A neighbor heard a sound of animated conversation as he approached British philosopher Wittgensteins' cottage in Connemara, Ireland, but was quite surprised when he entered to find the great man alone.
"I thought you had company," he said.
"I did," replied Wittgenstein. "I was talking to a very dear friend of mine--- myself."
Even traveling with someone you think you know pretty well may reveal how superficial your relationship has been. In my book: "Travel Cheap- Travel Well!" I discuss the many vagaries and discoveries that can be made when traveling alone or with someone else. I like to say that traveling with a partner is like paddling a canoe together. If you're not synchronized, paddles are likely to clash and you might even capsize.
So, why travel alone?
First, it's the ultimate freedom. You set the itinerary and make all the decisions. No second-guessing and no compromises.
Secondly, traveling alone is a confidence builder. You learn that you CAN solve problems, get over the blues, and find hidden treasures all by yourself.
Thirdly, you'll certainly enter into more conversations with other people on your travels. Folks are genrally willing to start a conversation with a solo traveler, while they might leave a couple to themselves.
You can contemplate, meditate, and vegetate to your hearts content. You needen't deal with any one else's mood swings, nor they with yours.
You also learn languages faster because you must. And of course, there's romance. You're free to meet someone who might turn out to be very important to your life.
So if you're an especially independent Traveling Pauper, who has little or no tolerance for the idiosyncracies of others, you might be happier traveling alone. It can be a wonderful experience.
Thomas Jefferson put it this way: "One travels more usefully when alone because he reflects more."
And Cornelia Parker put it more bluntly this way: "Traveling with anyone is a very ticklish business. What is your thrill may be my bore. I can't imagine what fire and pillage I would commit if someone were in a position to keep me looking at things longer than I wanted to look."