There are a few things in life I feel like I’m pretty good at, among them, roasting a mean pork tenderloin, giving sad sacks hours and hours of life advice without pay, drinking a whole bottle of champagne without getting slurry, drawing meaningful dating wisdom from unlikely sources (like “Star Trek”), and traveling alone. Interestingly, I’ve gotten good at all these things, as different as they are, through being a thirtysomething woman with no dependents or serious love interests. The perks of being single abound!
But seriously. I love traveling alone. Initially, traveling alone was something I did out of necessity. Following the big breakup of 2008 (never forget), I suddenly found myself making enough money, finally, to afford a regular vacation, but without a built-in travel buddy/boyfriend. While I obviously had friends, the vast majority of them were either A) in serious relationships and used their precious vacation hours to travel together or B) too poor to go anywhere besides a stops on the Long Island Railroad. That meant that if I was going to get the hell out of New York City — and seriously, you have to leave NYC sometimes or you’ll end up going crazy and painting song lyrics in menstrual blood on your bedroom walls — I was going to have to embark on a solo adventure. Luckily, I have always been someone who savored me time so aside from a few vague fears (would I get bored? would it be safe?), I was stoked at the prospect of having seemingly limitless hours to explore a new place on my own terms, unencumbered by anyone else’s needs and desires. How luxurious.
And, oh, how it is. I have adored every single one of my solo vacations to the point where I genuinely prefer traveling the world alone. For one thing, untethering yourself, however temporarily, from the demands of your fellow man adds a whole new level of relaxation to a vacation. For example…
1. There’s no pressure to get up at 7 a.m. to stand in a four-hour line alongside 1,000 fanny-packing wearing tourists to visit the world’s most overrated and expensive landmark.
2. Upon waking from your most recent four-hour beach nap, there’s no one next to you giving you stink-eye and whining that you’re poor company.
3. There’s no one around to wrinkle their nose at the fact that you haven’t changed out of your swimsuit, let alone showered, in four days. It’s your marinade, your vacation, your life.
4. When you follow instructions not to flush your used toilet paper and instead discard it in the wastebasket, there is no one else around to confront the evidence of your most recent dump. Poo paper privacy!
5. The only person nagging you to take the hotel’s free yoga class or tour of a French castle is … wait, no one.
6. You’re not expected to be anyone’s vacation wingwoman, as the vacation wingwoman is the worst kind of wingwoman to have to be.
7. Likewise, the only competition you have in your attempts to nail a hot local bartender is some bitches you don’t know, don’t care about and certainly aren’t sharing a small hotel room with.
8. If you decide to forgo clubbing in favor of smoking some local herb and reading the most recent Game of Thrones book in a hammock all night, there’s no one to judge you or call you a loser.
9. All the tacos/cheese/wine/gelato are YOURS.
10. Aside from saying good morning/after/evening and ordering food/beverages in the native tongue, you’re under no obligation to make conversation with anyone but the voices in your head.
11. You can choose to keep looking for that supposedly amazing but hard to find hole-in-the-wall restaurant instead of begrudgingly going to the first cafe you see because your “hangry” friend swears her blood sugar is low and she needs something to eat, like, now.
12. When you find something you enjoy — a restaurant, a specific corner of the beach, an adorable neighborhood, hell, the vacation destination itself — you can go back as many times as you want without being told you need to “branch out.”