10 upsides and 10 downsides of travelling alone

Jet lag sucks big ones. I’ve just arrived home to my little hippie town after an epic trip to New York, which was part business, part pleasure. Now that I’m home, I will soon go back to paying out on life in my town making intelligent and entertaining social commentary about life in my town.

But before I do, here’s a post I prepared earlier. I tapped this one into my iphone while guzzling beer in the 35-degree heat at St Mark’s Ale House in the East Village (I’m always drawn to the grittier areas when I travel for some reason… I just feel more comfortable with the seedy than the swish. It seems like there’s more soul there. Give me the Lower East Side over Park Avenue any day).

Anyway, I wanted to share some travel insights with y’all, that I gathered during a week in New York all by myself. Let’s start with the positives…

10 upsides of travelling alone:

1. You go where you want, when you want. Gold.

2. You can lie to the locals about where you’re from and what you do.

3. You don’t have to arm wrestle your travel partner for the first shower/use of toilet/last chip.

4. You make more effort to chat to people (they’ll often buy you drinks when they find out you’re a famous actor from Australia).

5. You don’t get sick of the company (unless you’re a Kardashian).

6. You wee and eat on your own watch. Want to count that beer you had at 3pm as a late lunch or an early dinner? Fine by you.

7. You are infinitely more observant and take way more in (because you’re not listening to your friend whinge about their sore feet or how they’re sick of having beer for lunch).

8. You get to spend uninterrupted time eavesdropping on people’s private conversations (a highly recommended way to get to know the locals).

9. You never have to compromise.

10. You grow stronger in your own identity, because you overcome your fear of looking like a Nigel No Friends if you go out to dinner or to a club by yourself. It’s an essential life skill, learning not to care (too much) about what other people think of you, and it’s helpful to practice it in a foreign land, around people you will never seen again.

10 downsides of travelling alone:

1. There is no one to share the experience with, and that is downright sad.

2. You sometimes feel self-conscious in restaurants and bars. You may wonder if people think you’re a prostitute. Or, you may find yourself getting into a futile argument with the too-cool-for-school waitress who tells you the tables out the front are only for two or more people, and that you (LLLLOSER!) have to sit down the dingy side alley with the drunks and the homeless people, who are better company anyway.

3. You can’t split costs.

4. The only perspective you get on a place is your own, and if you’re a boring person, that sucks.

5. You only exist as a head and neck in all your photos… some only half a head or just a double chin.

6. You can’t get your friend to mind the table while you order food or go and score some crack.

7. You can’t hit your friend up for money when you run out.

8. You become schizophrenic and hear conversations and songs replaying over and over in your head. My brain had the Blondie song Union City Blue on high rotation for seven days straight.

9. You can’t dump the blame on someone else when things go wrong.

10. You may, at times, feel a little lonely. That’s OK. It’s normal. Just acknowledge what’s coming up for you, accept you are feeling lonely and breathe through it. Or, if that doesn’t work, go to the pub and get smashed.

In summation: travelling to New York alone was a character-building experience. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I had an insane amount of fun, spent a lot of time looking upwards and thinking, holy crap that thing is HUGE.

But next time, I’ll bring a friend or a loved one, because ultimately, it’s nice to share.

25 thoughts on “10 upsides and 10 downsides of travelling alone”

  1. also point; 2. You can lie to the locals about where you’re from and what you do. Will see you come undone at some point en route. I was only trying to protect you – you know!

  2. hiya leigh! loving your little skewed view on the world!
    i have a downside to travelling with a friend in new york….you have to take shedloads of piccies of them humping (and being humped) by the Naked Cowboy. I got so over it that I told her my camera battery had died. me = bad friend


    1. Hey Kazza, that’s funny! I don’t get why they call him the naked cowboy when he’s wearing undies! But yeah, I can imagine taking pics of your friend humping him would get a bit old! Thanks for commenting. L

  3. no probs and i also wanted to let you know that i went back to playa del carmen and it is unrecognizable…in a bad way. i didn’t really enjoy it at all although that water is still an amazing blue

    1. Oh how sad Kazza. It was perfect when we were there 15 years ago. I loved it back then. When did you go back there? I’m still in touch with a friend I knew there. An Argentinian girl called Ines. She stayed and became a diving instructor, then got into property management. But now she’s moved to San Miguel and opened a clothes store. I’d still like to go back one day. Lx

  4. I loved the photos you took of yourself enjoying the sites, Leigh.
    In fact they are absolutely essential, otherwise you could have just been hiding out in Nambour, pretending big time.

  5. Hiya
    I was there for my BIG birthday in June. We did a mad trip – NYC (love East Village and Brooklyn too), Nashville, Memphis, hired a car and did a road trip on the Blues Highway down through Mississippi and Louisiana to New Orleans, then flew via Miami to Mexico and then revisted all my old haunts from all those years ago. We also went to San Miguel. It is a fantastic little town and wish I had known that Ines was there as I do remember her…. I have a photo of the four of us looking fabulous outside the Blue Parrot. It is still there but surrounded by horrible nightclubs. It is best to remember how it was.

    ps Ren has convinced me to put up some pics of the trip so here comes some major photoshop retouching this weekend 🙂

  6. Wow, that sounds like a wicked trip! Who did you go with? I don’t think I have that photo of us with Ines. Would love to see it. She is a gorgeous girl. She would have welcomed you with open arms. I remember the Blue Parrot but how said it’s surrounded by tackiness. I thought they weren’t going to wreck Playa del Carmen. Sad, sad, sad. Hopefully it’s not as bad as Cancun…

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