Is there anything more exciting than visiting a new country, navigating a new city or struggling through a new language to get directions to find the closest place to buy wine? It can be challenging to find the ideal travel partner. Someone who is a close friend at home doesn’t a perfect travel partner make.
Six years ago, after spending close to sixteen years focused on family, I decided that I wanted to go traveling. I craved the kind of freedom of not being the organizer, of having my days stretch out before me in a new place without the pressure of taking into account the needs of others.
I chose Thailand and it was fabulous! I stayed in luxurious boutique hotels that cost a fraction of the price they would have at home. I ate on my own schedule, I explored the bustle of Bangkok and the picturesque streets of Chiang Mai. I didn’t meet too many people until I took a tour that overlapped with some ‘real’ travelers. True backpackers who carry their world with them like a turtle carries its shell. They were younger than me but it didn’t stop them from inviting me to join them for dinner or riding scooters out to a waterfall. I had a blast and I was bitten by the travel bug and a wanderlust that would always have me wondering ‘where to next?’
I continued to travel, staying in medium priced hotels and Airbnb’s until I met a group of young women in the Sahara desert of Morocco. We were heading to Fez and at the last minute, my Airbnb fell through.
‘Come with us to our hostel. I’m sure they have room.’ I hesitated. Would they even let me in or am I too old? Me with my small compact wheeled suitcase and Kate Spade purse. I decided to go with them and then find a place from there. There had to be a decent hotel nearby.
Fez was not my favorite place. A chaotic maze of streets full of men (more about that for another blog post.) We stepped into an oasis of busy calm. The common area was full of people lounging and drinking tea, posting on Instagram and talking about where they had and been and where they were going. The hostel had a private room but it wasn’t available until the following day. We had passed a hotel on our way in and I decided to check it out before deciding. I was able to leave my bags by the activity board- lists of everything hostel had to offer- walking tours, food tours, dinner was served at 7 and breakfast from 7-10. The hotel a few doors down was quiet. The front desk man showed me a room that was fine but his manner seemed critical when I said I was alone. I decided to stay at the hostel and it was the best thing I could have done.
I have traveled a lot since then and stayed in many hostels. In Porto, I met a 60-year-old woman who had walked the Camino and in Paris an older woman who was studying French as well as many young people seeing the world before deciding how they want to live in it. I find I actually enjoy sharing a room and I am inspired by how many female solo travelers I meet. Women like me.
My favorite site for the best listings: http://www.hostelworld.com
Travel light, travel happy!
5 thoughts on “Traveling alone, but not lonely”
I always enjoy living through your travels! I hope to one day follow your path, once my children are out on their own as well 🙂 In the mean time, thanks for sharing and allowing me to live vicariously through you!
I feel the same way. I like to Tra El but am on differ t schedules than most who have familial and other obligations and are generally not free to roam.
I discovered a phenomenon when I was in Bali last year that I hadn’t seen before. In Seminyak and more prominently in Ubud, there’s a trend called urban nomads. I stumbled into a coffee shop quite by accident to get a quick thing out for work (yes, being self employed, I am tlsfill somewhat tied to my world) and I went to ask for a desk. He sent me upstairs, onto a floor with a yoga floor overlooking the Indonesian jungle, which had a few rows of workspaces where people were working. I entered a workspace and got to work. At around 4, people started to get up to leave and invited me to a local bar. I said sure and then they told me about their lifestyle.
These people have abandoned daily lives, grabbed their laptop and do web work. They “live” in desirable places like Ubud, Chaing Mai, Tamarindo (Costa Rica), Playa del Carmen, Colombia, Peru etc…. Basically places that are economical with a fast internet connection. They rent short term, don’t accumulate and simply move to the next place after they get bored. Like a little cult, they have places that cater to them and they go and work a normal day (online) and then enjoy their nights.
Not for everyone, but I found it intriguing. The internet has changed many things in the world, including how others perceive, work in and experience the world.
Living the dream!
You always inspire me!