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Traveling Solo

Over the past few months we have met many solo travelers in their RVs. Some roam with a distinct purpose such as work, to avoid the snow, or to visit family. For others the purpose is less clear: they roam for the joy of it, to escape something, to explore. But in common the solo travelers seem very fulfilled, and none have ever seemed lonely.

So for this reason I wanted to try a bit of solo Airstreaming myself. I am not moving around this week, due to being busy with work, but I am alone while Eleanor and Emma are visiting Vermont. I have been interested in finding out how the solo experience feels.

When we were at Manatee State Park a couple of weeks ago, I met a fellow who was in his 50s, retired, gregarious, and yet fairly lonely. He volunteered at the park to fill his time, and chatted up anyone who walked by. He was interested in our travels and said he’d like to travel the country in an RV as well. So I asked him what was stopping him.

“I think I’d be lonely,” he admitted. He was afraid that traveling alone would be an isolating experience. I think he pictured himself in remote spots, with no one nearby. But the reality of traveling this way is that you are usually surrounded by people who are sharing the experience. It is a conscious effort to slip away and find those moments of true privacy. Even in vast national parks, we meet new people every day and the opportunities to make friendships come regularly.

Quite often we’ve met solo travelers along the road who have linked up with others in the same lifestyle. The road is far from a lonely, isolating experience — it’s a broadening experience in which you cannot help but meet people.

That’s what I told him. And ever since that conversation, I’ve wondered what it would be like to travel without my family along, hoping to meet a special someone. Was I too optimistic in my advice?

I don’t think so. We’ve made dozens of great friends through our Airstream travels, and we correspond with them via email and phone regularly, and visit them all over the country. Tonight, here in Tampa, I invited over two such friends, Brett and Barry, to come over for bachelor night at the campground. I would never have met either of these guys if it weren’t for Airstreaming, and they are close friends now.

Tampa grilling.jpg

So what better way to celebrate the bonds of brotherhood than with a $4.99 disposable grill and a few cheeseburgers? Brett brought over the ice cream drumsticks, Barry brought his appetite, and then we sat around and talked about the things guys talk about: women, cars, Airstreams, and cheeseburgers. It was a great way to wrap up a busy work week.

While I miss Eleanor and Emma, and talk to them every day on the phone, I can also see the appeal of solo Airstreaming. I have everything to myself, I can keep whatever schedule is convenient, and the efficient space of the Airstream is ideal for one person. If I ever get lonely, there’s always someone nearby to talk to — and if I get bored with my location, I can pack up and move to some place more exciting. It’s much more liberating than sitting in an apartment or house somewhere.

If you are single and thinking about taking to the road, but afraid you’ll feel cut off, don’t be. The world can be your living room. Traveling solo may be the most invigorating thing you’ll ever do.

3 Responses to “Traveling Solo”

  1. Bruno ACCART Says:

    hi rich;
    Don’t forget to take some sand at Tampa’s beach as souvenir…
    i remember this sand was fine and white and the touch as the flour…

    best regards from FRANCE.


  2. Bruno ACCART Says:

    Hi again;
    Hummm….I rectify my last post…The white & fine flour sands is , in fact, at Clearwater, not so far from Tampa; I don’t know if there is this kind of beach at Tampa.But isn’t in this city there are cigars ? may be a visit for you and your friends ?

    Sorry for the sand mistake… i went there when I was 30… glups…


  3. Krista Says:

    Rich – which is Brett and which is Barry? It’s easy to identify Emma and Eleanor! Krista in Ohio