I’m very much an extroverted person. I thrive off of social contact, and feel the most content when surrounded by my most trusted friends (the most trusted of which ironically happens to be highly introverted). However I’ve been lucky to discover the importance and benefit of solitary time as well, which is something that proves to be difficult for many extroverts. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate a few solitary hours with a book, or spending alone time rocking out in the kitchen with my favorite music and a new recipe. When I lived in Las Vegas, I would often bring a book to the bar, and sit alone in the corner with a Bloody Mary. No one bothered me, no one judged; I was just the loner girl in the corner who enjoyed some cultural expansion and spice with her alcohol. Now that I reside in a college town, reading in public seems to be understood as a cry for attention. More than once, I’ve been asked by complete strangers if I was stood up for a date, or if I would like to join a group at a table. It’s considered sad, or somehow socially awkward here, so I now resort to the more acceptable scene of a coffee house. While reading in a bar may seem odd to some, my favorite act of solitude seems stranger yet to the general public, and even my family or close friends.
I truly enjoy traveling by myself. I’ve been to a few countries and several states by myself, and it’s most certainly my favorite way to travel. I love sitting in an airport, even if my flight is delayed. I have no set agenda, no where to be and no one to please. The flight was cancelled? Who cares! That only means I have a few more hours to explore my current layover city. I eat where I want, I take pictures of what I want, I can choose to get up early and see the sights or sleep in late and relax in my hotel suite. I walk *everywhere* and prefer it that way. I also believe it helps me grow in confidence, because I have no one to rely on but myself. I must navigate, and speak the native language, and be aware of my surroundings.
“Don’t you get lonely while traveling alone?” My answer is “sometimes.” But whenever I do, I ask myself, would I rather be sitting across the dinner table from someone who is complaining that she doesn’t recognize anything on the menu? Or someone who is too nervous to try and navigate a public transport system? Or someone who slows me down because he’s not accustomed to carrying a pack?
“Isn’t that dangerous?” Sure, but I am not an idiot. Am I going to travel to war-torn countries alone? No, I don’t plan on dropping in on Egypt anytime soon. Am I going to accept this suspiciously kind man’s offer to buy me a drink? No, nor do I care to attend his party. Am I going to leave my money in an accessible pocket? No, and I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a fanny pack anyway. Am I going to wander down dark alleys at 2am? No, I am old and will be in bed far before then. Am I going to refuse to believe that something bad could happen to me? No, because I say again, I am not an idiot.
“Wouldn’t you rather wait and travel with your husband when you meet him someday? What? …wait? Wait around for how long, precisely? I don’t have anyone in my scope yet, so the answer at minimum would be “years.” I’m not willing to abandon my personal dreams just because Mr. Right hasn’t trotted up on his noble steed yet. He’s welcome to join when he gets here, but I refuse to let a man I’ve never met dictate my personal experiences and determine when I can and cannot travel.
Of all the arguments and wise words I’ve heard in defense of staying safe at home, none of them outweigh the experiences and opportunity for personal growth that comes with loner traveling. For me, it is worth all the risk and uncertainty, and I can pluckily say that I don’t care if it makes me antisocial, weird, irresponsible, or alone.