Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fly Solo: Going on Vacation Alone, Part III

Single folks, we're down to our final excuse for not taking the plunge into your own version of the Blue Lagoon all by yourself! Drum roll, please...

"Traveling alone is boring."

Newsflash: Just because you're traveling single doesn't mean you have to travel alone. Yesterday, we touched on traveling with a tour group for added protection in foreign surroundings. But safety isn't the only benefit of traveling with other singles in tow.

Remember that old paradox "if a tree falls in a forest, and there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound"? If you feel like you haven't seen a sunset till you've shared it with other eyes, maybe you'd enjoy the companionship of a tour group. These days, there are tour groups specifically for singles, so you know you won't be the odd one out amongst honeymooners and families of four. If you sign up for a singles tour group, you'll automatically have someone you can joke with about the native cuisine, complain to about the unseasonable heat, and rhapsodize with about the mountain views. And if you're lucky, you might start a real-world friendship or romantic relationship that outlasts your sojourn in paradise. Some singles tour groups will even give you a helping hand by playing matchmaker, pairing you up with someone of similar background and interests or facilitating activities designed to introduce you to your fellow travelers.

Here's a list of just a few tour groups for singles (a Google search for "singles travel" will turn up many more):
Singles Travel International
All Singles Travel
Singles Travel Company
Adventures For Singles
Singles Travel Service

But for some singles, the thought of wedging into a tour bus with 20 other vacationers and their backpacks and digicams is enough to induce an acute attack of social phobia. If you're one of them, traveling on your own may not be such a hardship.

But, Elsie, you're protesting, just because I don't relish playing inadvertent footsie with sweaty strangers squeezed into a duck tour boat doesn't mean I wouldn't relish the same, slightly less cramped experience with friends, family, or that elusive love interest. Traveling alone is boring!

My reply to that is: Do you know it's boring, or do you just assume it is? Have you ever tried it, or are you basing your opinion on the marketable myth of the poor, lonely single traveler, used to sell extra tickets since the first commercial flight?

If you haven't tried it, give solo travel a chance before you dismiss it. Let me ask you this: When you go shopping, do you feel bored? Is it just not fun because you don't have anyone with you while you're admiring your hip-hugging Calvin Kleins in the mirror or fiddling with the exposure settings on that Canon Digital Rebel?

Let's be honest. Almost anything you do in life can be more enjoyable with someone else along for the ride. But that doesn't mean it's a dull, unfulfilling, meaningless waste of time. If that were true, you might as well conclude that your whole life is boring and just not worth it because you're living it single.

Chances are your life is pretty interesting. It may not be everything you want yet, but you wouldn't write it off as a snoozefest. And if your day-to-day routine is kinda cool, how much cooler would it be to break up that routine? Frankly, if you can plant your feet in front of the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower or Machu Picchu and call it boring, dinner and a movie with a mere human being isn't going to interest you either.

Besides, if you're depending on a partner to go with you on your dream trip, you may never see Big Ben or the Sistine Chapel or Red Square. Calm down--I'm not suggesting that you'll never be in a relationship again. But maybe the love of your life won't have the time, money, or even the desire to travel to the places that capture your imagination. Maybe your future mate will already have gone there when he or she was single! And once kids come along, forget about that 14-hour flight to Japan or that 10'x12' bungalow in Bora Bora.

Remember those folk stories about jolly wanderers like Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill, and Paul Bunyan? They were single. And they were jolly. With no responsibilities to tie them down, they roamed the earth at their leisure, and they did a bang-up job of it.

Go and do ye likewise. :)

If you've ever traveled alone, tell us about it. Did you have any problems on your own? If so, how did you overcome them? Have you ever traveled as part of a tour group? If so, would you recommend it to others? What tips would you give to other single travelers?

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Wizardry said...

Exactly. There is no need to travel alone. Has anyone ever read Jack Kerouac? “On The Road” is the book about Kerouac’s travel’s across the entire country- back and forth multiple times. He goes with friends, he goes it on his own, he meets up with them in places and then they all leave together. Sometimes their all a big merry gang, and other times they’re all out roaming the country on their own, but whatever the outcome- you’re never alone. Either those friends are with you, or the multitudes of people you will meet on your travels await you. Kerouac’s instances of meeting new people were often more exciting than meeting up with old friends.

So just as Elsie said, no more excuses. Unless you’re me and you’re still in high school planning a Kerouac like road trip with friends after graduation.

Alright, everyone go and listen to Led Zeppelin IV, also known as “Zoso.” Tis the best LP I have, and I listen to it all the time. “The Battle of Evermore” is especially good. And I’m still listening to my Fleetwood Mac LPs. Stevie Nicks is the best.

Clever Elsie said...

I'll second your recommendation of On the Road for readers with an insatiable wanderlust. :)

Your post-graduation road trip is going to be a blast! Any idea yet where you want to go?

Wizardry said...

Well, that's the greatest part. We're going to follow, to some degree, the footsteps of Kerouac, but with a few modifications. First we'll head south, through Washington D.C. and then possibly Atlanta. Then take a south west turn and hit New Orleans, and then continue west (we're still working out stops here). They all want to cross the border to get booze, but I think it will take too long. Then we head north to places in California, all of which are neat, but I want to see Las Vegas most of all (I'm quite the poker player if you didn't know). Then we head east across the barren nothingness, just like Kerouac, until we hit Chicago. Then we might cross the northern border and hit some place in Canada, can’t remember it’s name now though (but this border would be simpler to cross). Then we head back at a south east course and end in New York.

Yep. I can’t wait.

Clever Elsie said...

That sounds terrific! I wish I had taken the initiative to do something like that when I still had the luxury of long, leisurely summer vacations. :)

Don't forget Portland, OR and/or Seattle, WA if you can manage it. Those cities, particularly Seattle, still have a mellow, underground arty vibe. To give you an idea, I was out there two summers ago, and it was still grunge central, not to mention they were hosting a ginormous hemp fest on the waterfront.

Also, if you and your friends are at all fans of the great outdoors, the Pacific Coast Highway (101) is a breathtaking drive along the wildest, most rugged coastline in the U.S. You haven't seen a real beach till you've seen it from a 90-foot cliff overlooking monolithic sea stacks and starfish scattered across it like a splintered rainbow! :)

Anonymous said...

I've traveled alone a few times, and while there are definitely some lonely moments, most of the time I really enjoy it.

I can do what I want, go where I want, when I want. It's easy to strike up conversations with people when you're on your own, easier to get into clubs.

I do a lot of thinking and it's usually for the best. It clears my head and I arrive home refreshed.

Clever Elsie said...

Talesfromabarstool: Hi, and welcome to Singletude!

Thanks for your input on traveling alone! I agree with everything you said, especially about how conducive it is to meeting new people and really enjoying your own thoughts. Sometimes I even like sightseeing alone better than with someone else. There's something refreshing about just experiencing your own reactions to things, uninfluenced by the opinions of someone next to you.