“The average solo traveler is a 47-year-old female.” I guess I’ve been 47 for much of my life, or perhaps I’m just reaching the median, with dozens more years to go. I’ve always enjoyed solo travel, especially on the road – behind the wheel, miles clicking north south east west, tunes blaring (and being sung full blast, too), and so many possibilities for adventure and discovery, or revisiting old favourites.
I started my travels when I moved to BC, when I had independence and means to hit the road on my own. The first while trips were local – Hope, Whistler, Tofino. As I got more into hiking and the outdoors, my travels spread further afield, impeded only by my inappropriate-for-logging-road vehicle.
In 1992, I decided to plan a longer solo trip. I was originally going to California, but my sister (instigator of many good ideas) suggested that Alaska would be a better adventure. After some discussion with more seasoned travellers that I know, I decided to go for it. What followed was the adventure of a lifetime. The details of that trip I’ll save for a longer, dedicated post. (This trip is kind of similar albeit much longer.)
That trip changed me in many ways, but it also awakened in me the bug for solo road trips that has stuck with me always. Like the article says, it is something that is seen as somewhat odd for a woman, but to me it has always been natural, cathartic and fun.
- Natural – to me, it is the best way to go. On your own, you get to choose the route, stops, dates, diversions, music and food. You set the pace for yourself, and the adventure or lack thereof, and you follow-your-nose wherever you like. I’ve had many great road trips with friends – usually just one other person in the car, with near-constant conversation – which are wonderful but not the same.
- Cathartic – while I’m generally a social and together person, I greatly value (in fact, crave) my time alone and, at times of great turmoil or change in my life, I need the time on my own. The trips are not vision quests – at least they don’t start that way – but they are a necessary part for me of getting over/through things. I return a refreshed-me. And so solo is necessary for catharsis, to focus on myself.
- Fun – these times would not be so sought and so remembered, and so important to me, if they weren’t also fun. The start of each day, with hours behind the wheel ahead, scenery to be seen, and always a destination in mind (adventure doesn’t mean no planning, and for me the planning is part of the fun), I love the feeling of starting/continuing on something new. It helps that I like driving, too.
No sympathy required for me. These journeys are desirable and solo by design. They would not be the same or have the same meaning if they had been shared. Alone but not lonely, they bring me back or closer to myself, remind me of the things that matter to me, and allow me to leave the past behind and look forward to the road ahead, or just clear out the dust and cobwebs and remind me of things that are important to me – freedom, self-reliance, discovery.
So many different places near and not-too-far. And in my memory, like yesterday.