Not actually alone
“There are only two things I like to do alone: reading and traveling, and for the same reason. When you travel, and when you read, you are not actually alone, but rather surrounded by other worlds entirely, the footsteps and phrases of whole other lives keeping you company as you go.” — Shauna Niequist
There’s nothing to compare with sharing the beauty and excitement of travel with friends and family, but even so, I completely agree with what Niequist says here. I also enjoy traveling alone, and reading alone, and for the same reason.
Oddly, there’s a sense in which, traveling solo, I connect with new people more (because I notice them more) and I end up having some interesting conversations with strangers. When I travel with friends and family, I am in a sort of cocoon of the familiar and safe. On my own, my senses are more alert, more finely tuned, less distracted, and I enter those “whole other worlds” more completely.
Reading is, of course, the ultimate solo escape; one doesn’t have to worry about timetables or personal safety or finances or finding a decent place to have lunch. If I had to choose one or the other, reading would win out over actual physical travel every time. But traveling, whether near or far, can open the mind to awareness of the wider world in a way that reading cannot do as completely. No matter how vividly we re-create sights and sounds and smells in our imagination, it’s not quite the same as actually being there
Sometime this year, I hope you will make time for a solo getaway, even for just an hour or two. If you’re timid about traveling alone, choose a place closer to home that seems safer, but try to choose something a bit unfamiliar. Museums, parks, even riding the public transportation to a different destination can be a fun adventure. Take along a few things that will make your day easier or more complete — a camera, a water bottle, sunscreen or some energy snacks — but try to travel light, to enjoy the sense of freedom that comes with being by yourself.
What other worlds and other lives are out there waiting to make your acquaintance?