Hella radical self-reliance

Traveling alone really means watching and having your own back–everything from making sure you don’t forget your passport somewhere (LNT!) to solving any problem that comes up to taking care of your own sanity/health. I’m just beginning, but am building new habits to double check my gear, find my way through unfamiliar places, and make new friends-of-the-moment. Not assuming anyone else will take care of me; there is responsibility in this, but I am discovering also power.

I will admit that couples have already started to annoy me. They have things so easy! They share the logistics and cost, have a built in social safety net, never need to worry about being alone. But by this default they are so insular and solitary in their coupledom. So far I love the more open hostel lifestyle and wish I had partaken in it more when I had the opportunity on past trips even when I was traveling in a couple. C’est la vie, and I am taking the chance now.

6 thoughts on “Hella radical self-reliance

  1. Erin:
    Glad to hear you are enjoying traveling solo. I was surprised at your “insular” description of couples traveling, however. Have you never traveled with your dad??! We even picked up hitchhikers! 🙂



  2. Gautam hates the numeral 2. He thought it dominated our social life in SF (it did), and would routinely get grumpy about it. He would also agree that it makes people cliquey and boring and “safe” when on the road. We try to stay in hostels wherever we can — but in addition we have both done a LOT of travel separately from each other, even in our 5+ years together (him to W Europe, Australia, Chile, Antarctica, Brazil, Burma; me to Bermuda, Italy, Belgium, Greece). Still, I do wish we had socialized more when we travelled together; we tended to go with other couples or just by ourselves and it did get insular. This year Gautam is travelling in groups, but because they are motley groups, not well-formed ones or groups of couples, that allows for new conversation and experiences while providing a safety net, logistical economies, company when you're bored, etc…. Although he is realizing he might actually want me along for some of it 🙂

    Loving the blog, as predicted. I wish you all the power you want, and all the company you need. xoxo



  3. Double thumbs-up on the group hostel thing. I really should have stayed in areas with more people instead of camping alone in New Zealand. The one night I stayed in a hostel I ended up having fun conversations with a Dutch couple and their 2-year-old, two highschoolers and their mom from Philly, and practiced my 汉语 with a couple of 中国人.

    And I'm not even a cute female, which would have made it even easier to socialise! 😛

    PS: Don't forget to do something for Burnal Equinox! Get toothpicks. Construct half a little man. Burn him.


  4. It is definitely an easy trap to fall into. Sometimes travel as a couple can be lovely and romantic, but other times–especially on long treks, I think–it is so healthy to branch out. But it takes discipline to do so! Sounds like you guys are aware, figuring things out for yourselves, and testing out new dynamics. GT's travels this year sound like a blast; glad to hear you might get the chance to join the motley crew. 🙂

    I'm finding that I actually LOVE being a third wheel with non-romantic couples. They tend to be quite open to taking on another person, probably enjoy the variety a third provides, already have a good dynamic, and I get to meet twice the people as matching up with another solo. It's the best!


  5. One of my only serendipitous group travel days was with two girls I met in Rome in 2008 (when I was solo there, before Gautam showed up for part 2 of the vacation). We had *such* a fun evening + dinner together, we three. Shannon, Sara, Sim. Good times! I've had a couple of other one-on-one “new friend while on the road” experiences but I think the other advantage of three's is that there are 3 different one-on-one relationships to cultivate so it makes for more variety and interchange whereas if you strike out with a new buddy you're kind of stuck with them 😛 Looks like your group-of-three outing to the cenotes was tons of fun! I am not joining GT's travels — which I think might be wrapping up actually — but would love to see if I can possibly join yours. xoxo


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