I never thought that I’d be married, and travelling solo… because when you’re married you automatically have a travelling partner! Yet here I am, yet again, happily leaving my husband behind, to see different places and experience different things. Think I’m nuts? Read on.
The Early Years
When I was younger, I wanted to do the Gap Year, the Contiki tours, the years spent traipsing around other countries. I wanted to be drunk at Oktoberfest and dance at the Carnivale. I wanted to meet new people and experience things abroad that I wouldn’t have been able to at home.
Now don’t get me wrong – I did travel, a lot. But it was always with a boyfriend or a group of people. A series of events when I was 20 led me to being single, and fully qualified as a Beauty Therapist – and I had an opportunity to work abroad on Cruise Ships, and see the World that way. But as fate had it, a man stepped into my life, and I turned down the opportunity to be with him.
We travelled together; not extensively, but enough in the two years we were together to appease my appetite.
At the time I had a very good paying job, and when the relationship crumbled, I put all of my eggs in the career basket, and threw myself into work. I’d party (sober, as I’d always be the designated driver) with friends each weekend…counting down the minutes until I had to go back to work, and dreading every second of it.
See, I didn’t want to be alone. I liked my own company enough, but I’d get bored, and wasn’t ever content with just ‘sitting’ and ‘being’.
So the idea of galavanting around the world alone, travelling solo, at that age, petrified me. My self esteem had taken a huge battering after the two big relationships, and what I felt from those seemed doomed to follow me no matter where I went.
It seemed as though I was going to be confined to Melbourne forever. And the thought of that bought me zero joy.
It All Changed
When I was 23, I met a man, who would soon be my husband. We met, both having gotten out of relationships, and both on the precipice of travelling alone. He was a week away from booking a flight to Europe, and I was madly saving (which I sucked at btw) to go ANYWHERE.
But again, a series of events unfolded, and always being one to trust the Universe, knew that it’d all work out as it was meant to. 9 months later, we moved in together. 3 months after that, we were engaged. And then a mere 2 years after we met, we got married.
We’ve travelled- thankfully we both have a love of food, and culture and exploring- and that has taken us from Hawaii, to the USA, to Singapore, Thailand, Bali, the Philippines, and all up and down the East Coast of our Great Land.
But the difference is, we’ve done a fair bit of travel alone as well. And we love it.
The younger me couldn’t have fathomed this. How could you possibly let the person you love go? How would you spend your time? What would they get up to? Oh the me of a decade ago would have had a field day with this. The insecurities would rear their ugly, needy heads, and it’d chip away at foundations of the relationship, daring it to crumble and fall.
When I tell people that Paul and I were on opposite sides of the USA, and travelled alone – we get some weird looks. When I’m walking around Bali or Thailand, the same thing. “You’re alone?!”
Hell yes I’m alone. But I’m not alone. We really never are.
Why Travelling Solo is Life Changing
The beauty of travelling solo is that you truly have to step outside of your comfort zone. It pushes your buttons, expands your energy, and liberates the shit out of you.
It forces you to do things you may normally not do– even as simple as striking up a conversation with a stranger, or sitting in a restaurant alone.
I love to meet new people. Being a pretty friendly person, who isn’t shy about striking up a conversation (but definitely someone who picks the right times, and places, and people) this isn’t too hard. I do have days though, where I just want to be alone and read, or write or walk – and this is ok too. And I lavish in my own time.
I indulge myself, and not just in choosing the most beautiful organic and healthy food. But I indulge in long baths, people watching, reading books, writing, listening to podcasts, meditating, and just ‘being’…as now, there’s minor discomfort in sitting still (although I do just LOVE to being on the go).
And the best part of it all? It’s amazing for our marriage. Honestly.
Travelling solo gives us a chance to miss each other. It allows us to explore things we wouldn’t normally do (Paul travels around a lot watching sporting matches from NBA, NFL and Ice Hockey… I like snorkelling and going to markets and shopping). It gives us both space, and time, and gives us something to TALK about.
We both have home offices, so we see each other a lot. We have rules where we don’t speak a lot over the phone – unless it’s important – as we’d rather speak face to face. We go out separately, and have our own friends… but in saying that, he’s the one person I love most spending my time with and we are each others best friends. We just believe that distance is healthy and necessary, and after 6 years of marriage and 8 being together, it’s amazing what sparks rekindle when you’re separated by an ocean or three.
How to Travel Solo and Stay Sane
I wanted to share with you some really healthy ways you can travel alone, maintain your enthusiasm and openness, and be happy just doing shit solo.
Yup. Easy right? Try it. You’ll feel the muscles pick up slowly, teasing the corners of your mouth. Your eyes may crinkle a bit, your nose may scrunch up, and then all of the sudden, you’ll feel your cheeks expand. The smile will meet your eyes, and sometimes your teeth will come out to play. Smiling is a language understood by everyone the World over- and you’d be amazed at what doors a smile can open.
Learn some key phrases
I’m totally down with languages. I love picking up slang and accents, and write down phrases I like and that I can use again in other conversations. Make the effort. You’ll be adored for it.
Carry a book or a journal
This is actually a great way to start going out alone, especially if you’re not used to it. Sitting there with an open book, or a journal and pen is fantastic. If you start to get a tad anxious, and feel like all eyes are on you, and people are judging you, this can be a great place to escape.
Remember that NO one cares why you’re alone
And if they do, ignore it. You may have just gone on holiday post break-up, or post job-redundancy, or even like a guy I met the other day who was recently widowed. Or you may just like being alone. I promise, that it may feel as though everyone is looking, and while they may have an inkling of curiosity, I’d be very surprised if they were judging you.
Be safe, go forth, have fun!
And in case you need to be told – You’re NOT a loser for being by yourself.
And you’re really never alone.
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