Why I Travel Alone

Venice. It’s early on a gray December morning.I’m standing alone on a long pier that stretches out into the lagoon.  It’s pouring rain and, under my umbrella, I’ve rolled my suitcase as close to me as possible on the narrow floating walkway.  Yesterday I booked the St. Marco water bus to the airport, picking a time early enough to catch my morning flight back to New York without worry  What I didn’t know is that at 7:30 a.m. in a town where unless you are in produce or fish, you’re not out before 9, the ticket booths are shuttered, no other travelers are in sight and the only signs point me here to this damp narrow spot.

I’m standing in the middle of the whitecapped sea, in the rain, rocking on a lonely pier not really certain if my precarious spot is the right precarious spot to get to the airport.

Why did I take this trip alone? Why didn’t I spend for the private taxi? Why did I wear these shoes?

A boat approaches an adjacent pier. Hey! Should I be there instead of here? I start to head that way and the jaded boat pilot waves me back to stay put on my little perch.

Then out of the mist and rain, chugs a cheery little water bus with the right logo and a guy in a raincoat  ready to pull my bag aboard, steady me as I hop on and I stumble into the steamy interior.

There’s the moment. I’m a world traveler, a trail blazer, a citizen of the world.  I’m a woman who can take public transportation with luggage.

That awareness of my own competence sends me home just a little different. That is why I travel alone.

It may be a little more than that.  My desire to share my experiences about traveling alone comes from two places – first the discovery a few years ago of the joy of traveling alone. While I love traveling with friends and family, there is a completely different experience when you step, completely anonymous, off a plane in a new city with an adventure stretching before you. More importantly, as I talk with women, I’m surprised again and again by competent, independent friends who are daunted by the idea of going alone and either don’t travel because they don’t have a companion who can go with them or travel with friends they know will not want to go/spend/cruise/visit/learn/relax as they would.

There is nothing like the feeling that you faced a challenge and found yourself capable.  It’s a small thing like arriving at the airport on time when you are there but once home, it’s that added confidence that you can indeed do many more things than you ever imagined.