A Love Letter To Solo Travel

“Auitarla!

It means HELP HER and it was the first word I heard in Italy. I was lying splat on the ground, luggage strewn around me, half crying half laughing. I didn’t notice the exit gap on the train platform, hence the fall. I must have looked like that deer that slides on ice, confused and messy. I was exhausted from the planes, trains and automobiles it took reach Italy from NY. And no, I wasn’t hurt – I was exhilarated. I had arrived. I was alone.

That exact moment of the fall in Italy, which might have mortified me in the past, sealed itself away in a little cocoon in my brain like a tiny envelope. A memory which I could pull out anytime I need a laugh or a reminder of the courage it takes to solo travel.

Memories are a powerhouse of emotions and solo travel is packed with them. The good ones enrich our lives. The negative ones help form our personalities, teaching us our likes and dislikes. A writer once told me I should journal all of my “That Time Whens”. He said I would want to look back on them one day.

“I travel solo because it’s something I need to do – like breathing.”

That Time When…

That time when in Botswana, an elephant trudged right up to my tent. It felt like she was intent on making eye contact with me. Through her long eyelashes, we stared at each other for a moment frozen in time. I remember feeling connected to something greater than me in those few seconds. Another sealed envelope.

That time when in Australia, I flew over the heart of the Barrier Reef, peering out the window of the small plane in utter amazement at the sites below, giving me a much deeper appreciation for our planet.

That time when I in Rome, I rounded a corner and saw the Coliseum for the first time. My knees actually went weak. The size of it took my breath away. This had me wondering about ancient history and who walked these same cobblestones as I? Envelope moment.

That time when in Bali, a notice was slipped under my hotel door saying today was a national holiday. It was called Nyepi. It was a day of silence. Everything was closed, no one talks. Can you imagine a culture that values the beauty of silence and meditation so much, an entire day is devoted to it?

“Some people collect shoes or seashells. I collect memories.”

Solo travel feels like freedom. It creates time and space to gather memory envelopes. Ones just for me.

Do you have a list of “that time whens.?”

 

Martha Medeiros, a Brazilian writer, says it best below:

You start dying slowly
If you do not travel,
If you do not read,
If you do not listen to the sounds of life,
If you do not appreciate yourself.

You start dying slowly
When you kill your self-esteem;
When you do not let others help you.

You start dying slowly
If you become a slave of your habits,
Walking everyday on the same paths…
If you do not change your routine,
If you do not wear different colors
Or you do not speak to those you don’t know.

You start dying slowly
If you avoid to feel passion
And their turbulent emotions;
Those which make your eyes glisten
And your heart beat fast.

You start dying slowly
If you do not change your life when you are not satisfied with your job, or with your love,
If you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain,
If you do not go after a dream,
If you do not allow yourself,
At least once in your lifetime,
To run away from sensible advice…
Australia – Cape Byron