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I frequently highlight great award availability — special airline products that are hard to get, miles that are hard to use — but I pretty much never write about it when only one seat is available. I need a minimum of two seats available the majority of a month before it makes sense to me to post. Even if one Qantas first class award seat Dallas – Sydney were showing up every single day I might or might not give it a miss.
And that’s a mistake. More people live alone, more people are unattached, and more people say they need time alone than ever before. In my younger years, before I met my wife, I used to spend hours on my own reading in Starbucks or walking in the mall, but I never traveled on my own unless it was traveling to see people. Today I actually do enjoy the peacefulness of being surrounded by strangers during business travel.
New York Times columnist Stephanie Rosenbloom’s Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude is out today. (The paperback comes out June 14.)
I’ve known Stephanie for about six years and had a chance to read the book last month. And she makes a great case for experiencing things on your own, getting out of your comfort zone and enjoying the present moment in unfamiliar places.
She spent four seasons in four cities enjoying dining and museums and window shopping in Paris; a grenade and shots fired west of her hotel in Istanbul; unplugging and pondering the nature of off season in Florence; and heading home to New York City where her alone time in other places trained her to appreciate her own home town.
Traveling with others means connecting with others, sometimes to the exclusion of the places and people you encounter abroad.
Alone you can pick through sidewalk crates of used books without worrying you’re hijacking your companion’s afternoon or being judged for your lousy idea of a good time. You need not carry on polite conversation. You can go to a park. You can go to Paris.
Alone time is selfish, it’s self-indulgent. Sometimes that’s ok, sometimes it’s necessary, and if you’re already alone you might as well be at least some of the time.
Stephanie combines social science research and personal experience into a fantastic narrative that I enjoyed reading — and reminded me that many readers are probably traveling on their own so award availability may be useful even when it’s not wide open for the whole family.
And she offers a full section at the end with tips for traveling alone — dining, striking up conversations with locals — staying productive — and for traveling alone as a female, with is own set of issues (safety).
Whether you’re looking for inspiration traveling alone, advice on how to make the most of it, or pondering whether it’s right for you this is a great book to pick up and read the next time you have a few minutes of alone time.