My favorite journeys have been the solo, mindful kind where I’ve gone off the beaten track and seen places and met people I’d never have done otherwise. (In India, so far, I’ve only traveled in groups for safety reasons, of course.)
Stephanie Rosenbloom is a New York Times travel writer and her book, Alone Time, is about such mindful travel. She spent a week each in four different cities and wrote about them. There are many beautiful literary and philosophical nuggets in this book. If you’ve never done solo travel and want to, read it. If you’re an experienced solo traveler and just want comfort from the experiences of someone who GETS your kind of traveling, read it.
Especially for women, Rosenbloom points out how, like many things, women had to fight for the right to travel alone, dine alone, etc. Less than a 100 years ago, even in the US, women were literally not allowed to eat alone in restaurants. So we’ve earned our rights to go about solo in public spaces. Let’s live it.
With each city, Rosenbloom selects varying areas of focus like dining alone, or sightseeing alone, or walking a city by oneself. As she describes her personal activities, she reports on other known figures through history who also traveled those spaces — artists, musicians, writers, and more. From time to time, she riffs meditatively on related literary and philosophical ideas about solitude, pleasure, travel, happiness, creativity, etc. Frequently, she shares studies conducted by psychologists and sociologists on those latter ideas. Throughout, her goal is to show how, when done well, solo travel can provide enriching joys, sensual pleasures, and rewarding adventures like no other. She writes how the aim is not to master any particular place/city: “It was to master myself: to learn how a little alone time can change your life — in any city.”