WHY I TRAVEL ALONE July 06, 2015 14:44
I was recently asked to write an article on the topic of Summer for a cute site you can go check out here. I wanted to share it here in the spirit of Independence day. Traveling=Creative Juices=Pretty Things!
A few years ago I was in a rut. Like a big rut. It was Summer in San Francisco and I was in between apartments. As bad luck would have it, I was also in between jobs. Finding either of these things in this city is not easily accomplished. So you can imagine that after about a month of frantic searching and hair pulling with no result, I was a bit of a wreck. I resorted to couch hopping at friends places, while digging for interview clothes in the back of my storage unit.
After about another solid month of chaos, suddenly something went right. I was offered two jobs within the same week, as well as a room in an insanely, ‘perfect for Dani’ sunny, Eduardian home. With a huge sigh sigh of relief that weekend, I flopped into my bed in my brand new bedroom and was finally able to relax. As I lay there reflecting on how ridiculously terrible the last few months had been, I couldn’t help but notice a very intense and extremely overwhelming thought that was almost forcefully taking over my brain: VACATION.
This thought, as it turns out, was not completely out of line. I was extremely stressed and needed a break. I didn’t start my new job for a week, and I knew that soon I would have a steady paycheck again. I asked around to see if anyone would want to join me for a much needed getaway, however no one was available the weekend I planned to go. I went to bed, upset, and defeated. The next morning I woke up with the same thought burning into my head. I decided that I didn’t care where I went, or who I went with, but for the sake of my own sanity I had to get out. After some deliberation, I bought a flight to Las Vegas and flew out that weekend.
There is a freedom that comes with traveling alone. There’s no one to hold you back, nothing to compromise or decide on. You just think about what you want to do and then you go do it. Everything between choosing where to stay and where to go for dinner was up to me. I made friends with random people and stayed out all night. Blasted music in my room and jumped on the bed. It was addictive. That was my first solo trip, and after experiencing that freedom, I knew it wouldn’t be my last.
A year or so later, I got adventurous and booked a three week trip to Europe…again solo. I had never been before and I knew this was going to be a trip to remember. I was a little nervous about traveling abroad with a language barrier as the plan was to visit the UK, France, and Spain. Fortunately I wasn’t going to be entirely alone for all three weeks. I was staying with friends of friends in London and Nice for a few days each.
As I arrived in London and began my travels through France, that sense of freedom quickly came over me again. I wandered through museums and parks, sat in cafes and along the Seine. I became so inspired by the buildings and the street art, I couldn’t stop drawing and thinking. I sat outside the Pompidou in Paris drawing and people would come and ask to see. One local ended up giving me a walking tour around the city. My creativity was flowing and it felt crazy good. When I reached Barcelona though, I completely fell in love.
Besides the horrific Summer humidity, Barcelona is an artist’s dream. Inspiring architecture everywhere you look, Gaudi landmarks, Picasso’s works, Las Ramblas, the list goes on. For me, just wandering around the Gotic and Born neighborhoods was dreamy. Long and narrow residential alleys peppered with overgrown balconies and drying laundry were my favorite. I found a gelato place in one of the alleys and went back three times, three days in a row, because it was that good. In another alley, I made friends with a small business owner who had just opened her first jewelry shop.
The rest of my trip was spent working my way back up through France, then back to London via train where I spent my last few days walking around in a happy exhaustion. For three weeks I had experienced complete freedom and it was just the break I had needed. I was sad to leave but ready to return home and see all my friends again.
Having this break really allowed me to become inspired and reboot my artistic side. I really loved being on my own and learning so much about myself. Of course, there are lots of great benefits to traveling with a friend or significant other as well. You always have a dinner date. You do activities that you may have not have thought to try otherwise. Plus costs are split, so it’s much cheaper. But every once in a while it’s good to get lost…alone, and just go with it. Try it. Maybe you’ll learn something.