I’m a strong advocate of taking the time to travel solo when one has the chance, and I’d recommend it even more to those with a family, because we all know how hard it is to claim a piece of time and space that is nobody’s but your own when your family became a permanent fixture in your life.
I’m on such trip in Nice, France. A place I chose for no particular reason but for its easy logistics (I got my return flights for a mere €60) and expectation of good weather even in November, and good food. My €450/week apartment is right in the middle of the Old City market, a stone’s throw from the beach. Each morning, when I open the huge window, I get the sun streaming into the living room, and the hustle of bustle of the market below is a remarkably charming tableau that makes me reluctant to get away from my window sill.
And people asked me, what did I do today, where did I go, what I have seen. I said I’m perfecting the art of enjoying doing nothing.
I stay in bed for as long as I want. I have coffee in front of my window watching the world goes by. I have long lunches with wine in the sun. I walk in town aimlessly. I take random public transport. I sit doing absolutely nothing on the beach. I take a nap. I join a class at the local pilates studio. I found my favourite place for cheap comfort food. I ponder. I read. I write. I revive my travel blog. I revive myself.
I have no plans. I have no one to impress about this trip. It’s not on Instagram.
My time is not made of exuberant happiness and awestruck wonderment, but a deep feeling of contentment, a restful peace, and a genuine sensory experience of the place as it happens. It’s ordinary life separated from its worries and rushes.
True, sometimes I feel rather lonely. Eating and drinking alone is never as fun as when you have company, and striking conversation with locals is not easy when your command of the local language is rudimentary, even though, I do get by and learning more each day. But this is also a time to reflect how much do the people in my life means to me, and to think about them in their absence. I miss them as often as I don’t miss them.
When I slow travel, I’m not being somewhere else, I am being someone else. It’s akin to children playing houses, it contains a very liberating element that not only I’m free to explore the landscape, I’m free to explore who I am when nothing is demanded of me.
It makes me happy.