Not So Solo: Musings of an Unselfish Angel

Lunching with my husband this past weekend in Washington, DC.

No matter how many times I do it and no matter how many times I write about loving it, people still think it is strange that I like to travel by myself.  I had an interesting conversation with a friend last night–a friend that just can’t wrap his mind around why I’d travel solo.  If you surveyed a hundred people, he said, Family Feud-style, and asked them if they liked the idea of visiting a totally new place all by themselves, I bet ninety-seven percent of them would say no. 

While I wouldn’t guess a percentage quite that high–nor would the hundreds of followers of Solo Friendly or The Solo Traveler Blog–I do agree that it’s probably above the fifty percent mark.  So why do I so enjoy traveling solo?  As I discovered this past weekend while traveling to Washington, DC not-so-solo, there’s no better way to remember why you enjoy something than to do the exact opposite.

I started drafting this post on Saturday morning, as I waited for my husband to finally be ready to leave the hotel for the day. As I sat there impatiently drumming my fingers and watching the clock tick perilously towards noon I thought–now this is why I like to travel solo.  But then the non-selfish angel on my other shoulder spoke up.  On the other hand, the must-not-be-an-only-child angel said, he did walk to Starbucks to bring you a breakfast scone. The unselfish angel had a point.


Solo Travel Pros

Traveling solo has taught me to take semi-decent photos of myself without being able to see what I'm doing.


-You can do whatever you want, whenever you want.  This is the obvious one, clearly, but I don’t think it can quite be stressed enough.  There’s really nothing better than waking up in a brand new place and knowing that you are totally in charge of your day, your happiness, and your adventures.

-It is easier to meet people when traveling solo.  No one talks to the couple–lots of people talk to the lone woman sitting alone in a restaurant (or on the ferry or at the bus stop).  Also, if you do make a friend, you won’t, say, get so caught up in talking to that new friend that you accidentally forget to guard your companion’s seat at the bar like I may have done on Friday night.

-Solo travel is cheaper.  For me, it is much cheaper.  Going out to dinner in a major city by myself–$30-$45.  Going out to dinner in a major city with my husband–$150-$200.  Yes, you read that right.  He likes to eat.  And drink copious amounts of expensive beer and cider.  It’s a major problem.

Companion Travel Pros

Ironically, when there are two of us, I need a third person to take the photo.


-You won’t be as lonely.  This is especially important on longer trips, as days upon days with no reason to speak before ordering breakfast can get tiring.

-You have someone to help you do any number of things that may require help.  In my instance, this included sending the husband out for a scone and some tea, as well as some assistance in luggage lugging (though, to be fair, if it had been only me I would have had 75% less stuff.) Also, I really don’t like taking cabs when I’m by myself, so being with someone else–particularly my used-to-live-in-NYC cab-hailing husband–makes transportation much easier.  Alone, I’d typically walk or take mass transit.

-Navigation is easier, particularly if you are driving.  Unless you have the kind of GPS that talks to you–and I don’t–it is very hard to read directions and operate a car on unfamiliar roads.  And forget about changing the CD or playlist in rush hour traffic on I-95.  You’re just going to have to listen to that Neil Young Greatest Hits album over and over again until you arrive.  Deal with it.

As you can see, solo travel is the clear winner.  At least in my book.  But what do you think?  Can you add some pros to my companion travel list, which is admittedly rather lacking?  Or are you a fellow die-hard solo traveler, ready to offer up even more reasons why that selfish-only-child-devil on my other shoulder is one hundred percent correct?  

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