The Lonely Traveler

Don't be a loner and a loser and eat Jamba Juice by yourself at the food court.

Don’t be a loner and a loser and have Jamba Juice by yourself at the food court.

The Huffington Post had one of its ubiquitous “Best of” slideshows this week about the “Best Trips for Solo Adventurers.” Most of these trips were Secret Life of Walter Mitty-esque – grand trips to faraway lands (OK, the American Southwest made the list) where you talk to the natives and eat unusual foods.

I’ve traveled to a few places on my own over the years — none as foreign to me as Paris or Iceland (although, some could argue San Diego is a whole different culture) — and here are three tips I offer for your next solo excursion:

  1. Plan … or not at all. I like to plan vacations. It keeps me focused, makes sure I hit up what I want to hit up during my limited time and ensures I know where I’m going at all times. Some people would prefer just to hop on the Subway and get off somewhere randomly and then start exploring. Whatever your approach, don’t half-ass it. I’ve been on a couple trips where I clearly thought one thing was enough to do while in town, and boy, was I wrong. If you’re like me, better to have too many things to do on your list than not enough. If you like to let the road lead where it may, then go that route and set no expectations.
  2. Bring your walking shoes. Whether you’re a planner or an improviser, you’ll walk on solo trips. A lot. Without a travel buddy to convince you to hail a cab or rent a car, you’re more apt to take in an unfamiliar town by foot.
    Al fresco dining at an Italian restaurant? Much better than lonely Jamba...

    Al fresco dining at an Italian restaurant? MUCH better than lonely Jamba…

    Don’t feel awkward. Sure, we’ve all second-guessed our decision to grab a “Table for One” at a nice sit-down restaurant instead of indulging in another sad, lonely meal at the food court Subway, but you’ll miss out on all that great cuisine! The same goes for visiting attractions like museums (although, if you’re a middle-aged man visiting The Children’s Museum by yourself, you might raise some eyebrows).

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