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Blessings and burdens of a lone traveler 

As I explained previously, I made the decision, right or wrong, to prematurely end my cruise ship employment contract. There is no sense rehashing the reasons here when you can simply read that post.

Until I find an occupation that will make me happy and while I have some free time it seemed like a good idea to take a roadtrip. Without much planning, I left one morning to drive from Tennessee to New Jersey and New York to visit with family.

This,  I suppose,  would go to the pro column. If you decide to suddenly hit the road, the only person who can veto your plan is you. At the same time and chalking a point up to the con side, there is no one to advise you against making such a trip without having made at least something of a plan. It’s all on you.

Being alone, depending on the circumstances that lead to it, is both a blessing and a curse. I never desired to be without my wife, never looked forward to a time when she would be gone so that I could be free to do my own thing. On the contrary, I assumed that we would simply go on and on, never for one moment having even the most remote notion that I would outlive her. So making plans to do things by myself, even after over five years without her, is still not comfortable. 

When starting out on a trip, a strange feeling comes over me, as though I’m trespassing onto private property. The farther away I get from what is familiar the more uncomfortable. My dad had a phobia, among many others, of traveling far from home.  Despite my discomfort, I push on, switching my focus from where I’m leaving to where I’m going. I refuse to allow myself to be victim or cater to such fears. 

At one time, not even that long ago, I could barely drive a couple of hours before struggling to keep my eyes open. Yet, on the last couple of trips, much to my surprise,  I stayed alert from morning till night. Traveling alone means the freedom to stop or continue as you please but there is also no one to take the wheel while you rest. I don’t see well at night and driving on dark highways is very scary and difficult. Not only does sleep want to have its way, but for me, driving on a highway at night is like pushing toward an abyss. I’d rather pull into a rest stop and have an uncomfortable sleep in my car than continue. Sometimes that is exactly what I have done. My car is rather small and not the best for a nights sleep but it does save a lot of money. One advantage of traveling alone is that if you decide to do something weird like sleep in your car, there is no one to tell you that you can’t.

Since taking on a minimalist lifestyle, most of what I own is already in my car. For those who still have a home, a downside of traveling alone is that there is no one to remind you of what you might have forgotten. Even if you make a checklist it’s only going to be as complete as the person who wrote it could think of. Again, it’s all on you.

One thing I don’t really enjoy is sitting in a restaurant by myself. It feels lonely and awkward.  On the other hand, you can eat when, where and what you want. If I am going to stop for a meal I like breakfast the best. I had some really great bagel sandwiches on this last trip. 

The best part of traveling alone is stopping anywhere that looks interesting even if it is not on your agenda. Once I went way out of my way to go check out an area I’d missed only to be disappointed when I got there. I wish I’d had someone to talk me out of that one or at least share the blame. The worst part is that when you see or experience something really cool there is no one with you to share it.  On this last trip I actually stopped a stranger to tell him how awesome a sight was. He probably thought I was nuts.  If not for being able to post on social media allthose moments of “Hey, look at that!” might have been lost.

If I should ever increase the frequency or distance I travel in the future I would seriously think about joining some organization for single travelers. As a rather shy and mostly introverted individual I suspected that I would prefer being alone when traveling. Discovering that I don’t always feel this way is something of a surprise to me. I guess in the long run there will be times for the seclusion of being by myself but also times where I might value the company of other travelers. Perhaps I am not that weird after all. 

Thanks for reading. 

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