Before I go any further, let it be known that I am highly aware that I am a privileged Black woman, sulking about a first world problem that really has no bearing on anything but my personal enjoyment of said privileges. That being said, I am not devoid of emotion and I, just as you are, am entitled to an opinion based on my personal experiences. Side-bar: please do not misconstrue the latter statement as an indication that I condone the abuse of the right to freedom of speech. Now, let the sulking commence.
Not being able to share the experience
Growing up in a family where #TravelisLife meant that my parents would find any excuse for us to go… Be it an impromptu road trip after church in search of the best pancakes in the province, being pulled out of school to tag along on a business trip or a two-week multi-country family expedition for the festive season, Mama and Daddy instilled the importance of traveling in us from our conception.
For all that, I am eternally grateful. Problem is, I got rather used to being able to share moments with other human beings. That’s not to say that solo adventures are a special kind of time out. The personal growth that takes place as a result of exploring the world on your own is priceless. Furthermore, I would not trade all of the new friends and randomly dope experiences for anything. At this point in my life, I just genuinely prefer being able to turn around and say “oh my word! Did you see that?”
It’s either you take a selfie or a picture of the subject matter, without you in it.
When you’re on a one (wo)mxn adventure, capturing the moment is imperative for various reasons, such as:
- It’s the morning after the night before and you’re quite possibly still drunk but you want to savor the moment,
- You need to present your mother with evidence that your limbs are still intact and you haven’t eloped or been “taken,”
- You don’t have money to pay Getty to use their images on your blog,
- Your Snapchat/Facebook/Instagram/
Twitter/YouTube fans have expectations (and we can’t let the fans down), and
- Dinner party stories are just so much better with a little show-and-tell
So, we’ve established that the pictures are necessary but if you want to be in them you need to take a selfie. That, or you need to muster up the courage to politely approach a stranger and hope that they don’t run off with your phone.
Pros of solo travel photography: Selfie-ing becomes a cv worthy competency and you’ll become well acquainted with your good side’s angles.
Cons of solo travel photography: cool kid poses are not possible in selfie mode and selfies have a participant limit.
My unsolicited, free advice is for you to get a personal photographer (otherwise known as a “bae”) for your travels. When you get one, kindly let me know where they are found.
You can not take advantage of social economies of scale
Discounts, bundles, groupons, vouchers and other money savers tend to come packaged for two or more. You can’t even “go halvsies” on the cost of a cab or split a pizza when you’re alone. This may even affect your socially acceptable level of alcoholism as drinking alone gets lonely at times and the sum of the shots/glasses is always greater than the price of the bottle. What’s more is you can not take advantage of a light packer’s luggage limit (especially since the overhead announcement ruined your chances of getting a stranger to check your extra bag in with theirs). Look, all I am saying is if you plan it right, the more, the merrier (pronounced cheaper).
There is safety in numbers
I’m borderline fearless when it comes to exploring infinity and beyond. Mama considers this a deadly personality flaw. As much as I hate to admit it, her concerns are founded. The world isn’t a musical and not every person you’ll meet is a good-Samaritan.
Traveling alone means having to keep an eye on all of your possessions by yourself. It also means developing a knack for discerning between genuine helpers and wolves in sheep’s clothing.
You’ll learn to keep lists, padlocks, eyes in the back of your head and cash in odd places but it makes life so much easier when you can say “please hold this for a sec?” without fear of the [insert any one of my Mom’s lectures on how I could have died here].
Team work makes the dream work
None of my adventures would have been successful and dare I say possible, without the amazing network of angels I have amassed over the years. They make traveling and life itself, so much easier.
From helping me find a place to stay, making their friends my friends and feeding me, to showing me around and nursing me to health; I would not have successfully adulted without the assistance of others. The result of such kindness, is an assortment of places I can call home on every continent on the planet.
You could attempt to survive a trip on your own however at some point, much like getting a degree, you’ll realize that you can’t do it alone. By the same token, I can only return the favour by opening my home to other wandering souls, sharing my resources and ensuring that they have a memorable experience.
What about travelling in groups?
Group travel with a bunch of friends takes a great deal of coordination and planning (because of employment, adulting etc) but this will forever be one of our #squadgoals.
Another option is to book a tour with a company like Top Deck. They do everything for you, including allocating random people (other beings who don’t want to travel alone) to accompany you. All you have to do is sort out your visa(s) and show up.
Group travelling seems like the solution to my woes but it has its pros and cons. I’ve discovered that the optimal number of travel buddies a person should have is exactly one. This is because democracy is plagued by indecision ergo, the group splits up according to activity preference and a lot of time is wasted getting to this inevitable point.
I’m super easy-going but I’m rather impatient so the “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” back-and-forth really grates my nipples. At this juncture, I simply split from the herd in search of what satisfies my soul, with or without companionship. Yes, that is a point in favour of team solo travels.
Okay, I’m done
As I gather my toys and position them neatly inside my cot, I can confidently tell you that nothing, not even the aforementioned grievances, will prevent me from travelling. How mad can one be when they’re eating, drinking, seeing, doing and experiencing magnificent things? Even if it is alone.
Roaming the planet, discovering things and collecting experiences is one of my many callings. I just need to convince someone to pay me for it and hopefully somewhere along the way, I’ll gain an awesome travel buddy. #ApplicationsAreOpen