Although I’ve had some wonderful travel experiences with others, in particular my daughter, I find solo travel is my chosen lifestyle.
When I began my journeys I thought I’d be constantly taking pictures, exploring ruins and traveling to a new spot. What I realized within months was that, in moving so swiftly, I was wearing myself out and becoming too used to new sights and sensations. If you’re constantly astonished by the wonders around you, soon you’re immune to amazement.
I had to slow down and actually live a life in between those exciting periods of exploration. I also found that when I wasn’t touring some fabulous museum or collecting memories along a new beach, I discovered small things that thrilled me.
I especially remember the conversation I had with Miss Quan in her little garage-type shop about the Taoist Chinese who visited her for items to burn on their funeral pyres. I had tried, on my own, to figure out the significance of the paper Gucci purses and empty cardboard cans of Guinness. She saw that I was confused and explained that these things were for the departed to take with them into the afterlife. Family members would purchase what they thought their loved one would need on the other side and toss them onto the funeral fires with reverence. I learned something.
Here, in Costa Rica, a walk always nets a new experience, whether it’s a black iguana with an evil grin or a trestled gate and garden right out of an English novel. You truly never know what you’ll find anywhere in the world if you keep your eyes open.
I also need to write to help pay my bills (so I can upgrade my lifestyle a bit), either through freelancing jobs or now selling travel articles. I did that while my daughter was traveling with me, but it was difficult finding the discipline to do it with her along – because I really wanted to be with her in every moment. However, I scheduled my work time when she was still asleep and wrote in the cafes attached to our hotels in the early morning cool.
Additionally, I like to have a couple of days a week – once every three or four days – to just read and relax. If you’re traveling with someone on a limited time budget, that’s just not possible. You need to see or experience as much as possible while they’re there with you because they don’t have the luxury of time like I do.
I recently discovered I’m an extroverted introvert – which explained a lot about this persona I carry around to me. I love, truly love, my brief interactions with people. I find the lives of others fascinating, which is why, as a reporter, I enjoyed interviewing people for the paper. Here’s the hitch though – an EI isn’t comfortable with extended interactions (me) and can happily spend lots of time alone (me, again). So basically, we’re people persons…but we’re not.
So, being alone never bothers me. If I have a need to interact, I just trot myself out to the nearest café, where I’ve probably established a rapport with staffers and chat for a while. I’m happiest if I somehow drift into a conversation with someone new.
I’ve been approached by a few people who would like to travel with me. It’s uncomfortable for me to try and explain that this won’t work for me because I like my alone time too much. While, I could do a couple of days with someone else, solo travel is for me – except, of course, for my annual trips with my very understanding and lovable daughter.
It dawned on me near the end of my last trip through SE Asia, that I should have been a National Geographic reporter and photographer. Maybe it’s not too late? Of course, I’ll need a better camera and a course on photography. Hmmm?