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.