On a recent weekend break to Haworth in Yorkshire, UK, Mr A went off to do a photography course, while I explored the small village alone.
I had a brilliant day, satisfying my inner geek with a visit to the family home of the Bronte sisters and pottering around the various vintage shops.
And as I did so I realised that since getting back from my solo round-the-world trip I have travelled very little alone. Of course, on one hand that is brilliant. I finally found a man who loves to travel with me and I enjoy our adventures together immensely.
But I do also think that every now and then it’s good for me to do something by myself and here’s why:
I need to remember I’m brave
As soon as I start travelling with someone else it’s amazing how quickly I forget this. Suddenly it’s so much easier to say “Can you ask this time please?” Mr A and I usually quite naturally share out these kind of tasks when we’re travelling and generally take it in turns. But it’s so easy to hide behind the other person if there’s something you don’t really want to do.
One of the things I hear most from people when I tell them about all of the solo travelling I have done is “Oh you’re so brave, I could never do that.” But the truth is, I’m really not. I get just as scared as anyone else when I have to get on a plane by myself, or find my way to a hostel or speak to a stranger. Travelling alone meant that I had to step up to the plate all the time, and while there were moments when that was stressful it also made me realise how brave I can be.
I only have myself to please
When you’re travelling with someone else it always involved compromise. Each day is filled with questions like “What do you want to do? Where do you want to eat? Do you want to go home yet?” Now I’m not saying this is a bad thing, obviously the joys of travelling with a friend or a loved one usually outweigh the fact that you might not always get to eat dinner where you want to or someone doesn’t love looking around markets as much as you do.
Mr A and I are both pretty laidback when it comes to making travel plans so we’re usually quite happy to go with the flow, but there are a few areas where we differ. Take museums for example, if we go to one I can quite happily spend the whole day looking at every display case and reading every explanation. Mr A on the other hand wants a quick look around and is then ready to go. In the same way that I couldn’t get quite as excited as he did when we found the World’s Best Preserved Meteor Site in America.
So it was lovely to be able to spend hours wandering around the Bronte Parsonage Museum, without having to look up to find Mr A on his phone desperately trying to figure out if there’s a meteor site near by.
I need to learn how to navigate myself
This is something that never fails to amaze Mr A – how I managed to navigate myself around the world when I am so terrible at directions. When we’re together I totally let him take control of directions as he has a weird skill of looking at a map once and being able to memorise it. I, on the other hand, have been known to call him in tears because I couldn’t follow Google maps to my destination in London.
Luckily Haworth is very easy to navigate, so he didn’t have to send out a search party at the end of the day. But being by myself did make me realise that I had to take note of where I was going, rather than just follow someone else. It’s good to be responsible every once in a while.
It focuses the mind
As anyone who knows me will tell you, I talk A LOT. Sometimes I talk so much that I don’t have time to stop and think about things too deeply. Travelling by myself allows me to have time to stop and think and consider how I’m feeling without ploughing headlong into a discussion first. (And to be honest, Mr A probably appreciates the break from my ramblings!)
It makes me more grateful for what I have
I used to love travelling solo and I was never one of those people who wouldn’t go somewhere because I was scared. I met so many fantastic people on my travels; some who were just in my life for a day or a week, while others have become life-long friends. But one of the things I did sometimes miss was having someone to go home to at the end of the day to tell my stories too.
It was brilliant meeting up with Mr A in the evening and to excitedly share stories of our very different day over dinner. So yes, sometimes it may be good for me to have a bit of time to myself, but I’m also so lucky to have found someone that loves to go on adventures just as much as me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you want to find out more about travelling solo, check out this post and if for one of my favourite solo travel experiences, take a look at this.