@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
It still unnerves some people when they learn a woman is going to be traveling solo. In many respects, I understand their concern. But when I venture out on my own it isn’t some great feminist stance that I don’t need anyone, let alone a man, it’s more that opportunity is available now, and sometimes a teammate, be it a lover or a friend, is unavailable. That your window for opportunity does not align with theirs.
Sure, last year was the worst of times and I slipped into debt and was potentially looking at homelessness, so you may look at me know, about to go on vacation overseas and go, “what?” I’ve paid my debts, and I’m about as steady as I ever was financially (not saying much). I knew this pandemic may allow for some cheap travel to places I’ve dreamed of going. Now, Portugal was never high on that list. But it’s a surfing destination, with promise of consistent, crystal blue waves. As much as I’d love to go to a metropolis, cities still seem best to avoid. A trip to mostly explore the great outdoors? Sign me up.
Any travel, anywhere, alone or with people is not without its dull moments. And dull moments are better than the high anxiety ones or even the downright scary ones. For when you look at anyone’s Instagram about a trip, keep in mind those are their “best of” moments. No travel or vacation is 100% awesome the whole time.
Of course I have travel anxiety. I have anxiety about pretty much everything. I hate the rush to the airport (though, I’m generally at airports like three hours early because of my anxiety which I also hate). I loath the TSA process. I don’t mind being on the airplane (unless I’m next to someone annoying or if my stomach hurts for some reason) because I’m able to sleep and I like to read. Boarding a plane is as irksome for me as it is anyone.
And landing in a country with a different native language as a solo traveler? Without being able to consult the gps on my phone? Fuck yeah that gives me butterflies. However, I know people so crippled by their fear of traveling, they are missing out on so much. The risk/reward here is a no brainer. I’d hate myself if I lived life with the worrier constantly at the wheel. We already fight for it all the time. To not go anywhere because of worry is self robbery.
You don’t think I dread the inevitable neck pain of being on a plane too long?
One of my biggest concerns when traveling is my stomach/bathroom situations. My stomach is horribly weak, and likely made no better by anxiety. I think every time I’ve ever traveled out of the country I’ve gotten diarrhea at some point. I don’t know— the water, food? I have to be vigilant and ready for a bathroom emergency. This unfortunate fact actually makes me like traveling alone. For a long time, a big fear of mine about dating someone is they would notice just how frequently I poop and then be turned off by this. I’ve since realized this is a rather ridiculous reason to be nervous about dating. It actually angers my mom how frequently my dad and I discuss bathroom access. She thinks we’re both certifiably insane. My father and I are firm believers that there is no better way to start the day than pooping so you don’t have to think about potentially pooping anywhere other than your home. This discussion makes my mother frown in disgust, “wow are you guys so obsessed with this!”
Probably my biggest concern about this trip is it’s not really a full blown holiday. I have to work the whole time (this is really the main reason I’m even able to afford this little getaway). I’m sure the wifi situation will be fine. But I do have pangs about not being able to get my work done. The remote worker’s office is wherever there is wifi.
I know there will be people I’ll miss. My brother, especially, since I’ll be staying in a surf hostel and I know everything will remind me of him. There will be moments of laughter I’ll wish my best friends were by my side. There will be moments of beauty, taking in a sunset, I’ll imagine my family by my side. When you travel alone, you will, no doubt, get lonely from time to time. Conversely, I sometimes like very much not having to answer to anyone. The freedom of it. The precious moments with all the versions of yourself. Additionally, you’ll never be more immersed anywhere than traveling alone. The experience among the culture and area will be pure.
That doesn’t mean, however, you shouldn’t always be careful. Traveling without a companion does mean I’ll have to be extra cautious since I’m the only one watching my back. Remember, though, I live and work in New York. I’m no stranger to overwhelming situations. Plus, I’m a hardened cynic who trusts no one.
Leading up to the trip, I open and close my bank account. Can I actually afford this? What if I get stuck there and blow through all my funds? There’s been no point in my life I’ve been without financial stress. And it follows you everywhere. If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you already know how strongly I feel that you can always make more money, you can always get it back— you will never, ever get your time back.
Mosts of the stress I feel is about the actual travel. The plane and getting to the surf hostel, where, I trust I will be surrounded by other chill surfers, looking for a bit of adventure. The point is, I don’t go confidently into everything. Under my knight’s helmet is someone who’s stomach is turning and praying there’s a toilet not too far away. There will be nerves, a stomach ache, counting how much money I’ve spent, missing someone, missing my bed, and hopefully it’s just limited to that. There will also be: blue waves, fortresses on islands, delicious cuisine, adventurers, witnessing things and people new, exploration and inspiration for new chapters in my story. For all that, I am mostly excited.