To Travel Alone Is To Be A Masochist

Travelling far and wide and alone leads you to many people and connections, but you have to break those to move on, and it hurts.

To travel alone is not to be alone. You are in a state of mind that frees you from being hindered by how you thought before; your habits, your routines, your predispositions. You aren’t acting like yourself or whatever that may mean for anybody else. You are just there as a witness to see everything you put yourself to.

When you are alone, anybody around you could be a new friend or experience. The person eating beside you, reading behind you, walking past you right now. All you have to do is say hello.

You learn the most when you are alone, about yourself and everything around you. You put yourself in places that you want to be in, you talk to whom you please and when you please. You cannot do that when you are sharing your time with others.

To travel alone is to experience the world through different lenses, you are just a vessel to accept what you bound into. Anything is an option, everywhere too.

To travel alone is to be less lonely than if you had a companion, and to be more despairingly alone than if you never did.

More lonely as there is no one beside you to share the long moments, less lonely as you will befriend interesting, adventurous strangers everywhere who can be — but it won’t be without strings.

You will begin as a stranger to them, and them a stranger to you, but within two days you will anguish as for a long-lost lover if they leave. You feel so alone, such an outside observer from not having a companion to constantly share your thoughts with, that when someone does temporarily become that companion, you latch onto them as the return of a long lost friend. You speak and treat them as if they have been there your whole life.

Because why not? Everything is so much more intense when you know it won’t last. A summer romance is as fiercely passionate as it is fleeting. You are starved of companionship and sociability and you open completely to them so they may fill that gap.

If you are with them in one place for a while, staying with them for a couple days, a week, then you build a home in them. They become that city to you, them, their friends, the places around. You build habits, routines, familiarity builds. Then, you must leave. As that is what you do, as a traveler.

To travel alone is to decide when you leave and where you go. And with that comes part of the pain. You want to stay because to leave is to leave a home again, a place you could have lived. But you must go on. So it’s of your own free will that you leave this person or these people or this place that you’ve built a home in. To go to another place, and feel once again, the resisting and painful stretch and final wet snap of a bond.

To travel alone is to be a masochist.

Obsessed with ripping yourself to shreds to show who you are and so feel companionship, however brief; gleefully submitting yourself to a repeated kind of torture of searching for a home when you know it will only cut another piece of you to keep. Why do this? Why continue to be caused such pain?

Because, to travel alone is to be in between the cracks of life. You are free from routine, free to enter people’s lives and exit them again, to see the world as an outside observer. To witness and not be witnessed, and to feel that elastic band keeping you home snap and release you, if only for a short while.

A journalist, photographer, designer and traveler, Andrew has hitchhiked over 2,500 miles and written on extreme budget travelling, homelessness, and more.

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