I’m turning 36 tomorrow (Happy Birthday, Me!!!) and I’m proud to say that I don’t have too many regrets in life. Although my last few posts have been much about my desire to meet Mr. Right and build a married life, I’m not ignorant to the fact that I’ve passed over many good men that I’m sure would have been great husbands.
So in many ways my singledom has been a choice that I’ve guarded with ferocity. Why? Because there are a lot of perks to being single and I’d only give them up for someone that I’m a 100 percent certain is The One. Being able to travel whenever and for how long I want is one huge perk that I can’t say I’ll ever be eager to give up. Nevertheless, there’s also many disadvantages to being single–the biggest one is having all these amazing experiences alone with no one to share them with.
My birthday and my recent solo trip to Germany got me thinking about how similar traveling alone is to being single. I started weighing the pros and cons and here’s my determination:
PRO: Of course the No. 1 advantage to being single and traveling solo is making your own schedule. There’s no negotiating over where to go, there’s no one telling you they’re ready to leave when you’re just getting started, there’s no one to complain if you decide to change plans at the last minute.
CON: The flip side of that, however, is you’re bound to feel lonely occasionally. Picture yourself taking in the most exquisite sunset and when you turn to say, “Isn’t this amazing,” there’s no one there.
PRO: Call me insecure, but one great thing about being single is that there’s no one to judge me. If I come home from work, pull on my same stinky socks that I haven’t washed in a month, and sit on my couch with a bowl of cereal for dinner, there’s no one there to look at me funny. Likewise, if I want to go to my hotel room and take a nap after strolling only half of the Louvre, there’s no one there to call me lazy.
CON: Unfortunately, there’s also no one there to help me out when I need it. Asking my travel buddy to watch my drink, or keep an eye on my bag, or hold my spot in line–nope! I’m just stuck. Similarly, can I get someone to buy me some soup when I’m sick–Nope, I’m on my own!
PRO: In travel, just like in everyday life, when your solo you’re inclined to meet new people. Other people are more likely to approach you when you’re not in a group and you’ll be more open to chatting. This is especially true when it comes to people of the opposite sex–because you’re free to flirt without upsetting your partner.
CON: It may be easier to meet new people, but those connections aren’t the deeper kind that you would share with a significant other. And you’ll have to work a bit harder for meaningful human contact, especially sex.
PRO: But some might argue that the emotional ‘stuff’ is overrated. When you’re alone there’s no one to tap dance all over your nerves and poke at your pet peeves. Likewise, you’re free to be in a bad mood without pissing someone else off too.
PRO: You will get very comfy with yourself. Lately, I’ve been choosing to travel alone more often for this reason–to really get acquainted with myself outside of my comfort zone. Just like at home, I really love my own company and I laugh at my own jokes! And yes, I talk to myself and that does not make me crazy!
CON: There have definitely been moments when I’ve felt vulnerable alone and safety is definitely a factor. A few times in Germany when I was lost or when I wanted to go into a nightclub but I was intimidated by the crowd, a partner would have been the remedy. Just like in my day-to-day I wish I had a partner to bounce ideas and vet goals with.
The bottom line is that there are perks to both being single and partnering up. In travel, just like in life, it really depends on your preference and your goals. After so many years of guarding my independence I’m starting to lean toward coupledom. But anyone who wants a successful relationship with me must treasure my autonomy and nurture my love of travel–and understand that sometimes I may want to travel alone.