May 9, 2007

Traveling Alone

A quote about traveling alone was recently posted on Vagablogging :

"It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially molded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others. They may have particular visions of who we are and hence may subtly prevent certain sides of us from emerging… Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companions questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity."
--Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel, (2002)

Several other sites also mention the benefits of solo travel, including Ubertramp, who has written about the pros and cons of traveling alone. It sounds like an incredible experience with amazing benefits, but I keep coming back to the idea that I want to share my experiences with someone else. I don't doubt that I would learn even more about myself if I was on my own, responsible for all the decisions, but I would miss the chance to turn to my husband or friend and have them share the moment with me.

I don't worry about my curiosity being tempered or having my observations inhibited, either. I hope both will be enriched by having someone else to bounce ideas off of. Having a travel partner with different strengths might cause me to slack in those areas, but it might also encourage me to try something new.

One thing that does worry me is being considered less approachable than a solo traveler. I can also see how it would be too easy to interact only with each other and not meet other people. Since meeting other people, travelers or locals, is such a great part of traveling, I don't want to miss out on those opportunities. Hopefully just being friendly to the people we see will help counteract this downside, because for me, the advantages of traveling with a partner outweigh the disadvantages.

Although I won't be planning any solo trips myself, I do enjoy reading about them (Tales of a Female Nomad, Vroom with a View, and McCarthy's Bar), so I'll continue to search out books and blogs with interesting stories of people traveling alone.