22 April 2013

Travelling solo...do you?



I wonder..
as I sit in a large four poster bed, 
in the 'Sally Room',
taking in the early American decor 
around me, all the while listening
to the busy hands in the dining room, 
across the hall, preparing for morning breakfast..
if you ever travel solo.


Travelling solo..was a notion that seemed incomprehensible to me, all those years ago, when I had four small children trailing behind me. We travelled in mass or we did not travel at all and that was the way I liked it.


And here I sit, years on, with my belongings about me, doing the B&B hop as I make my way along the New England trail from family to friends over the next two weeks. Mr. H and my son are holding down the Chateau back in Vietnam while I start pulling together Tahilla Farm in New England.

This isn't the first time I travelled alone...Paris was my first.  When we lived in England I took the Eurostar from London to Paris...it was easy. I had some familiarity with Paris and I was meeting a lovely friend. I wrote about it here. I left the trip with a travelling confidence. Travelling alone is not my first choice. I enjoy having family and friends around me...but there are times, when for various reasons..one must travel alone. I want to say, if you have contemplated it but have hesitated..take a step forwards. 

I enjoyed the Paris trip because I stayed in a small hotel, tucked away in the Marais district. I was in a neighbourhood..it was quiet and comfortable. I had cafes, shopping and historical sights all within an easy reach.  I wandered the streets, in and out, on my own, stopping and going as I pleased...here. With each step I realised that it was possible to travel solo and feel comfortable in that space..it was good for the soul. 

My other solo trips have been to America, easier for it's familiarity but still an adventure...here. When I travel solo, I look for the comforts of home. I enjoy historic Bed and Breakfast hotels, something you can easily find in New England.  I like hearing people around me, I love the scent of coffee wafting it's way from the kitchen and lingering just outside my doorway. I enjoy the eclectic mix of  guests. Each visit offers new stories, new opportunities for a memorable experience. They are a curious bunch..B&B guests. Most who stay are used to the breakfast banter...the where, how and why of it all. I have had occasions where I have stayed on for several cups of coffee..the conversation to good to move on. There is no obligation..you just enjoy. B&B owners are a friendly lot as well, it's personal and they want to please. 

Travelling solo is a state of mind and I appreciate that it is not for everyone. Many have to step outside their comfort zone and I can understand if that feels daunting for some. If you are keen but  not sure.. I would start with a weekend away. Some place new, with a purpose in mind. Research the area you plan to visit and make a list of things you want to see and do. Highlight one, the most important and do that first. Travelling solo gives you the freedom of exploration, something not always possible when you travel with others.  I may have a list and check them all off, I may do one or two and then be happy to wander. Your time is your own..you can do as you please. Think of how you want to feel at the end of the trip..what feeling you want to carry with you as you journey home. Plan for that feeling.

I travelled to Marrakesh with Mr. H last year...another trip I plan to write more about one day. Someone asked if I would travel to Marrakesh on my own. I had to think on that one..for it is another type of experience all together. I would say yes..but only with a guide. Above all else, you have to be sensible when travelling solo..your safety is paramount. Some countries are simply not safe for a woman on her own..unless you know the ins and outs of it well. In those situations, if I were on my own, I would be more inclined to find a small private tour with a special purpose in mind. For example, if it was a photographic tour, with like minded individuals, up for an adventure in the best light of day...I would not hesitate. For others it may be cooking, writing, painting..whatever your passion may be...I say follow it..with abandon.

I am going to leave you here...a new day dawns and I here a whistle in the hallway, the sound of people gathering and can smell the fresh aroma of coffee.. it is calling my name....

Before you go...do you have a thought on travelling solo? Have you, would you, do you, could you?
Think on it...where would you go? We would all love to know....

Blessings to you all my friends!

Jeanne xx


PS..If you would like to know more about travelling solo to Paris...or the B&B trail in New England, let me know, I would be happy to give you information to get you started in the right direction. :)

35 comments:

  1. How wonderfully written post Jeanne. "Plan for that feeling" sums it up beautifully. I enjoy traveling trio with our pre-teen junior but at times it's a given that I have to wander alone with my camera for a while and father/son duo have a freedom of options and choice too then we meet happily to share discoveries.
    You're absolutely right, it depends where to go and for me for how long.

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  2. Jeanne, I feel like you wrote this at the right time...for me. This is something that has been on my mind for a few months, and if I'm honest, probably for years but I buried it along with many other plans & dreams and then life seemed to move with a speed of its own. But now? Now I want to embrace time with myself, to explore to learn to see to do. And rather than talking about it, I'm going to do it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. One day in the not too distant future I know I will be able to do the same thing! xo

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  3. I enjoyed your post today, it sounds so cosy when described your way. I had always traveled for work alone in North America so I am used it it but I would still consider Paris to be the place where I stepped out of a comfort level and stayed alone. It was the one city where I felt safe and happy to wander the streets. Only trouble is the terrible sense of direction I now have (it used to be good) but that is why they invented GPS! I adore B 7 B's, my husband and I traveled the B&B route in the Cotswolds and it was amazing where we stayed. Such happy travel memories you are inspiring Jeanne on a Sunday morning.............perfect. xx

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  4. Took a lovely trip to Massachusetts years ago - before marriage - stopping to visit with three college friends. Stayed with them at night, but drove, shopped, discovered on my own during the days. It was such fun and made me feel strong. Would love to do it again

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  5. I love traveling solo Jeanne, so I can relate to your story. I went back and revisited your older posts, referenced here. Loved them. I hope you enjoy your time on your own in New England. Time to explore, regroup, reflect... I am off to Europe this summer and will make sure I get a few days (and nights) on my own, either in France, in England, or in Spain. Take care, Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

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  6. Having made my first trip to and fallen in love with Paris, with friends in tow, I must say I have given initial thoughts to possibly traveling there again, alone. Your post certainly does give me a lot of grist for the mill. It is certainly something that would definitely put me out of my comfort zone, but I have been known to do somewhat daring things like that before. In fact, I have taken several solo trips before, on my own like you suggested. So, we'll see. You certainly are an inspiration to all us would-be world travelers, and we love hearing about your travels around the world. JudyMac

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  7. I often travel solo and I have to learn to be better at travelling with someone else:-D It sounds horribly selfish, but I enjoy being on my own, only having myself to look after. I can turn whichever corner I like, spend hours walking in the footsteps of some author (journeys my fellow travellers don't always enjoy), I can stop to eat whenever I want to, move on whenever I want to etc.

    But obviously you don't have anyone who you can look back on the journey with later on. Some of the trips I have been on with my family and/or friends still inspire long talks and hysterical laughter years later.

    So a combination of both is probably the best. Next week I'm travelling to Spain with my sister and her family to meet old friends and I'm thrilled to be sharing the experience with them.

    Enjoy your stay, Jeanne.

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  8. I've traveled alone in Asia, Europe, the United States, and Canada. In Vietnam, I did have a guide and driver because it was easier to be driven from Saigon to Nha Trang, but I have gone solo in Thailand, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel, Cuba, Paris, and Scandinavia, as well as all over the U.S. and Quebec. Your suggestions for planning a solo trip are right on. Although I do travel also with groups and with friends, I enjoy the freedom and serendipity that comes with being on your own. There are some places I would not go alone: Mexico, Africa, and Muslim countries come to mind where a woman alone invokes negative behavior and attitudes. There are a couple of good books directed toward women interested in traveling solo: Gutsy Women by Marybeth Bond and Traveling Solo by Eleanor Berman. Both are on Amazon.

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  9. I agree with you - I love travelling solo and it was not something that I ever thought I would end up enjoying... Happy travels... (and now I am off to catch up on that Paris post - I too have been there and stayed on my own in the Marais district - LOVE that area and now know it fairly well) XX

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  10. I've only traveled alone on my frequent business trips to Washington, DC, but never on vacation. You have it scouted out just right--staying at lovely B&B's. Also, do you still love your LV bag? I'm thinking I will pick up the same bag in the brown Damier when I travel to Paris this fall. Seems more fun to buy LV from its birthplace!

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  11. This brought back memories. My best 'travelling solo' time was when I went to Sarawak. Everything was booked through a travel agent and I had no detailed knowledge of the region other than about orang utangs. I booked several tours and had the same guide for all of them. I particularly enjoyed the fact that usually we were chaperoned by his seven year old daughter.(I was over 50 at the time.) I did a home stay at a remote jungle village, and the people there were astounded that I had not brought my husband with me. He was at home caring for the family and all that goes with that. I still feel lucky that I had an opportunity to travel for pleasure not business or health, in a beautiful place, with the luxury of my own time.

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  12. I did it many times before I was married but never since. I even feel too bad leaving the kiddos behind to just go with my husband. I think that even when the kids are on their own, I would probably go with my husband.

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  13. Sounds lovely. You enjoy yourself and take care. Blessings to you and yours as well.

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  14. You know I love this post - being a "traveling" one. Believe it or not, I have never traveled solo - I have been too busy with kids and husband. It actually is something that I would like to try to do at some point but my husband is now semi-retired and loves traveling with me so it may never happen!

    I hope you are having a lovely weekend and enjoying Spring in New England. xoxo

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  15. .. Hi there ... so glad you are enjoying New England .. traveling solo is my first choice, but not always possible. I really try to travel to English countryside solo, because the Brits love to engage Americans. I've made good friends with Brits when traveling alone, but rarely when with others.

    I love to go to Paris alone, as I'm consumed with the camera and my thoughts. But that's not always possible either.

    I think there are pros and cons with going either way ... mix it up a bit, I say.

    Enjoy your trip ...

    Karen in CT

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  16. I've had some wonderful - and not so wonderful - adventures traveling solo but just the thought of either of my children traveling alone fills me with anxiety.
    Keep us posted about your farm.

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  17. B&B is very popular in the U.S. Is popular in other parts of the world?
    The breakfast and meeting other travellers are part of the attraction. The conversation leads to where everyone's favorite places are.

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  18. Hi Jeanne, I travelled to London last year by myself. Although my Aunt lives in the Berkshires, I stayed in London solo. We met sometimes but most of the time, I was on my own exploring some areas of London on my own. I loved it! I enjoyed it so much that I discovered so many places like Sloane Square to Pimlico Road. I ate at your favourite Daylesford Organic Farmshop at Pimlico. During my visit there on a Saturday morning, I also discovered an organic farm market on the nearby Square and also the Wild at Heart Floral shop. I took so many photos. I was never lonely. The only awkward moment is eating alone in restaurants but I eventually overcome it. Got to be brave to explore on your own. For other countries, research about their customs and laws especially for women travelling on their own. I will travel solo again. It is good for the soul.

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  19. Jeanne,

    I have traveled solo for years. I frequently traveled while in college, working on my Master's and while taking classes while contemplating my Phd. Always to Europe and often for 6 or more weeks at a time. I would travel to meet up with friends, or family, then spend a few weeks alone and then meet more friends. When I think back on it now I wonder if I would do half of the stuff I did; meeting up with people I had just met on trains, traveling with people I barely knew. But I guess it all turned out well because most if not all of those people I have now been friends with for between 10-20 years.

    Sometimes it is lonely, and once or twice a little scary, even with a friend. I could not agree with you more Jeanne...safety is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. I have traveled in Morocco and I could not recommend it solo. There are many places that are not safe for solo travelers in general. As evidenced by the countless stories in the news lately.

    Jeanne, you are so blessed to have met so many wonderful friends in your travels, and through blogging. How wonderful to be able to meet a few of them while en route to your beautiful new farm.

    Be safe, enjoy and have wonderful adventures!

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  20. This is so beautifully written, Jeanne! I suddenly want to go somewhere all by myself. Actually, I have a little daydream about going to Paris solo. Perhaps this is the year I will finally do it.

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  21. It is awesome. I loved your blog post man. I feel like packing my luggage and fly to Paris right now. I want to go on a vacation with just myself this time. Nobody else, just me. I need to spend some time with myself and explore scenic beauty of the country.

    Regards,
    Finn Felton
    Kopi Luwak

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  22. I am hoping to spend some days wandering through the beautiful arcades and lane ways in Melbourne when I visit in September; some things are just better solo!

    I remember that I faced a few challenges travelling alone a few years ago - including lost luggage, strange encounters and losing all sense of direction in Chinatown in Boston..... I flew from Sydney via Bangkok for a few days in London before travelling on to Boston. I stayed at the beautifully traditional Lenox hotel and discovered all the things I could do by myself but also quite a few where I wished I had a companion. I was very happy to rejoin my husband in West Palm Beach!

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  23. Advantages and disadvantages for both, I think....but the delightful aspect of travelling solo is that greater sense of discovery...somehow different from seeing new things with another person...not sure why that is .....and then of course one can spend exactly as much time as one wishes at each discovery...but on the other hand, it is wonderful to share new experiences and adventures too. I travel on my own for work, and enjoy it.

    So the only solution, it seems to me, is that one should travel both solo and with company!!

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  24. this was timely as i just recently traveled alone for the first time. it was the opposite trip to your first adventure out alone. i traveled (also on the eurostar) from paris to london this past february. i was nervous and almost chickened out at the last minute. but i got on that train and loved every single minute of my travels alone. i also have 4 children and we usually travel as a family of 6.
    i learned a lot about myself that weekend away alone. one is that i want to travel solo more often. i think it's important to step out of your comfort zone and try something new..for me, this was it.
    xo
    pam

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  25. Hi Jeanne

    What a lovely post. I agree there is something peaceful about traveling alone...taking one's time, and doing what one pleases!

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  26. The topic of eating is one I do not savor. Eating alone, for me, was not pleasant when I travel alone. Other than that one thing, traveling solo is so enjoyable. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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  27. I do travel solo often... but generally because I am going back and forwards to France or to Australia... not for holidays... I actually enjoy the solitude... but it is the best if you have company on the other end... :)
    When are we going back to Paris Jeanne... xv

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  28. When I was an exchange student in Europe during high school and college, I came to love travelling alone. Later, flying around the world for Pan Am, I always travelled alone on my personal trips (including to the USSR and to equatorial, East and North Africa), and I spent most of my layovers exploring alone. I relished the freedom to explore exactly as I wished, free to look outward and meet new people. Since then, my travelling for business has always been solo, but when I married and had children, I came to love travelling with my family on personal trips. Now that the children are adults living in New York City and Seattle/San Francisco, much of my personal travel is to those cities, which my husband and I love exploring with the children. While having a family opened me to the joys of travelling with them, when that it not possible I still prefer to travel solo, anywhere. As a woman travelling alone for nearly fifty years, I have never been harmed or threatened with harm. And I have had fabulous adventures in my solitude! Leslie in Portland, Oregon

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  29. I am planning my very first trip to Paris next month. I will be with my husband but your post today made me yearn for some time alone too. I love wandering with no destination, and I to stop in each and every church or interesting shop. I would love to know of your list of absolute cannot miss sites in Paris and vicinity. We will be there for 8 days before we travel south to Cannes to gather up our youngest daughter and spend her 20th BD in Barcelona.

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  30. How funny you should talk about this Jeanne; I saw a girlfriend yesterday just come back from a month travelling alone in Vietnam! She loved every minute of it, and I have to admit that her enthusiasm was contagious.
    A mother of 4 like yourself, I still find it strange not to move around in a small crowd!
    Have a wonderful trip

    Sharon

    xx

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  31. Bonjour Jeanne,
    Who doesn't like to travel ? Nobody I know, some men maybe, but generally travelling IS the TOPIC to talk about around a table when receiving friends. Travelling alone allows enormous freedom when deciding where to go, what to see, but can restrein someone to go to some interesting places because being alone is not the best idea in some countries. Many years ago, I have travelled alone but for short periods. I went to places where I had a place to sleep at a relative or a friend and then went visiting alone, but now that I am in my fifties and not sure about my health (I have periods of lost of balance sometimes), I hesitate. I have in mind a trip to Italy alone, to attend an Italian class for two weeks and the third week travelling south of Rome. I have had that dream for many years and I wait to retire (next year) to make that dream real.... I still have my husband who loves to travel with me though !

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  32. Bonjour Jeanne,
    Who doesn't like to travel ? Nobody I know, some men maybe, but generally travelling IS the TOPIC to talk about around a table when receiving friends. Travelling alone allows enormous freedom when deciding where to go, what to see, but can restrein someone to go to some interesting places because being alone is not the best idea in some countries. Many years ago, I have travelled alone but for short periods. I went to places where I had a place to sleep at a relative or a friend and then went visiting alone, but now that I am in my fifties and not sure about my health (I have periods of lost of balance sometimes), I hesitate. I have in mind a trip to Italy alone, to attend an Italian class for two weeks and the third week travelling south of Rome. I have had that dream for many years and I wait to retire (next year) to make that dream real.... I still have my husband who loves to travel with me though !

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  33. I adore traveling alone, espcially if there's a company at home to support me in case something goes wrong. But I love the freedom of it.

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  34. Hello Jeanne
    What a week you have had and so much accomplished. Well done.
    My father claimed I was born under a wandering star and he is perhaps right. I have travelled extensively on my own since I was 16 years old. I also enjoy travel with my husband and friends. I adore travel and it takes very little to lure me to the friendly skies.

    Have a delightful week and enjoy that deck chair and sunset

    Helen xx

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Can I just say....that I so enjoy what YOU have to say. Just a few words or a few paragraphs, no matter. If you would like to write to me directly, I would love to hear from you... jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

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