Traveling Alone…

Traveling alone, being able to do a variety of things alone, is a source of pride for me. I’ll admit it…there you have it…I am quite proud of doing many years of my life thus far on my own in terms of being single, traveling, outdoor activities, supporting myself…you name it, I’ve probably done it on my own.

Now understand first, I’m not saying that doing things with others is not great. I love people, all of you! Really! I’ve done all the typical things in relationships and with others as well: vacations, traveling, living together with a significant other. I mean I practically got married for God’s sake…you can bet I’ve done plenty of activities and life with another.

But I really do find a lot of value and great deep lessons to learn about one’s self by traveling alone and spending time being single.

At times I do miss having someone to do things with though and this came to my mind again a week ago when I was in Venice for my second time. That’s right…Venice…one of the most romantic cities in the world and I’ve been there twice in the past month and both times “sola” as they refer to me there in Italian.

It crept up on me when I went for the umpteenth-time to a restaurant for dinner. I love eating out and having a great restaurant experience – the whole bit, from the atmosphere to the food to the drink to of course the service, is definitely what I enjoy thoroughly. But it’s always really something when you have people staring at you being there by yourself, all eyes seem to turn and it’s not just me thinking this, which is confirmed when the host or hostess asks the question in loud astonishment “sola?”. Yes, sola…and then from there I hardly get any service as they seem to think that serving a solo traveler is not worth their time. At least this is what happened on a particular night in Venice.

At the same time, and in most cases in life, this is of course not always the case. It actually is rarely the case and usually the experience is the other side of the tracks and its a great time. I meet wonderful new friends or, as in the case during a recent trip to Ferrara, Italy, I benefit from great champagne and a bouquet of two-dozen roses gifted to me from the Italian gentleman sitting at the other end of the restaurant from me. It didn’t get him what he wanted, but I enjoyed the delicious bubbly and shared the flowers with my B&B hostess the next morning.

Oh, and how about my favorite recent experience of meeting new friends in Venice while eating lunch by myself…they turned out to be professional opera singers and are now great friends and are the reason I got to see my first opera, La Boheme, in Venice. You can read more about that on my travel blog Ethnos Travel, in my recent post: Second Time to Venice, First Time to the Opera.

I guess to sum up these random ramblings that I’m sharing, it’s good to reflect on what new things I’m recently learning while I travel sola. Things like, how easy it can be to care too much about what other people think, even complete strangers. Or, to take it even deeper, what does all this say about how I view myself and what I really believe about myself? Do I need to be pulling out my iPhone for the hundredth time and making it my companion rather than enjoying the view and my own company? Oh boy…I’m getting pretty serious and deep here…

Maybe I need to keep an eye on being “sola” in general too much? I am already laughing out-loud to myself and sometimes thinking out loud too (I think some people call that talking to yourself. Hmmm….may very well be guilty of that one already). I hope you as the reader hear the sarcasm in all this and yet, a little bit of seriousness. You probably know what I’m talking about here.

Well, what I do know and am glad to gain from writing this is that what I am sharing here is an essential part of traveling alone and being single – it’s the confidence and self-knowing that only comes from living these insecurities and facing them, accepting them. They’re a part of human nature and life…when we’re really living life.

Pros and Cons of Social Media

Over the past month I’ve been meeting a lot of new wonderful people throughout Italy and Switzerland and what I am finding to be the most common topic in discussion is social media. Not just social media though in the way that Americans think of Social Media, but more specifically how social media is affecting our societies and the way that we communicate and have relationships. People are looking pretty deeply into these matters and I’m glad to see that.

My experience with social media is a bit different and more full-time than others – I do it for work and have always been more interested in how it makes a good business for me rather than going overboard on it in the personal sense. On the personal side it never interested me as much, but I used it and do so more now. Overall, you could probably say that I am an average or medium user in my personal life. The professional life is where it comes into major play and that is because I work for myself as a consultant and manager of social media marketing for businesses. Why? Because I’m fascinated by the combination of marketing and understanding people who it involves. And it enables me to work from literally anywhere in the world, as long as I have an internet connection of course, which now-a-days is amazingly in most places.

Throughout Europe, people refer to this kind of work and service as Internet Marketing. Makes sense. Even among those of my generation (which, to give away my age, is currently at the age of late 20’s into mid-30’s), the consensus I am hearing from people is that on the personal and social side it is having negative affect and is harming our societies. I tend to agree and am seeing in different countries and cultures that concerns about people having good communication skills is being impacted by our obsession with social media. Rather than being able to sit and enjoy silence or simply be still, people are constantly on a device, texting or emailing, but hardly calling anymore and speaking voice to voice. Or for that matter, we are seeing more and more how people will be together at any number of occasions such as a show or even a date, and rather than talking to each other, they’re each on their phones messaging, checking into Facebook about who they’re with and where they are…what about simply being fully present and enjoying where you are and who you’re with?

Now I take part in these things as well, yet am recognizing and wanting to call out for myself that I want to maintain a balance and make sure that I’m keeping my interactions more human than media-based. Perhaps along with social media we should keep in mind social humanity too? There’s a lot of play on words that we could use to keep the reminder in front of us that our societies should be aware and careful and protect and practice true social interaction that is completely based on the most authentic and powerful ways of interacting within society…and those are interactions that are verbal and face-to-face. Let’s not lose the significance of body language, tone of voice, and so many other things that are simply not possible through social media.

I am liking the awareness and concerns that Europeans seem to be having about this and contribute their insight to their culture that is steeped in much older history and cultures that are also geographically closer. There’s endless factors that we could analyze, but I hope I am getting my point across without using even more words. Besides, I would love to hear your thoughts…preferably verbally or face-to-face of course. So give a call or come visit! Skype ID: amalia.maloney