Written by jackreiser November 24, 2022
Destinations don’t always align with others’ desires. Therefore you must explore them yourself. Here’s how to make the most of traveling alone.
I have explored twice alone and traveled once alone while at CIMBA. I first explored alone in Munich during Oktoberfest. My friends and I had enjoyed ourselves at the Haufbrau tent Saturday morning, but I didn’t want the entirety of my time spent there. I set out to the great Bavarian metropolis and explored what it had in store for me. Per professorial recommendation, I walked slowly and took in all that was in sight. I went back and forth across the platz’s, up and down streets, and found churches, museums, nooks, and nuances of the city that aren’t visible inside the spectacle of the Meadow of Therese. From there you cannot see King Ludwig’s most complete collection of Greek sculpture and artifacts in the world, save for Athens itself. You cannot hear the solemn remembrance and lessons learned in the museum of the Nazi party.
Tip number one: Explore the deep history behind the place you’re in. What still is present from its past? What is different? Why? What does it mean to you?
Two weeks ago, per my brother’s suggestion (Shoutout Sam! I miss you!), I visited Modena and the birthplace of perfection in automobile manufacturing: Ferrari. No other CIMBA student had this destination on their list, so I ventured solo. I was thoroughly excited, because I knew that there would be perfectly intact mobile artworks from generations before. I have found that hotels or hostels are the best option for solo travel because staff will be there to assist when you have questions or need a restaurant recommendation. I took time to explore here too, but I felt lonely this time because my friends weren’t nearby. To combat this, I took a break from exploring at my hotel, called home, and found some spots to see later in the day.
Tip number two: The beauty about traveling alone is that you can take breaks and focus on what you enjoy. I took time to explore the farmer’s market and the amazing ingredients that were sold in each stall. I journaled more of my thoughts and travels. Focus on what brings you joy.
This past weekend I traveled to Vienna, Austria. My friends and I took the night train, which allowed for surprisingly decent sleep and cost-effective travel. We arrived at eight in the morning with the full day ahead of us. The frosty Austrian air blew straight through to my bones as I exited Wien Hauptbahnhof. But the air didn’t cool my spirit because that wintertime precipitation that doesn’t fall in Savannah had dusted the streets before our arrival. Flecks of frosty fluff floated in a blanket down onto the city. I explored solo later that afternoon, but the third tip occurred to me in the Belvedere with my friends.
Tip number three: Don’t take pictures. Seriously. Don’t take the picture that everyone else has seen. Or a picture that can be found in a millisecond from a google search. Take in artwork or sights first with your eyes because that is how they were meant to be viewed. Not through thousands of pixels under glass. What is the point of traveling if you take a picture of artwork and keep passing through the gallery? The picture is already there. Why take a picture of a picture? Nonsense.
Should a certain piece or view or building speak to you, its okay to take a picture to remember the moment. But don’t mindlessly click away an experience.
When you travel alone, think about where you are, and what it means to you. Find what brings you joy and is interesting to you. And only take pictures to supplement memories.