Lately, I have been reading various female travel bloggers’ sites after I stumbled across an article about the top solo female travel bloggers to follow in 2015. It has been exhilarating to hear about their adventures and has lured me into planning more and more future trips. As the last six months of freedom are approaching, my stomach is quick to clench in fear at the thought of so little travel time during residency. I keep reiterating over and over again, “You can still take one week vacations here and there,” and “Three to four weeks of vacation a year is enough..” I know my ungrateful mind is already complaining about a decent amount a vacation time, that most people aren’t allotted. I realize that in comparison, I am ranting about nothing. But for someone with an uncontainable amount of wanderlust that never seems to meet its fill, the shocking realization of very few travel days for the next three years is quite depressing. Whitney and I have already started planning one week long vacations, and not surprisingly, in one ten minute conversation, we had already listed more than ten places that fit the time crunch.
While we were planning, we discussed the pros and cons of solo versus companion travel. I know that for some people, travel isn’t travel unless they are unattached and free to roam in whichever city for however long they want. They cringe at the thought of another person encroaching on their travel peace, and although they appreciate travel partners at times, readily prefer the art of meandering alone. And more power to them! It is admirable and fearless, without a doubt. But I, for one, can’t imagine traveling completely solo. Sure, I have done various trips where I don’t know anyone, but I am still in a group setting. I am still traveling with the same 10-20 people for the allotted time. It is easy to lean across the bus aisle and ask if they want to join you for dinner, or see a specific site the next day. And although I made do with that situation, I still wholeheartedly prefer traveling with a friend or partner. I love staring in awe at an impressive piece of architecture or majestic mountain with a huge smile plastered on my face, while I contemplate just how magnificent and beautiful the world is. I love that moment of perfect tranquility and beauty, that I can feel radiating within me. I love that warm and fuzzy feeling inside, but I also love appreciating such beauty and then reveling in that beauty with someone else. I love leaning over to Whitney and saying “Can you believe something like this even exists??” The shared experience is something that we can revisit together once we have resettled at home, as we flip through the scrapbook marveling at pictures, thinking… “How are we so lucky?” For me, memories of distant places and crazy experiences are so much more vivid when I have shared it with someone else.
As I was pondering solo versus companion travel, I set on a remembrance trail of my past trips.
Aran Islands, Ireland: A mystical and speedy 10 day road-trip tour of Ireland, from Galway to Dublin to many, many towns all beginning with “Kil-” An incredibly green country with steep cliff faces, dropping into roaring seas.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona: One of the many pit-stops along our two week long road trip across the Southwest. The slot canyons are molded by flowing water and sunlight filters through these narrow crevices illuminating striking colors.
Canyonlands National Park, Utah: Another stop on the above stated road trip. Situated right next to Arches National Park outside of Moab, Utah.
Rome, Italy: Of course, everyone knows the Coliseum. This night in particular was so much fun, skipping around the beloved Italian city by moonlight.
Florence, Italy: Whitney and I always end up climbing to the top of cathedrals, wherever we go. And reaching the top of the Duomo was no easy feat. It was scorching hot in mid June, and the narrow steps with low ceilings made wiggling through slightly difficult.
Ephesus, Turkey: As part of Turkey-Greece-Italy tour, we visited many ancient Turkish and Greek sites. Ephesus was so majestic and well-preserved. I can’t imagine visiting a library like this, so many years ago.
Halong Bay, Vietnam: A junk-boat cruise around Halong Bay that was stopped short due to a typhoon… womp, womp! I loved the floating villages sparsely situated among the steep rock faces. We walked through a cave within the bowels of one of these islands.
Chennai, India: Who doesn’t get henna in India?? Whitney and I volunteered in a shelter for women with mental health issues for two weeks in Chennai. We loved the street food in India, like the sugar cane juice and samosas. India is one of the countries that we need to revisit. It has so many jewels to discover and we could always eat more delicious Indian food.
Inca Trail, Peru: This was day one of the trek. Magnificent views like the one above accompanied us the entire trek. We had so much fun hiking and camping with three of our school friends, as well.
Barcelona, Spain: La Sagrada Familia… incredible and innovative. We toured this beauty after a rambunctious bike ride and bar hop in town the day before.
Lucerne, Switzerland: Mt. Pilatus’s spectacular train ride on the steepest train tracks in the world.
Paris, France: Musee d’Orsay. Whitney and I love visiting museums. We have spent countless hours in art museums all over the world and we never tire of it.
Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia: After a rocky 10+ hour bus ride to Siem Reap, with flat tire fiasco and all, we were so stoked to finally reach the picturesque temples of Cambodia.
These are but few of the thousands of pictures I have culminated over the years of travel. I can’t wait to continue expanding this photography humbo-jumbo with future destinations that I hope to discover. So far, some of the potential vacations during residency include: diving in Belize, Iceland road trip, Galapagos Islands, San Francisco with a road trip along the Pacific Coast, and exploring Canada.
I love traveling for so many reasons.. the inspiration, the beauty, the culture, the joy of hearing different languages spoken all around you, the freedom in spreading your wings to fly, and the chance to charter new experiences. Travel has opened doors to new foods, jumping out of planes, repelling down waterfalls, riding motorcycles, and crashing family Christmas parties. Travel gives me strength to overcome long-held fears and constantly questions me to ask, “Why not?”
So my friends, move onwards and forwards to travel in whichever modality you prefer: solo or companion, and do so with gusto.