I stretch out, content – my feet dangling off the edge of the bed, my fingers knocking against the wall behind me. Open my eyes and enjoy the first sunrays of the day slowly dancing over the floor, climbing the covers and caressing my face. Roll over, pull the covers over my head and exhale. Five more minutes…
When you travel alone, as I often do, you get to enjoy solitude. A lot of people don’t know how to, and trust me, it wasn’t all fun and games the very first couple of times I tried it, either, me being an introvert set aside. But the more time you spend with yourself, the more you learn to like it. Like yourself. Like yourself in new experiences, with new people, in new places.
Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.
Traveling alone has its downsides. Nobody to talk to on a regular basis. No safety net when you faulter. No familiar face across the table, or in the airplane seat next to yours. But that’s pretty much it. And the upsides are by far exceeding the downsides.
Not only does the trip now go according to your own, inner clock – you decide when to get up, where to go and what to eat, when – but you get to decide what YOU want to see or do. No middle grounds, no conflicts and no “okay, I’ll go shopping with you for three hours if you come to the football game with me”.
You are now free to explore. The place you are in, restaurant, sights and smells, adventures and nature – and of course, the people! When you travel alone, you soon learn how to be curious of others. Because no matter how much you learn to love your own company, sometimes the voices inside your head aren’t enough, and you need a physical person to talk to. Upside – new friends!
It also gives you excellent time to reflect. This can be scary the first few times you try it – because even though we all seem to reflect over our own lives at times, it’s first when you are alone and forced to sit back and enjoy the ride, when you realize those thoughts that usually gang up and ambush you on idle Tuesday evenings, now have learned their manners and come one by one, gently flowing through your mind. Because you let them.
I’ve spent New Years Eve alone in Prague a couple of years back (not recommended for a newbie lonesome traveler, as New Years is one of the worst days to be all alone at), and spent the time to enjoy myself, enjoy the Central European cuisine, and plan my life. I got heaps of mental work done during that long weekend!
This time, with thoughts ganging up on me, I’m heading towards Germany. To sort through them and be with myself for a while.