Traveling Alone


There are times when one would realize that the gift of company is indeed priceless.

Take traveling for example. As much as the thought and the act of traveling and seeing the world alone paves the way to self-discovery; one must understand that sometimes, things are not always as they seem. I know this from personal experience.

When you are alone, it is already a given that you will spend most of your time in silence. There will be chatter and noise all around you, but this will only be the sounds that one would expect from a busy setting.

Bring a good book, or a music player. Let the words and the melodies keep you company. But do not lose your touch with reality. Remember that time is still moving and there are schedules to be followed.

It is not always like in the movies. You do not always catch someone’s eye and start a conversation. It is and has always been a matter of chance. It does not happen every day. Most likely, when you are alone, you will push your trolley full of your luggage silently across the large halls of the airport.

Perhaps you will make eye contact and exchange a few words and smiles with a random stranger in the line. Perhaps someone will comment on the weather, or on how in-flight food is terrible, but nothing particularly lasting.

Duty-free window shopping along with people watching can only interest you for so long.

How about sketching a scene or taking a number of photos? That would also be a good way to pass time.

But wouldn’t it be nice to have your photo taken? A candid one at that? Or how about somebody else’s candid moment? Something more personal instead of a detached photo full of random and nameless faces? At the very least, would it be nice if there was someone whom you can watch your things as you snap away?

Another lesson: If you are to be alone, taking too many things with you would prove to be counter-productive. Travel lightly — your carry-on bag at least. It enables you to come and go anywhere as you please without much trouble. And in the event that your flight is at night or at the early hours of the morn, you can find a comfortable place where you can take a nap without worrying that when you wake up, your things will be gone.

You will wait for what seems like an eternity to check your bags. You will heave a sigh of relief when you finally do. It is a load off your shoulders.

You will pass through a number of security checks. You will pass by customs and immigration. It is by luck if your officer is chatty enough to offer you several pieces of candy by his counter.

After that, you will wait to board the plane. You can grab a snack or a quick cup of coffee, or you window shop some more. You can read, sketch, take photos or listen to music as well.

Or you can do them all.

Inside the plane, you buckle your seat belt. You will not remove it during the whole duration of the flight, except when you go to the loo (which would be a rare occurrence) or when you finally land.

But still, it would have been nice if the time was spent talking and laughing with someone familiar now, wouldn’t it?

At the airport, you go through the same process but in reverse. It is one big test of patience. Immigration. Customs. Security check. You will now be able to get an empty trolley and wait for your checked-in bags to appear on the conveyor belt in silence.

You see your luggage and you try to grab it by the handle. Either you are momentarily dragged by its weight or you somehow manage to hurdle the massive bulk of mass in your trolley by yourself.

You catch your breath and heave a sigh of relief.

Then, you exit. If you are alone, you either proceed to look for your ride home or to the hotel, or if you are truly alone, you queue in for a taxi and once again, silently travel to where you should be heading.

There, you think how pleasant it would be if you had company.

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