10 Things I Discovered After 10 Days of Solo Travel

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On January 18, I boarded a flight from São Paulo, Brazil, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Two hours later, Feng and Mark also left Brazil and flew back to Ottawa. That was the plan, not a spur-of-the-moment decision.

After a few days in Argentina’s capital, I travelled to Uruguay, stayed in Montevideo, took a day trip to Punta del Este and now I’m back in Buenos Aires.

So, what did I learn during these first 10 days of solo travel?

  1. Feng and Mark are the only people in the entire world who can take a decent picture of me. DSLRs weren’t designed for selfies and most of the time, I’m not in a quiet place where I can set up the timer and leave the camera where it is, even for ten seconds. Travellers and tourists all seem to use their camera phone. My Nikon is regarded as a weird, old-fashioned clumsy device. Window reflections are my new best friend.
  2. You probably think that I have 24 hours a day of complete self-indulgent freedom but in fact, travelling alone is surprisingly time-consuming since—duh!—you have to do everything alone. Feng and I normally split routine travelling tasks like withdrawing/changing money, finding accommodation and itineraries, buying water and groceries, etc.
  3. People think I’m either Brazilian or Colombian and they are completely shocked when I assure them I’m definitely not.
  4. I don’t get hit on by guys and cat calls aren’t that common. Despite stereotypes, Latin men know where their dick should be—i.e. in their pants, unless otherwise required. I I don’t feel particularly scared or uneasy, it’s not like I’m the only woman walking around in the street, anyway.
  5. Speaking Spanish all the time is kind of weird. It reminds me of when I first came to Canada and couldn’t speak much English—your brain is perpetually trying to process information, looking for the right word, etc. When I’m with Feng and Mark, I use Spanish as a “working language”—I get the info I need and I translate it. But now, I’m just… speaking Spanish, period.
  6. I’ve seen other travellers but I haven’t been very social. At most we had a two-minute chat over directions or travel plans. This is mostly my fault because I’m not staying in hostels—it’s easier to meet people when you sleep in an eight-bed dorm…–but I’m working in the evening and I’d rather book hotels/apartments where I’m alone.
  7. I don’t feel lonely because I have “missions” and plenty to see and do. When I’m sick of wandering around alone, I just go back to the hotel and work for a while. I do interact with many people throughout the day, it’s not like I’m a hermit.
  8. I blend in relatively easily, i.e. people aren’t staring at me wondering what the hell I’m doing here.
  9. I miss Mark a lot when I see other kids. I miss showing him stuff and answering his questions. I miss holding his hand. I chatted with him a few times on Skype and he seemed just fine, which is great—I don’t want him to miss me. I made sure to explain several times before I left that I wasn’t mad at him and Feng, that I was just staying to work, write and because I like hot weather and he seemed okay with this honest explanation but I have no idea what he truly thinks.
  10. I miss Feng’s confidence, his ability to process information and solve problems, and his sense of humour. Hell, I even miss the way he bites his nails when he’s thinking.

And no, the trip ain’t over yet…!

Self portrait, San Telmo, Buenos Aires

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

18 Comments

  1. I never really sat down and thought about how different it is when I travel alone compared to when I travel with Eitan. But now that you mention it, there are differences: he’s more picky when it comes to accommodation compared to me, there’s more people I meet when I am alone because I don’t mind staying in hostels (though this isn’t my first choice anymore), and many others.

    And yes, the trip ain’t over yet! There’s at least one other country involved! 🙂

    • 🙂

      I thought I would meet more people than when I’m with Feng, but in fact, I’m not. It’s definitely the hostel thing, I guess.

      I’m not sure I’m more picky then Feng when it comes to accommodation but we have different priorities. I can live without air-con, he can’t in hot places. I like clean, minimalist places and I hate carpet (because it’s synonym of “dirty hotel” for me). Oh, and I like to have access to a microwave because I usually buy food from supermarkets/bakeries.

    • Ah oui? Dans quoi, par exemple?

      Tu avais mentionné le fait que tu aimais partager tes expériences de voyage, et en fait, je me suis rendue compte que le blog pour moi était cette façon de partager. Même si c’est moi qui parle à moi, ben c’est un moyen de “digérer” ce que je vois et vis, et de réfléchir. Bon, j’aime mieux partager avec quelqu’un en live…

    • Really? Now I have to ask… how would you define a typical Indonesian man? I’m curious! Like what do they like, how do they behave, etc.

      • Indonesia is too big! Multicultural, Hard to define.
        Buat I Imagine you, a white female, travel alone, using tank top and short, most likely you get cat calling. Except may be, In Bali where 1/2 of the visitors are white people.
        my friend who run back home (around 7Km among heavy traffic in the major road) she still get cat calling.
        But of course, there are still a lot who are polite.

        • I think I do get cat calls but I don’t pay attention most of the time and while I don’t enjoy it, they aren’t threatening and they don’t make me feel particularly uneasy, especially from afar. People in Buenos Aires tend to dress up, but in Brazil, everybody is walking around in tank tops and shorts, so that’s pretty normal. I’m not sure I would do it in a Muslim country, though, local customs would be different.

  2. Hello Juliette
    Impossible pour moi de voyager seule, le voyage n’a de sens que si je peux partager avec une personne chère à mon coeur. Par ailleurs, rester plus de deux semaines loin de mon homme et de mes enfants serait un autre problème. Instinct grégaire ou autre chose, je ne sais pas, mais la solitude me pèserait vraiment trop dans un voyage de ce genre.
    Mais tu as l’air de savourer ce voyage, alors profite à fond.
    Cécile

    • Mais j’ai l’impression de partager, et sur le blog et quand on se parle au téléphone ou par courriel 🙂 Franchement, la solitude ne me pèse pas vraiment, car je ne me sens pas seule. Les gars me manquent, mais je ne suis pas “lonely”. Je me sens autrement plus seule au Canada, au creux de l’hiver.

  3. Martin Penwald on

    It’s -34°C since I left Roberts, WI this morning. And just north of I-94 at the border between North Dakota and Minnesota, there is a wind chill warning because it will feel as low as -48°. In case you’re bored with heat.

  4. That’s why I never have any pictures of me, I’m always the one taking them and I don’t do selfies. But I prefer being behind the camera anyway 😉

    • I’d rather be behind the camera as well, but I do enjoy keeping a few pictures of me for memory. You do get used to have your photo taken 😉

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