On Not Belonging, or Why I’m Definitely Through with Solo Travel

September 30, 2015

Walking around any major city at night is something I’d recommend to newbie travelers. Although you’re sure to encounter traces of home, like a Little Caesar’s Pizza across from a Starbucks advertising pumpkin spice lattes, they might be in the shadow of a thousand-year-old mosque, or inside the Louvre. Little things stand out: the types of street food popular in respective countries, from muscles with a splash of lemon in Turkey to takoyaki in Japan.

However, I’m reaching a breaking point in my experience as an independent traveler. I haven’t blogged about it, because I’m still pretty emotionally torn up, but the beginning of this trip saw my heart shredded into a million pieces, my soul snuffed out, and both had me considering whether I would just stay in Seattle rather than hop another border as a solo traveler. This was to be our first trip to her home country, and the first time she would have the chance to play the guide and show me what it was like growing up in Istanbul. That prospect vanished a few days before my flight was set to depart.


It’s a few weeks later. I’m glad I took the leap, but I don’t think I’ll do it again.

I used nearly all my IHG, Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt points to sleep at hotels in Turkey and Greece. These stays were spent (mostly) by myself. I got outside in Athens to see the Acropolis, as I did in Istanbul to take a boat tour and visit the Haggia Sophia, but by and large, I had only my own thoughts to keep me company… and I just can’t do it anymore.

I can’t fly into a different country or city and not see a friendly face waiting for me. I’m tired of chatting up strangers at bars in distant lands and hoping to make more than a casual connection. This mentality is going to hurt my chances of ever finding friends and lovers in the long run, but at the moment, I can’t seem to care.

It’s more than my recent breakup. It’s more than money. It may be my perspective after enough experience on the road. Instead of using my last day to explore Istanbul, I’m sitting in the Hyatt lounge writing up these blogs, wondering why I came to this city, knowing there was no one here for me. Even those evening strolls I recommend all travelers take remind me of how alone I am, no matter what city I choose; couples walk along the same streets, but they can look into each other’s eyes and find comfort. I see them and find anything but solace.

I’m making a promise to myself to not travel alone. Ever again. Business is one thing. Moving abroad is also another story. But taking vacations, weekend trips…? They’re too painful to do solo.

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