Sometimes we hit the road without needing to know where it leads, it is enough just to know that we would wake up in the morning under a different sky.
Maugham, a famous English writer, traveled to the Pacific to collect stories about the life of the artist Paul Gauguin, and to write “The Moon and Sixpence”. At 17, Paul Gauguin travelled around the world for a year, and throughout his life, continued to travel and painted many invaluable works of art, including “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” A representation of the philosophy of life.
My favorite author is Dr. Nguyen Phuong Mai, who wrote “I am a donkey” and “Islamic Roads”. When asked why she is often absent from her university teaching job, her answer was memorable: “My job is to travel so I don’t fill up with moss because who would want to be taught by me then?”
Besides journeys that were intended to benefit other people; like those of Dr. Phuong Mai, Maugham or Gauguin, young women are often fascinated by journeys for a personal reason, such as embarking on a solo trip to mend a broken heart.
Sometimes people hit the road without needing to know where it leads, it is enough to just know that they would wake up in the morning under a different sky. I was impressed by the two main characters; Amanda and Iris, in the movie “The Holiday”. They are polar opposites, sharing only one common bond – their broken relationships and a wish to escape their current locale. I still remember an online exchange they shared:
Amanda and Iris are two totally different characters. The only things they have in common is that they both feel like failures and are both looking for a new place to live. After one of them expressed some interest in an online exchange, they had a conversation that I will remember forever.
Amanda: Are there any men in your town?
Irish: Honestly? Zero.
Amanda: When can I come?
Irish: Tomorrow too soon?
Amanda: Tomorrow’s perfect.
Using their breakups as a landmark, single women often use this as a starting point to travel down a new path. They may visit Barcelona to learn Spanish to achieve their goal of speaking the U.N.’s 6 official languages, they may visit Cuba before the Americans start pouring in, or they might visit Africa to fulfill their sense of adventure in the world’s widest lands. Too many destinations call their names, and all are so tempting.
One of the best things about solo travel is that you don’t have to compromise. You can be completely yourself – you can wake at noon if you wish, you can wear exactly what you want, you can lie around reading all day in a hotel, or you can set aside your planned itinerary to stop for a while longer at an inspiring café.
The most interesting thing about solo travel is that you never know where the road will lead you.
Here’s a story about my friend who met a foreign tourist on Tinder during his time in Vietnam.
After only about a week of talking, they found themselves spending time together every day, despite their busy schedules. From a small restaurant in the Old Quarter, he shared a photo of his “bun cha”, which he calls a “snack”, and she sent back a photo of her black coffee, which she was enjoying at small café near her home.
She answered his questions: “What is the long pipe that Vietnamese men smoke on the streets?”, and in return, he taught her the slang from his home country. One day, he confessed to her that he no longer wanted to continue his journey, but wished to travel to her city, simply because he felt that he needed to see her before he went home.
Every girl will be moved by words like this. Myself, I always hope for love confessions like the one from Bobby to Vonnie in “Café Society”: “If I was your boyfriend, I would not travel, or if I did, I would take you with me.”