The joys of traveling solo…
I will be making what has now become an annual visit to the beautiful, and yes, very romantic destination of the Amalfi Coast -alone. And alone, by choice. I had thought of possibly doing it with a companion this time, I have wonderful friends and family I could travel with, but I have always come here on my own and I realised that I was fiercely protective of this, I wanted to go on my own. I love the tranquility of being by the sea and in my own company.
Make no mistake, nobody understands this. Especially staying at gorgeous hotels, and once again that word, romantic, romantic hotels. Breathtaking views on my own might seem a bit silly, but why not enjoy it to the fullest. Who doesn’t like a plush room with sunset views, a huge bed with crisp sheets and scented body products? But it does indeed seem to make everyone else around me uncomfortable, maybe because people worry you are lonely and alone in the world. Even if it isn’t true. At first it made me upset as well, to be seen as perhaps sad, but I really was only uncomfortable because they were. The only way to deal with this is to ignore it and move on. I have grown used to this and have weighed it out in my mind that a few awkward moments are less of a problem then not going at all. At the end of the day it is endearing that people are concerned and one should look upon it as being cared for and looked after. So if you can get past that momentary embarrassing feeling of pity, you can pretty much move on to the fun and immerse yourself completely in the travel experience.
Probably the hardest hurdle to overcome is dining alone, especially in the evenings and at proper restaurants. I worked up to this by starting in cafes and trattorias, more informal dining spots first. This seemed satisfying at first as I was dining with the locals and tasting regional cuisine, however after a while I felt I was missing out on a huge portion of the travel experience by not going beyond the basics. After all one on the reasons we travel is to eat and what better way to savor a location than through food. So at some point I just bit the bullet and booked a table at a proper restaurant at night. Yes, there was fear and I felt very conspicuous, and even to this day there are situations where I feel that again, but for the most part I find it relaxing to sit and enjoy a really great meal after a full day of sightseeing and walking. I don’t have to worry about chit chat or trying to be conversational with the person with me when I feel a bit tired, I can just enjoy and decompress over a hearty plate of pasta and a really good glass of wine. At times I read a bit, perhaps plan what I might do tomorrow, or do a bit of Instagraming, but for the most part I just sit and enjoy being where I am. I enjoy the buzz and people watching, its a moment that you are sharing with the locals and it is important to take it all in.
If you think that all sounds overwhelming, let me point out a much sadder scenario, which is going on a trip with someone and having it be difficult and emotionally challenging. Not seeing what you want, getting into fights that will be how you remember the trip, and just generally feeling unsatisfied by not doing what you want. The couples trip to the romantic destination that does not look or feel romantic, family trips where everyone is trying to be happy, the friend who wants to be on a schedule… Eventually everyone begins to get annoyed. This will become glaringly apparent as you sit relaxed, sipping a glass of prosecco in the sun and observing those around you. Most couples on ‘romantic getaways’ for the experience of moonlight and roses many times walk around all day bickering on where to go and what to do, “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” and by day two they are on each others nerves, sitting at the dinner table saying absolutely nothing or complaining. No romance there. Trying to capture that romance is exhausting and will always fall short of the expectations even in the most beautiful locations. Why not have the romance be about the journey? Alone you do actually interact more with the local community and its surroundings. There is more personal involvement which will remain tangible souvenirs. As I sit solo by myself and quietly observe, it is clear that the people to pity here are the people traveling with others, all with long, bored faces and wasting a wonderful experience. They have spent the day annoyed, while I have spent the day taking in the destination, and living in the moment.
For that is the beauty you see… of traveling on your own. You go at your own pace, do what you want when you want and that in turn allows you to really see and and experience the place you are visiting. You are more likely to get into conversations with the locals when you are alone, wander and find, take more photos, stop and smell the roses. You’ll have more personal and meaningful stories to tell. It really is the only way to go…
Table for one by the sea
Tips on traveling for one
Stay central- It is easier, closer to what you want to see and do and means that in the evenings you are not too far from your hotel when you want to get back.
Indulge- If you can afford it, stay at a fabulous hotel, book the room with a view, drink champagne for lunch… Hey why not, you are on vacation!
Book a table at a fabulous restaurant -for lunch! – If you really feel insecure about dining alone at bigger restaurants, try going for lunch. Not only will you be more likely to find a table but you can rest tired feet over a nice long meal.
Be vigilant- Realistically speaking you could come off as an easy target for pick pocketing, and for being approached. Don’t let this put you off, but do be aware of the possibility and your surroundings. Walking around at night in certain areas should be avoided.
Be polite- Knowing a few key words and phrases such as “please” and “thank you” goes a long way in making friends and locals will be more open to helping you.
Talk to the locals- They will give you the best tips, insider knowledge of where to go.