traveling single

04May09

I took a mini vacation to the seashore this weekend. There’s something about taking a vacation by myself (which I’d never done before now) that is both liberating and depressing. Traveling for leisure is something I’ve always regarded as something you do with people, whether that be friends or a partner, so it’s strange to do it by myself. But while I’m in the UK, there are places I want to see and they won’t be seen if I wait around for somebody to go with me. So I went and I enjoyed myself. It was relaxing, I did a lot of reading, I’ve come closer to finishing a full English breakfast than I’ve ever come before, I got some good pictures, and I got to see the sea, which I love to do. But even as I patted myself on the back for doing what I wanted to do, I was constantly reminded of how weird it was to be traveling by myself. Whenever I talked with people, their assumption was that I was there to visit friends or family. The place I happened to go is probably best appreciated by families and children, not single women in their mid-twenties. And eating by myself proved strangest of all. I was probably too self-conscious of the fact that I was eating alone, something that had always terrified me. But people did look in my direction more often than they would have if I was eating with another person. One of the waitresses who served me at the bistro lunch I treated myself to was just that bit more attentive. I also was the only woman I saw that entire weekend eating by herself, or frankly doing anything by herself. So even as I stopped waiting around for a boyfriend to travel with and stopped not going to places I wanted to go to that are a hard sell to my friends, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I shouldn’t have to take vacations by myself, unless they’re to the spa. But I’m a graduate student so I don’t go to the spa. I’m going to take more trips. I’ll keep going to movies by myself. Maybe I’ll even eat a meal by myself in a sitdown restaurant in London. But I’m not happy about how my attempts to have a life as a single woman remind me of the fact that I’m single.

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6 Responses to “traveling single”

  1. I know how you feel. Traveling is one of the times when I really feel my single status.

    Hang in there! I hope the research is going well.

  2. 2 whitheramp

    i may have given up on dating. i think i’m now sublimating all my energy into work. (and maybe a little into American Idol) . . . we haven’t chatted in ages? did i tell you it’s now official that a certain person’s advisers are moving on?

  3. Travelling alone can be one of life’s great pleasures. You can do what you want when you want to do it without having other people whining about being ‘dragged off to see yet another bloody church/castle/museum’. Try to ignore the people staring at you and just enjoy. And take a book when you go out to dinner – nothing nicer than having a good long read while someone else cooks, serves and then cleans up!

  4. 4 Flavia

    I agree with Bavardess. I first travelled alone the summer I was 21: I spent a month in England (my first trip there), travelling all around the country by myself. I had a great time. I’ve grown to enjoy travelling with others, too, but I still think my ideal trip involves a mix of alone time and friend or partner time–I really like those trips where I’m alone but periodically able to meet up with others as our respective travels intersect. A day or two with others, for every two or three days alone, is probably my perfect balance.

    Really, it’s not weird at all. In fact, I think travelling alone allows you to blend in more and become a part of the rhythms of the place (nothing pegs you as a tourist like wandering around yammering at someone in a foreign language or with an accent, pulling out maps, etc.); when it’s just you, you’re just a person walking around town, doing your business. (Though I admit that this is more the case in urban settings than at the seashore!)

    Enjoy youre travels.

  5. I also agree with bavardess. There are some things it isn’t fun to do alone. My ex, the nice one, has a fishing camp down in the marshes where one can spend a lovely weekend doing things but he says it’s desolate to spend the night there alone on a regular basis. I, on the other hand, am going to N.O. this weekend by myself and the point is to visit the city, not have it filtered through someone else … and to get away from people. When I lived in N.O., I learned how to go out by myself, too, because nobody I knew would go out in the “bad” neighborhoods where the good jazz is. I watched the old men out by themselves, interested in hearing the band as I was, and I imitated them: close your face, get a tiny table, visualize a gestalt of owning the place (or something like that) and there you are — able to observe and absorb without being bothered or hectored.

    But then I do not have a problem being single and I love to travel to foreign countries alone (you don’t have to translate for anyone then, or deal with their squeamishness / lack of stamina for walking far / etc.).

  6. 6 thefrogprincess

    Actually I’m the person in my group of friends who lacks the stamina to walk far, so I’m the problem traveler in a group. Haha. (Although I make sure we don’t pull out enormous maps on street corners and/or block the flow of traffic.)

    Seriously, though, I travel alone all the time for work/research so it was traveling alone for pleasure that was new to me. And even then, the only part that seemed quite strange was eating dinner by myself. But it wasn’t so weird as to stop me from doing it again: I’m off again this weekend to another one of the UK’s minor cities.


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