As we hurtle towards the yearly poke-me-in-the-eyes horror that is Valentine’s Day, an unnecessary scheduled day of commercialised romance that makes all lovelorn singletons feel inadequate and those bitter-in-love even more cynical (I’ll let you guess which I am), I have decided to put myself out there and compose a valentine. My valentine is for solo travel, let me explain why.
Pre-ex (let’s affectionately call him Mr Control…), I had done some travelling by myself and enjoyed it, but there were certain places I considered off-limits, ‘couples places’, that should only be visited when I had found my elusive other half, a soulmate for long walks on the beach, sunset cocktails, and tandem massages. That illusion was soon dispelled during my last relationship. Despite the over-whelming urge he seemed to feel to always tell me what to do, it wasn’t a bad relationship. In fact, it was pretty good in the beginning, average in the middle and only rubbish at the end which sounds like many relationships to me. But there came a moment during one of our holidays, when I secretly admitted to myself that I would have been having a far better time on my own than with him and I wished he wasn’t there. He was playing the dutiful boyfriend, taking me to an art gallery in Stockholm, but it wasn’t a part he was suited for as he was unable to hide the boredom on his face and his muffled huffs and puffs, which he thought I didn’t notice, when I spent too long looking at an exhibit. He spoiled my experience but at the time I gave him credit for spending the day doing something that was not his choice. He was admittedly not an art lover but would make the occasional sacrifice for me. However, he wasn’t much better when I took him to the Bond exhibition in London despite him being a Bond fan, or when we went to Universal Studios in Singapore where the automatic expectation of having a good time proved too much for him. Those days, and pretty much the entire relationship, never really lived up to their promise. Before I met him, I had looked forward to being spoiled on Valentine’s by a partner and to exploring ‘couples places’ together; about the former, I was dismissively told that Valentine’s meant nothing to him (and therefore by implication should mean nothing to me) and with regard to the latter, no place is fun or romantic when you are with the wrong person and making enough effort for both of you just isn’t good enough. Oh well. We live and learn. As they say, exes are exes for a reason and being a miserable sod is as good a reason as any to part ways. On the day we broke up he told me he thought I could be happier with someone else. I had to agree.
It was after this relationship’s demise that I realised that although I have had great holidays with my girlfriends (cue flashback of me falling off a bar dancing in Zante with Sarah – luckily my posterior is well-padded!) I prefer to travel solo. Selfish reasons really. I am a people pleaser by nature and have a tendency to put the wants and needs of others before my own. When I travel with others, I always seem to end up doing whatever they want to do to keep the peace. When I travel alone, I can guilt-free go where I want, when I want, and can do whatever I want. I don’t have to pretend to ignore a boyfriend’s eyerolls when we’re doing something he doesn’t want to do, or vice-versa, or make conversation when I can’t be bothered. When I travelled in a couple, we tended to just hang out and speak with each other but when I travel alone, I am more open to new things, I always meet amazing people to spend time with and some have become friends who I have stayed in touch with long after the holiday memories have faded. Many of my solo experiences have been far richer than the ones I have had with others. And as for those ‘couples places’, there’s no such thing. I don’t consider any place off-limits now and I happily enjoy beach walks, sundowners and massages on my own.
This Valentine’s Day I may think of past loves, Mr Control etc., and have a moment of gratitude that we had the good sense to recognise that we were not right for each other and moved on. I would always rather be on my own than in the wrong relationship and I really quite like my life as it is – my life, my way.
I’m not against travelling with someone in the future but I won’t be giving up my solo adventures. I recently began my well-being gap year and cannot wait to see what is in store for me in the months ahead! Watch out world, I am coming for you…
Take care, Lisa.
(P.S. the initial L on the luggage tag is for Lisa, not lonely or loser ha ha).