Thursday, 27 March 2014

Travelling Solo: A Retreat from all but Yourself

It's sunny here in Groningen. Sunny, warm, and expected to stay that way all the way through next week. I think we can safely say, "Spring is here!" The city seems to take on a new buzz as the weather changes towards spring - happy faces and bright outfits - which only makes me the happier and brighter too.

It was on this slight euphoria of sunshine! that I have been sat contemplating the solo lifestyle. Not just travel, but living alone and generally being alone. I. Love. It. I know it isn't for everyone, but I seem to thrive being on my own. I'm never bored and I get to do what I want to do all the time. It's like having every childhood dream come true: I can eat peanut butter from the jar, run up and down the stairs as I please, and go to bed past a 'decent' hour. For the most part being an adult is overwhelming (there is that word, responsibility, that keeps coming up), but it can also be really, jolly good fun. Travelling on my own, for example...

The reason I'm going off on this slight tangent is that I read an blog article last night about No Guilt Solo Travel. I had never even thought about this concept that others might see your decision to travel alone as a negative thing. It quite obviously started me thinking. The blog outlines six points which I'd like to share:
1) Travel solo to free others from guilt, 2) Travel solo for more happiness, 3) Travel solo to rejuvenate, 4) Travel solo to avoid frustrating others, 5) Travel solo as a gift to others, and finally 6) Travel solo because the guilt is unnecessary.

You might be thinking, "yes, but I've got a partner and two kids, I can't just hop on a plane to Bora Bora..." and I would agree - family is important and must be a priority. However, what I think the point really is is that we shouldn't feel guilty for wanting to run off to Bora Bora for a week on our own.
I especially like point number five: Travel solo as a gift to others. I had never considered this before. The joy that I get from travelling solo and the exciting experiences I have is something I can bring home to share. How can brimming over with happiness and feeling rejuvenated not be good for those around you?

Solo travel has become much easier since travel in general has become less of a hassle (security at airports aside...). It is fair to say that if you are in a group of friends or with family you won't all want to do the same things; some people (though I can't fathom why) hate museums, so there will have to be some give and take (point 4). Others might not even want to travel, and would rather you did, in fact, go on your own (point 1).

For me, travelling is a way to rejuvenate and find an inner peace (points 2 and 3). I am always happy to be travelling because of the sheer beauty of it. I don't mean scenery; I mean the beauty of travel as an action. Is it not lovely to take trains, buses, tuk tuks, boats, or camels to your destination - isn't that part of the fun? Travel has become easy, but thank goodness it hasn't lost its beauty and magic in doing so.

The Netherlands, as we know, is a small country - by train you can get across it in three hours. The last few weekends I've been to-ing and fro-ing back and forth across the country on trains and boats, and I realised how much I love the serenity of watching the world go by. For a few hours I can sit and watch the scenery change or see people getting on and off at platforms (people watching is a splendid past time of The Traveller), or even just read my book in peace. We are so busy in our day to day lives and often distracted by computers, that to just have a few hours to oneself to think or to read is a blessing.

Travelling on your own is a wonderful experience: you become self reliant, you learn so much about yourself in the process, you get to be your own person, you become a wizard at taking 'selfies', and generally you have an enjoyable time. You get to do all those things you want to do. I can't say enough positive things about it. I would implore you to try it at least once, even if it is just taking a train to another city or driving to see a rock formation in the desert. You can retreat from the world and finally be with yourself. And I hope you will find, as I do, how fantastic an experience it truly is.