Traveling Solo—Good Idea?
Most of the time when I travel, I’m going solo. Of course I’ve traveled a lot with my wife and I took my daughter on a cross country train trip when she was about 11. But over the last 20 years, with only a few exceptions, I’ve traveled on my own, often being away for as long as 30 days. (Remember, I live in Hawaii, so it takes me longer to get to and from wherever I’m going.)
The fact is, traveling solo is quite a different experience. For one thing, there is a somewhat greater chance for something to go wrong. And that’s understandable because there’s no traveling companion to notice that you left your laptop on the conveyor belt at airport security.
And so, Rule Number One is slow down! Don’t cut things so close that you’re forced to rush. Allow a few extra minutes whenever your itinerary has you moving on. When you cut things close, mistakes happen.
Rule Number Two: Pack light. Plenty of collared knit tops and two or three T-shirts. Jeans: pack one, wear one. Socks and wear one pair all-purpose shoes. (Ladies can pack a second pair.)
Take also a small shoulder bag or back pack in which you keep a copy of your itinerary, your passport, your tickets, and all your prescriptions and medications. (Do not pack medications in your suitcase, especially if you might check it.) If you don’t have a item of clothing you absolutely need, buy it there.
The fact is, in several ways I think solo travel is more interesting and even—dare I say it?—more fun. For one thing, if you’re at all gregarious, you will meet many more people along the way than you would if you were traveling with a companion. And what could be more interesting than that?
I live in Hawaii as well. I travel solo also. My experience has been similar to what you mentioned except for the following. The things you mentioned that go wrong, doesn’t really affect me. In fact traveling solo allows me more freedom if something does go wrong. I took a flight from Honolulu to San Diego and the airport was fogged in. I was able to make some decisions and to procure a hotel and then a train ride down the next day from LAX. if I was traveling with someone, I probably would have been forced to make that trip at 1:00 a.m. instead of the next day. Packing the light and single bag is most definitely the option. I do agree, rigid schedules when you’re traveling alone are ridiculous. If you don’t feel like eating breakfast at 8:00 a.m., don’t. Things like that.
Aloha . . . and I agree with your point about being able to do (or not do) whatever strikes your fancy when traveling alone. I get real pleasure from just BEING somewhere different, whether it’s in the U.S. or some exotic foreign destination.
Since I have no choice (being single) I must agree. It is so great meeting other people. I wish I had started traveling 20 years earlier so I could have met more people — especially the woman I sat across from in an Amtrak diner car a few years ago who reminded me of Kate Hepburn. She remembered me later when she passed by my room and suggested I visit a railroad museum that was ahead on our route. I will always regret not following her and continuing the conversation.
I actually thought about mentioning the possibility of exactly that kind of delightful circumstance as yet another reason for solo travel. There was, in fact, an occasion several years ago aboard the Cardinal that I occasionally call to mind.
Oddly enough, I dined with her on the Cardinal, and she said she’d be continuing on to California on the Southwest Chief. I told her I’d be going to California on the California Zephyr. So it really surprised when she stopped by room on the Zephyr to mention the museum in Sacramento!