The hidden pleasures of solo travel

I spent the last week traveling solo, visiting Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Rome, all by myself. This was the first time in my life I had ever traveled alone, and it didn’t exactly start out well.

I was semi-miserable in Berlin, it was far colder than I had anticipated and I had gone from an environment of intense socialization (living, working, and studying with the 29 other people in my program, never really having a moment alone) to being utterly alone in a country I had never been to. But towards the end of the few days I spent in Berlin, the tide started to change.

I started reading while I ate, because I was a bit uneasy eating alone. Reading while eating is honestly one of the greatest pleasures in life, and I habit I picked up as a child (and was firmly discouraged by my parents). Over the week, I blew through 7 books, a pace I haven’t set since middle school.

I also learned, when you travel alone, you get to set your own pace, your own agenda. For a full 11 days I did not do a single thing that I did not want to do. It sounds incredibly self indulgent way to pass the time, but exploring these wonderful cities the way I wanted to felt incredibly freeing.

 

As an introvert, when I’m around people for too long, I start to unravel. It’s like worrying at a bit of loose thread until one piece starts to spool out and you’re pulling and pulling and suddenly what was there before is merely a loose bundle of string. Sometimes I feel I am most myself when I’m alone, that I don’t have to act a certain way, say the right thing. There’s a unique pleasure to be had in being a country all by yourself, moving through a strange crowd alone, you are seen yet unseen, a momentary presence that might not have been there at all.

 

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