My Writing Keeps Me Company
I'm 51 and often travel
alone in order to do research for writing And face it: travelling
as a fifty-something "lady" is a great deal easier (harassment-wise)
than as a twenty-something young woman. Personally, for
me, this is a much-welcomed freedom.Here are a few quick
thoughts regarding my own experiences travelling solo...
I love travelling
by myself, but I've come to acknowledge that the evenings
are bound to be a challenge.
At dusk, men's eyes
take on a hungry gleam. Too, although I actually enjoy eating
alone, I don't like eating in a restaurant that feels romantic.
Being a single amongst lovers is depressing. And besides,
what can one do? Stare into the candle? For that reason,
I look for restaurants that feed their guests communally,
or, alternatively, are bright enough so that I can read
(or write) while eating - which I very much enjoy. I also
make a point of eating early.
I've given a great
deal of thought to the type of accommodation that feels
right. A bed and breakfast feels more secure, I think, for
a travelling woman; at least it does for me. I also try,
if at all possible, to rent a room with a kitchenette, so
that in the evening, retreating from the streets, I don't
feel "caged." Too, because I work as I travel, it helps
to have a table to put a laptop on.
No matter what your
age, travelling as a woman alone, it is important, I think,
not to deny one's fears (the intuitive alarm system). Best
to respect them -- but also to work around them. Think:
what will make me comfortable? For example, in Paris I insisted
on moving my room to a higher floor--in the heat, windows
wide open day and night, I felt too accessible on the second
floor. The manager, a woman, thought I was being silly ("It's
not like that here!"), but I stuck to my guns. My emotional
ease, however irrational, was a priority.
I travel with pajamas
I can answer the door in (i.e., not sexy, one looks "dressed"
in them). I'm fond of a dark green silk three-piece (bottoms,
camisole top, long-sleeve top) that pressed, can double
as an evening ensemble. They're light to carry, and good
for both warm and cool climates.
Finally, always remember
that it's important to relax. Therefore, leave the treasures
at home so you don't have to worry about them. And, dress
down when you venture outdoors. It's a lot more comfortable
and "nasty types" will never pick you out in a crowd.
(Sandra Gulland, author of the novel --The Many Lives
& Secret Sorrows of Josephine B., is an excellent traveller.
She has spent much time researching her interesting subject
in France .)