Beating The Travel Blues When You Are Alone
Friday, July 16, 2010
Traveling solo can be daunting and, often times, exhausting. It pushes you mentally, emotionally and physically. Not only can you have a cerebral malfunction due to a cultural overload, but you have to learn to do things by yourself.
However, it is through traveling alone that one can experience a personal shift, a new-found independence, a sense of growth. In the end, on the whole, your spirit does not suffer.
In groups, each person is (usually) assigned a task in order to get things done harmoniously. The savvy Mappist, good with direction; the outgoing Communicator, possessing an aptitude in multiple languages; the Mom/Dad, keeping the kids in check. If you are fortunate, each individual contributes to the whole, providing a well-rounded, memorable experience.
The pain of being a solitary traveler is the necessity to perform all the above tasks on your own. At times, you may want to throw your arms to the sky, begging to be bestowed with ruby-red slippers.
This morning, reading Bootsnall’s list of 12 coping mechanisms for those traveling alone, I reflected on my days of solitude in Buenos Aires. I had traveled with friends, we rented an apartment together, but I had created a mental space of solitude. Everything was new and challenging. I wanted to do things on my own.
While going through the list, I began checking the boxes. Contact home. Check. Take a class. Check. Write and reflect. Check, check.
I realized that I had performed all 12 tasks in an attempt to combat that sinking feeling of loneliness. Nonetheless, I remember that every time I returned from a tango class, or bought an English book (used of course) from a local shop, my feeling of can-do euphoria would dissipate by the end of the day. I needed something more, I needed something wholesome.
The only recommendation I would have is to get real with yourself. For nearly six months I would emphatically list all the great things I did during the day, instead of telling new friends or through phone calls to family how I was truly feeling about everything. Even though I was trying to absorb another culture, I found myself internally conflicted — trying to find balance between being me and learning new things about myself through the acculturation process.
In the end, I found the best way to beat the blues was to just be myself.
By Brit Weaver
About the Author
Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog, TheBubblesAreDead.wordpress.com.