Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Postcards from a Solo Traveller

Solo Travel Souvenirs 

Cheese and wine from Paris, tea and biscuits from London and a pair of flip-flops from Barcelona when it was simply too hot to wear anything else.

These are the purchases that remind Lynn Clare of the wonderful places she's visited as a solo traveler.

Wherever she goes, she likes to buy something authentic, whether it's something to wear or a local delicacy to treat her taste buds. She used to try to save the latter for the journey back to Denver, but more often than not, she found them too irresistible to resist.

Now Lynn prefers to buy gifts for others. “I love to bring back gifts for my family,” she says. “I usually keep the bag the gift came in as a souvenir; I use it for my future travels, and it always reminds me of the trip where I got it.”

“My grandchildren love hearing about all the places that I visit,” she says. “We try to Skype so they can see a little of it.”

Her passport is full of stamps from New Zealand, Canada and Italy, but her most treasured memories are from her many trips to Ireland.

“The first time I visited, I found that the beauty of the Irish countryside is only surpassed by the kindness of the people,” she says. “I was so touched by the warmth and generosity that after my first visit, I came home and quit my job, so I could spend more time there.”  “That was 10 years ago, and I still go once or twice a year,” she adds.

Lynn's first solo trip outside of the US - over 30 years ago - took her to Mexico. “I did have quite a few reservations initially, but my desire outweighed my fear,” she says. “I planned as much as I could, which helped to alleviate some of the anxiety around things like where I would stay, learning a little Spanish and understanding currency conversion.”

Any concerns that Lynn had previously harboured about travelling alone quickly evaporated. On the flight home, she was already thinking about her next adventure.

With each trip, Lynn grew in confidence, gradually venturing further afield. “I kept having such a fantastic time that it gave me the confidence to travel alone anywhere in the world,” she says.

Anyone who has travelled alone will likely recognize the newfound confidence that Lynn describes.

It can be an intoxicating feeling, but Lynn has been careful not to let this feeling turn into overconfidence, particularly when visiting countries where the culture is very different.

“Some destinations are not what you are expecting, and that can be challenging,” she says. “I have to reset my expectations very quickly, so I can enjoy whatever environment I find myself in. That can be great fun as long as I stay flexible.”

“It's very important for women to stay safe while travelling,” she adds. “You must stay aware of your surroundings, protect your personal information and belongings, and always let someone know where you are.”

For peace of mind, Lynn always chooses to stay at a hotel with a restaurant on site. When eating out, she's careful not to become easily distracted, and whenever she feels uncomfortable about booking a table for one, she simply orders room service.

That's not to say that Lynn feels uncomfortable very often. Having found a way that works for her, the experience of dining out in a restaurant on her own is now one of her greatest pleasures.

Now, she always allows herself at least one night to dress up and indulge in the local cuisine, sharing pleasantries with her fellow diners or simply enjoying some peace and quiet.

The whole experience of travelling alone is one that Lynn finds to be liberating. “I have travelled solo most of my adult life, and I just love the freedom of it,” she says. “I have always enjoyed seeing new places and meeting new people, so I take trips near and far at every opportunity.”

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