Traveling Solo? OK, But Be Careful.
More often than not, I travel alone. My wife and I have often traveled together over the years, but these days my trips usually involve an RPA meeting and she’s reluctant to entrust the care and feeding of her two horses to just anyone.
Anyway, I do travel solo most of the time and, prompted by an inquiry from a reader, I’ve given some thought as to how it’s different and the lessons I’ve learned, usually the hard way.
First—and this is by far the most important—do not hurry. Mistakes happen when you’re rushed. You have to be extra careful and pay close attention to everything because there’s no one traveling with you to notice that you left your credit card on the restaurant table in that charming little French village.
I’ve developed the habit of deliberately stopping at very specific moments—immediately after going through security, before leaving a restaurant or getting off the train—and taking just 30 seconds to review where I am and what I’m doing. I run through a mental check list : credit card, cell phone, passport, reading glasses, etc.
Second—talk to people. Start conversations, even if you have to contrive a reason for doing so. Because—at least to my way of thinking—it’s meeting people along the way that makes travel, especially foreign travel, such a rewarding experience.
Third—Pack carefully and pack light. There’s no one to help with that extra bag and no one who’ll have some toothpaste, if you’ve forgotten yours.
In many ways—and I truly believe this, based on my personal experiences—solo travel is more rewarding than traveling with a companion. Just don’t tell my wife I said that.
I love traveling with my wife, but I also enjoy traveling alone. The big advantage of traveling alone is that you are only answerable to yourself about the choices you make – where to eat, when to leave, what to do that day, etc. The traveling alone thing I struggle with, though, is eating by yourself for dinner. Breakfast and lunch, no problem, but I don’t like sitting at a table (or a bar) alone for dinner.
I carry a reporter’s notebook with me and make notes during dinner that I’ll use (or not) in a future post.
Your point about not hurrying when traveling alone is sadly topical for me today. Flying on business and twice today left my cell phone behind (once on plane, second time in restroom). Fortunately honest people spotted it and gave it back both times. But sheesh!
Damn! Where was I when you really needed me??