, I prefer solo travel, since finding the perfect traveling companion is harder than finding a roommate. But there is a downside to everything! 😀

    Like

    1. Well put. 🙂 I LOVE to meet people, it is exhilarating and makes travel even more awesome. In Budapest, there were few to no travelers. I’m a really friendly, extroverted person so normally I have no problems meeting people, but there were none to meet there. I have definitely made some D & M connections with people on my travels, relationships that for now are Facebook-driven, but I know will extend into other facets of my life. Agreed — the skills you learn during your travels, like corny jokes, are excellent life skills, too.

      Like

  6. As an introverted person, what I appreciate most about solo travel is that it trains me to throw myself into other people’s worlds, since even introverts need a degree of meaningful contact with others in order to maintain their happiness. Introducing myself the moment I walked into a hostel dorm room, or making some corny icebreaker joke to a complete stranger, became reflex actions during my recent three months of travel. These will be useful social skills for me to maintain throughout life.

    The steady stream of “good-byes” to new friends met on the road is the biggest downside to traveling alone; as soon as you begin to develop a rapport with someone in Budapest you are off to Pecs with a Facebook connection being the most you have left to bind you. It’s like speed dating (“friend dating,” I suppose) without the likelihood of a second date. This can wear you down after a long time traveling. On the positive side, you make a lot of new connections to potentially enjoy later in life, but in darker moments the rapid succession of fast friendships on the road can feel a bit superficial (inevitably so, since the deeper stuff cannot happen until the getting-to-know-you stuff is all out of the way, which usually takes more than one night of drinking beers together in Ljubljana).

    Overall, I prefer solo travel, since finding the perfect traveling companion is harder than finding a roommate. But there is a downside to everything! 😀

    Like

    1. Well put. 🙂 I LOVE to meet people, it is exhilarating and makes travel even more awesome. In Budapest, there were few to no travelers. I’m a really friendly, extroverted person so normally I have no problems meeting people, but there were none to meet there. I have definitely made some D & M connections with people on my travels, relationships that for now are Facebook-driven, but I know will extend into other facets of my life. Agreed — the skills you learn during your travels, like corny jokes, are excellent life skills, too.

      Like

  7. Solo travel is laced with a sense of bravery. When I traveled in a couple, it was more insular. Alone, I experience more sensation and can pay attention to it. Even in the loneliness, it’s present and I’m awake, alive. Not that I diss couples traveling, but for me, I kept worrying about the other person instead of the experience. No more, sister! You should read my latest Gypsy Wednesday, a Buddhist book that discusses loneliness and how to embrace it, not fear it. 🙂

    Like

    1. I am the same way — when I am traveling “with” someone (not meeting someone and saying, “hey, let’s go here …”), I definitely feel the need to entertain and to make sure they are having a good time, which ultimately takes away from my experiences. You are right though, even in the loneliest moment traveling, you are still present. The days I was in Budapest, I explored the city, took it all in, wandered around and got “lost” … I love it. The book sounds good … there was a time when I hated being lonely/afraid of ever being alone, but I beat that my first solo travel experience. Budapest, and my feelings during Budapest, were partly because of the intense emotional experiences and connections I had the previous weeks in Spain and during the VT programs. To go from that to complete solo-ness was vastly different.

      Like

  8. I feel like I’d go through the exact same motions if I were on a RTW trip solo…for me, my experiences with people are some of the most important parts of my travels. But I think you’re maintaining a healthy balance of both. 🙂

    Like

  9. I feel like I’d go through the exact same motions if I were on a RTW trip solo…for me, my experiences with people are some of the most important parts of my travels. But I think you’re maintaining a healthy balance of both. 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply to Candice Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s