Sunday, September 13, 2015

Thoughts on solo travel

I have my own opinions and observations on this subject, but I'll try to be objective (yeah, right) and pluck ideas solely from the images on these three cards.

Three decks, one question to ponder:
What are your thoughts on solo travel?

1) Tarot Nova ~ IX of Swords

  • Worries about plans, reservations, flights, seat assignments (I'm crazy claustrophobic) can keep you up at night.
  • Cold feet. I shouldn't have done this. I can't afford it. I shouldn't be taking all this time off from work. This is a terrible idea; what was I thinking? 
  • The what-ifs may make regularly scheduled appearances in your impressionable night brain.
    • What if I get lost and no one will help me?
    • I don't speak Italian (German, French, Farsi, Spanish, Hindi...). What if I can't make myself understood?
    • What if I am ill or get injured?
    • What if I hate being alone?
    • What if my house burns down while I'm away?
    • What if someone at home dies and I don't find out about it because my internet connection fails?

2) Silhouettes Tarot ~ 3 Pentacles

  • Your friends and family will be supportive and even delighted that you're brave enough to head out on your own.
  • Try to see things with the fresh eyes of a child.
  • You'll feel like an explorer, climbing new heights and surveying new territory. Right up there with Marco Polo and Jacques Cartier.
  • You can see a lot more of the world around you if you lift off and fly to a new destination.
  • There may be enlightening experiences, encounters with kind strangers that brighten your day.
  • Pack light; you have to lug that junk up hills and down dales. 
  • Jet lag will cease, and your body will once again be in sync with the light of the sun.
  • Each solo trip builds on the one before it; you'll accumulate street smarts and memories. By the time you've saved up your pentacles and head out on your third trip, you'll embark without a backward glance.

3) Byzantine Tarot ~ XII Hanged Man

  • You may feel that your foreign-ness and uncertainty marks you as different, like this upside-down naked guy. You're living one of those dreams where you've arrived, minus your clothes.
    • Take this time to look down at what's beneath your feet: stones that have been trod by pilgrims such as yourself for hundreds of years, or intricate mosaics set into the pavement. Perhaps youll see insects or flowers unknown in your part of the world.
    • Look up! Someone is waving to you from a balcony, you're in the flight path of a low-flying pigeon, that gargoyle looks like your first grade teacher.
  • You needn't get hung up on a set agenda; you are free to change the plan at any time. You're the boss.
  • If you are stuck on language issues, or hot and tired and lost somewhere, hang loose for a while.
    • Take off a layer of clothing (this assumes you have more than one layer on to begin with).
    • Sit on a cathedral step or lean on a fence post, and consult your trusty map.
    • Plop down in a cafĂ©, order something, do some people watching until you're ready to move on.
    • Go into a store, say 'hi' to the proprietor, and point on your map to where you want to go. 
  • If you're a woman travelling alone, there may be areas of the city that are unsafe at night because of unsavoury types hanging around.

Some personal tidbits.
At times, yes, it's a bit lonely. Especially in a romantic city like Venice, where couples (even those who look like they've weathered a few decades together) seem inordinately smitten with each other. This passes as soon as you encounter all those other cranky pairs bickering.
It takes a day or two to settle into a new environment, but then it becomes your own. Be patient.
Journeywoman's newsletter is a great resource for the solo female traveller.
I can't say enough good things about Untours. They've taken me happily and safely to Prague, Budapest, Florence, and Venice.

Happy travels!