I hadn't ever put my finger on this before, it struck me as I read this post: I prefer to travel solo in a foreign country than here in the United States. Why?
writer says that despite being fluent in the language and culture of her own country, it's more daunting traveling in the U.S. than in a foreign country.
Citizens of other countries are more welcoming, she believes. And "one often feels a stigma about finding oneself alone
here, as though all eyes are looking pityingly upon you."
Hm. Why she feels a stigma here and not elsewhere may or may not have to do with the U.S. That could be a perception issue.
She adds that solo travel is less liberating at home than it is abroad. I agree with this although I think it's for several reasons she didn't mention.
Getting around in a country that's not your own presents obstacles. What does that shawl cost with the exchange rate? What exactly ARE Cornish pasties? What did that Greek man just say to me?
So many things present a challenge. So overcoming those challenges creates a major sense of accomplishment.
Going to a Starbucks in the U.S.? Ho hum. Going to a Starbucks in Madrid? (hey, it was on my way to my hotel one night and I craved a hot drink) That can be much more fun.
The cups are different. (Look at these silly small cups!) Ordering the drink is different. (Is it called an Americano here too?) The clientele is different. (Look at those Madridians drinking Starbucks!).
I can get absorbed just walking down the street reading store signs. At home, I understand most of the words and I know what most of the products are. But a tortilla press in a window? That's going to stop me, as I ponder what it is and what it does.
I also like taking photos of unusual or funny looking words or products. And I often prefer to do that solo so I can take my time and dart here and there without dragging someone with me. Or making them wait if they're not interested. (So then, of course, I DON'T make them wait because that makes me feel uncomfortable. And then I don't do what I want to do.)
I guess more than anything, I'm interested in other cultures and how they do things differently. I don't find it daunting to travel solo in the U.S. I just don't always find it as intriguing.
Restful, beautiful, interesting and many other things. Just not quite as thrilling and intriguing as making my way through a foreign country alone.
Photo: Ellen Perlman. Plaza Mayor, Madrid.