Your footsteps echo a bit more, and people’s chatter just seem louder. Suddenly you hear languages from a passing crowd you’ve never heard before, and the wind feels a bit colder. It’s also a great time to get a haircut in a country where no one might understand you, and your food can taste spectacular or downright horrible — depending on how you’re feeling at that moment.
Before I got married, I had the chance to travel alone. Not of the backpacking proportions or extreme locations for that matter. But I enjoyed my trips to Tokyo by myself — without a plan (except for the art and design fairs I would visit), but without anyone to meet. This is probably the most adventurous as I can be, as of now. I can’t say the same for many of my friends who find the idea absolutely terrifying, what more in a country that does not speak the same language.
Yes, you will get lost, but I think that’s part of the art of travel. And I have discovered amazing people that way — strangers I encountered along the way — who made my trip absolutely fascinating.
I hate traveling in a rush and with a fixed schedule because I miss out on so many of the intricate details of where I am — what people are wearing, the corner details of a building, what the kids are eating on the train, or the music student beside metapping his fingers as he studied his scribbled music sheets. To travel on a hectic itinerary means to miss out on random conversations with strangers — even if it means signing most of the time in the most animated way.
How I travel is this: I pick up my map, get out of my hotel and start walking. I don’t need to see everything popular or famous in a city, nor do I have the urge to go to tourist spots. In fact, I avoid all those places unless it’s of some historical value I’ve always been fascinated with.
But I like discovering places starting from wherever I am that are not necessarily written about.
It’s as simple as that.
Traveling solo — it’s not something I enjoy 100% of the time because there are moments where I can have this intense reaction to something wonderful — or funny — and I had no one to share it with right at that moment. So I strolled around with a smile, or a smirk. Also, there are no pictures of me in it — so that’s another thing.
It’s not something I need to do always but there is something refreshing about tasting a place with no distraction, as if a veil is lifted and a new layer is revealed in all clarity.
Textures, patterns, smells and faces are more vivid.
When traveling alone, it’s all about the heightened senses to all the nuances of a different world.