On Solo Traveling

Laying awake in a tiny shack near the summit of Mt. Rainier, I asked the question I had been dying to ask. “What is it like being an FBI Agent?” The quiet, incredibly fit woman laying in the bunk across from me smiled, “It is not at all like what you think.”

I often overhear people fantasizing about the travel lifestyle. They use phrases like freedom, adventure and excitement. They describe exotic beaches, private islands and wondrous parties. When I hear these comments, I, like the FBI agent, smile. The real travel lifestyle is not at all what you might think.

When I go on my various life list adventures there is one fact that is inevitable. I will without a doubt spend a lot of time alone. This blog chronicles the exciting parts that happen between those points, but until now I haven’t talked about the activities (or lack-there-of) that fill the majority of my hours when I am traveling.

Being Alone

The most alone I have ever felt was during a two week period in Spain where I didn’t speak english to a single person. Admittedly, I was in a bustling city but for whatever reason, my plans unfolded in a way where I didn’t talk to anyone. Instead, I filled my time exploring the city and writing code.

Being alone is a fact of travel that I have gotten used to. In the beginning it bothered me a lot. I used to call home or check Facebook just to make contact with people I knew. Humans are social creatures and it has long been known that being solitary is a painful and hard experience. It still has an impact on me but it is now easier to deal with than it used to be.

To be fair, enduring aloneness is something that most people have to deal with occasionally. I have been home and spent days alone as well. It doesn’t only happen when I am exploring a new country. I have also talked to people who are living social lifestyles in a city they know well and still complain that they feel alone.

It seems to me that aloneness is not entirely dictated by proximity to people.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I prefer traveling with others over going solo. It is fun to share experiences and helpful to split responsibilities. Unfortunately, I have not found a way to do this with all of my travels. My lifestyle is simply too extreme to expect others to be able to join me on all of my adventures.

That said, I am not unhappy with my choices.

Is It Worth It?

HELL YES, ABSO-FREAKING-LULUTLY! Pursuing my life list is by far the most important and gratifying project that I have ever had the pleasure of pursuing. It is not always fun but it is a tool that has helped me grow more than anything else I have ever encountered. I have never even considered giving it up since I started.

While the time spent alone is not usually fun, it is certainly beneficial. It builds discipline, enforces thought and puts me in situations where I am forced to reflect and prioritize. I believe this is the reason I have the writing style that I do. I spend a lot of time alone and thus spend a lot of time crafting my thoughts. Thoughts, which I usually write down later.

All of us have to spend our entire lives with our own thoughts. Be the present moment good or bad, easy or hard, I find some happiness knowing that I trust and feel secure with the person I am. Being comfortable with my own company is the most valuable skill I have. Oddly enough, it took me traveling the world to finally learn to be this way.

Photo is of a submarine I dove in in Hawaii. I wasn’t alone for that adventure :-p

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Yes, it is very worth. It is one of the most important thing we can learn in our entire life. Only the person who really stands the sense of alonesess understands the sense of staying with others.

    ps. “Despite the rumors, I am not a drug dealer :-)”
    I heard about that :-):-)

    • Well worded Franco! :-) It is a hard earned but important skill.

  • I really enjoyed this read. It was honest and insightful.

    The other day on my Facebook I asked how women feel traveling internationally alone (since I’m in the process of drafting my Life List). Most of their answers spoke to fear of something happening to them, with many of them using the movie TAKEN as their reference.
    Although I understand the premise, I think its funny as hell that movies dictate how they live.

    What’s interesting is no one spoke of the fear of simply being alone while traveling, which is what I was most interested in.

    • That is an interesting takeaway. It seems there has been at least somewhat of a shift from traditional media as an education source to entertainment media (movies, tv shows, etc..). Hopefully as more inspiring movies come out, more people will travel.

      Keep me updated on your Life List!

      For those who want more context, check out Sistah Hollywood’s facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SistahHollywood

  • Thanks for sharing Danny. It is true that up until this point I have only read of your adventures, travels, and fun. Hearing the truth about the down and alone times puts that part of traveling into perspective. I have felt the same way traveling before. I have also felt the same way here at home. Love the honesty and transparency.

    • It is the mix of the fun and the hard stuff that makes it a real journey :-) Sounds like you are enjoying your adventure as well. Cheers Dan!

  • mike vallano

    Great insight Danny. I’m lucky enough to be traveling with my wife, but it is definitely interesting what people think full-time travel entails–especially while trying to work.

    I think people envision the best vacation they’ve taken and then think that’s how it is 24/7. As you know, there are lots of times when it’s not quite that vacationy. So I love your FBI analogy.

    But like you, I concur 100% that is SOOO freaking worth it. And if other people think I’m living the life of their dreams, that’s okay with me :)

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