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The Thrill Of Traveling Solo


The Thrill Of Traveling Solo

In the next installment of our series, one writer shares how to celebrate and savor the freedom of your unwed days.

by Emily Giffin
When I was about twenty-two years old and in my first year of law school, I remember reading a wedding story in the newspaper about a couple who got engaged in Paris. It was the bride's first trip to the City of Lights. She said that she had been saving it, waiting to see it with the man of her dreams. Her husband-to-be, of course, knew this about her and so he chose Paris as the perfect place for his proposal.

It was the kind of story that makes single women swoon and dream and wish. For an engagement that satisfying, a husband that thoughtful. I remember reading that story and thinking that the bride's plan was a good one. I hadn't yet been to Paris, and so I, too, would save it for the man of my dreams.

Being one to stick to a plan whenever possible, that is what I did. I had many meaningful life experiences throughout the rest of my twenties. I moved to Manhattan, began my legal career, forged incredible friendships, met some memorable (and many other forgettable) men. But despite several opportunities to do so, I did not go to Paris for another eight years. Not until I met my now husband. He didn't propose on that trip, but we did visit the most romantic city in the world during that first flush of love for one another. We sipped champagne in our Left Bank hotel, wandered along Parisian streets, sailed down the Seine, arm in arm. Now we are married with twin one-year-old sons, and every time I look at our photos or read our travel journal, I remember those five days in France with such sweet sentimentality.

Still, there is a part of me that wonders—and will never know—what Paris would have been like as an unattached woman. I read about that Paris sometimes—the Paris that is about being youthful, free, and adventurous in a way you can only be when you're single and the possibilities are endless. I will never know what it is like, for example, to stroll through the city, alone with my guidebook, settle onto a barstool in a café, catch the eye of a tall, dark, Frenchman…

There is part of me that regrets holding back on Paris in much the same way I would have regretted limiting myself in any aspect of life simply because I hadn't yet found the right guy. For me it was Paris. (How wistful I get when I watch films like Out of Africa or read books like Under the Tuscan Sun and realize that I won't ever travel fully alone again.) For others, it might be waiting to have sex, waiting to buy a house, waiting to get a golden retriever. Whatever the case, I believe that it is a mistake for anyone to wait for a partner while limiting her life experience in any way. Because even if you later have that experience, it's not the same experience when you do it married. And the more you experience by yourself, the more you will bring to a marriage and the fewer regrets you will have. Being single is no better or worse than the married version of life, but it should be savored and fully lived just as any other stage of life. After all, once you're married, you will be married forever, if all goes well. And just as you can't return to childhood or college, you can't recapture your single days once you've passed them by.

So make your single memories count. Don't save Paris. Don't save your best pair of shoes. Don't save anything. Travel, party, live, and laugh as if it were the very last chapter in your single life. It just might be.


Emily Giffin is the author of Something Borrowed and Something Blue, out this June. For more information, check out emilygiffin.com.
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