THE BE-SIDES: ROLLING SOLO
Several years ago I set the goal of visiting 20 countries in my 20s. With the youthful decade coming to a close, the pressure is on and I have some serious work to do. In a few days I will be leaving for my 19th destination and, for this voyage, I will be flying solo. I have been the lone backpacker on several of these adventures and every time, as the departure date nears, I have a moment’s pause at the prospect of going to this foreign, often third world country, sans companion.
Soon I will be landing in Santo Domingo, Domincan Republic for the very first time. Although Latin America has played a major role in the movie of my life, I have never been to the Caribbean or, for that matter, DR. When plotting the points out for this trip I had toyed with the idea of having a travel mate and for various reasons, it didn’t pan out. This leaves me, yet again, leaving on a jet plane all by my lonesome.
Much like the romantic Peter, Paul and Mary jam, traveling alone can be poetic, but it can also be, and I hate to admit this, a bit lonely. The L word is hard for me utter and I certainly do not throw it around lightly, but occasionally, when somewhere overseas and seeing something incredible, one wants to turn to their left or right and share the moment with someone else. With this trip being more like a weekend on steroids than a real travel adventure, I am not too worried about the melancholy of solitude poisoning my consciousness. This does not mean, however, that I am not painfully aware of the perils of a single white female traveling with no Jennifer Jason Leigh to shadow her. This awareness is in large part due to the men in my life. I have found that if there are men close to you but with whom you are not having sex they become a surrogate big brother, and they, along with your father, warn you of all of the dangers of rolling solo. Sometimes, they choose to express this sentiment immediately preceding your exodus. Let me tell you, it is very reassuring.
Lets not allow my Debbie Downer get the best of me just yet. Traveling alone also allows you to go where you like, eat what you desire, and see what you want with no compromises. Life is built on compromises and every so often it can really feel like a vacation when you are not in need of making them. Sometimes in life, as in travel, the magical moments happen in the silence, and silence is much more easily achieved when not flanked by fanny pack sporting friends.
So, with worry in my head, gloom in my heart, and peace in my soul I set out to conquer my 19th country and get yet one step closer to reaching my goal.
B.E. is a photographer and aspiring freelance writer residing in New York City.
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