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Published: March 1st 2020
Imagine my shock when an executive editor of Conde Nast Magazine says that she hates traveling solo. Trying to make sense of her comments, I realize that she has a family, obviously a female, and a seasoned traveler. Much of her anxiety seems to stem from making well intentioned plans, then backing out as the opportunity presents itself. She does her research, much like you or I might do. She would find the latest "hot" restaurant, must see museum, or hippest neighborhood. Was she dodging empowerment, or simply did not know how to be alone? She goes on to say that it is painful work. Most of you know that I take trips by myself. Probably the most formidable was the Trans Siberian Railway, across all of Russia (from Vladivostok to Moscow). But I have taken many others, to Europe, Asia, Canada, and throughout the United States. Perhaps my solo travel is simply an extension of the years I traveled on business, sometimes up to three weeks a month. For some people, it is an escape from home, family, and daily responsibilities. I have been fortunate to have a great travel friend in Mr. Mike. But I
am not dependent on him for my adventures around the world. If nobody wants to go, I will go! As I have matured as a traveler and adventurer, I have several revelations. Some are rather obvious. The first is getting to choose where I stay. I don't need a 5 star hotel, instead choosing a moderately priced hotel in a great location. Without a spouse needing the comforts of home, I can choose a smaller room, in a cheaper hotel, in the middle of a busy and noisy city. In other words, I am exactly where I want to be! Second, I get to eat when and where I want. This means choosing my meals and snacks based on both hunger, convenience, and personal preference. How many times have you walked past a place, later wishing you had stopped to eat or buy something? Well, I just stop whenever I feel like it. Or I skip meal time, or head to Happy Hour. The options are endless. Now my third reason might seem rather strange to you. But it is cheaper to travel solo. Certainly for touring, one admission fee, one bus pass, a seat for
one, the list goes on and on. But the overlying theme of solo travel is getting to choose when and who to talk with. Over the years, I think I talk significantly less. But when I do, it is meaningful, and informative. I met my friend Katy, the world traveler, who lives most of the year, on the road, as a translator of documents. And who can forget Barry the V in the now defunct internet rooms in the hotel? And Jason and Chun on the Malay island of Langkawi. Rarely have I met up with someone to travel with. Of recent vintage, my friend Michael (from Switzerland), who I met on the Trans Siberian, became a fellow traveler. We decided to meet up in Moscow, stay at the same hotel, share some meals, and snoop around the KGB. Of course, I realize some of my travels may not appeal to you. Some may not appeal to women. And some are just outrageously adventurous. But if you find your comfort level, I am certain you can manage quite nicely. Might I suggest a short trip, perhaps even by car. Then venture out to a short flight, soon to be followed by a longer flight to a big city like Chicago, DC, or New York. Somewhere in this trial period, you will find a comfort level, and decide to go overseas. I think you will enjoy the freedom that it brings.
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