Slow Travel Solo
This week I’m exploring the greater Puget Sound area, staying in a lovely Airbnb 40 minutes south of Seattle. I’m writing from a deck looking tall evergreens with the sunset in the distance. Although my goal is to attain a solid overview of the area, I realize I can’t see it all in a week and I don’t wish to run myself ragged. I’m a slow traveler after all, and this week a solo one. Traveling by myself has reminded me of the many perks when venturing out on your own.
You can set your own pace
Rather than trying to see it all, I’m focusing my week on fewer locations so I have more time to explore, to walk the streets, talk to the people and get a feel for the energy of each place. Since there is no travel mate to consider, I can set my own agenda, my own schedule and my own pace. I don’t have to worry about what time I get up in the morning or what time I set off.
You have more flexibility
Part of my initial agenda was to take a two-hour drive north to Bellingham just to get a feel for the place. But after two days of driving, I realized that would mean four hours of driving to get there and back and another hour or two exploring by car, which would leave little time for walking, seeing the sights and having a meal. I’ll save Bellingham for another trip.
When you travel solo, you’re free to follow any whim and change your itinerary at any time — even at the last minute. In fact, you are free not to have any itinerary at all, which is often how I like to travel. The other day as I headed out of Gig Harbor, I saw a sign for Sunset Beach. That sounded lovely, so I turned around and headed down a winding road through dense forest to a parking lot. I grabbed my thermal lunch bag and hiked to the beach to enjoy my picnic.
You can take a break
Even though part of me gets restless and wants to go, go, go and see the next thing and the next thing, I don’t want to return home exhausted. It’s a vacation after all and the whole point is to rest, relax and have new experiences. Slow travelers know it’s okay to have some down time.
Creativity and inspiration can strike when you are traveling. Some mornings I like to spend time writing. Or do Pilates and yoga, or go for a long walk. Or maybe I just want to kick back and spend a few lazy hours at the beach. And that’s okay when I’m traveling by myself.
You can take time to fully relax
I love traveling with friends, and the friends I choose to travel with are easy going and flexible. But being a bit on the neurotic side, I’m always thinking about what they want to do and if I’m getting ready too slow or being too demanding.
When you travel alone there is no one else to please or concern yourself with. It’s an opportunity to fully relax and be one with nature and your surroundings. On this trip I am visiting two friends in the area, so it’s the best of both worlds.
You have more time for self-reflection
When I’m with someone else, I’m continually immersed in conversation and it’s great fun. I love it. Traveling alone is a different experience. I have more time to think. I’m more in tuned with my own desires and the feelings a place invokes. It’s an ideal time for processing my thoughts and getting to know myself better. I inevitably have some sort of epiphany about my life direction, even if it’s just reconfirming what I already know. I think this might be the greatest gift I receive from traveling by myself.
If you’ve been reluctant to travel solo, I urge you to give it a try. I think the rewards you receive from stepping out of your comfort zone will be well worth it. If you enjoy solo travel, let me know in the comments below.