This will most likely end up being part one of not only this list but a whole host of other lists on seemingly related topics. What can I say? I just love lists. They are the written form of the unequivocally British queue.
1. Nobody else gets to decide what to do with the day. The agenda belongs to you and you alone.
2. If you’re a bit tired and altogether done with being a tourist, you don’t need to explain this with limp excuses of “even though it’s a one hour time difference I think I’ve got jet lag, it’s all just catching up with me”. You just go have a nap.
3. In a similar vein, if you want to go to bed early after one can of cider so you can finish your book and be well rested for all the activities you have planned for the next day, this is also absolutely fine.
4. If you’re alone, it’s much easier to slide unnoticed into a crowd and get, as cliched as it sounds, a truer experience of the country you’re pretending is yours for a few days.
5. Being forced to do alone all the things which would normally be done in tandem with others makes you really appreciative of your own company. People are quite annoying as it turns out.
6. I’ve discovered that I’m not really that into having dinner with people. What on earth is good about watching another human shovel food into their face? What could be less fun than desperately trying to find slurping, open-mouthed chewing due to an animated conversational peak cute? It isn’t cute and I hate paying for food knowing that I’ve not enjoyed eating it.
7. I am consistently irritated by how little time I get to spend reading. When I was younger I had absolutely no shame in simply ignoring the people around me and sticking my nose into a book. Turns out that travelling alone is the adult version of this. Eschewing all company but that of my chosen literary hero for the day is nothing short of sublime.
8. Ever found yourself on the irritable side of tired? Snapping at every little thing in a desperate effort to make the people around you as miserable as you are? When you’re alone, the only person you have to make miserable is yourself which soon snaps you out of any “scratchy behaviour”, as my mum calls it. What’s the point in pissing yourself off?
1. Bagging a table at a crowded restaurant or bar then realising with a swift slide of dread that you have to go to the bar to place your order is endlessly infuriating. Leaving my possessions at a table in order to maintain its position as “mine” is not something I’m comfortable with. Hospitality needs to come up with a solution for this and sharpish.
2. Two for one discounts and splitting a bill are now no longer an option. If you want something you’re forced to pay for (and in my case most likely consume) all of it whether you want to or not. I’m from Yorkshire and have grown up with the mentality that it’s better to leave a table so stuffed that you’re at the point of nausea and vertigo than to waste food.
3. No matter how much I try, I cannot rub sun cream onto my own back. It just doesn’t work. I don’t even think that if I did yoga for a year and became a rubber band that I’d be able to achieve this. Sad fact of life: people travelling alone will end up with burnt shoulderblades if it is sunny and they wish to be outside.
So far, in my limited experience, the good massively outweighs the bad and I am a very long way from being done with travelling alone.
I’ve loved Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There for as long as I can remember so here I am, making my own notes on the countries that I’ve visited. And let me tell you something, I’m having the best time.