I was a lazy traveler.
Looking back on my trips with family and friends, before traveling solo, I can’t recall how I navigated them.
Of course I remember the trips but I can’t recall the specifics of where I went and the people I met in the same way as I can of my solo travels. And the reason, I believe, is that I wasn’t completely responsible for them.
Decisions were made collaboratively. Responsibilities were shared – you do this, I’ll do that. My attention was diverted by the people I was with.
But, traveling solo, it’s all up to me. I now remember more clearly the places I visit and the routes I take because I planned them and then I traveled them.
I live my solo travels more fully.
Less lazy, more mindful.
And as I travel solo I am not only more aware of my experience but also of how I relate to my destination – the culture, environment and its people.
Traveling solo has forced me to be less lazy, to work harder for my travels and get more from the experience. Here’s how…
- Researching the basics. Planning how I’ll get there, how to transit from airport to city, booking my accommodation, what kind of food I’ll eat, what the local art scene is like… all these details of planning, of visualizing how the elements of my trip will fit together, help me live them with less stress and, ultimately, more awareness of the experience.
- Studying maps. I love maps. Studying maps before I leave not only gives me greater security as I travel alone, it also gives me an idea of where things are in a city and how much can be done in a day. It allows me to focus on what I experience rather than figuring out the navigation.
- Buying local. Having planned well, I have a better understanding of how to be supportive of the local economy. Buying local crafts and eating local food are two ways of being a respectful traveler. This often means going out of my way – something I may be willing to do but a partner may not be.
- Meeting locals. I may want to travel alone but that’s doesn’t mean that I always want to be alone. Traveling solo I make an extra effort to connect with locals and other travelers. Doing so makes me more mindful of my position in the world, how fortunate I am and causes me to go out of my way to contribute how I can.
- Acting spontaneously. Traveling alone I am more aware of my energy and interests. When a surprising opportunity arises, I can choose whether to act on it. And because I’ve done my research, I know the impact of that change in plan will have.
Yes, since traveling solo I am more inclined to research, study, plan, buy local, meet people from all over the world and, yes, be spontaneous. As I travel solo I am often aware of how much the fact of being solo has made me less lazy and more engaged in my travel experience.