In this story on why it's better to travel alone, the fourth reason is my favorite: deep immersion.
You simply are not going to see or notice as much if you're walking with a friend or partner, while in Paris or Tokyo or anywhere else, gabbing with each other about what you just saw or where your next meal will be or something you remembered about your lives at home. You've stopped absorbing what's around you at that moment.
That hit home for me while I was in Paris on my own for a month-long French immersion course the summer before grad school.
Although the rule in the apartment I was staying in was French only, I had an English-language novel with me. I realized early on that reading in English was pulling me away from a full immersion in French language.
It demonstrated my brain's inability to focus as well on learning French when I mixed in some English. I put down that book for the summer. Soon after, I awoke from a dream with a French phrase in my mind first thing. Immersion was working!
Traveling with someone else also makes you less approachable.
As the writer says, when locals see someone from a foreign land wandering on his or her own, many "will be eager to give you directions, practice their English with you, feed you, and even open their homes to you. More often than not, locals are just as curious about you as you are about them."
In Ecuador, my willingness to hire a taxi driver who spoke only Spanish led to one of the most memorable encounters of all my travels--meeting Agustin and his daughter Ariana. I wrote about my travels around Ecuador with this pair and the joy of connecting with them.
Would it have happened if I had traveled with someone from home? I'm not sure. I'm guessing that if I had been talking in English with a companion we might not have made the same connection with Agustin. He would have been our driver rather the personal guide and friend he became to me. It is an experience I cherish, and it makes me smile every time I'm reminded of it.
Photo: Ellen Perlman