Pros and Cons of Solitary Travel

Due to the shock and awe I have received when declaring that I am (or was) traveling alone, I have decided to share my evaluations of doing so on this trip with the world. (Shout out to you, World!)

Pro: You don’t have to get stuck watching people’s bags while thy’re in the airport restroom.
Con: There is no one to watch your bag while you use the airport restroom.

Pro: When you get sick, there is no one to inconvenience.
Con: When you get sick, there is no one to take care of you.

Pro: You get to do what you want to do, when you want to do it.
Con: There is no one to challenge you to do things out of your comfort zone (unless you have their voices nudging you subconsciously — THANKS A LOT FOR THE HARD BOILED EGGS, K.!).

Pro: You don’t have to worry about staying in someone else’s budget.
Con: There is no one to talk you into (or out of) buying that particularly fetching hat.

Pro: You can go to bed when you feel like it.
Con: There’s no one to talk with until the wee hours of a foreign dawn.

Pro: You can eat when and what you feel like.
Con: There is no one to keep you company at meals.

Pro: You don’t have to get to the train station 40 minutes early because someone else is slightly neurotic (or convince someone else to get to the train station 40 minutes early because who knows what might happen).
Con: There is no one to point out to you that 20:14 is really eight fifteen, not nine fifteen, and maybe you should be boarding the train right now.

Pro: You are more likely to branch out and meet new and interesting people.
Con: There is  no one to shield you from new and interesting people.

Pro: It gives you a fun excuse to buy and write postcards.
Con: You have to write postcards, find the addresses, communicate with someone at a foreign post office, remember to mail the postcards, and then find a way to surreptitiously figure out if they arrived once you got back because you can’t remember whom you actually sent them to and don’t want to offend anyone that you forgot.

In summary, I will point out that despite tendancies otherwise, I am an introvert. This means that I rejuvinate when on my own, away from other people. I like thinking, and thinking about my thinking, and then writing after thinking about my thinking for a while. I feel quite overwhelmed when traveling with more than one other person and rebellious when not in control of my itinerary.

Therefore, I cannot comprehend how sane adult women traveled with our Girl Scout troop. I really, really, really don’t. Thank you, questionably sane women.

As regards to safety, I don’t think I ever felt any more unsafe than I ever have here in San Francisco (which, granted, can mean anything), but there was only one moment where I wanted someone to hold on to, and that passed very quickly (it had to: what with all the riot police around, you didn’t want to start grabbing people). But I didn’t go out drinking, I didn’t hang out in crowded hostels, and I was generally back at “home” by 7 (or as the French say, 19:00).

Would I have enjoyed company? Yes. Would I have enjoyed the trip more with company? No. It would have been a different trip,  not necessarily better, not necessarily worse.

I am very grateful that I was raised by parents and Girl Scout leaders whose goal it was that I become as responsible and prepared and resourceful and daring and adventurous as possible. Thanks, parents and leaders!


4 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Solitary Travel

  1. Sharyn Sowell says:

    You are as intrepid and wonderful a young woman as I ever met in my life. I admire you! I salute you! Here’s to more and more trips, both alone and in tandem with others who you enjoy and are compatible with. I thoroughly enjoy your writing and your personality. Kudos, Noel. Well done.

  2. I try to use the handicap bathroom so I can take my bags in with me! I enjoy travelling alone, but completely agree with your list- thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. lisa says:

    Said Girl Scouts leaders were not of questionable sanity. They struggled VERY hard to encourage young women to become INDEPENDENT, capable of world travel and MANY other things, adult women. They did what they had to do to get the desired results and I think the results are in — score! Semester in Africa, semester afloat, semester in New Zealand, year in Ireland, dig in Menorca, travel to Greece, working in the backcountry of Yellowstone, travel to Australia, travel to Europe, weekend trips to Ireland and more . . . the girls in said troop learned they could do it! So worth the craziness of the process . . . in my humble opinion.

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