on your lonesome

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Travelling alone truly is reflection for the soul. Your senses appear heightened as the use of your voice declines. And whilst the world scurries around you, the highlights and pitfalls of society are amplified by your solitude. In my experience, after only short space of time your mind wanders more lucidly, more imaginatively, and, if your phone stays tucked away in your backpack, you will feel your mind tangibly unwind.

That isn’t to say other people lose their importance — on the contrary, their significance is again, amplified. Some will seek out the opportunity for interaction, others prefer to remain at the peripheries of the watering hole of life. Whatever the approach, one’s fellow human beings are thrust into an often intense spotlight. Indeed, much can be learned from being an onlooker & voyeur. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to pick up on the overzealous laughter from self-conscious teen, the ‘happy couple’ sitting in a deafening silence punctuated only by the drag and release of updating news feeds or the contented elder taking it all in and savouring every precious moment.

Travelling alone could very easily be construed an ego trip, a veritable self-indulgence. This might be partly true but I believe it to be both a strength and a weakness to actively desire solo travel. It shows a willingness to rely on oneself — no one else can be blamed if something goes wrong or events inevitably go awry. You must be content to spend hours in silence, days in solitude, and nights contemplating both the stars and the fact that where you are definitely isn’t where you’ve been. Or perhaps where you’re heading.

But equally, does this desire stem from an unconscious reality that you can be too quick to point the accusatory finger at others when the inescapable setback occurs; that you sometimes rub and get rubbed-up the wrong way; that you occasionally struggle to relinquish the reins of control every now and again? Maybe we could go so far as to suggest that the hard work of cultivating successful relationships with potential travel partners is less appealing than pulling-up anchor as soon as it gets a bit choppy? How many of these traits are exhibited in those who travel alone and choose that path? I’d wager a fair few.

So, whilst I encourage you to take to the seas, stroll different paths, drive to the great unknown and pedal into the horizon — consider also the last words of Alexander Supertramp, immortalised during his doomed Alaskan adventure. Whether you believe that ‘happiness is only real when shared’, there’s really only one way to find out…