The Art of Traveling [Alone]
For years I’ve been someone who gets an idea in my head and does it. So several years ago, when I realized as much talk as there was of people who wanted to take a trip, the only way I was actually going to be able to go was if I went on my own. So I did. I found a great deal, and did what I knew best – I went to Paris. It became less daunting to visit a city alone when it was a city I already knew, and the fact that I knew people there I could visit. Then I realized the freedom I had and I could do anything I wanted. The next year, I did the same thing when I found a cheap ticket to Amsterdam. That time I didn’t know anyone, but thanks to the wonders of the blog world, I not only had great recommendations (and very design-savy ones I must add), but I even got to meet up with one of my favorite bloggers for coffee in the park.
I’ve also had the continued policy of “I’m going _____. You’re invited, just come!” Luckily, I’ve had some awesome friends take me up on that offer as well, which also makes for a great way to travel and have your own adventures. Due to the way that flights get booked, we usually still had a little time traveling on our own in the place, but that also made for great stories when we finally connected up.
I will admit though, that my trip – alone – to Morocco, was the trip that took me out of my comfort zone the most. From the maze of the medina, to the comments of shop keepers trying to get my attention, to the fact that everyone wanted to earn a quick buck (if you ask for help, people in the medina came to expect a reward) was a lot to take in. But the beauty of that was that at the same time it was incredibly empowering. Furthermore, it never ceases to amaze me how much I still learn about travel and myself to this day. Anyway, here are a few lessons I picked up this trip.
- Hostels are a great way to meet people. You not only meet people, but they are often are people like you and have their own interesting stories to tell.
- Unlike at hotels, at hostels you tend to interact with people more, and they serve as the best “guides” and can provide really great tips and tricks to visiting the place.
- When you’re not on a set timeline/schedule you can take it all in as it comes, and learn from others and go try new things you may not have considered yourself.
- The wonders of the internet make it possible to connect with people you have never met before. In Marrakesh I had two meetings for a project I’m working on. While it was for “research,” these two encounters were some of the biggest highlights of my trip. It’s always worthwhile to try to connect with a local, however works for you.
- Poker face. It’s a lesson I learned in Paris (my official terminology is my “Paris bitch face”), but it goes with me around the world to escape unwanted attention. If someone talks to you, or makes a comment, it’s best to ignore it, don’t make eye contact, definitely don’t respond and just keep on your way. It may seem cold at times, but it’s also for your safety (and sanity). And trust me, as a single woman walking around the souks, there will be comments. (My favorites ranged from Hey, Lady! to Hey, Spicy Lady!, Hey, Homie, and Hey, Chicken!).
- Have a sense of humor and roll with the punches. Traveling alone also you to go at your own pace and take in all the details. What did you notice that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
- You may be traveling alone, but bring your friends to you. My favorite past-time (even when I’m traveling with people) is to sit in cafes and write postcards.
- Break the stigma of traveling alone. I had a couple interactions in a cafe or in a cab where I was asked, “you’re alone!?!” While it may not be the most common occurence, they were also impressed by the end of our encounters.