I’m a fan of traveling solo on occasion—a few days here and there can be good for the soul. In the words of Oscar Wilde, I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person. As women, we’re pulled in every direction all the time. Always in charge. Always mothering. Always keeping life moving forward. There’s nothing wrong with taking the time to rediscover ourselves. In fact, I highly recommend it.
In June, I spent nearly two weeks promoting my new book while traveling from Northwest Arkansas to the Florida Panhandle to the Delta and back home again. Whew. Two weeks was a little longer than my typical solo excursion, but I discovered a few things along the way. I found that traveling alone comes with special perks and benefits.
You’ll get out of your comfort zone and gain more confidence. With no traveling companion, you’ll be completely in charge of everything—what you’ll eat and see and when you’ll do it. Sitting alone at a restaurant can feel uncomfortable at first, but once you get the hang of it, there’s something liberating about it. Have you ever found yourself in a place and realized no one truly knew where you were? Years ago as a college student, I took a series of trains through Tokyo and managed to get from Point A to Point B without disappearing forever. I did it—before cell phones or GPS, with train signs I could barely comprehend, and surrounded by no one who spoke English. And I felt accomplished.
You’ll have more time and flexibility. No matter how well you and your regular travel companion get along, there’s always extra waiting and planning and discussing involved when a trip includes your spouse or friends or family. That’s not a bad thing, just a different experience. But as a solo traveler, you can detour on a whim, take the back roads, skip supper in favor of eating ice cream on the beach, zip through a museum without reading every sign on every exhibit, whatever your heart desires.
You’ll make new friends. As the boundaries of your comfort zone blur and time begins to move at a more leisurely pace, you’ll make a few new friends. As a lone traveler, I discover it’s easy to strike up conversations with folks, because after a while I need to visit with someone. (I think I inherited this never-met-a-stranger trait from my Mother.) In Florida, had I not been schedule-less and solo, I may not have spent extra time chitchatting with Sara McFerrin, docent at The Raney House Museum. And I would have never discovered she’s written four books! These memorable, personal moments make vacations richer all the way around.
You’ll see more. More alone time means more opportunity to listen and observe. Having time to reset your mind naturally translates into better writing as you become immersed in your thoughts. When I’m attentive, stories find me.
You’ll rediscover yourself. And you’ll be better for it.
Are you a fan of solo travel? I’d love to hear about your adventures and the benefits you’ve discovered. One thing’s for sure—after spending time regrouping and recharging, home and family will never look so fantastic. Happy traveling!
Arkansas Women Bloggers member Talya Tate Boerner is a delta girl who grew up making mudpies on her family’s cotton farm in Northeast Arkansas. After thirty years in Texas, she has returned to the state she loves, settling in Northwest Arkansas. Talya draws inspiration from nature and appreciates the history behind food, family, places and objects. She blogs at Grace, Grits and Gardening and has been published in Arkansas Review, Front Porch and several on-line publications. Talya believes most any dish can be improved with a side of collard greens. Her debut novel,The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee, is available at Barnes & Noble, via Amazon, and at certain indie bookstores.