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Jul. 23 2010 - 1:06 am | 36 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

The Pleasure Of Solo Travel

Cover of "Come, Thou Tortoise"

One of my vacation reads. Loved it!!! Cover of Come, Thou Tortoise

There are couples who boast that they have never spent a night apart.  Cue violins!

I think: Shoot me. Just shoot me.

I think every long-term couple needs serious time apart. Granted, this is much more difficult if you have kids, especially  very small ones, when time without another person’s labor can feel like drudgery.

I am home now in NY after 14 days away from the sweetie. He couldn’t pick me up at the airport because he was working, but I came home to flowers and, while away, to a half-bottle of champagne sent to my hotel room.

My Vancouver room, at the Sylvia (go!), was barely 150 square feet, but bright, airy, quiet — perfect for one person. The beach was, literally, across the street. (And, of course, turned out my grandmother lived there when it was still an apartment building; built in 1911, it’s a Vancouver landmark.)

While away, I did a variety of things I love to do, some of which he hates. (And vice versa.)

He hates crowds so, last night, alone, I sat for 5.5 hours (yes, really) on the beach awaiting the U.S. entry in Vancouver’s annual fireworks festival. I wanted a good spot; by the time it began at 10:00 p.m., some 200,000 people had joined me. I read, slept, listened to music, read, slept, watched all the people around me.

I sat still. I don’t think I’ve ever just sat anywhere in New York, ever, for 5.5 hours without moving. Or, more to the point, feeling restless or bored or that I should be doing something. Vancouver is a city jammed with slim, blond, lithe folk. I saw no one one obese and few over 30. Everyone’s in spandex or on a bike or roller-blading. And, even mid-week, many people were on the beach.

Doing a lot of nothing productive, for once, meant I fit in right in. Whew. I can’t wait to go back and do a lot of nothing again, soon.

I spent six days with my Mom; as her only child, she likes my undivided attention. She whipped me at gin rummy; I beat her at Scrabble. Competitive, us?

Instead of reading three papers a day and listening to the radio and TV, I listened to music and scanned a few papers. I read three lovely novels: Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin, The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald (a Canadian writer) and Come, Thou Tortoise by Newfoundland writer Jessica Grant.

I liked “Brooklyn”, and loved the others. As a Canadian, I really enjoyed the many references that resonated for me, whether the name of a colored pencil set or landscapes I know well.

I went out for dinner with Colin Horgan, a fellow True/Slant writer whom I’d never met before, a brave move on both of our parts — what if we were bored? Or awful in person? We had a terrific Indian meal and a great time.  Solo vacations are all about adventure and meeting new people without the easy out and familiar comfort of your partner.

The sweetie played a lot of golf and watched the Golf channel uninterrupted and worked hard and caught up with his friends. We spoke  and emailed — and missed one another.

When you’re partnered, do you go away on your own? Do you enjoy it?


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  1. collapse expand

    Agreed – obviously! I always seem to meet people when I’m traveling that I end up keeping in touch with for some time. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

  2. collapse expand

    I recently wrote a blog post on solo travel too :)
    A little but different but I thought I would share the link anyways:
    http://mtrip.me/4m

  3. collapse expand

    Traveling in solo is nice because you’ll be able to spend time with your self alone, discovering things, meeting people, but of course before doing that make sure you have all book specially if you plan to travel out of the country.

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    Former reporter and feature writer for the Globe and Mail, Montreal Gazette and the New York Daily News. Winner of a Canadian National Magazine Award (humor) about -- what else -- my divorce. I've been writing frequently for The New York Times since 1990 on almost any subject you can think of -- yup, I'm a generalist. Author of "Blown Away: American Women and Guns" (Pocket Books 2004). Canadian born, raised and formally educated, I've lived in New York since 1989.

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