Posted by: GeekHiker | April 14, 2009

Traveling Solo

(This post will give the next post a little context.)

When I was younger (i.e. my twenties), I used to travel by myself all the time.

Not big trips, mind you, but little ones.  Sometimes an over-nighter, sometimes a couple of weeks, but generally in the west.  Sometimes I was camping, other times staying in hotels.

I’d make necessary trips into mini vacations.  Traveling between SF and LA, I’d stop overnight in San Luis Obispo, plunk down $36 at the Motel 6, and order a pizza.

But camping (in campgrounds) and making a couple-week trip through Grand Canyon, Zion and Cedar Breaks?  I didn’t have a problem with that either.

Last week was pretty stressful at work, so on a whim I decided to make a short trip out of town.  Nothing major, just an over-nighter down the coast.  Friday night I reserved a hotel room for Saturday, packed a bag, and took off in the morning.

The trip was… okay.

But just… okay.

Part of this “okay” feeling, I know, is because I don’t come down from the normal stress of life very quickly.  It takes a few days.  So while weekenders can be fun, they don’t really contribute to my overall “relaxation” level.

This wasn’t a problem ten years ago.  Of course, 10 years ago I didn’t have car payments, the responsibility of running an entire company’s computer network on a daily basis, etc.

In fact, it actually takes two or three days before I come “down” in my stress level, before I start feeling relaxed and can truly say “hey, I’m on vacation” and feel as mellow as that sounds.  Funny thing, my father’s exactly the same way.  Which is yet another clue that proves that I wasn’t switched in the hospital after all. 😉

The other part of it, though, is that I’m starting to think I just don’t enjoy traveling solo the way I used to.

It feels lonelier, now, in a way that it didn’t before.

I think in my twenties, before I’d had my first real relationship, I just didn’t know any different.  I mean, I theorized in my head about how much more fun traveling with someone else might be, but reality often exceeds theory in these matters.

Now, of course, I’ve been corrupted from the tree of knowledge.  (Don’t worry, I won’t drag a Garden of Eden allegory into this, promise.)  I’ve traveled with friends and significant others, and I know how much more pleasurable the travel is when companions are along.

Of course, I’m single.  And although I have acquaintances in groups such as the backpackers I go out with, I don’t have a group of traveling friends.  No one, certainly, who’s capable of dropping all of their various commitments to do a quick, last-minute trip out of town.

And so I find myself in an interesting quandary: on the one hand I think “hey, I should do this kind of weekender thing more often, since it’s nice to get away from the rat-race, even for only 48 hours…”

On the other hand, I think “geez, this isn’t fun like it used to be.”

It’s something to ponder, for sure.  Best I can tell, though, there’s just not a readily apparent solution…



  1. Me! Pick me! I can usually take off at the last minute. You’ll have to move to the right coast though. Or at the very least, somewhere in the middle 😉

    But yeah, I know what you mean. I’m so excited about going to NYC for the first time in two weeks that I’m vibrating. I’m also a bit anxious to go alone. What if I don’t love it as much as everyone promises I will just because I’m solo?

  2. I had a conversation about this with a girlfriend recently. She’s started taking trips with a local “adventurers” meetup in the area ( I wonder if there’s a similar one in your area?

    The nice thing about this is it’s a group of like-minded people who enjoy the outdoors. She said it’s been fun. Go to Meetup’s main page and you can look up local groups by zip code or by interest (like if you’d rather learn spanish, cooking, or hang out with spaniel enthusiasts).

  3. Another heartfelt post! Thanks for sharing. I have to confess that I feel exactly the same way. Traveling solo is not a big deal if you have to, but really, it’s a lot more fun to share the journey with friends, or better, a loved one. Unfortunately, as we grow older, it gets harder to really connect people that can be compatible traveling partners, who at the same time can also go on a random road trip at the drop of a hat. Sigh… 😦

  4. My Car – Wish we’d known each other better a few months ago. I was going to go to NYC in May, but I’ve decided to try for the fall. The whole neighbors things was just too distracting to plan it out…

    Spleeness – Where do you think I met the backpackers? 🙂

    K – Give me a call if you ever wanna drive Route 66. 😀

  5. Toronto instead? No planning required. Just book a flight (and a hotel room if you’re feeling unadventurous 😉 😮

  6. Mrs Chuck Bartowski – You wouldn’t even loan me your couch? I think I’m hurt… 🙂

  7. We had a conversation about this merember? Go check your email. Adventurous = roomy with a stranger. Not so adventurous = roomy with the voices.

  8. I feel quite similar to you. I did lots on my own before but now I know the pleasures of travel with like minded people.

    I also have discovered that I like doing things on my own when I have a base to work from ( trip to London and stayed with a friend who was working still and I entertained myself during the days and hung out with him in the eves.).

  9. There’s definitely something about being able to discuss whatever you’re seeing and experiencing on vacation with another person that makes it more enjoyable. Maybe more real.

    But I don’t think not having someone should stop you from traveling. Better to have the experiences under slightly less enjoyable circumstances than not have them at all.

  10. I totally know how you feel. I’m a travel by myself kind of gal. Most of my friends have kids not, so a lot of times, its either go alone, or don’t go at all. Ever go out hiking and have imaginary conversations with the person you wish was there? (or am I the only crazy person out there?)

  11. Mrs Chuck Bartowski – LOL, and I’ve done that before…

    Just A Girl – Well, I was gonna do that this spring, but it didn’t work out; hopefully in the fall…

    Mel Heth – I don’t know that it’s stopped me, but given the way I felt on the last trip, it’s made me less than enthused to go

    Hebba – Maybe… 😉

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