Traveling alone vs Traveling Solo: Part 1

Being alone with my thoughts is strange. I keep reflecting on my brother’s words…. “You take care of everyone else, use this month to take care of you”.

There’s a difference between traveling alone to join a group and traveling solo. I’ve traveled alone heaps of times- but traveling solo? This is new for me. Decisions are mine, but down time is also mine, too. In my 17 years of travel I have never been alone for this stretch of time. I have no context, no previous experience from which to draw. For the first time in a long time, I feel like a foreigner to traveling. I have no one to play cards with, no one to make sure I’m on the tour bus unless I make the effort to talk.

I look around at couples- young and old, families wrangling little ones who don’t (and may never) realize how lucky they are for getting a different world view. But mostly I’m drawn to the couples- how neat it is to see the smiles they exchange, the kisses, the playful slaps… young and old the actions and mannerisms are the same. It doesn’t matter the language they speak, they’re all connected by their actions. Is this their first trip abroad together? Their honeymoon? Is it their 50th wedding anniversary? Two people with silver Grey hair stand at the bow of the rocking and rolling ferry I’m on to the island of Kefalonia. They stand adjacent to each other, their arms barely touching- but still touching. The human connection. A young family sits beside me, a son’s head in his dad’s lap lulled to sleep by the rolling waves, his dad’s arm carefully, but securely tucking him safely away from falling off the bench on which he sleeps. A group of three friends (I assume) playfully flick and smack each other. Mother and daughter laugh as they try and stay upright while walking across the deck on this bumpy ride.

I watch these moments with people and I’m not entirely certain what I’m feeling. Feelings have context, you know? I’m not sure if I’m feeling lonely because my traveling partners left yesterday (geez, was it just yesterday?!) or am I feeling lonely because I’m not at home where everything is comfortable and easy? Maybe it’s not lonely at all. Perhaps this new emotion I’m not used to is feeling uncomfortable sitting with myself, in the moment, with thoughts whirling. No one to think or worry about except myself. Perhaps my brother is right. Take this month to figure out me. To take care of me. I guess living alone I always thought I did so that. But being away in a foreign land where so much unknown lurks ahead of me, it’s a different beast all together. Kefalonia‘s port looms on the horizon… the tour bus waiting to take my tour group to see the natural beauty of the island in the Ionian Sea. I don’t have anyone to share in this experience today- and that’s ok. Time to become content sharing this experience with myself.

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