4.03.2012

On Traveling Alone

This weekend I traveled to DC alone, because I wanted to go to DC and run the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile race. So I did. I often travel alone. It's not that my friends don't want to travel, or to come with me, or to support me. They just don't have time, or the money. That's okay though. I realized some time ago that if I wanted something, I needed to get it myself. I have to work for it; I have to plan it; I have to do it. Myself. This is not to say that if someone said they would come with me to DC I would have been unhappy. I wouldn't have. I would have loved it. However, I have learned not to hold my breath.

I guess this makes me sound kind of jaded. Well I am. Some people make time to read; some people spend their money on shoes or booze or a cruise. I spend both time and money on travel and lately, I have been spending it a lot on running. Signing up for races, traveling to get there, paying the price to stay where I am running (or hopefully having a friend to stay with) adds up. But I wouldn't change it for the world. I love it, both the travel and the running. Two things I can and will do alone.

A while back, the NY Times published an article about living alone and how weird you get when you do it. This article went to extremes, using examples such as people who talked to themselves, didn't always leave the house fully clothed, who left the bathroom door open or ate strange foods at strange times.

I admit, this trip as well as most of them, does make me realize that I do have some quirks. I like eating when I am hungry and not having to worry about when someone else is hungry, or the plans someone else has made. I don't always eat "real meals". I can have 3 apples and a carton of yogurt for dinner (ie I like eating strange foods at strange times).

I like going to the museums and deciding, after being trampled by 6 million elementary school children, that I want to leave, and go get a hot dog (which I will eat standing up, on the sidewalk, at a weird time of day).


I like stopping to take millions of photos of one tree (is that weird?), and not having someone trailing ahead of me, sighing heavily. I like doing what I like to do, and not having to worry about anyone else (and I like leaving the bathroom door open. What's wrong with that?)

Does this make me selfish? Yes. I am listing extremes, of course. On the other hand, I like planning out which museums to see with someone, and having their ideas, which you didn't even consider, turn out to be your favorite part of the trip. I like trying new things, that I may not try alone, not out of fear but out of ignorance. I like having someone to share exciting new discoveries with. I even like sharing a meal, at a regular time of day, sometimes.

So, I figured out how to have it all. Mr Lovely, who did not come with me, was subjected to a barrage of text messages and photos of "cool stuff". I frequently updated him on which museum I was in, which one of the 6 million kids were annoying me, or how cold it was before the race. He helped me decide to go to the Museum of American History (cool) but I vetoed his vote for Air and Space (I've been there several times already). Luckily, he is very patient and is a good sport and he even responded once or twice.

So, through the miracle of technology, I can still be alone but I can still share the joy, some of the decisions and...(blurry photos of) a strange meal in a strange place at a strange time.

Do you travel by yourself? What is your favorite/least favorite part of traveling alone? Who is your faraway text buddy when you have something to share?

18 comments:

  1. Great post Kyria. Gotta love technology :)

    I always prefer to travel with Chad, Alec and Alyssa but I enjoy traveling alone too. But, a few days with nobody to consider but myself is nice every now and then. This is the first year I have plans to travel (aka fly) just for races and I'm traveling alone for most of them. I'm almost as excited about the travel part as I am about the specific races :)

    Oh and no, not selfish at all!

    ReplyDelete
  2. great post! and you are so spot on. Living alone can give you unusual habits sometimes. I have travelled a lot by myself in the past, Turkey, Canada, Spain...but I have to say ,I don't enjoy it as much as I have in the past. For example, this past week, I had a little 'staycation' in Nairobi-and the days felt long, I needed to plan seeing people in every single day.
    But you are right, eveyone spends money on different things-and if you are there for a race-which is a great reason to be there-then you should go-alone or not.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I travel alone all the time! I really enjoy it. Like you said, if I don't do it alone, it might not happen at all. When I was planning my trip to Paris a couple of people said, 'well that's great but I think I'd want to wait until I had someone to share the experience with'. Those comments were piercing for me. Because the fact of the matter is that I could be waiting forever. Or I could go to Paris on my own. So I went on my own, and I loved it.

    I personally love traveling alone. I don't like talking to people on flights so I don't mind flying alone. I like doing my own thing, leaving a museum when I feel like it, eating at 5 pm or 11 pm if I feel like it. I don't think it makes me selfish, it's me taking advantage of the flexibility of my life. I hate how single people tend to get classified as 'selfish'. I feel like I bend to the lives of others pretty frequently - especially friends with children. I mean, I am not saying I am a martyr, I just keep in mind that they have a small person to think about, so I try to consider what is most convenient for them - eating earlier? Going to their house? Meeting in the afternoon instead of evening? And people bend to my schedule, too, right now because of my CFA studying. But it bugs me that someone might be more apt to describe my schedule as selfish v. a married person's...

    I am obviously very passionate about this topic. :) But I know we see eye to eye on this stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have traveled alone for research many time to Madrid, Seville, Barcelona, Mexico City, etc. I haven't traveled alone as much for pleasure, but I have a couple of times - trips to London, San Miguel de Allende, and Amsterdam were ones that I did on my own.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I LOVE traveling alone. Kelley doesn't fly, so anywhere that's far enough away to get on a plane is my trip by myself. I'll take it any time I can get there. and to any destination. Just for that reason. I can do/work/shop/eat/when and where I want to and I don't have to care what anyone else wants to do. it's fabulous.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post... and article! Both something I can relate too.
    I totally don't blame you for traveling alone, it really is the way to go sometimes :)
    You can take your time, see what you want, do what you want.
    I have a traveled on my own a little for fun, but a lot for work and in my down time I really got to explore the amazing places they have sent me... Barcelona, China, the Galapagos!
    My favorite thing about traveling alone is setting my own schedule... don't have to worry about the "norms" of dining times, appropriate foods at the appropriate times. I also love that I get to see exactly what I want in a destination. I leave with no regrets and ready to go on an adventure to someplace new.
    My least favorite part is being nervous about venturing out at night alone. I love staying up late on vacation, but I find myself going straight home via a cab after dinner or a show or shopping and not just walking aimlessly through the streets like I would if someone were with me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. After a disastrous, hormonal, stressful trip with four girlfriends who clearly take life more seriously than I do, I will always prefer traveling alone!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I traveled to DC by myself a couple years ago and it was AMAZING. You know I don't travel often, so the thought of handling all those details by myself was scary at first. But it was so fun!!! And liberating!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kim...was it REALLY that long ago? WHOA.

      Delete
  9. I have flown alone before. I think it would be fun to travel alone and not have to worry about anyone else. I love that you travel alone! And what's the point of closing the bathroom door if nobody is in the house but you? Even though I have a husband and 2 kids, I sometimes eat random things when I am hungry instead of waiting for the meal. Not weird:)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I haven't done a ton of traveling alone, but some. And I don't mind it one bit. Maybe b/c I am a mom of two and it gives me some nice, quiet space of my own. But I also work from home and am alone all day, which is something I know lots of folks think would be awful. Maybe it just comes down to personality type? Anyhow, I'm glad you had a great trip (and how was CB? Love that race!).

    ReplyDelete
  11. I don't travel alone really but I wouldn't be opposed to it. I just really enjoy getting away for the weekend with Eric or with girlfriends! The only time I've ever traveled alone was when I've traveled for work and even then I usually made lots of social plans with friends and didn't spend a lot of time doing stuff by myself. I can definitely see the appeal of setting your own schedule when traveling alone though!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've never traveled alone and I think it would take some getting used to but, ultimately, I *love* being alone so I think I would learn to enjoy it. Luckily, when I do travel, I travel often with my mom and we are SO SIMILAR that it works out incredibly well. Like, when we went on our cruise, we were usually in the room by 10-10:30, in our jammies and reading. We could have taken more advantage of the nightlife on board but honestly? It's not for us.

    I think there are a lot of advantages to traveling alone -- especially for an introvert like me! But it also seems kind of scary. Of course, this is coming from a girl who has yet, at age 24, to ride on an airplane. I really need to get out more. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I do travel alone, sometimes. When I can. I love it. I love not having to do anything FOR anyone else, or because of anyone else. I love being able to just take pics of absolutely whatever I want. Or to eat a pretzel on a street corner without any of my children asking me for the food out of my mouth.

    HOWEVER. I also adore traveling with my husband. He and I are a good travel team. We tend to enjoy the same things, and he's a really, really laid back guy, so he just goes along with my weirdness.

    Honestly. I think it's awesome how much you travel, and how you do it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Love this post because I enjoy doing a lot of things alone as well. I like the freedom of doing whatever I want, whenever I want without having to worry about other people being bored or annoyed.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I remember that NYT article and thought it was pretty careless of such an esteemed newspaper to publish. Living alone makes you quirky? No, people are quirky. Period. Whether they live alone or with others. I can guarantee that the quirky people living alone don't just "turn" not quirky once they move in with a loved one. Whatever. Must have been a slow news day for them to publish that article and for that article to have received as much attention as it did!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I LOVE traveling alone. I've done it repeatedly (only for a few days though) and I'd do it again any time. There is something about being by yourself, going your own pace and exploring a new place :)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!