Short tours can do wonders for alleviating loneliness when you're vacationing alone. If, after flying to your dream destination, you start to feel lonely, you can join a group activity for a day or two and have real live conversations. Something beyond, "Does this bus go to Sintra?"
I recently went on an "urban foraging" walk in downtown Victoria, British Columbia. (My cousin asked if that meant dumpster diving!) My tour guide Kathy and I tasted our way through a tea shop, a French cafe, a BBQ place called Pig, a chocolate store and more, talking the whole way along.
Usually she won't go out unless she has a minimum number of people, but it was early in the season and she made an exception this time, me being a travel writer and all.
It was a break from my solitary city walking, although I have to say, I was doing just fine before I met up with her. For me, loneliness usually sets in during the first 24 hours. Then I find a rhythm. Or I find people.
When I met up with Kathy, I was not at all lonely. But there have been other days, on other trips, when I have wished for some company. And this would have done the trick.
The answer is, I'd already passed many of the places she took me to, such as Silk Road Aromatherapy and Tea Company and hadn't realized there was something special inside. Like a tea tasting with an expert who'd studied in China and Taiwan and blends the teas herself. Or a chocolate store, Rogers' Chocolates, with a storied history.
I did short tours in Ecuador too. In fact, the entire vacation consisted of three short tours with some wandering around Quito in between. I traveled through the Avenue of the Volcanoes
from Quito to Cuenca, with about eight people. We visited a
hacienda and a rural market in Saquisili and sat on the top of a train
as it wound its way past mountains and volcanoes.
The second tour
was to the Amazon rain forest. A Dutch
couple from my first tour was on that one too. It felt like a family reunion at the airport. My last mini-trip was a day tour to Otavalo, another market town.
Short trips and activities can be found just about
anywhere you go. If ever you're feeling isolated, seek them out. They likely will pop you right back into civilization and a social life.
Photos: Ellen Perlman
1. Teapots, Victoria, B.C.
2. Typical paintings, Ecuador.
3. Armadillo shell and wood guitars