Uh oh ohhh… Here it comes. The feeling of power ripped through me as a surge of exhilaration. The boat was bouncing, skimming off the waters, but that wasn’t it.
I wanted to scream. The feeling was overwhelming. But maybe screaming was too much. I didn’t want people to hear. I didn’t want to call attention to myself or to this momentum of private ecstasy.
Wow, this is lasting a long time. Please don’t let it end… Holy shit. It’s still going…
I was on Inle Lake, in the middle of Myanmar, on a boat lined with five other travelers. Still, I was all alone. The wind was wildly racing against me and as I sat, soaking in the Burmese summer heat, my thoughts drifted back… It had been a little over a week ago that I was looking at National Geographic photos of Burmese fisherman, paddling oars with their feet, imagining how magnificent it would be to see them in person. Me, traveling to Burma alone? Hah. Honestly, I was a chicken. But a few days later, I found myself booking my flight, and the very next week I was there. Yangon, Bagan,… this was my third stop: Inle Lake. I had gotten here by myself… on this lake in the middle of bum-fuck Myanmar. I had crossed the Thai border alone into this awesome and gorgeous country, to be here, witnessing these simple fishermen, who were legends to me. A cocktail of surprise overwhelm and proud realization rocketed through me. I was mind-blown. This unbelievable dream… I made it happen. I couldn’t believe it. But that wasn’t only it… It was me. I couldn’t believe me. I was having a ME-gasm.
Looking at this photo you wouldn’t suspect I was having a “ME-gasm”. Did I tell you I’m a very good actress?
What the fuck is a travel Me-gasm?
Being we’re on the topic of ME-gasms, I feel I should be smoking a cigarette or swearing like a sailor, so excuse the cursing in this post… Any journey with a partner, friends/family or tour, will have it’s highs, lows and epiphanies. That’s the automatic perk of travel. It broadens your perspective and sense of place in the world. But when you travel solo as a woman, you undergo some powerful moments of self-realization, that’s better than any kundalini-ramayama-mama or yummy yoga-tastic session. With solo travel, there’s a depth and aliveness you feel at that words can’t adequately compensate. It’s that feeling of complete self-satisfaction with decisions that felt hard to make, with tricky travel obstacles you overcame to bring you into this physical Here and Now. And it’s the utter self-awe that radically awakens you to know how fucking awesomeyou are! This high is a travel “ME-gasm“. And it’s okay to like it. Unfortunately, it’s a place you can’t get to with others. Had I been on that lake with a partner or companion, it wouldn’t have been the same. I wouldn’t have felt it was my accomplishment and that’s the prime component of a ME-gasm. A ME-gasm often comes with having accomplished a great solo feat without a safety net.
Can a guy have a travel me-gasm?
While I’m not a guy– and so I wouldn’t know the direct answer to that– I don’t see why not. I suspect guys can experience highs too when it comes to self-realizations. If there’s some solo traveling men out there, I’m sure we women would love to know…
My first me-gasm
My first solo travel me-gasm came in India, experiencing my first crash course lesson in solo travel. It came after I abruptly separated from friends, who were content to stay on a scam tour we were swindled into. I wasn’t content with experiencing India in such a fashion. Boom! First time alone in a foreign country and it’s India. I was both, freaking out and trying not to. When you get thrown into the sea for the first time, you do exactly what babies thrown into a pool for the first time, do. You start kicking your feet and treading water to keep from drowning. As challenging as India felt, the more I got used to it and to the “treading water” part, I began realizing- “Hey, I can do this. This solo thing is ‘Do-able’. ” It wasn’t as scary as I thought. I like to think of solo travel as one long bungee jump, where I’m screaming partially from mortification, culture shock and the “I’m so screwed” situations, but I’m also screaming from the Fuck Yeah! excitement I feel, when I overcome those self- perceived obstacles, large and small. The greater that obstacle, the more intense my ME-gasm. Traveling alone, I was living on “the edge of my life” for the very first time, feeling alive and like I had walked into an action-adventure movie, where I and I alone, was the star heroine. For the first time, I was starring in my own life and I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “I am surviving this on my own. I am fucking amazing! SHE-rah!” Kinda cheesy, like that squinched up face people make in sex, but that was my first ME-gasm.
The anatomy of a solo female traveler and finding your travel G-spot
The overall anatomy of a solo traveler is the same. We’re all doing it on our own, slammed with tricky decisions like where to leave our backpacks when we have to go pee or encountering ‘what if’ fears like what to do if you get sick abroad. But as individual bodies, we’re all slightly differently. Solo travel forces us into self-exploration, where we have to figure out how we work . Now I admit, when other solo travelers, try to entice me with words like “self-empowerment” and “self-exploration”, it doesn’t inspire me to tear off my fears and race to solo travel. Instead, it makes me want to grab a good Anthony Robbins self-help book and continue to chant OMs in my daily yoga classes. Why travel alone for self-exploration? Last week, I read an article by Jill Filipovic on The GuardianDo yourself a favor: Travel Solo at least once“. This got an automatic high-five from me. I too recovered from my first heartbreak through France and though, I wasn’t solo traveling then, waking up in France will put a bandaid on any bruised heart and make you feel just plain sexy for waking up each day. But I digress… What I commend Filipovic for is mentioning that the meat and bones of “solo cool” is the internal experience. It’s when you’re forced to make all the decisions on your own, experiencing both, the highs and lows of those decisions. For a woman alone, deciding where you want to go may appear minute on the surface, but in reality, it’s harder than it seems. I can name a handful of exotic cities, where I drifted aimlessly in for almost a day, not knowing what I wanted to do. I felt ridiculous. The whole world was my oyster and I didn’t know where to start. Instead, I sat there staring at my oyster dumb-founded. I didn’t know my own travel G-spot. Decisions are often the result of parameters and limitations. In travel, they could be a partner’s dietary “no-no”s, which kills off a majority of restaurants in the city or their physical endurance and unwillingness to go to “just one more” museum. When you’re solo, your sole accountability is yourself. There are no parameters and your options are many and thus, the travel g-spot predicament arises —
What do you really want? What hits your excitement button?
Traveling alone you have moments where you realize you’re clueless about yourself. You have to fumble around in the dark until something turns you on. Who knew a simple day’s itinerary would turn into such an existential question? Traveling solo, you also need to learn how to gauge situations and people, like knowing whether the stranger talking to you is safe or trying to pull a scam on you. When I was in Marrakesh, a very young and handsome Moroccan shop manager invited me in for tea. Yes, tea. A young boy came with a tray and two cups of fragrant sweet tea and for a stretch of minutes, which felt like an hour, my mind raced back and forth, as I tried to decipher if the tea was boiled well to kill the bacteria of the water or laced with a knock-out drug, if he was trying to get me to buy stuff in his store, or if he was just trying to pick me up. Come to find out, he was just trying to get to know me, to see if I wanted to go out dancing. The Moroccan shop manager was safe. It was the man “dressed as a police man”, who offered to guide me out of the maze of streets (where I was lost), who turned out to be a scam artist! As soloists, we make decisions, deal with mistakes, learn to trust our gut and boldly step into the unknown. The internal destinations we arrive at can be remarkable, because now, we’re stepping into the adventure versus reading about someone else’s.
Which is the more adventurous sex?
Traveling alone, especially if you’re a woman, is a journey that takes cahones to do. For many first timers, it’s not an easy decision. Even though I had traveled through a handful of countries alone, there were many times, where I wasn’t completely convinced I wanted to do it again. A solo traveling man is often seen as Adventuresome, A Lone Wolf , Pioneer . But what are some images you conjure when you hear “solo female traveler”? I’ll tell you how I used to think of female solo travelers (before I became one)- Lonely, Wounded, Desperate and Unloved… A spinster with long leg hairs. Okay, I’m ashamed to share all that, but it’s what I used to think. How could my unconscious images change so drastically, based on sex? Easy. As women, we’re not naturally conditioned to see ourselves as an adventurous species. We’re not raised to see “solo” as adventurous or sexy. Maybe we don’t have enough female action role models, to make female solo adventures more attractive than Cinderella stories and romantic Harlequinn novels, where the “heroines” are swept off their feet by a hero. Where Wonder Woman, her bust-filled corset and her invisible jet fit into the bill, I don’t know. But obviously, she was decent for Neilson ratings in the 70’s and stuck around for three seasons. Then came Charlie’s Angels, where sexy and smart female detectives sleuthed dangerous crimes ( btw- I still have my ‘Chris’ action doll and trading cards). These days, what female action figure have we to remind us that solo adventures can be sexy? Maybe the closest we have to a successfully tough, but sexy solo action-adventure figure is …
Thank you, Angelina Jolie for playing the role of ‘Lara Croft’ (in the film, Tomb Raider)
One of the Filipovic’s last lines in her article is about her solo realization of how far she’s come: “And then it’s the moment of: I am here, right now, doing this.” Those aren’t just words. That’s a ME-gasm. And it’s okay to like it.