Currently, I am writing this post from the Apple Store Puerta de Sol in central Madrid as my phone ran out of battery and I needed some juice! They also have Free Wifi which I am finding very useful. But I just sat outside on the edge of a fountain and people-watched for a while. And I’m pretty sure that the rear of my white shorts is now dirty and possibly stained with the remnants of a child´s red popsicle (yes, possibly the worst color to have on my ¨behind¨). The thing is, I have no way of knowing because there are no mirrors and I am highly reluctant to ask a stranger to inspect my butt, especially as my Spanish is extremely rusty. Mirar mi culo? I did ponder the idea for a second, and then realised that not everyone is as uninhibited as I am.
Traveling solo is exhilarating, liberating, nerve-wracking and fun all at the same time. There are a million positive things about traveling alone but there are a few negatives too. This post is about the cons, and I will do my best to turn them into positives because… well… most negative situations do have a silver lining. You just have to look, or search, pretty hard to find them sometimes!
(1) Dining Out Alone. This is the number one Con of traveling solo. Eating in a restaurant alone, or drinking in a bar alone, is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in my opinion. Especially if it’s on a Friday or Saturday night. Unless you act and pretend that you are traveling for business, people tend to stare, judge, wonder and assume about why you are by yourself. During my first night in Madrid, I´m 99% sure I was mistaken for a hooker by the bar men that served me. Shortly after, a group of British stags (the last people on earth I wanted to hang out with in a bar in Madrid) pitied me and invited me to join in their drinking games. I chatted to them for a while, declined their invitation to a drinking game and moved on to the next bar where the barmaid gave me some free tapas. Perhaps this act was out of pity, or perhaps out of genuine kindness. Where was my hot Spanish man to sweep me off my feet and whisk me off to El Retiro for a glass of cava and some sunset salsa dancing? Oh wait, this isn’t a Nicholas Sparks movie.
(2) Too Many Thoughts. If you find yourself over-thinking or over-analyzing things, as I often do, you may find that too much time inside your own head can induce a bit of anxiety. As I sat in Puerta de Sol in Madrid people-watching, I began to reflect on my life; my job, my finances, my past relationships and before I knew it, I was picturing myself as a 40-year old singleton living in a studio in central London with a fully-stocked wine cellar and a fleet of Pomerenians. Maybe I didn´t choose the right major in college, maybe I don´t do enough professional development, maybe I´ll never have a decent salary, maybe I´m too fat, maybe I’m not pretty enough, and the little train of anxious thoughts chugs on. BUT… I quickly snapped out of it and realised that I´m young, (relatively) healthy, living in one of the best cities in the world and currently on a fantastic adventure in beautiful Spain. Positive thoughts equal positive energy. I feel that it´s important to acknowledge whatever is going on in your head, process it, be OK with it and move on.
(3) Going Out At Night. Unless you´re staying in a hostel where you will undoubtedly meet other travelers and find a group to go out with, venturing out alone at nighttime can be very intimidating. Especially as a female. Not all men are respectful of women and in cities where prostitution is not uncommon, you may find yourself being propositioned once or twice. Or shouted, barked, hollered, clicked, snapped, whistled, kissed at (all of which actually happened to me today). Unless you go out dressed like a nun of course. And you all know, that´s not my style!
Honestly, there are no other Cons I can think of right now! Traveling solo gives you a lot of freedom to get lost, explore, relax and simply go with your own flow, whatever that may be. I don’t always have an itinerary or a plan. In fact, today I wandered aimlessly for hours, got lost, and it was wonderful. I felt completely free and it was as if, wherever I ended up, everything would be OK. Or more than OK in fact, because I’m in this beautiful city, the sun is shining, there are a million Calles, Puertas and Parques for me to explore, and despite all the not-so-OK things that have been going on in my life recently, I feel like, at this moment, this is exactly where I want to be. You can check out photos of my solo travels on this Instagram (@emmaloumor), photos of my food and drink adventures on this Instagram (@greenfoodandrunningshoes) and Snaps of all my little moments on this Snapchat (@elmorg). Happy Sunday (or Monday, depending on what time zone you are in) fitness, food and travel lovers!