April 4, 2012

TRAVEL TIPS: Flying Solo

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Sometimes it’s nice to be antisocial. Most people cherish those brief moments of solitude throughout the course of a day spent bustling and babbling, ceaselessly bombarded by the sound of other people’s voices. For those who enjoy the blissful first seconds back at their apartment on a Monday afternoon, or who take a few extra seconds in the bathroom between classes listening to the sound of nothing, here’s a tip to satiate your need for momentary isolation: travel alone.

Sure, you may encounter a few judgmental glances when you tell all of your study abroad friends that no, you won’t be sharing a cab with anyone to the airport because you’re taking Wizz Air to an obscure eastern European country to meet up with a foreign exchange student who went to your middle school. But stay strong, solitary souls.  Your rugged individualism will bear fruit.

For one thing, traveling alone instantly resolves the age-old dilemma of what to wear. The answer, of course, is: whatever the hell you feel like. Many of us begrudgingly sacrifice travel sense for fashion sense when flying. We know that the ideal outfit for sitting in a cramped chair for 3-6 hours is anything that begins with “sweat-,” but the airport, after all, is a public space. People may see you. You might even sit next to someone important or attractive on your flight. And while this is true, it is a grave error in judgment. If you are traveling alone from, say, Madrid to the obscure country we talked about earlier, the chances of you seeing someone you know are minimal. The chances of you getting a job/date with the person you sit next to on the flight are lesser still. What is 100 percent predictable is that removing every piece of metal from your snazzy outfit, down to the cufflinks, will make going through security an unnecessarily debilitating pain in your well-dressed ass.

Another perk of traveling alone is the opportunity for guilt-free self-indulgence. If you are the romantic type, feel free spend hours at barren train stations pouring your heart out into your Moleskin. If you really like the music you just downloaded, you can listen to the entire album during your layover without giving two thoughts to anybody else’s needs.  Maybe, if you’re like me, an audio book about quantum physics and the multi-verse is what gets you in the mood to do some global pioneering. The point is, nobody else needs to care.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s probably best to have someone waiting for you at your destination. After all, too much alone time mixed with gray, industrialized countries can be a real depressing combination. But if your lonesome soul starts craving a little detachment, grab your headphones and head for the airport.

Skyler Schain is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at sschain@cornellsun.com. Notes from Abroad: Travel Tips appears on Thursdays.

Original Author: Skyler Schain