Traveling Solo, Tips and Tales (Part 1 of 3): Best Things May 17, 2009Posted by Onely in Great Onely Activities, Secret Lives of the Happily Single, single and happy, solo travel, We like. . ..
Tags: england, international travel, isle of man, liverpool, solo travel, traveling companions, UK
Hello Copious Readers!
I’m back from my two-week adventure in the UK! I visited the posh university town of Cambridge; then traveled by bus and ferry to the Isle of Man, located in the middle of the Irish Sea; then met up with a friend in Northern Ireland for two and a half days and visited the Giant’s Causeway, among other beautiful sights; and ended my trip in London.
As you know from my earlier post, some of my experience was a bit more adventurous than I would have liked (my wallet was stolen in London), but overall, I am so happy that I decided to make this international trip a solo one. I’ve traveled through a lot of the US on my own, but traveling abroad – even to the UK, which in some ways felt like “cheating” because there was no language barrier – presented both a unique challenge, as well as a very rewarding experience. For those of you who are dreaming of taking this kind of a trip yourself, I’ve composed a series of lists detailing the best and worst aspects of traveling alone, as well as a set of tips for anyone planning an international trip alone. Here’s Part One of Three:
Lisa’s Best Things about Traveling Alone:
- As our readers Alan and Singlutionary pointed out in earlier comments, there really is something wonderful about having total control over your touring decisions. One of the most interesting places I visited was called the Williamson Tunnels, in Liverpool – I got a private tour of this strange series of underground tunnels because the site is off the beaten track and I turned out to be the only visitor at the time. It was a blip in the guidebook, and a traveling companion may have been more interested in other places, but I got to go because I was on my own schedule.
- Speaking of the schedule, you get to set your own pace: I tend to have a relatively short attention span and would rather move from one thing to the next than reading every plaque or informational brochure thoroughly. I can count several friends and family members off the top of my head who would have been bothered by my speed (and hell, that would probably have made me feel bothered about myself!), so it was nice not to have to worry about my effect on others.
- When you meet other solo travelers, it’s easy to bond, and refreshing to have a companion for a while. I met two other women on the trip who were both traveling alone, and who I probably would never have talked with if I had been traveling with a friend or a family member. When you’re with someone else, it’s easy to isolate oneself and only pay attention to those people with whom you’re most familiar; meeting these other women (both more courageous than me — they were both traveling for months, not weeks) was invigorating – I really appreciated having someone to talk with for those few hours. On the other hand, if you’re alone, you don’t have to talk with anyone if you don’t feel like it. And that’s nice too!
- When you encounter trouble, you make it through, and afterwards, you feel super strong and much less afraid. I was stunned by the story that our regular reader, Autonomous, shared here about being pick-pocketed in Argentina at the age of 22 — she said, “I’ll never forget it and I know I’ll manage somehow if again I’m ever stranded!” I concur: now, after having my wallet stolen and losing my passport, I know that I can and will be able to handle it in the future — not to mention knowing a lot more about what I need to be prepared for my next trip.
- Coming back from the trip just gets you excited for future trips! I am so ready for the next one!
Look for Parts Two and Three, to be published in the next few days!