ALONE. Separated from others. Exclusive of anyone or anything else. Having no one else present. On one’s own. Indicating that something is confirmed to the specified subject or recipient.
Every two or three months, I book a night or two of accommodation for one person in Warburton. Yes, I have a husband, a best friend, a sister who could accompany me, but I choose to take these trips without a companion. Why? Because I believe that it’s incredibly important for people to spend some time with themselves. Especially when those people are women. It’s important for men, too, but it really hit me that this really is still predominantly such a women’s issue when I was sitting in a café on the weekend waiting to order breakfast; I eventually called someone over to take my order, and he said “ohh, I just assumed you were waiting for someone.” That’s when I decided to write this post instead of another food review.
If, like me, you’re a lady who enjoys her travels, you’ll have no doubt read the myriad articles and blog posts out there titled “Why All Women Should Travel Alone” or one of its variations. You’ll be a better person if you can be more independent, they say. You’ll meet so many new people that you’d never have had the change to meet if you were travelling with a companion. You’ll be forced right out of your comfort zone. You’ll be able to eat and drink and see and do whatever you want and no one can stop you!!! Oh, and you should definitely do this before you turn 30. Because apparently your years of excitement and adventure end and your carriage will turn back into a pumpkin then.
These articles aren’t all bad; I’m all for anything that encourages women to take control of their lives, but I think there is a HUGE difference between “travelling alone” and “spending time with yourself.”
As a textbook introvert who suffers from depression and anxiety, I actually really enjoy having my husband with me when I travel. It’s not that I can’t travel alone (I have) or that I don’t enjoy it (I did) or that I got nothing out of it (I did) or that I’m helplessly reliant on him (I’m most certainly not); it’s that he actually really is my best friend and I have way more fun when I’m sharing my adventures with him. The reason we’ve worked so well for almost 13 years is that he encourages my natural tendency to be independent. I’m just as capable of speaking to a stranger in a foreign country with him by my side. And forcing an anxious introvert out of her comfort zone without backup isn’t always a great idea! So I really don’t think “travelling alone” is all that relevant or important.
Some other articles propagate the idea of travelling alone in order to feel more freedom, to increase your confidence, to become more self-reliant and to better understand yourself. Those are all brilliant things for any lady to have at her disposal, but I don’t think they come from “travelling alone;” I think you’ll find they come from spending time with yourself. Go back to the definitions of the word “alone” at the start of the post. I read that as being isolated and cut off, maybe even from yourself. When I take my little solo trips, I don’t see them as taking time to be alone, I see them as taking time to be with myself. I meditate. I reflect on the last few weeks or months. I try to understand how I’ve come to be where I am right now. I set some goals for myself, treat myself to a massage, a riverside walk where I say hello to everyone I pass, a trip to an antique shop where I chat with the gentleman behind the counter.
Yeah, I’m taking these trips without a companion, but I don’t feel “alone,” separated or exclusive to anything. I’m spending time with me. Instead of ignoring the niggling feeling of “not enough-ness” that drives so many people to travel (thinking that if they ignore those scary feelings and just escape, they’ll magically find some answers), I’m learning to make friends with it. Instead of shoving it aside while I take a selfie under the Eiffel Tower and post it to Instagram with an “I-don’t-need-no-man-to-take-me-to-Paris” caption, I’m sitting down to a pot of tea and a jam-smothered scone with it and trying to work out how I can let it go on its way without me.