published Friday, March 25th, 2011

Leber: Traveling alone has its rewards

I won’t be in Chattanooga when this column prints.

Wow, that sounded macabre. Sorry. I’m not quitting the earthly plain (or at least I have no plans to). I’m just leaving Chattanooga for a week to wander Tuscany.

It only took me a year to decide where to go. I had a few guidelines — it had to be somewhere I had never been, it had to be somewhere I didn’t have to spend more than a day traveling to, and it had to be somewhere I would enjoy going alone.

That’s been the biggest shock to anyone I’ve spoken to about my travel plans.

“You’re going alone?” most ask, flabbergasted. “Joe isn’t going with you?”

I’m not actually sure whether it’s more surprising to people that I’m traveling solo or that I’m traveling without my significant other. Is there some sort of rule I’m breaking?

Look, I’d love to travel with the fella, but circumstances weren’t going to allow it right now. And there are very few girlfriends with whom I would enjoy traveling. I move from place to place. I like to meander. I might have very few girlfriends who would enjoy traveling with me.

So the plan has always been to go it alone. I like traveling alone. You don’t have to wait for anyone. You don’t have to debate with anyone about where to go next. Some would argue this theory is a good one to apply to life in general. I don’t really subscribe to that one, personally. But once in awhile, it’s nice to go someplace different on my own.

This seems to concern people.

Is it a safety thing? I get that. I’m not so caught up in feminism for feminism’s sake that I can’t acknowledge the fact that a fairly small woman traveling alone would be wise to exercise some caution. Been there, done that, doing it again.

But I actually get the feeling that a number of women I know are surprised I’m traveling to another country alone, because they feel like it would be hard to avoid exploiting the “woman of mystery” status if they were without friend or significant other to temper the urge to do so.

But at home or abroad, I’ve never been the kind of woman who considered an evening a failure if some man didn’t try to pick me up. I don’t place my self-esteem in the libido of strangers.

Not to say that I wouldn’t be momentarily flattered by a bit of attention from an attractive stranger — it’s only human — but I’m certainly not going to cross an ocean for the chance to flirt with one or two, or a handful.

Now that I think about it, I amend the momentary flattery statement. When I was in Rome, there was a bit too much “Ciao, bella.” It’s the Italian version of “Come here often?”

That’s just lame.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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