When I began preparing for my trip I hadn’t quite registered that I would be truly traveling alone. I’ve of course taken trips solo before (conducting research in the Imperial War Museum, state hopping in the USA) but I had always planned to meet up with someone at some point along the way. This was the first trip in my life where I would be spending the first two weeks alone. I think the first time I actually registered this was the second or third day in Edinburgh when my body was sore from hiking Arthur’s Seat and the jet lag/insomnia double punch made falling asleep near impossible. It was in the wee hours of the morning as I watched the sun peek over the rooftops through red and itchy eyes that I realized my general malaise was that I didn’t have anyone to share this with. I rested in this gloomy feeling for about 12 hours until I realized that this was just a fact of traveling alone, you don’t really have someone to turn to and commiserate about how you were just drenched with gutter water by a city bus with four miles to go before you could shower and change into dry clothes (this literally happened and it’s actually a funny story, but I’ll save that for later). I came to the realization that in order to combat the solo slumps™ was to literally sit down several times a day and write out what I would want to discuss with someone if I had a traveling frand (okay so I don’t have an actual trade marked slogan but if I had the motivation and the time I would because I feel like there is a lot of worth behind it). As a result I’ve got a really great journal going with prose and poetry writings and I think I’ll even keep up the practice once I’m back in the States.
So basically, if you’ve stuck with this post so far, all I’ve done is talk about how traveling alone can be hard, as well as throwing in some other generally narcissistic ruminations. Allow me to get to the point, despite that minor adjustment period, I love traveling alone, and since everyone loves a list that is exactly what I shall do.
1. You learn a lot about what you are like as a traveler.
When you travel in groups or with other people you tend to fill a certain role (I typically take the mum role/ the overly cautious about time and making travel connections person). I like to get to the airport at least three hours before, I KNOW they tell you leave two hours for getting through TSA and security but I don’t trust people and honestly I’d rather have a nice relaxed sit in the airport sipping a drink than to have to run through the airport to make my gate. No thank you Satan, I would not like to do that today. I like to plan for every eventuality that could possibly happen and then after I’ve done that I can relax a little. When I’m not trying to get somewhere (eg using public transportation like buses and trains and airplanes) I’m decently relaxed, like I’ll pretty much eat whatever and go wherever and I’m not that fussed about having an established plan from day to day. I know that for some of the people in my life that would drive them insane and I have personally made some of my friends borderline homicidal with my behavior, however since it’s just me I can be as early I want for my travel and as free with my daily plans as I fancy.
2. You frequently get the best seating in the house.
I recognize that this may be unique to the Fringe and my experience with seating here but people are really weird when seating themselves in a theatre, they always leave a seat or two in between parties as if by sitting directly next to someone they didn’t know the odds of them busting into flames increased by 200%. However as a result I have been able to snag 1st- 4th row seats due to the singleness of my party.
DIGRESSION: So I was heading into see All Quiet on the Western Front and I had this conversation between myself (I should hope this was obvious) and the young woman who was in charge of directing people to their seats:
Usher: Hello miss
Me: Helloooo (I held the oooo part of hello just like, two seconds too long and it still bothers me that I did this)
Usher: How many in your party?
Me: I’m a single. I mean my party is single. I mean there is one of me.
Usher: <looks at me with concern and starts to open mouth in order to say something>
Me: There’s just me, I am one. <stops talking and considers climbing behind the black curtain hanging behind the stage>
Usher: Okay… eemm… well… I don’t see any single seats… <trails off while scanning the crowd>
Me: <mentally prepares to walk out of the theatre because there are no more single seats and thus I can sit NOWHERE because there’s only one of me despite the fact that there were still 80 seats to fill. I’m an adult.>
Usher: Oh! actually there’s one right here in the front if you like.
Me: Oh I do, thank you. < thinks to self what WHAT WHAT AM I DOING and sinks into the very tiny chair)
End of digression.
The best seating also applies to coffee shops as I get to sit at a counter and watch people go past while I sip of a cup of tea and write.
3. Your schedule is truly your own.
One MAJOR positive to traveling on your own is that you literally don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. I’ve been able to schedule the shows that I’ve wanted to see when I’ve wanted, eat when I wanted to and wherever I wanted. It’s a type of freedom that is rarely experienced in daily life and it’s just really refreshing to not have to check with another person if something is alright etc.
4. If you let yourself, you become a better version of yourself.
Because traveling alone can stir up realizations about yourself, traveling alone can be used as a tool to help solidify your best self. I’ve noticed I’m much more confident in who I am (a lil’ on the sappy side but with the year I’ve had it’s a major thing), and that confidence translates into how I carry myself. Because it’s just me I have to be my own advocate, if something isn’t right I need to be the one to speak up or else it’s not going to be fixed. I think this is the most in tune with my emotional wellbeing as well as my physical and mental wellbeing.
There are many more perks to traveling alone but these were the four I had the time to write about now. If you can, take the opportunity to travel alone- you might just end up liking it more than you thought.