First things first, I absolutely enjoyed traveling solo in Europe during these last five weeks. The title statement is true, but it’s not what you think. I am sharing the somber side of my travels first, because I’m going to be sharing all the wonderful things over the next few weeks and I don’t want to paint a false picture of, “solo travel is amazing – everyone should do it.” I don’t think everyone should do it and I can also promise that none of my writing will include the words, “why you should,” in their titles. There seems to be a trend of writers telling others what to do, and a trend of solo-travel being better than any other type of travel. I’m not trying to encourage anyone to do what I did – I’m sharing my story so you can freely decide on your own what you want to do!
I loved being by myself in all the new cities and countries I visited, I loved trying new food (obvioulsy), walking nearly 15 miles a day – just exploring, waking up to the sound of foreign languages outside my hotel windows – I loved it all. I cannot wait to continue exploring destinations by myself. As a creative person, I feel that solo-exploration is how I find inspiration.
Yet, I find myself thinking, “well, I’m never doing that again.” “That,” being the length of the trip compared to the lack of planning I did and because I had nobody I loved to share my experiences with.
If you’ve read or seen the movie, “Into the Wild,” Chris McCandless discovers that “happiness is only real when shared,” towards the end of his life.
When I first read that quote, I scoffed. I am completely independent and can source happiness from within. I don’t need to share it.
McCandless and I share similar attitudes about society, what life is about, etc.
It’s true – I am very independent and absolutely can source my happiness from within. For most of my life, I have always preferred doing things on my own. I hated group work in school, and usually hate most rules because I can figure out a better, more efficient, more “Tiffiny,” way of doing something.
To set the stage, I’ll share a vignette of my evening at the Eiffel Tower, in second person:
You find yourself walking the Parc du Champ de Mars, aka the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower, one night, watching the glittering white lights sparkle from the top to the bottom of the Tour Eiffel, which happens at the top of every hour. All you can do is enjoy it – alone. It is not a bad moment but it is definitely more melancholy than happy. You might have a foreign expat come up to you, trying to sell Eiffel Tower keychains and overpriced bottles of champagne, but who the hell drinks a bottle of champagne at the Eiffel Tower – alone?
So you take a few photos, you take a few selfies, and stand and stare at this beautiful work of art and architecture. You close your eyes, breathing in the smell of wet grass, listening to the conversations happening around you – not understanding anything because they are all in French. You hear laughter and bicycle bells pass you on your left – people touring Paris at night by bike (the thing to do, by the way). When you open your eyes, it’s just you moving through a city that may have been made for two and it’s time to move on.
The Eiffel Tower was one of a few moments I found myself sincerely wishing to share my thoughts with. Not just someone though – a friend or family member I loved. Even though I get utterly annoyed with people after traveling with them for more than a week, some of my fondest memories are the special moments that were not part of our itinerary.
So, will I venture to Europe alone again? Yes. Will I go for five weeks or more? Possibly.
The thing that will change is that I want to share more of my trips with another person.
Traveling solo is hard. Traveling solo is expensive.
I know not everyone can travel the way I do, but with proper planning, a friend or two could have joined me for a couple weeks on this trip and that would have been amazing. Because I am an introvert, this is going to require me to get out of my comfort zone – bring it on.
Solo travel is amazing, but shared travel shows you how special and happy moments are when you get to experience them with another person.
Do you prefer traveling solo? Why or why not?