[Bella’s intro: I have never met Lea Lane but I have been in touch with her on and off over the years. I like her site, SoloLady.com, and I appreciate the focus on singles in her travel writing. Lea is single no more, so I was especially interested to hear what she misses most about her single life. Thanks, Lea, for sharing.]
From Solo Traveler to Independent Traveler
By Lea Lane
I’m not currently single, but I do have solo bono fides. I’ve been both divorced and widowed, was a single mom, and then lived alone many of my adult years.
I embraced solo life long before it was considered cool, — talked about it on panels, founded and edited a website called sololady.com, and wrote a book called Solo Traveler: Tales and Tips for Great Trips.
The zenith of my singledom probably came in 2009 when I posted “Why I’m Alone,” a Huffington Post piece that went viral — picked up by Jezebel, CNN and other sites, generating hundreds of comments and even a parody on Fark.
And the very week that the blog extolling my happy single life appeared, I met the man who would become my husband.
I did feel a bit like a betrayer, so proud of singledom while secretly falling in love. When my beau wanted to marry me, I struggled mightily, afraid to give up my hard-won solo identity.
I adapted to marriage mostly because my husband understands my need for independence and occasional solitude. It wouldn’t have worked otherwise, and he knew it.
But the thing that I miss the most is my solo travel. As wonderful as it is to share sunsets, coconut drinks with two straws and all those romanticized scenarios, there are times I simply seek the solitude of walking for hours on a quiet beach, waves lapping at my feet, and no place to have to be at no particular time.
When I finished my latest book, a collection of travel tales about the most interesting people places and things I’ve discovered traveling to over 100 countries, I wasn’t surprised to note that almost all of the best tales occurred while I was single.
When I was traveling on my own I was totally open to experience: meeting others, putting myself in challenges I had to figure out alone, dealing with the unexpected in clever ways.
But looking at the tales in my book I can see that even when I traveled with a group or with children, or husbands or lovers, I may not have always been a solo traveler, but I was always an independent traveler: open, alert, curious, and ready for anything.
Those of us in relationships may have to fight a bit harder to retain the spirit of independence that comes naturally to a solo traveler. We may have to compromise a bit more. But the spirit can remain. And the way to keep that spirit is to continue traveling alone once and awhile, even if it’s only for a weekend.
And at a minimum, when traveling with others you can find time to break away on your own for an afternoon or even an hour or two. Your partner may want to go to the beach and you’d rather go to a museum. Talk about it ahead so that you both understand that it’s ok to split and do what you want, then come back together and share your adventures.
Something as simple as this can satisfy your need for solitude.
Just remember, as in my life, being solo may come and go, but independence can remain forever.
About the Author: Lea Lane is the award-winning author of Travel Tales I Couldn’t Put in the Guidebooks, available in paperback on Amazon and in ebook format on Kindle.