Tuesday, April 5, 2011

When You're All Alone...

Sometimes solo trips happen.

The bad news is: it gets a little lonely.
The good news is: well, everything else.

When you travel by yourself it gives you space to do all the things you can't do when you travel with someone else (or several someone elses... or a lot of someone elses). You can get up when you want, do the things you want to do, eat when you want to eat, spend money on what you want to spend money on, and meet people you wouldn't have otherwise met.

For instance, this past weekend I traveled to Budapest. I was supposed to meet a friend and spend the weekend with her, but unfortunately she messaged me about an hour before I was leaving for the airport to tell me that she had a 102 degree fever with the flu and wouldn't be able to fly out to meet me anymore. Although I was upset, I decided I wasn't going to be out the money for my flight or hostel, and left for the airport anyway.

I am so glad that I did.

I arrived at my hostel late on Thursday night (well, technically it was Friday morning around 1am) and immediately crashed. The next morning, I got up and asked the woman in reception about some things to do. She circled some things on my map, and told me which public transportation to take. I spent the morning hiking up to the Citadel on the Buda side of the city, the afternoon checking out all the major landmarks on the Pest side of the city like Parliament, St. Stephan's Basilica, the Synagog, the Opera House and all of the bridges, and the evening walking around and getting traditional beef stew with egg barley and some Hungarian beer at a local pub. It was such a great day, and I really enjoyed all the time I had to myself.

Saturday I went caving in three of the caves open to the public. I teamed up with a Finnish man who was also traveling alone, and spent the morning caving with him. It was nice to have the company, and it was also nice getting to meet someone new. In the afternoon, I was tired, and so I headed to one of the thermal bathhouses to soak in the heated pools and relax. It was so good to just sit in the pools and check out the sauna. I also ate the leftovers from my dinner the night before, and a falafel sandwich, both of which were delicious.

Sunday I woke up early because I had limited time before going to the airport to head back to Rome in the evening. I hopped on a free tour about Communism in Hungary and met a german couple who I enjoyed talking to in between stops on the tour. After the tour about Communism, I took another tour about the Pest side of the city and the Jewish quarters. On that tour I met a group of students who were studying in Croatia, but were from all over the world. I had a great time on tour with them. And finally, I ended up in the City Park to check out Heroes Square and the castle.

Basically, traveling alone was a great way for me to have some "me" time, to meet people from all over the world, and to learn some really cool stuff about Budapest.

My recommendation to you: travel (at least once in your life) alone. It's a whole new way to travel, and gives you a totally different perspective than traveling with friends or family or a tour group.

Have you ever traveled alone before? What was your favorite part of it? Did you meet new people or do something you wouldn't have done otherwise?


  1. I've been doing things "alone" that most women do with their husbands for so many years now, that I have kind of forgotten what it must be like to have someone to always do things with. I remember the first time I ate a meal in a restaurant alone...very strange feeling. And the first time I went to the theater alone. And though I have not traveled for pleasure alone or gone a long way alone, I've gone on many business trips alone. And like you found out, being "alone" is just another kind of opportunity to learn about ourselves. I;ve gained so much confidence in having had to meet much of my life being a single, not one of a pair.

  2. Being alone does not always mean being lonely. And the beautiful thing is that we learn so much, just as you said. It's the "alone" opportunities that allow us to meet new people, try new activities, and learn new things.

    It's not always easy, and more often than not it's difficult and challenging when you begin to do things alone... but as you said the more we do things alone, the more we "forget" that we're really alone.

    It is a strange feeling, but not always a bad one :-)


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