I’m heading into 2011.
And I’m heading South…to South America.
It’s been nearly two years since I returned to the United States after traveling on my own around the world for 2 ½ years or so. Wow. Two years already?! A lot has happened in that time and much of it unexpected – proving to me yet again, that we can’t control everything and you just never know what’s around the bend…unless you go take a peek yourself.
I’m on my way to Colombia.
As I set out to travel solo again, I’m reminded of some main ideas that helped me the first time.
As I sat in the US longer and longer, I was getting more comfortable and rarely, if ever, outside of any comfort zone. Traveling solo is all about being out of my comfort zone. From simply being a stranger in a strange land, the moment I arrive…I am always slightly uncomfortable. But this is not a bad thing. It means I’m alive. I’m growing. I’m learning. Everything has a heightened sense of awareness…because it has to. I don’t have the luxury of floating around almost blind like I can in the US by virtue of familiarity. Being in a foreign environment, you are not afforded the luxury of knowing how to unconsciously do something or understand something. Out in the world everything is new, everything is different. I have to pay attention. I have to be alert. I have to think. I have to translate. I have to convert. And I have to do it all myself. And I like this feeling. Often when I am with someone else, I’m not as alert or sharp because I don’t have to be and I can kind of turn my brain off which is sometimes nice too. But I like to know that I can handle myself in the world and get where I need to be…mostly unscathed.
When I was traveling around the world, I was truly solo. I was single. I so enjoyed my feeling of independence and even more, I appreciated many times, the feeling of NOT missing a ‘special someone’ . I didn’t want to spend my time away, pining away for someone back home. I didn’t want to gaze at romantic sights wishing I was sharing it with a a loved one. And I never felt this. I know myself and when I am in a relationship, I tend to lose myself a bit and my thoughts become preoccupied with my partner. I was happy that I did not have to worry about this and could travel freely without worry.
Since I’ve returned…well, that unexpected thing I mentioned at the beginning? I fell in love. So the main difference for me this time away is that although I travel alone, I am not alone. I am attached.
Will travel be different? Will I wish he was by my side at every turn? Will I cry into my hotel pillow and just wish I was back home where things are safe and expected? I am kind of excited to see how I feel this time and am hoping the answer is no. And I can continue my solo travels for as long as I love them.
What about you? How do you travel and not miss loved ones? How do you keep feeling great about solo travel?
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Camels & Chocolate
I swear every “digital nomad” I follow is in Colombia these days…guess I need to plan a trip there myself!
Having done most of my travel alone, I’m very pro-solo travel. Of course, now I have a husband, so half the time I’m with him, half the time I’m a party of one.
Interesting post that deserves a recap later on. In the meantime Vaya con Dios and remain safe. The sacrifices of Love are mere by comparison to the benefits. There's a lucky boy out there missing you!
While we are never too young to love (as Justin Beiber and his ilk remind us), there is an age, at least for my friends and me, where person-love plays a back seat to travel and adventure. This past summer I worked for a fellow down in NC who mentioned that at my age all I want to do is travel across the country with nothing but a notebook and a motorcycle; at his age all he wants to do is travel across the country with a fully-stocked RV and his loved one.
In Europe (where LL and I met) I always had the girls of my past on my mind (I say girls because I myself was only 18), but those "relationships" were of high school drama and emotion. Sure, there were some strong feelings tied up there, but whenever I travel, even to summer camp, it is a new beginning, unless the chain (to be used loosely) is secured on both ends. Otherwise, someone can get pretty seriously hurt. Tread carefully, but also remember that you will return, and as a changed person, and no one can match what you have in a moment.
Jill - Jack and Jill
Hi Lisa, we're heading down to Colombia too in April. Keep in touch and maybe our paths will cross 🙂
I travel solo but am currently in South America whilst a special one is in England. And it’s hard, very hard. Always wondering what she would think of somewhere or something I have seen. Good luck with your trip.
So happy to hear you are hitting the road again but I wanted details! Now that you’ve fallen in love, why isn’t he traveling with you? How long will you be apart? Will you come back to Chicago eventually? The very best of luck as you set off again. Safe and joyous travels.
Congrats on the new trip! How long will you be gone? And congrats, too, on the new relationship. Sounds like you have the best of all worlds.
You know I love traveling solo and no needing to tell anyone what I'm doing or compromise on where I want to go. But I'm very curious about how you're handling it. Let's get a drink when you get back.
Thanks everyone for the comments. In a nutshell, I am still enjoying solo travel. It’s just what I am used to now and I like that. Thanks to the internet and skype, being in touch back home is very easy. But also in some ways, my priorities have changed. So I don’t think I will be on any year-long adventures in the near or distant future. This trip is just about a month long and I’m learning that is long enough (and in some ways too long) for me.
@Megan: I’d LOVE that drink when I get back. I return Thursday….so this weekend would be great! 🙂
Nurul bainah jailan
I’ve been reading your website quite a time.
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I hope that i can read your post about MALAYSIA, maybe one day. 🙂