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Traveling Alone Again, Naturally

August 5, 2010
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I don’t know about you lot, but I’m not the best at traveling by myself, at least, not for more than a week or so. After that, despite staying with friends, the going out by myself most of the time bit tends to get to me. I start to feel isolated, shy, lonely. I see all the other people out and about with someone else, and I start to feel like a bit of a Nigel-no-mates. Three weeks in to my travels and I’m definitely having those moments – heightened solitary single moments – not every day, but they’re there. And it’s not enough to stop me wanting to travel – I’d rather travel alone than not at all, but still – they have the power to pull me down which can be both depressing and annoying. Yesterday I went into a beautiful bookshop and wanted to take photos but was overcome with shyness and stupid bloody inadequacy and crept quietly out instead. Grrr. I’ll have to go back. It’s also annoying because one of the main points of the trip has been to have the space and time and quiet to write something I’ve had in mind for ages, and instead I’ve been a fidgety mess and no matter how I try the words ain’t coming, or if they do, they’re slow. It’s as if they’re a sullen teenager hiding under a duvet in a dark room and if I do get them to come out they’re determined to be crap and uncooperative. So instead I’m writing other things, or journaling, which is fine, but not what I want to be working on.

I think part of the problem is that I’ve been planning and imagining these travels for so long, and in my imagination I was calm and inspired and happily seeing things and meeting people and writing writing writing. Instead I’ve been hit by the reality stick.

I’ve read a few things this week that have helped with the lonesomeness a bit. I guess my radar’s been up for them, like the way when you like a boy all of a sudden you see and hear his name everywhere – instead of that I’ve been seeing tips for traveling/being alone all over the shop.

My fave is this amazing video by Tanya Davis and Andrea Dorfman – it’s just ridiculously good and funny and reassuring.

This article on traveling solo, never alone has some great tips, particularly about traveling solo as a writer.

Pip wrote a fab post about shyness and the art of saying hi, that reminded me to fight against the shrinking instinct and trust that others will respond well if I say hi. Friendliness is usually responded to with friendliness, yes?

I kind of like these words too:

Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars … Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back.

Thanks Eve Ensler. I’m kind of over cherishing my solitude, but I’ll give it another crack, okay?

Next post? A shiny, fab visit to somewhere fun, yes indeedy. xo

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2010 10:38 pm

    I do know what you mean. I once travelled overseas with a friend but we had a few weeks apart and once I was set adrift I suddenly felt very conspicuous. Still I had a wonderful time and saw things I would never see had we stayed together so it was all worth it.

    Don’t worry to much about the writing. I’m sure it will come in a burst when you are not expecting it – it’s the old watched pot I’m afraid!

    Thinking of you
    Caz

    • Francesca permalink*
      August 6, 2010 8:10 am

      Thanks lovely Caz! It’s true, I do at least have the freedom to go where I please, though I do find myself feeling so self-conscious. And I’m sure you’re right about the watched pot – hmm – it’s very annoying! xo

  2. August 6, 2010 2:07 am

    Oh lady, I hear you. Getting over the hurdle of saying hi is hard and huge, but once you do, it’s very liberating! People are often ready to talk, but don’t make the first move – and as you’re travelling alone it’s sometimes up to you to make that move.

    When travelling and I need to take photos or do something that may cause me embarrassment, I repeat to myself “You never have to see these people again”, and it helps.

    You’ll be great! So wonderfully great!

    • Francesca permalink*
      August 6, 2010 8:11 am

      Good tips, Yassy – thanks so much! I miss you! xo

  3. August 6, 2010 3:53 am

    I actually choose solitude 99.5% of the time. It may have something to do with living with teenagers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Love the perspective of this shot.

    • Francesca permalink*
      August 6, 2010 8:12 am

      Thanks Debra! Yes, in the normal world of work and routine I do love my solitude, it’s true. It’s all about finding the balance, isn’t it?

  4. August 8, 2010 1:27 pm

    A wonderful thoughtful post … I can relate to so much here. I am fiercely independent, but from time to time that little touch of insecurity and shyness edges its way in …

    It sounds (and looks) from your beautiful posts that you are having a wonderful time … even if things don’t always go the way you’d planned.

    Best of luck with your further brave travels!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Francesca permalink*
      August 8, 2010 10:59 pm

      Thanks so much Tracey! It’s so lovely to read your comments, as always! xo

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