It’s almost 9pm here in Bali and I’m somewhere in Ubud, tucked away in a charming hotel amongst the verdant foliage and rice paddies that seem to extend in all directions. I’m alone. My hotel room–which seems tailor made for newly weds–is serving as a honeymoon suite for my laptop and I as I solo travel in Bali. A couple hours into solo traveling and I am already talking to myself. My first order of business is to take a deep breath and remind myself to be kind, patient and–above all else–loving as I try to wrestle with my writing here in Indonesia.
It’s been four years (or has it been three?) since I last solo traveled in the classical sense. I’ve traveled on group trips. Have flown across the world to travel with strangers who quickly became family. Yet, I haven’t truly been alone abroad since my Argentina trip years ago. Back then, my solo travels in Argentina came at a time when my life was in flux. I had escaped to Buenos Aires to escape my reality as a reluctant bride-to-be unhappy in her career, relationship and New York life. For one week, I read at cafes in Palermo, wandered the streets of San Telmo, drank red wine, hunted down local choripan joints and hiked through the jungles of Iguazu. I pulled myself out of my comfort zone. Lifted myself above the rising waters in my life and finally confronted the questions I had been actively avoiding back in New York.
As I hiked through Iguazu, I asked myself (aloud, mind you) if I wanted to get married and from deep within the answer I had ignored for months finally came out. No! It took physically leaving New York to allow myself space and strength to confront myself.
I sometimes think back to Argentina, to those carefree days of solo traveling during a precarious time in my life and wonder what would have happened had I never boarded that Buenos Aires bound flight. Would I have walked down the aisle? Quit my job? Pursue travel writing? It’s hard to say whether I would have ever found the strength needed to call off a wedding just two weeks beforehand had I not solo traveled.
Now here I am again. This time, I am not running. There is no large impending wedding, no looming fork in the road, no emotional baggage being carried around Indonesia with me. I’m happy in my new relationship, happy in my new Queens apartment, happy with my unpredictable career as a travel writer. No, this time I’m solo traveling for an entirely different reason: to write.
The truth is that my love of writing has faltered over the years; has been virtually pummeled to a pulp by press trip coverage, sponsored blog posts and the trappings of a professional writing and blogging career. Somewhere along the line, I lost my passion for writing. I have forgotten what it was like to write journals at 2 am in bed. Have forgotten the simple freedom of letting my emotions spill forth onto a page. My love of writing has always been deeply ingrained. Through every hardship, break up and difficult decision I would (literally) hug my journal as fiercely as I would a dear friend. Then I lost that friend–lost it somewhere between pitching editors and trying to impress my blog readers.
I have come to Bali now to write. To be kind to myself as I lovingly rekindle my friendship with writing; try to get back to basics with my creativity. My hope from this trip is no more and no less than simply getting out of my own way and writing my story. In four years I have transitioned from the Upper East Side, a full-time career and bride to now a travel writer pulled into this odd world of travel blogging. Along the way, I’ve learned lessons, accepted certain truths and finally realize I have a story worth sharing. Whether that story lives as a manuscript on my laptop or becomes a book–well, let’s leave that one up to time and fate–at the end of the day I just have a story to tell. We all do.
Have you solo traveled before? What inspired your own solo travel adventure? Share it below!