5 Things I Love About Traveling Alone
In an effort to write more for my blog but not turn each and every post into a +1000 word behemoth, every other week or so, I’ll be bringing you my Friday Five: a quick list of five things about whatever I feel writing about that week.
After bouncing around the country this month, I’m settling down to a long stretch of staying close to home until October. Naturally, this means that I miss traveling already. Let me tell you a few of the reasons why.
#1: Setting my own itinerary
I used to wake up at 4 am to go open and guard the pool at the YMCA for a few hours before heading off to school. While I don’t miss that early morning alarm, I do miss the quiet stillness of the morning before the sun comes out. That’s why you’ll usually catch me on the earliest flight anywhere.
As someone who used to travel with and coordinate big groups of people, it’s also ridiculously liberating not to have to worry about people running late (because I love being obnoxiously early), finding consensus before going out to eat, or worrying about being too fast paced (or wanting to take it slow) for other people to keep up with.
#2: Taking public transit
I love trains. Probably more than planes, but it’s far more effective for me to get to most places I’m going by air. However, I’ve stopped renting cars now that I’m responsible for getting myself around. Yes, I’m lucky that I’m often traveling to see friends who do have cars, but I am just as likely and far more excited to check out the local transit.
My biggest humblebrag was getting from Long Beach to North Hollywood and back again using mostly the Metro. Did you know that LA has a not terrible (by San Jose standards, that is) subway system? Because I figured that route out all by myself in May and I’m still proud of that small accomplishment.
Will I take a Lyft if I’m in a hurry? Sure, but I’d rather not.
#3: Feeling detatched
Time does not run normally when you’re traveling and that goes double once you start crossing time zones. When you’re in an airport, you’re neither here nor there. When you’re in an airplane, that sense of limbo is heightened.
Sitting around an airport or a train station is as close as I’ll ever come to feeling unburdened. I’m not in control, nor am I required to be.
#4: Being someone else
Most days, I am more than happy to spread the gospel of St. Quidditch when a Lyft driver asks me where I’m headed on my way to the airport.
Some days, however, I am not in the mood. One Lyft driver last fall was a little too curious about I was doing in town, one thing led to another, and suddenly I was visiting for a high school reunion. My day job was as a paralegal while I went to law school at night. Yes, I stole my sister-in-law’s identity. But hey, I knew what I was talking about enough to convince a stranger. I got a kick out of it.
I started using different aliases when I’m at the airport getting food and they need a name to call out. As I’m waiting around, I think to myself, “Who is this person? Why are they getting a chicken sandwich at the Atlanta airport?”
It’s a fun thought exercise and a great way to deflect strangers. I must have the opposite of resting bitch face because random people strike up conversations with me all the time. Busting out an alter ego like June from Los Gatos who’s an undergrad at Santa Clara (somehow people still think I’m in my 20s, bless them) is a good buffer between the real me and some random dude at the airport.
Anyone else do this, or am I few steps away from starring in my own version of Catch Me If You Can? Let me know.
#5: Being alone
Apart from a few weeks when I had my own dorm when I was studying in Portugal, I have never lived alone. Since I’ll be marrying my roommate next year, I likely never will live alone. This is something I’m mostly fine with.
Mostly. Sometimes, I miss having my own space and being answerable to no one but myself.
Being in an airplane without internet access adds another layer of delicious solitude to the mix. We’re all so used to being able to access anyone at any time. It’s overwhelming. Being completely cut off is a wonderful way to rest, recharge, and then rejoin the world feeling refreshed and ready to take it on once more.