This I Believe

Terri - Scottsdale, Arizona
Entered on October 21, 2007

I Believe in the Joys of Solo Travel

In my life of late, it’s become increasingly difficult to find a moment’s peace. Cell phones, Blackberries, Instant Messenger– while offering ease of communication– intrude upon my precious solitary time. I’m so wired in to colleagues and family, it’s hard to read a book for even a half hour without getting interrupted by a ring, a beep, or a buzz.

This past autumn, tuckered out by my job as a Managing Editor of a fast-pasted publishing company and unable to find extended moments of quiet, I decided that I needed a solo vacation. It was going to be just me, myself, and I. I logged onto the Internet, found a flight, and in a moment of pure Carpe Diem, clicked Purchase. The deal was struck; I was going to Paris for me time.

As fast as I’d made my purchase, however, fear and dread began to creep in. Yes, it was Paris, France, the most divine of destinations, but suddenly I was afraid. How would I fare all by myself for 10 whole days? Would I be safe on the Metro? Would I, could I dine by myself in a restaurant and not be completely freaked out by my singleness? Suddenly my grand scheme for me time seemed like a big mistake.

Friends I’d told about the trip kept telling me how much fun I was going to have and how envious they were. And yet, I, the traveler, the envied one was having major doubts.

But something happened on the way to the City of the Lights. As soon as I was belted in, a young woman sitting next to me on the plane started to chat. In no time, we were toasting our respective trips to France. The worries I’d had about my voyage began dissipating. I was having fun chatting with a stranger, and the eight-hour flight seemed more like two. Time was already flying. Suddenly I could see that 10 days were but a mere blip. There was no time to waste. I could do whatever I wanted to! I didn’t have to bargain with anyone or concede a thing. I could visit the Louvre and stay for hours or a half hour. I could shop till I dropped, have a glass of wine at 2 p.m. eat chocolate at midnight, skip through the Tuileries. I began loving this solo gig.

I soon found myself tearing through the Metro, eager to start the day. I passed frustrated couples clutching maps and having heated debates—“We need to go this way. No, you’re wrong; it’s this way.” While they were arguing, I was getting high on my joie de vivre. My aloneness was a gift wrapped in unexpected adventure. People spoke to me more readily. Waiters brought me extra appetizers;, couples sitting inches away from me said hello.

I am now a tried and true believer in solo travel. I believe that everyone should indulge in such a trip at least once in a lifetime…