I’ve always been amazed by using certain Spanish words in the English language, like “persona” or “solo”. Spanish speakers, kind of always have been found guilty of literally pronouncing English words with a Spanish accent, not to mention movie names or even brands such as “Nike” which would sound to a Spaniard as “Naik”, but well, surprise, it happens both ways, “soulou” would just be “solo” and “persoona” would just be “persona”. But the beauty of all of it is that this awkward situation of listening to a familiar word said with a totally different accent kind of makes us smile both ways.
But, back to the point. I wanted to throw out there my thoughts, or better said my experience with solo travel.
Traveling alone is wrapped in fears of all kinds, and like learning how to ride a bike you might need a couple of small wheels at the beginning, those would be in the form of friends that you would meet on the way or a collection of tips from your network for the destinations you are about to be. All those tools are simply little doses of confidence, you know, like those creamers they put in the hotels for the coffee, that they never put enough milk on it.
So, you just have to face it, you are going to run into unexpected situations, and unknown environments, and the key to surviving those is to just stay flexible. Flexible to change the hotel if you don’t like the one you chose at first, flexible to stay longer in a place you love or to keep driving if it’s not to your taste. I know, not everyone likes to play by ear, but minimizing the planning to the bare minimum is sometimes a good idea because you will not create a domino effect in your so-hard scheduled trip and will instead empower you to control (or that’s what you think) your moves. At least for me the funniest thing about traveling on my own, especially if it’s a road trip and I spend a good amount of time at the wheel is that instead of listening to the radio or any sort of 21st-century music sources, I just have a waterfall of thoughts in my mind about things I see on the way, is like having another me inside talking about “have you seen that?”, “Why would they place that sign over there?”, “omg, have you seen the name of that village?”, “yes, if you keep going at 65miles you will make it in an hour” and so on… I know maybe I must talk to some specialist about it, but driving, apart from sucking my attention and joy into the road, is a catalyzer for thinking topics.
I want you to understand me, so when you see a sign that says, “fine for littering $1000”, ok, you understand, well, at first, the fact that can be littering or loitering is kind of confusing, but we could save the story for another day. So, all is good, the authorities care about the environment, and they want to make you aware that beyond what you might think you can do in life with your trash if you litter that specific area, you will get a fine of $1000, fair enough. When I’m confused, is at the time that, along the same road but in a different mile I see the same sign saying the fine is $957, and those signs are not the ones you can move the numbers as in a calendar... or worst, you find a third one saying is just $500 for the same misconduct. So here I am, driving on the same road seeing how the fine signs go down as if it was thanksgiving sales, and I wonder, again, why does the fine change? Is it because the roads belong to different jurisdictions? is it because the quality of the environment changes in preciousness? is it just a number that each county throws in? Whatever it is, and I haven’t figured it out yet, is not the point of this story, but I take this specific story as means of sparking your curiosity about things, things that might not matter to you, but stay alert, because you might cross the ones you do care about, so more than anything enjoy the ride.
After this detour, I just realized we haven’t talked much about the travel experience itself, my bad. Trust me, road thinking is a very important part of it for me. So, I don’t want to provide you with a guide on how to do this or that, because I think that’s very personal, and no one knows you better than you. But instead, I choose to share my overall lessons and maybe you can fish something in there, who knows. So, grab your chair, and as I said before, stay as flexible as you can, solo travel is for everyone because everyone deserves some time with her/himself, but I know real-time travel is not for everyone, but trust me it would help you on the way.
Don’t take it to the point that you don’t know that most museums are closed on Monday! But stay there, open for change. Second and most important, be there, be on your trip, and don’t be a slave of your going to places so people know you’re there, and you know what I mean by that. I like to post on Instagram pictures of what I see, or where I am, but as uncompleted stories with a hidden message and is always fun to see who got it right or who didn’t. It’s your trip, give yourself the chance to live it your way. And last, you have the luxury of being on your own, you don’t have to coordinate with family or friends, or partners about what to do or where to go, so fuse yourself as much as you can with the local vibe. Be a traveler, not a tourist, soak in the local culture if you feel is right, and enrich your experience because you have the luxury of not negotiating with anyone about it. But always, always hit the road, on your own, together, or in episodes, but travel and let yourself be exposed to the unknown because it's where the magic happens.