Have you ever traveled alone? Do you like it? Does the idea scare you to death? I happen to love it. I also happen to really enjoy adventuring with RF, so it’s been a long while since I took off all by my lonesome. But, over happy hour last night, I got to hear about a friend’s first solo trip and it reminded me just how liberating and refreshing it can be.
My first big solo trip was to Alaska. I had road tripped on my own before, but mainly up and down California where I lived at the time. While I can be very social, I’m a super introvert at heart. I can imagine that the thought of hours on end without anyone to talk to but yourself would give my extroverted friends panic attacks. Of course, I also know that they would make friends at every stop along the way. So, if you’re an extrovert, you shouldn’t let that stop you.
For me, solitude is recharging. I’m a comforter, always working hard to make sure everyone is happy. When alone, the only person I have to make happy is myself. I can sleep as long as I like, linger as long as I want, hurry through the things that I don’t care about, veer off course in an instant, eat whatever I choose. Some folks seek out the adrenaline rush of a rollercoasters and bungie jumps. Me? I prefer jetting off to a place I don’t know, where perhaps I don’t even speak the language, and tackle the unknown all by myself.
In eased into the solo lifestyle in Alaska, choosing to stay in a hostel my first few nights. I had my own room, but was able to socialize with fellow travelers – an Israeli on walkabout between mandatory military service and joining the workforce, a father and son en route to a northern Alaska hunting adventure, a woman making the drive from The Lower 48 to Anchorage – all adventurers in their own right. The Israeli encouraged me to join him at the Alaska State Fair, something I might not have picked myself but thoroughly enjoyed. So, even I admit that joining forces along the way has its advantages. Of course, I was more than happy to set off by myself on the train to Denali the next day.
My second big trip was a road trip through the eastern coast of Canada. I flew into Boston and drove up to Maine where I caught a fast ferry to Nova Scotia. I journeyed all the way out and around Cape Breton, over to Prince Edward Island and back through New Brunswick, with an impulsive trip to Grand Manan Island along the way. About ten days in total, every bit of it a delight.
Both trips were in early August, a time when I used to be treated to a break as a counterbalance to the long hours of my seasonal festival job. That time of year is stunning in both regions. Long days, clear skies, warm (for there, anyway) temps. Driving days were balanced with kayaking crystal clear glacier-fed waters, hiking waterfront trails, booking shrimp boat excursions to see magnificently tremendous grey whales – or, whatever happened to spark my interest at any given moment. That’s the beauty!
My last solo trip was to Paris. A friend loaned me his apartment while he was off working in Germany. To have a home base in a foreign land felt so exotic and completely decadent. As much as I was still on my own, there was some comfort in living a secret life as a local, however fraudulent. I shopped at the outdoor markets trying to hide my stumbling French, sat in various cafes sipping coffee as though they were my typical neighborhood spot, picked up baguettes at the boulangerie down the street. Each day, I felt more Parisienne. A different kind of thrill than being a roving explorer, but equally exciting.
Ahh, perhaps there’s another solo journey lurking in my not so distant future. While there is much to be said for sharing life’s adventures, there’s also plenty of room for memories that only I own.