Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Going alone: why it's time to get my solo travel mojo back

Every traveller knows about 'the one that got away'. The destination (or several) that remains elusive, despite your burning urge to visit.

Bulgaria's Rila Monastery. Looks nice, eh?
Image by Dennis Jarvis, CC Attribution-ShareAlike

Maybe your original trip plans were ruined by bad health or bad timing, or the right opportunity (or flight price) never popped up. Either way, these places are riding high on your bucket list and taunting your imagination with perfect beaches or remote mountaintops, always just slightly out of reach...

I definitely have a few travel dreams that keep escaping me. There's Bulgaria, where my original trip plans fell by the wayside in the wake of a huge relationship bust-up (never made that mistake again - I should have dragged my sorry broken heart onto that train!) Jordan, where the timing and funds have never been quite right. And India, where my travel buddy got an attack of cold feet after googling one too many stories about Delhi belly.

Too many road blocks in your plans? Travel solo instead!
Image by Pen Waggener, CC Attribution
Travel companions are a huge part of the equation here. I've been travelling solo ever since the lightbulb moment when I realised I could ('hey, I can just get a train to Amsterdam?... Bye.') But I realised recently that I've fallen out of the habit, and while I travel plenty, it's been more than a year since I truly went solo.

It's an easy (and oh-so-comfy) rut to get into: when you bag a great partner-in-crime for travel or a gaggle of likeminded wanderers, you can roam the planet in a team and use each other's talents to get by. So he navigates by instinct, you know some local languages, and the other guy always has a torch and penknife on him - perfect.

Except you get a little lazy. If someone else is reading the Cyrillic, putting up the tent or bartering the hotel price, your own travel skills get rusty. You miss that buzz of freedom as you make whole new cities your own. And crucially, you might miss the entire destination if you're always looking for someone to hit the road with you.

So for me, it's time to halt the travel negotiations, and enough of the buddying up. 2013 is the year I get my solo travel mojo back!

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