I am sitting in a beautiful hotel outside of Marrakech. It is one of many beautiful hotels I have recently visited and there are some more to come. And while I can appreciate them on the outside – I mean have you seen my Instagram lately?! – deep down I really wish I could savor each of them more. Savor their beauty, their wonderful Moroccan hospitality, the marble floors, the mint tea I have missed so much, and crispy msemen for breakfast and to most of all, not take them for granted, wishing myself far away.
After three months in South Africa, sharing time and space with my friends and family, finally housesitting with my friend who came to Cape Town for the first time, I am now on a 10 day trip through Morocco with my dad. All of those experiences I wouldn’t want to miss in the world and I did ask for them, making them happen. But right now, all I can enjoy is the fact that I don’t have to speak while having breakfast. That I can sit in silence or watch the latest episode of my favorite series while editing pictures and spend some extra times with the goats later, even though they are technically part of the children’s entertainment. My dad is playing golf and it is my first morning off. And yes, I do feel bad calling it such but that is how it feels right now. It is Sunday and I am having the morning off, savoring the fact that I can actually get work done.
When I was approached by my publisher last year to write a book about solo travel, I was surprised. Not because I doubted my talent but because I questioned myself as a typical solo traveler. I have been on trips with friends, family, quite a few group tours, and yes, on my own and for some reason that mix never screamed “Number 1 Solo Traveler of the World!” to me. I never realized until now that I am, in fact, an innate solo traveler. It that it is not so much a conscious decision or a reflection of my travels as much as my disposition.
But why travel alone?
Here is the truth why I solo travel: I need alone time, at home or away. I am an introvert and I don’t like most people. Honestly. I hate the way that sounds, but it is true. And even the people I love dearly I love much more when I get them in small doses. Anything over a day gets too much for me, whether I like it or not. Sometimes that really sucks, because honestly what kind of person does that make me? To admit that a wonderful trip with my father or a long weekend with my best friend is too long for me or that a honeymoon alone with my yet to be found future husband scares me lest I may want to kill him in paradise? Or else, myself… Romeo and Juliet was only romantic on paper.
If I look deep inside of me, I don’t want these kinds of trips. I like company, but I want to set the rules when I have it. And while I know that there isn’t the option to go on a honeymoon where I spend one day with and one day without said future husband, it sounds like an ideal scenario to me. Safer for him too.
As it is, I get antsy when I have to spend too much time with one person. Needless to say, I hate it. I never want to make other people feel that they are at fault, that they are not worthy of spending time with, that they annoy me or are in any way inadequate friends or travel companions. So over the years, I have gotten better in hiding these feelings and not being snappy or short or letting the other person know how I feel. Mind you, it doesn’t always work, especially with people who know me really well. I don’t have a poker face and it usually ends in me either feeling anxious or really on edge.
I know that it is not the other person’s fault but I am starting to think maybe it is not my fault either. Maybe not every reason to solo travel or being on your own in general is a sign of ultimate freedom, of bravery, of defying convention, of finding yourself. Maybe it is in fact, a shortcoming. Maybe I am an egoist for liking myself more than others, for being so good in spending time on my own, for putting myself and my own well-being before others.
But maybe it is an okay shortcoming to have. One that I have turned into an advantage, into a book deal and into a life that to me is a good one, worth living, though some may not get it. Maybe not everybody has to be a barn owl, maybe I can be that sloth*. At home or on the road, maybe it is okay that I am just the girl who travels and who travels alone.
*Apparently barn owls mate for life and sloths are one the most solitary animals.
Do you travel alone and what are your reasons why?