The Thrill of Traveling Alone

11 Dec

Have you ever traveled alone? If your answer is “no,” I suggest you do something to change it to “yes.” It doesn’t need to be an entire trip alone, and it doesn’t need to be a grand adventure. You could even just excuse yourself and take a 20-minute walk alone the next time you’re on a trip with family or friends. There’s this special feeling I get when I’m alone on a trip, a feeling that’s markedly different from how I feel when I’m surrounded by people I know. And I think other people should know that feeling, too.

When you’re alone, there’s nothing to distract you from getting caught up in your surroundings. You breathe in your environment. You breathe out your reactions. First your mind feels clear and bright- and then your brain is filled with all sorts of reflections and ideas. Being alone gives you the space you need to reflect on your presence in this unknown place, to really drink in the possibilities of what’s around you.

A few years ago I went on a group trip to a foreign country. And while it was a wonderful trip, I remember feeling a bit constrained by the group format. At one point, I dashed off on my own to explore a local market. I hardly went far- and in fact, within 15 minutes, I ran into people I knew. But those 15 minutes helped me feel refreshed. They helped me rejigger my brain, and get into a different vein of thinking. They helped me feel more connected to my surroundings, more attuned to my reactions. They gave me an adrenaline rush that I just don’t get when I’m sharing the moment with someone else.

Silence can indeed be golden. Sometimes, you need to remove the possibility of talking out loud to hear what your inner thoughts have to say. It’s the same reason I don’t listen to music as I go about my daily routine- I like giving my brain time to really digest what’s in there.  I don’t think it’s coincidental that many of my best ideas come to me while I’m walking around.

I guess this post can serve as a sort of warning to anyone I travel with in the future. Because yes, at some point, I will wander off, away from you. I will wake up before you to go for a walk, I will ask to wander a museum on my own, I will choose to keep exploring solo when you choose to stop for a drink. It isn’t personal, I promise. I just want to be alone with my thoughts for a while.

I once went to Niagara Falls alone- and it was a perfect escape.

I once went to Niagara Falls alone- and it was a perfect escape.

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13 Responses to “The Thrill of Traveling Alone”

  1. Kiwi December 11, 2013 at 6:31 PM #

    Niagara falls is gorgeous! Just went there a few days ago! Was much less green and more snowy though… Gorgeous photo!

    Like

    • Felicia December 11, 2013 at 6:32 PM #

      Ooh I should go back and see it in its winter element! Glad you liked the photo- I couldn’t get over how gorgeous it was!

      Like

  2. travelscapism December 11, 2013 at 7:26 PM #

    Wonderful post, I agree the groups and talking can fill up your head not allowing that precious time to focus on your own thoughts or drink in the experiences around you!

    Like

  3. Raphael Alexander Zoren December 15, 2013 at 8:22 AM #

    While I see the appeal of traveling with friends, family or a special someone, I strongly believe that traveling alone is the best way of fully immersing into a foreign culture. The only problem I have found is finding someone you can trust with your camera to take photos of yourself haha

    Like

    • Felicia December 15, 2013 at 9:45 AM #

      You know Raphael, I almost wrote just that into my post- I find I end up with lots of great pictures of landscapes and buildings, but very few of myself.

      Perhaps it’s time for us to perfect the selfie? Ha.

      Like

      • Raphael Alexander Zoren December 15, 2013 at 10:02 AM #

        A tripod with a self-timer always helps haha, I ended buying one for my Euro Journeys but found it very impractical to carry around after a few months.

        Like

      • Felicia December 15, 2013 at 10:46 AM #

        Well, your photos are absolutely gorgeous! Meanwhile, I still haven’t read the manual to the (incredibly basic) camera I got last year. Whoops.

        Like

  4. Kavi December 21, 2013 at 9:17 AM #

    Great post, and I completely agree – there’s something special about solo travel!

    Like

    • Felicia December 21, 2013 at 10:43 AM #

      I’m glad you relate. Thanks for reading!

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Annual Report | Culture Cookies - December 30, 2013

    […] The Thrill of Traveling Alone […]

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  2. On to the Next One | Culture Cookies - May 31, 2014

    […] declares they don’t want to sell their clothes to people above a certain size. There was an ode to traveling alone, encouraging everyone to try to it, even if it’s just for a few hours. There was nostalgia for […]

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  3. At A Crossroads | Culture Cookies - October 9, 2016

    […] into our few days together, exploring as much as we could. On our final morning in Kyoto I took a solo walk around the Gion district, famed for its high-end restaurants and traditional geisha culture. […]

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