Some people, when they speak of heaven, mention pearly gates and streets of gold. I don’t care about either of those. What I would define as heaven would be to walk through whatever portals there are, and to be able to choose to go left, right or straight ahead, or to be able to decide to just sit for awhile, to take in the colors, aromas and melodies of the neighborhood.
Should I go in a different direction, Hell would be to discover that I was in charge of a tour group of opinionated Baptists who were all sure they knew better than I did which way we should go and what we should do.
I like to travel alone so I can be responsible for no one except myself. To be clear, I also like to travel with my wife, my family, and my friends. I have written and will write more about those trips. “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow,” is a proverb that has a lot of truth in it.
A new friend, Shelly Rivoli, for example, writes a blog about traveling with children:
Today, however, I want to reflect on the merits of traveling alone. Here’s a short list:
- Eliminate blame. Unfortunate decisions are part of travel. The express train turns out to take longer than the local. The play you lobbied for seeing turns out to be boring. You thought the flea market was on Tuesday, but it turned out to be on Thursday. When you are alone, no apologies are needed.
- Go at your own speed. If you want to linger over a cup of coffee for an extra half-hour, you can. If you don’t want to spend but an hour at the museum, you aren’t hurrying anyone else. If you are a fast exercise walker, as I am, no one else is pushed beyond his or her comfort level.
- Enjoy your pleasures. My cigar smoking is offensive to almost everyone who is not a cigar smoker. When I travel alone, I can spend as much time as I want puffing on my stogie, reading my book in a public park. If you want to spend your time and money taking a technical course for seamstresses, as Sally does, the spouse is not stuck in a mall waiting all day.
- Tickets are easy. Whether you want to see a baseball game or a Broadway play, single tickets are almost always easy to secure. Furthermore, they are essentially half-price if one traveling partner is really not interested in the activity. Neither my wife nor my daughters are interested in baseball, so why make them suffer through a game? I can buy one ticket, go by myself and nobody is looking at a watch wishing they were somewhere else, and I am not regretting buying multiple tickets.
- Turn on a dime. Who knows why we make certain choices? Straight ahead looks like more of the same. Based on a gut intuition, a single traveler can jump in a cab and visit a different part of town. No justification is needed.
sSo, sometimes I travel alone. I may not be in Paradise, but occasionally, going solo is just what the doctor ordered.