This weekend’s release of the movie Eat, Pray, Love has unleashed a mountain of travel stories in the news media, mostly written by women who have jogged around the globe for months at a time by themselves. I am the first one to advocate such behavior. I do not believe you need a partner to enjoy traveling.
That said, I wonder how many women have read these same news stories over the last week and thought, ‘Fine for her, but I would never gallivant around by myself. Too frightening.’
Even my independent spirit falls into that category. I easily identify with Rosalba, the main character in my favorite Italian movie, Bread and Tulips. In the story, frumpy housewife Rosalba is accidentally left behind by her family at a rest stop while on vacation. Instead of waiting for them to pick her up, she hitch-hikes to Venice, Italy and meets new characters along the way. She soars in her new-found independence but there are moments when it suddenly hits – Oh God, I’m alone. NOW what?
While I have traveled overseas “by myself” in the past, I was never alone for very long. I have been on three Rick Steves tours, two of which I traveled without a partner. But the security of being with a group heightened my travel experience because I was comfortable. If you are independent, a tour with loose rules and minimum group tour time is a great alternative. I look for tours that offer a few hours of tour highlights, and then free time each day, with bonus free days included. If you want to skip the tour that day or skip dinner with the group, more power to you. The beauty of this type of tour is the complete independence or complete tour structure you crave. The choice is yours.
I cringe when movies portray travel situations that I am willing to bet a small percentage of women would never consider. That’s not what solo travel is like for most of us. But there are plenty of good tour options for even the most adventurous at heart who want to eat, pray, and love every minute of it.