Solo Travel: A Chronology

Panama solo travel

Solo travel is a revelation for control freaks independent people like me. No negotiating itineraries or budgets; far more space to meet new people and also slip out of town when said people get clingy.

You may not be able to split costs, but you’re more likely to get treated to dinner or get a houseguest invitation. Actually being in the photos you take is a challenge, but I’m convinced that the creator of the selfie stick is one of us: the few, the proud, the more likely to get bumped up to first class.

Traveling, I have found myself, lost myself, become entirely sick of myself, and always, as is most important on any modern trip, strategically recreated the best parts (and removed the worst) for social media posting.

Thus, a chronological summary of the solo and single-life trips that shaped me, generalized for your identification-slash-empathy:

The Summer Trip to Visit Dad in California. In the eighties, it was all good to put a six-year-old on a plane one row away from the smoking section. All good, the pilots give out wing pins!

The First Time at Summer Camp. What do you mean I have to share a cabin with a bunch of other girls? I’m an only child! Do you know who I am?! Parents pick you up the following day; never return to camp again as a child.

The Study-Abroad. After which your family has to grit their teeth and pretend to care for the following month while you insist on eating gazpacho and rolling your eyes about how new all our buildings are.

The Oh My God I Moved to New York City. First year: return home every holiday, even if just for a three-day weekend, and take the cheapest flight available, even if it’s a layover that adds four hours to the trip.

The Party People Trip. From Spring Break to bachelorettes, the main criteria for these getaways are: where are they serving lots of alcohol on the cheap? Where can you get laid relatively easily? Where can you eat or beach off blended-drink hangovers without judgement?

The We Can’t Afford to Go Anywhere But We’re Still Getting The Hell Out Of Here. Go to Puerto Rico with five friends, split everything, date cute surfer who is probably also the local drug dealer. Also see: summer shares.

The Summer Share. Forget you’re out of college and travel three hours every other Friday to sleep in bunk beds, get either sunburned or mosquito bitten or both, and suspend belief that your summer fling will be sustain past September.

The I Can Go By Myself! Work to the point of insanity and wait until last minute to schedule vacation, therefore running out of potential travel buddies, and randomly book a solo trip to Mexico. Epiphany: you can travel alone and it’s AMAZING. If only you had more time…

The Just Got Laid Off and Never Did The Whole Backpacking Europe Thing. You get exactly what you asked for, running out of pages in your passport. Stay with family in Amsterdam. Beer trip through Belgium. Whirlwind through Paris. Eat and drink through Tuscany. Return broke but triumphant.

The First Time in a Third World Country. Guys, we have it so good. We don’t even realize how good we have it. I’m never complaining about anything again. NEVER.

The Girls’ Weekend. Brought to you by wine!

The Destination Wedding For Which You Wait Until the Last Minute to RSVP. Will you have a date? Will you be able to afford it? Who cares — it’s so much easier to justify a trip to Greece/Tulum/New Orleans when you obligated to go.

The Annual Wedding Weekend. Just kidding! All your friends get married the exact same year. Kiss your other vacation plans (not to mention, savings account) goodbye.

The Let’s Pretend We Like This Job More Than We Actually Do. Company plans a weekend getaway as a “team building” event aka it’s cheaper to lock you in a cabin for the weekend than to give you a raise. Trip will also be sold to job candidates as innovative bonus and evidence of hip company culture.

The Adult Summer Camp. Compact the entire college partying experience you missed into one weekend. Hope no one remembers anything past sunset.

The #WorkingFromMexico. Find winter deal on beach-adjacent condo with wifi; realize the most valuable benefit of working for yourself.

The Meditation Retreat. Realize that in your thirties, it may behoove you to find a focus for travel that does not include partying. Reach enlightenment (until Monday).

The First Romantic Weekend Away Together. You know the main benefit of this trip is to tell friends that you went away together — obviously it’s true love! You also know that more than three days might end the relationship.

The Oh My God I Moved Away From New York City. First year: find excuses to go back every three months, even if just for a three-day weekend, take the fastest flight available, and crash with the friends who made all your previous trips absolutely worth it.

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