Monday, August 29, 2011

Solo Travel

A "solo" moment in Grand Canyon National Park
June, 2007

Many blogs I read have recently asked questions about traveling and/or dining alone.  What I found interesting was that the discussion crossed blog community lines and became a topic of conversation in almost every arena I was reading.  The questions usually revolved around enjoying a meal in a restaurant alone, taking a roadtrip alone, spending nights in a hotel alone or hiking alone.  Since all of the above are things I have been doing for years, enjoy immensely and with which I'm quite comfortable, I'll have to say I've been everything from amused to horrified at some of the responses.  

In our weight loss/healthy living blog community, the discussion generally revolved around gaining the confidence to do anything solo and then finding enjoyment in it.  In the travel/rv community, it's usually compromise among a couple, single adults wanting to see the world or any individual who prefers the convenience of only have to make decisions for themselves.  And in the hiking community, finding true solitude is the #1 reason hikers give for wanting to hike alone.  All of the above (along with many other reasons) are worthy motives for choosing to spend time discovering new things on your own.

I became comfortable with the idea of solo travel early in my career simply because it required it.  As you well know, I'm a vagabond at heart, so the idea of PAID travel with an expense account was quite appealing for a young 20-something upwardly mobile professional!  LOL!  Since Mr. B & I were child-free, I never minded the travel at all.  The last six years of my career was spent in a job where I was required to LIVE at my worksite for months at a time.  Solo travel and living on my own is something I've done for years.  

Now, as the happily retired, but still very much a vagabond, wife of a rare bird who loves his job and can't imagine EVER retiring,  I am thankful that traveling solo is not only something I'm comfortable with, but is something I truly enjoy.  Mr. B and I had some come-to-Jesus-meetings long talks this summer about our future.  The original plan was for him to join me in retirement by now, but that's not going to happen anywhere in the foreseeable future and I've come to accept that.  It brings me joy to see him so happy and we are able to achieve the goal of traveling together when he is out of school.  For now, that's enough travel for him and he sends me on my way with his full support and genuine desire for me to have a great journey whereever I'm headed.   Just make sure there's something in the fridge for his lunch and dinner!!!

There are two kinds of solo trips I specifically enjoy.   One is a true solo experience where I travel alone from start to finish.  All decisions are mine up to and including how much coffee I drink which dictates how often I have to make pit stops!  I mean, REALLY!  What fun is a roadtrip without a big mug of steaming coffee alongside?  What I see, where I eat, what I eat or don't eat, when I stop, the type of accommodations I choose, when I head home, whether I'm silent or whether I listen to music, when I choose to interact with others - all those decisions are mine and there is a certain freedom in knowing that.   The other solo trip I enjoy is the one where I travel alone, but have an end destination or stops along the way that include time with someone else.  In that experience, I think you get the best of all worlds.  It is through that kind of road trip that I hope to meet many of you! 

A "solo" moment in Rocky Mountain National Park
June, 2011

This year, one of my goals is to plan a roadtrip each week.  It won't always be solo, but my guess is that most of the time, it will be!  My roadtrips might be a few hours or a few days.  It might be something new or somewhere I've been a thousand times.  It might be to visit a friend or it might be a drive across the country to visit YOU!!  Who knows?  This I do know - I am excited and looking forward to sharing my adventures with you.  

I am writing this on Sunday afternoon and when you read this early Monday morning, I will already be headed out on this week's roadtrip.  I'm headed to very familiar territory with some new things thrown in.  I'm headed UP to cooler elevations and a spectacular weather forecast is predicted.  I'm excited! 

A "solo" moment in Pisgah National Forest
Robbinsville, NC - October, 2010

I've thought a lot about this idea of solo travel because I think it's important that all of us are comfortable enough in our own skin to relish times of solitude.  Yes, we can, and should, learn many things from the lives and actions of others, but I also believe things of great importance can only be revealed to us through moments when we are moving through life alone.  We can become stronger by stepping out of our comfort zones and walking boldly into circumstances that might be unusual to us.  We find the ability and the desire to see things through the eyes of someone else.  We all need to find the energy, the motivation and the desire to fly "solo" from time to time.  My friend, Cammy (just back from her own roadtrip) wrote a while back that she sometimes enjoys going out for frozen yogurt on her own because it's fun to simply sit back and observe the people around her with undivided attention.  I think she made a great point!

You don't have to take off on a roadtrip - I know lots of people who shudder at the thought of a roadtrip PERIOD, much less on their own.  And that's o.k.   Find something you enjoy and just once, try it ALL BY YOURSELF!  Much as I loved Three Dog Night, their insistence that One Is the Loneliest Number is just plain wrong.  I challenge you to discover that for yourself!  You won't be sorry.

I just have to ask!  Who will admit to being able to name at least five Three Dog Night songs and who didn't have a clue what I was talking about???

What was the last thing you did "solo?"   Will you commit to trying something "solo" this week?


  1. I certainly cannot name five or even one Three Dog Night songs, but I do know One is the Loneliest Number -- I'd probably know more if I heard them. There was a lot of Barry Manilow played in my house when I was young. I can name about fifty Manilow songs.

    Now that I think about it, I haven't really done anything alone in a while. I have in the past. Maybe that is something I need to do this week. In fact, I think I will commit to it --- does shopping count?

  2. ugh i LOVE alone time though I will admit I'm a little skiddish about long road trips alone.. mainly because Im paranoid something will happen to my car and I'll be stranded. When I lived by chicago I would always hop on the train and just spend the day walking anywhere and everywhere downtown. I MISS IT very much! I should do a roadtrip even if its just the 2 hr drive to indianapolis solo sometime.. this is very inspiring :0)

  3. Of course I know that song, but can't think of any others! I have only traveled solo to meet up with someone else. Or many years ago on business. I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be with "playing tourist" or eating in restaurants alone. Or hiking, for that matter! I'm a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to the great outdoors! Heck, I won't even bike alone any more because I've had too many breakdowns and don't know how to fix them myself!

    I love that you are setting out to do this. And, honestly, I'm envious. Not so much of the travel. But that you have this passion in your life. I sooo need to find mine.

  4. Wow, I'm not a solo person at all - especially when travelling. I do love a solo walk - but likely wouldn't do a solo hike...DH and I have talked about going camping and having a solo sort of week - spending time together but alone - (if that makes sense) reading and doing what we'd like to do. We hope to do it one day...just sort vegging in our own sorts of ways.

  5. Ha! I LIVE alone. And I enjoy traveling alone. I agree, I think I like best the trips where I meet up with somebody along the way, or at the end. When I go to a week long workshop, I will usually pay the extra to have a room to myself. After spending the day with people, I enjoy the sanctuary of my own room at the end of the day and in the morning.

    Lately what's been bugging me, though, is how much it will cost to cruise solo. I don't want to be paired with someone I don't know just for the enjoyment of a cruise. Any solutions?

    I knew that song, but don't know any other Three Dog Night songs. I was a Barry Manilow/Carpenters/Bee Gee's girl.

  6. I can't name five songs but I knew the reference because my husband is a lot older than me - LOL!

    I relish my solo time. I don't get a lot of it right now. I traveled alone for work during my single days and enjoyed it very much. 65MD and I get along so well and travel so well together, I haven't considered that. Righ now, I snatch little bits of alone time here and there.

  7. Hi! I *loved* this post by the way--far better than another one about food (admittedly a lot of mine are about food lately).

    I love being by myself too. Truth be told, I really don't want any family members to come with me to the gym because I want to be by myself and think about myself a while.

    I'm a tiny bit younger than 3 Dog Night, but Shambala immediately comes to mind. Have you found your Shambala, Sharon? :D

    :-) Marion

  8. Who's Three Dog Night? No really, I know who they are, I have no clue the names of any of their songs.

    Last summer I took a long bike ride by myself. Probably the first one since my childhood. It was so fun and exciting!! Well exciting because I did it too late in the day, it was almost dark and on the way home I was racing to get away from a thunder storm. Really Fun!

    It was something I wanted to accomplish and I did it. It made me feel great!!

    I need to find another solo thing to do!

    Keep focused!!

  9. Of course I know five.

    Joy to the World
    Mama Told Me Not to Come
    Never Been to Spain
    Eli's Coming
    Pieces of April
    Out in the Country
    ... They were one of my fave bands in the wild 70's when I was running around.

    I do not like to travel very much, but I do like alone time. I don't mean just quiet time. I mean alone. Just me in the house/in the car/walking. I have always needed it and thankfully, Husband understands.

  10. Never Been to Spain, Mama Told me Not to Come, Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog, Pieces of April, Joy to the World--that's 5, but I can do more. :) (first concert I went to as a teen was TDN.)

    Loving living solo every bit as much as I enjoy meet-ups with friends. There are new experiences around every corner. :) Very much looking forward to my next roadtrip!

  11. I can't name any more songs by them!

    I am not fond of solo traveling.

    I have made many long flights across the country alone and have traveled out of the country alone but met up with hubby at my destination.
    I use take 8 hour road trips alone to go visit my parents when hubby couldn't go with me.

    Hubby and I often go for miles and miles without talking, and that is just fine. I am just happy to have him with me!

    When he has business trips out of town I sometimes go with him. I go sightseeing or shopping and eat out by myself while he is working and then we meet up for dinner. I like being able to spend the day as I wish but I wouldn't like it to always be like that. I enjoy being with my guy!

    I do however enjoy time alone at home, which is rare around here anymore.

  12. I do like my alone time. I function best if I get a little each day. But, I no longer like to travel on any big trips alone. Most conference travel I do is with my hubby now. It is just much more fun to have him along.

    Thinking about it, I think the most major thing I do daily and usually alone is my biking. My hubby is quite tall and has a bike that fits him and I have one that fits me as a not so tall person. Our bikes are really not a match, so it is better for my own exercise if I am alone. I am fine going 20-30 miles alone on my bike. I can call him if I get into trouble but recently bought my own tools (I can fix my chain if it comes off). So, hopefully I will be able to do the minor "fixing" on my own soon, even a flat. I like the idea of being self reliant. Enjoy your travels wherever they land you!