The first time I’m asked this question, I’m on a tour around the Alps in Slovenia with a group of people, and it was over lunch with a 50 years old couple from Columbia. PS: please read with Hispanic accent, and I’m not even joking!
The wife: “How old are you”?
Me:”26 years old”
The wife:” do you have a husband?”
Me:” No I don’t”
The wife:” a boyfriend?”
Me:” No I don’t”
The wife:” why?”
Me: smile and giggle (Thankfully, this was enough!)
The wife:” you don’t need a husband, you just stay the way you are, you look happier. Oh I love your scarf, is it Moroccan craft?”
Then the question occurred quite few times after that as soon as I started conversations with random people (especially that I solo travel most of the time), the funniest thing is that people ask first about the husband (well because in their perception it’s the number one option for a muslim/hijabi/27 years old girl) then when I don’t confirm the husband theory, they give the boyfriend question a shot (with a curious look on their face saying: “if she says yes, now that could be interesting!”).
All those questions got me thinking about how similar traveling alone can be to being single. And since I’m just back from a business trip to Algeria (which means I’m tired and I need to clear my head), I started weighing the pros and cons that travelling & being single have in common, and here’s what I’ve found:
- PRO: Of course the Number 1 advantage to being single and traveling solo is making your own schedule. No negotiating over where to go, no one telling you they’re ready to leave when you’re just getting started, and no one to complain if you decide to change plans in the last minute. CON: The other not that fun side of that, however, is that you’re more often likely to feel lonely. Picture yourself taking in the most exquisite sunset in Cinque Terre and when you turn to say, “Isn’t this amazing,” there’s only your best friend there (Sorry Amira!)
- PRO: Call me insecure, but one great thing about being single is that there’s no one to judge me. If I decide that I want to go back every day to have lunch in that same restaurant in Cabo Verde because they have the best sea food in town, I can do it because there is no one there to look at me funny (and complain about it). Also, if I want to just go to my hotel room and take a nap after walking only half of the Louvre (I mean come on, this thing is gigantic!), there’s no one there to call me lazy. CON: the flip side of that is, there’s also no one there to help me out when I need it. For example asking my travel buddy to watch my coffee, keep an eye on my bag while I’m gone to the bathroom, or hold my spot in line–nope, no one in there! I’m on my own taking my backpack with me to the bathroom!
- PRO: while travelling (just like in everyday life) when you’re solo you’re more likely to meet new people. Other people are more motivated to come to you when you’re not in a group and you’ll be more open to chatting with them. CON: It may be easier to meet new people, but those connections last, best case scenario, for couple of hours and aren’t the deeper kind that you would share with a significant other…
- PRO: some (including myself) might say that the emotional ‘stuff’ is overrated. When you’re alone there’s no one to get on every one of your nerves and poke at your pet peeves. You’re also free to be in a bad mood without pissing someone else off either. CON: The cost of being single and traveling solo can add up. You can’t split hotel rooms and travel packages that require two people, damn you single room supplement!
- PRO: You will get very comfy with yourself, to really get acquainted with yourself outside of your comfort zone. Lately, I really learned to love my own company and laugh at my own jokes (yes I talk to myself and that does not make me crazy, or does it?!) CON: There have definitely been moments when I’ve felt vulnerable and not safe alone. The few times when I was lost and couldn’t find my hotel (this happens too many times by the way and it freaks me out!) a partner would have been the remedy.
Bottom line, there are perks to both being single and partnering up. In travel, just like in life, it really depends on everyone’s goals and priorities. I don’t want to sound like a Beyoncé singing “all the single ladies” (because let’s be honest, she does go home to a husband and a daughter at the end of the day!), but for me there are a lot of perks to being single, that I would only give up for someone that I’m a 100 percent certain is The One (kind of 3D dream I know!), being able to travel whenever and for as long as I want is one very important perk that I know I’ll never be eager to give up. Ever.
Cheers to the places we yet have to go to!