Saturday, June 18, 2011

Myself for company

Why travel alone? Numerous books and blogs have extolled the wonders of solo travel. Others have said that it's the ultimate in self-indulgence and the perfect time for deep introspection.

For me, travelling solo is empowering. Perhaps, it's true that we do take on different masks or simply free ourselves from our usual persona - "that traveling almost strips one from character".

Lunch along the Fondamenta del Vin

Alain de Botton succinctly pointed out, "It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially molded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others. They may have particular visions of who we are and hence may subtly prevent certain sides of us from emerging… Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companions questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity (The Art of Travel, p252)."

Perhaps the challenge of being a lone traveler and not beholden to a travel companion or a schedule, heightens the travel experience and allows for more discovery of oneself outside the confines of the secure and comfortable bubble of the regular day-to-day activities. For me, everything seems more beautiful, taste buds are on overdrive as everything tastes better. Having a receptive mindset, being alone seem to magnify the vividness of the travel adventure. You tend to absorb every detail and sensation - soak in everything about the experience.

Of course, there would always be that occasional snippets of times when company is sought particularly when the experience is best shared - such as gawking at an impressionist painting you didn't think you'll ever see in person or standing before magnificent architectural edifices you only read about, more so when spine-tingling vistas and landscapes unfold before your very eyes.

But it seems that the benefits of solo travel outweigh the drawbacks. Mistakes and travel faux pas are definitely your own - and I certainly had my share (but that's for another post). However, for all the goof ups, the triumphs are all the more sweeter.

by the River Seine

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