Guest Author - Christine Wilcox
I am going to make a bold statement, solo travelers, but it's for your own good: stop going everywhere by yourself. George Clooney is not waiting for you in every bar so you can trade stories about your frequent flyer miles.
About mid-May, I found myself in a quandary. I was going to San Jose for a conference in June, and conveniently, the conference was on Thursday & Friday. That left an entire weekend of possibility open to my intrepid solo-ness. Should I stay til Sunday? Go to Wine Country? See friends? Take in quite solitude at a museum and indulge my inner art and history geek? Decisions, decisions. After polling my friends for their opinions, this stray thought ran through my head: maybe I should invite my sister.
After all, it was the Bay Area. She had always wanted to go, and by the time of the conference, school would be out and her 6th Grade Science Teacher hat wouldn't have to be donned for another three months.
I had Southwest.com open before I even asked if she wanted to go.
Confirmation received, ticket booked, we had a few weeks to plan it out. Should we go to Alcatraz and when? Should we spend more time in San Jose or San Francisco? Should we splurge and stay in a hotel by Fisherman's Wharf or be economical and stay near the airport?
It turns out, we nearly didn't plan a thing, but everything was planned perfectly. We used Travelocity's new "Top Secret Hotels" program and found a hotel near Pier 39 - also within walking distance to Ghirardelli Square. We covered the Bay Area in the time that we had there, seeing everything we wanted to see and then some. But more importantly, I had five wonderful days with my sister, learning how to not travel solo.
She surprised me. With both of us being card-carrying, founding members of the "it's green and I won't eat it club" when we were kids, I've slowly become more food-venturous over the years, but she really hasn't. However, on this trip, she tried something new every day. And even though we had to deal with the stress of traffic and new levels of being crammed among people that we're not really used to, we dealt with it and had a wonderful time. Even though she is an infrequent traveler, she's a great one. She has nearly the perfect travel temperment - only cracking once, and oddly enough, it was a clash between King Tut and the TSA. More on that later.
The one thing that shocked me the most, however, was how I behaved with someone else there - thank goodness it was someone who knows me SO well! Every so often, my fuse was short. I got bratty. I got panicked when I misplaced things - all reactions that I probably wouldn't have had on my own, but with my sister, they surfaced. But, just as I've done since I was a kid, I looked to my big sister and she calmed everything down.
Solo travel is a wonderful gift you can give yourself, but if you find that it's the only kind of trip you're booking, do yourself a favor, and next time, bring along a friend.