For my birthday this year, I've decided to take a little solo trip to Shanghai.
We actually went there last Christmas, but it was so bitterly cold outside that we didn't get to explore the city as we normally would do. In addition to that, Sean was a walking corpse the last time, suffering from the flu and trying to make the best of it.
Moreover, I'm starting to notice that our time here in Asia is passing quickly. Who knows when I'll have another chance to feed a baby panda in China or ride an elephant in India? If there's anything I've learned in the last year, it's that we always have the best intentions of going here or there, but life complications get in the way and we have to act now, especially for obscure places that are once in a lifetime opportunities, which is the kind of travel I really want to do.
So all this is well and good, but it brings me to my big confession to you-- these days or rather since I've been married, I feel anxiety traveling alone. Okay, I've said it.
Now, this discomfort was never a problem in my previous unmarried life. Sure, I always worried about being safe and secure, but even so, I did some pretty crazy things. I hitchhiked in Africa by myself, I walked around the streets of Rome unaccompanied at night, passing by all kinds of leering Italian men, and even somehow survived when my rental car broke down at 10:30 at night, leaving me stranded in the Czech Republic years ago...
So surely, I can handle anything that Shanghai might throw at me, right?
However, my resistance also stems from just WANTING another person, a friend to BE there. This feeling is probably a direct result of marriage and engagement with another person about all the mundane details of our lives together and apart.
But if I'm completely honest with myself, a big part of the thrill of travel for me in my life now is not just the "doing", but the sharing. It's so wonderful to have an experience that's funny or bizarre or even scary with another person. And I love talking with that same person down the road and saying, Do you remember that time we... ?
In my previous life, I would never have anticipated that I would feel this way about travel. Even so, I'm forging ahead and making plans to do some fun things so that I am not really alone. (how can I be in a city with 17 million people?) My plans thus far are to sip tea in an ancient teahouse, join the throngs of people for morning exercises on the Bund, eat famous soup dumplings with a straw, and take a gondola through water village known as the "Venice of Asia". I still feel the anxiety, but I feel excitement too.
So, readers and fellow travelers out there, how do you manage traveling on your own? Do you notice yourself having more fun solo than with others? Can you relate?
BTW, it's not too late to join me for a smattering of soup dumpling-- My trip is Nov 19-22