My list of solo travel joys

September 18, 2011 in Philosophy,Travel

It’s the awkward curse of the only child: I often prefer being alone, a good book as my company. I love hanging out with my friends, but I also like nights in with a favorite movie and a glass of wine, an early morning run, an afternoon at a café with a stack of magazines.

Baklava French toast at Demitri's Feast, Richmond, Melbourne, Australia

More than anything, I like to travel on my own. The freedom to explore a new place exactly how I like to: camera in hand, book in bag, wandering down back alleys and pausing to frame my “perfect” shot. I always feel rushed and pressured when I’m with someone–and I hate that feeling. In that spirit, here are my solo travel joys:

Not wearing makeup: Less to pack, less to worry about in the morning: it’s liberating.

Eating two desserts before noon: I can splurge on a fancy meal at a top-rated Australian restaurant, I can snack on an apple from the farmers’ market, or I can eat a cannoli for breakfast and a chocolate hazelnut slice for a mid-morning snack. Whatevs.

Going to sleep early and waking up early: I like waking up with natural light, not an alarm clock. I never sleep with the blinds closed: as soon as the sun is up and shining, I feel like I need to take advantage of the day. Rarely are my travel companions as excited to wake up early as I am…and usually, having travel companions mean I will be out much later (and drinking much more) than I would on my own.

Someone striking up a conversation with you: How often do groups or couples strike up conversation with each other? But when you’re on your own, people are much more keen to include you in their conversation or ask you questions about your background.

Vibram Five Fingers at sunset in St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia

Wearing my weird shoes: I’m obsessed with my Vibram Five Fingers, but my “feet gloves” are still a source of much whispering, finger pointing and heckling. And often, it’s by my friends, not the strangers.

Being able to squeeze in because there’s only one of you: Tour groups, shuttle buses, busy restaurants: they almost always have a spot for one more.  

A hot shower after a cold day (or a cold shower after a hot day): A purely singular pleasure that never fails to rejuvenate me. 

Dalmation street art in Paddington, Sydney, Australia

Freedom of planning a trip on your own: I’ve never been a big fan of compromise. I shall happily make sacrifices for those whom I love, but I’d rather just do what I want: museums, street art searches, sunny courtyards.

Getting to sing out loud with headphones in on a deserted path: I love that thrill of being alone, the joy of knowing there is absolutely no one within earshot of you.

Validation of figuring something out on your own: Every time I sort out getting around a new city on my own–no iPhone here, thank you very much!–I’m reminded that that I am totally capable. It’s a pretty nice feeling.

What are your favorite solo travel joys? 

Don’t like traveling alone? Share your favorite little expat joys and little travel joys

  • Anonymous

    I was sure you’d be able to relate to some of these, Gray! Glad you were :)

  • Anonymous

    Surely the day shall come when I prefer to travel with someone rather than by myself…but until then, I’m going to embrace my “independence”–aka being able to be as indulgent and selfish as I fancy! And I have totally made friends with couples while I’ve been traveling…so it’s still totally possible! I think couples are sometimes easier than groups of friends to start chatting with :)

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  • Anonymous

    Great list, and I chuckled over the “feet gloves”—just saw a sitcom episode about that subject! (happy endings) So funny!

  • I can relate with ‘taking my time to frame the perfect shot’! Sometimes I feel too rushed to snap the perfect photo when travelling with others :)

  • Anonymous

    Haha I love my feet gloves! No one else seems to appreciate them!

  • Anonymous

    Even when they’re not rushing me, I still feel rushed! I really only have one good friend who I feel totally at ease with taking foreverrrrrr to frame a shot…

  • Rajasthan Tours

    Excellent blog and Great list  in post

  • Samanthasharonckabule

    hi! i would like to do things on my on but owes  fell .i am happy for you .from sharon  

  • Hey, I have feet gloves too they are so weird…I love them!! Your post is so true I find being on my own I can fit in anywhere, people like to talk to strangers, I love to talk to strangers when i’m travelling.  I enjoy your post :)

  • camorose

    Haha YES feet gloves FTW! Glad I have found someone else who loves the weirdness of them :)

  • Haha, I love traveling alone too! There are way too many perks… and I love meeting new people and the cultural experiences you have. 

  • camorose

    So true! Meet so many more people when you’re traveling alone :)

  • Haha! Another one with those weird shoes. Are you still rocking them? 

    As for your pleasures I’ve got mine too. They include chocolate and Spanish newspapers 😉 Fascinating insight chica!

  • camorose

    Haha yes I still wear Vibrams but mostly just for working out and running. I do love buying a bar of chocolate before going to a movie by myself and enjoying it ALL!

  • Oh this post resonates with me thoroughly! One of my favourite joys of solo travel is being able to go where I want, when I want. If Im in love with a place, I can choose to linger; if over it, I can pack my bags and head off in search of the next destination.

  • camorose

    So nice when you don’t have to make any compromises :)

  • Hi! I’m newly single and am looking into solo travel when my son graduates from high school in a few years. Your blog is DEFINITELY one I am loving!

    I’m hoping for my first big solo travel to be to Ireland!

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