The Solo Traveler’s Guide to Avoiding People

August 27, 2015

fayette1

I know what you’re thinking.

“But, Sally, if I’m traveling alone, shouldn’t I want to meet people, not avoid them?”

To which I respond: Umm, okay, if that’s your thing.

And if that is your thing, there are tons of really helpful, informative blog posts out there all about how to meet people while you’re traveling on your own. (Like this  and this.) Heck, I’ve even written one myself. (Although I would never classify anything I write as either helpful or informative. Unless you’re the type of person who finds excessive cat links helpful and informative. In which case, all I have to say is: YOU ARE MY PEOPLE.)

But, let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that you are an antisocial hermit-person whose thing is avoiding any and all large crowds of people, especially large crowds full of screamy, little people in strollers. NOT THAT I KNOW ANYONE LIKE THAT. (I am totally like that.)

Well, friends, I’ve got you covered. Behold my tips for avoiding ALL THE PEOPLE! (Mind you, you should not take this as a sign of my being helpful and/or informative. After all, I would hate to ruin my street cred as the most useless person on the Internet.)

Tip #1: Have a Plan B. (And by “Plan B” I mean “PLAN BLERGGGHHH! SO MANY PEOPLE! GET ME AWAY FROM ALL THE PEOPLE!)

When deciding your day’s activity, it’s always a good idea to have an alternative option, should you show up at your desired destination and find that it’s closed/not-quite-what-you-expected/so-incredibly-packed-full-of-people-that-it-makes-you-feel-stabby.

After spending my first day in Munising, battling the disgruntled elbows of my fellow back-deck boat-riders on a sunset cruise of the Pictured Rocks, I decided a little peace and quiet was in order for my second day there. And what better way to get a little  peace and quiet than with  a nice nature hike?

Ahhh... nature...

Ahhh… nature… and no people.

After perusing a list of possible day hikes in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, I decided on Miner’s Falls Trail. It was described as having a gorgeous waterfall and stunning views of the sandstone outcrops that make the Pictured Rocks so famous. As I drove towards the trailhead, I imagined being surrounded by trees and silence with only the sound of birds and rushing water to break my quiet revery. And then I pulled into the parking lot and OMIGOD THE HUMANITY!

Parents were unfolding strollers while their offspring waited nearby, hitting each other over the heads with sticks. A pair of half-dressed dudes with kayaks tied to the top of their wood-paneled station wagon were drinking what appeared to be beer. Silver-haired couples wielding walking sticks marched past.

The parking lot was so full, I couldn’t even find a place to park. This wasn’t a problem because I had no intention of getting out of my car and throwing myself into that mosh-pit masquerading as a hiking trail, anyway.

I promptly turned around and kept driving, until I reached the trail to Au Sable Light Station. This trail didn’t have any waterfalls or sandstone outcrops. In fact, despite being part of the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore, there wasn’t a single Pictured Rock in sight. Which meant there also weren’t a whole lot of other hikers in sight because, really, who comes all the way to a park named after rocks to go on a hike where there aren’t any actual rocks? Well, besides me, that is.

This trail did, however, have a lighthouse at the end. And we all know how much I like myself a good lighthouse.

Wahoo! Lighthouse!

Wahoo! Lighthouse!

And there were periodic signs along the trek, telling you where you could spot shipwreck that had washed up along the beach. Yes, SHIPWRECK!

Wahoo! Shipwreck!

Wahoo! Shipwreck!

Who needs stupid sandstone rocks and waterfalls when you have ACTUAL REAL LIFE SHIPWRECK?!?

Tip #2: Timing is everything.

When deciding the time of day to visit a popular tourist destination, it’s a good idea to figure out what’s the most convenient time for the ordinary human-person to visit that popular tourist destination. And then, whatever you do, do not go at that time.

After all, you are not an ordinary human-person! You are a lone wolf! You are not confined by some silly time schedule! Instead you’re confined by your intense hatred of screamy people.

I guess we all have our crosses to bear.

After my relatively solitary hike to the lighthouse, I decided I could put up with a screamy person or two, so I stopped by Miner’s Castle on my way back to my campsite. The brochure I had picked up described it as “the most famous rock formation” in Pictured Rocks.

minerscastle

Oooo….. famous!

I was pretty sure this also meant “the most horribly packed rock formation where I will probably want to kill everyone including myself.”

And then I arrived and discovered I had the entire place to myself. I suspect this was because it was around seven o’clock in the evening. It was about the time most normal human-people would be at home eating dinner or out on the town drinking or doing whatever it is normal human-people do at seven o’clock at night.

Apparently, normal human-people do not take selfies in front of rocks at such an hour. But, luckily, I do.

minerscastleselfie2

#rockselfie

Tip #3: Be prepared to rough it. Also, be prepared to contract a disease or two.

There is a reason why most hermits live in caves and broken down huts in the middle of the woods and not, say, five-star beach resorts with cabin boys serving them pina coladas.

Caves and forest-huts are gross and full of things most people don’t like — like bats and fungus and ticks and rabies-infested raccoons.

Not that I’m saying you should go live in a cave or a shack in the woods. Although that does sound really nice and peaceful right now, doesn’t it?

On my last day in Munising, I decided to do something I hardly ever do — I decided to go to the beach. I am not a beach person. I sunburn too easily and in a way that’s splotchy and unattractive. And I don’t like sand getting all up in my business.

Besides, most people tend to like beaches. And, as I’ve hopefully established already, I tend to not like most people.

But I had heard Munising’s Sand Point Beach described as one of “the top five summer beaches in America,” and I wanted to check it out. I armed myself with sunblock and a huge beach umbrella to prevent myself from becoming sunburnt. And an Oprah magazine to prevent myself from becoming a curmudgeonly crankypants. It’s pretty much impossible to be filled with people-hating rage when reading an Oprah magazine. That’s just how Oprah magazines work.

True to its reputation, Sand Point Beach was indeed beautiful and full of fine, white sand. It was also full of people.

beach3

See all the people? Waaaayyyy down there.

I quickly made my way to the not-so-peopley part of the beach, where instead of fine, white sand, there were big chunks of driftwood, debris and discarded trash.

This was most likely not the part of the beach which had earned it the title of “the top five summer beaches.” Unless they meant “top five summer beaches where you’ll probably get tetanus.”

beach2

My own personal pile of driftwood.

But nobody else was there. Besides, you know, Oprah.

Just me and Oprah. As it should be.

Just me and Oprah. As it should be.

Tip #4: Get off the beaten path. And on to the totally dork-ball path.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my last ten years or so of traveling, it’s what most people like to see when they travel. Basically, most people like to see sights that wow them — geological wonders, historic treasures, buildings that defy physics and engineering. These sights don’t require that you have a lot of background information or context to understand and appreciate them. I mean, nobody goes to the Eiffel Tower to read the historic plaques. (Do they even have historic plaques at the Eiffel Tower? Or are they like, “Whatever. It’s the Eiffel Tower! No explanation is needed!”)

Most people do not like to see stuff that requires a lot of reading and makes them feel like they’re on some kind of sixth grade field trip.

Luckily, I’m not most people.

The last stop on my Upper Peninsula adventure was Fayette Historic State Park, a former iron-smelting town which has been restored and turned into a museum. You may have deduced from the words “historic” and “museum” and “iron-smelting”, that this was the least popular place that I visited on my entire trip.

fayette3

Look! Old buildings! And no people!

It was also, not so coincidentally, my favorite place I visited on the trip. Partly because I am a huge dork-ball and love nerdy historic stuff. And partly because hardly anybody else was there.

Unlike Tahquamenon Falls State Park, which had been packed full of other campers (loud, screamy, Steve-Miller-Band-listening campers), the campground was relatively empty and quiet. And unlike Munising, which is full of touristy things to keep you busy like boat rides and kayak excursions and pasty shops, there weren’t a whole lot of things to do. In fact, the only thing to do was poke around the restored buildings and read the educational displays on fascinating stuff like iron smelting and the economics of company towns.

educational

Look! Educational displays!

After spending a few hours learning about the intricacies of the iron smelting process, I spent the rest of my day in Fayette hanging out at my campsite, napping, drinking beer and eating canned ravioli by the campfire because I’d run out of all my good camping food a week before and there weren’t any shops nearby to buy new food.

ravioli

Look! Chef Boyardee!

Besides, there was nobody around to impress anyway.

Which is exactly the way I like it.

 

When you travel do you prefer to be a social butterfly and meet people or be a hermit-person and avoid them all together? 

50

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On August 27, 2015 at 11:05 am Cindi said:

    LMAO — we could so travel together — that is if we actually liked people. I so enjoy your blog and as a born & raised Michigander (who left as soon as she could for the warmth of Texas) I really like your Michigan posts. They either bring back fond memories or “what the hell” I never knew that existed.

  2. On August 27, 2015 at 1:19 pm Priya said:

    I would say I’m a bit of both. I loved meeting people while in OZ but I also needed “Priya Time”. And sometimes people aren’t really my thing. I prefer spending time with me more.
    Priya recently posted..Las Vegas First Impression

    • On September 4, 2015 at 3:53 pm Sally said:

      Agreed! I have definitely become a lot more comfortable on my own as I’ve grown older. I marvel at how I was able to stay in group rooms in hostels when I was in my early twenties. I would definitely kill someone if I attempted that feat today.

  3. On August 27, 2015 at 2:59 pm Lorie said:

    Great post! For the most part, I’m a complete hermit. I can always be happy entertaining myself, and most definitely am always looking to avoid those screamy little people in strollers.

  4. On August 27, 2015 at 8:16 pm Leslie in Oregon said:

    I don’t mind being around people if wherever we are is not crowded and there is plenty of space for everyone. But within that area, I love finding a place of my own, where I can play in peace with my dogs, husband and adult kids (if they are there). In other words, I don’t mind if there are other people camping or boating on the lake, as long as we can find our own lagoon and camp and swim without the dangers, noise or other intrusiveness of other people. I am so glad that, as you illustrate, that still is possible if one has the desire and the means (and by that I mean gear, not money) to get off the beaten track!

    • On September 4, 2015 at 3:50 pm Sally said:

      Agreed! I don’t mind having other people around (and in fact feel a bit safer if there are people within a reasonable distance who can hear my screaming while I’m being attacked by bears), but I also really like having my space. It’s a wonder I ever survived China, where personal space is not even a thing! 🙂

  5. On August 28, 2015 at 1:27 am deb denchd said:

    Nice to find someone else who likes to travel, but is also a loner. Lots of times when I travel, I think that I should be being more social. You are validating my right to be alone. Thank you for that!

    • On September 4, 2015 at 3:48 pm Sally said:

      I think everyone should travel the way they want to. Unless “the way they want to” is being super loud and annoying me in the process. In that case, they are traveling all wrong and should stop it. 🙂

  6. On August 28, 2015 at 6:38 am Charlyn said:

    If I liked to hang out with people, I would totally hang out with you.

  7. On August 28, 2015 at 10:15 am Bridget Whitehead said:

    Lying in hospital 3rd day after knee replacement, just had to draw the curtains around the bed to escape from the other patients, told a lot of patients draw the sheet over their heads.

  8. On August 28, 2015 at 10:30 am Jenny said:

    I love your guide, ha ha! I’m kind of middle of the road. If I’m going somewhere and I already know that there are going to be masses of people, it doesn’t bother me much. If I’m going somewhere expecting it to be relatively empty and there are masses, then I get all crankypants.

    I was in South Haven last weekend and the masses of people were absolutely ridiculous. Thankfully we got to the beach early enough (10 a.m.) that we got a good parking spot and place on the beach. By the time we left, there was an endless stream of people trolling the parking lot for places to park (some parked really far away, I imagine) and our spot at the beach lost the water view (tons of people packed in front of us). I remember when I was little going to these Michigan Beaches and it was way less crowded…I wonder if the Pure Michigan campaign is bringing the crowds? Ha – ignore my babbling here!

    • On September 4, 2015 at 3:45 pm Sally said:

      Oh man, I haven’t even been anywhere near the Lake Michigan beaches this summer. I bet they’ve been super crowded. I will say I was just in Bay City, and the beaches were empty. Maybe that’s the way to go? Lake Huron all the way. Sure, it may not be as nice and sandy, but at least you don’t have to deal with crowds!

  9. On August 28, 2015 at 12:03 pm Kev Minh said:

    This was very interesting to read. I love traveling on my own. I take my camera almost everywhere and take my time observing things. Happy trails!
    Kev Minh recently posted..In April 1973 it was estimated that there were over 879,000…

    • On September 4, 2015 at 3:43 pm Sally said:

      Oh, definitely one of my favorite things about traveling alone is being able to take my time. I always spend so long taking pictures of EVERYTHING. I feel so bad when I’m traveling with someone else and they’re like, “Really? You’re taking ANOTHER picture of that tree??? Haven’t you already taken five billion?”

  10. On August 28, 2015 at 10:47 pm Barbara said:

    Do you take requests? I need a guide to avoiding all the people AND MY OWN KIDS while on holidays.
    I await advice with baited breath.
    Barbara recently posted..Summer Update

    • On September 4, 2015 at 3:42 pm Sally said:

      HAHAHAHA. Oh man, that’s quite the conundrum. I’m thinking maybe “holiday with grandma” is in order for the kids, while you take a “holiday with wine.” How’s that sound?

  11. On August 28, 2015 at 10:51 pm RobRob@TravelLatte(.net) said:

    What great tips for avoiding all those touristy, pesky people types. I find going places earlier than most of them ate stirring is enjoyable – quiet and relaxing. Then, when they’re out sweating to death in the heat of the day, I can also have the pool to myself. Score!

    Loved the post – Thanks for the chuckles and tips!
    RobRob@TravelLatte(.net) recently posted..Choose to Win Your Holland America Cruise

    • On September 4, 2015 at 3:41 pm Sally said:

      I WISH I were the person who could wake up early to beat the crowds, but I am so not a morning person. Even if I manage to wake up early, it still takes me forever to get out the door. My tactic is just to go super late after everyone has gone home.

  12. On August 30, 2015 at 7:36 am Suzanne Holt said:

    I actually appreciate the title of your blog. As a mom, if I ever do getaway without any of my family members, I am not so sure that I would want to be surrounded by people. In fact, while I like family life, solitude definitely has its appealing moments. Great suggestions!
    Suzanne Holt recently posted..Life Skills Series: Teach Kids to Save Their Health

    • On September 4, 2015 at 3:39 pm Sally said:

      I have had many a mom tell me that while she loves her own children, she hates having to deal with other people’s children. I could totally understand that! In fact, one of the main reasons I think I could never have kids is because I would be forced to do kid-friendly things where there would be a whole bunch of other screamy kids. I’m sure I would love my own children, but if I had to deal with herds of other people’s children, I would probably explode. 🙂

  13. On August 31, 2015 at 3:29 am Ron said:

    Your posts never fail to amaze me! hahaha. What an awesome guide! Although I am a firm believer of “buddy system” , I guess solo travel can become my thing too! Thanks to your tips!
    Ron recently posted..7 Kitchen Upgrade Ideas That Are Perfect for Your Apartment

    • On September 4, 2015 at 3:28 pm Sally said:

      You’re welcome, Ron. I do occasionally enjoy having a buddy to travel with. But only as long as that buddy understands that I cannot be depended on to have a polite conversation before noon. 🙂

  14. On August 31, 2015 at 3:57 am Emma said:

    Love this, although as a fellow antisocial hermit person I am already quite adept at avoiding people!
    Emma recently posted..Mama Shelter Istanbul Review

  15. On August 31, 2015 at 3:17 pm nadira said:

    And all my life I totally thought I am a person of confusion! I love to travel but always look for a silence zone where I do not have to see people and that always leads to me into weird places. People called me antisocial hermit and I thought I was born that way. But now I know that it is totally normal for abnormal people like us!

    • On September 4, 2015 at 3:26 pm Sally said:

      I do feel like I was “born that way,” too. I blame it on the fact that I’m a triplet, and didn’t even have a moment alone in the womb. I’ve been trying to get some peace and quiet ever since! 🙂

    • On September 8, 2015 at 12:11 pm Ray said:

      That’s how I feel. Coming from a large family, finding alone time was and is hard to explain to a bunch of well-meaning extroverts.

      • On September 12, 2015 at 11:25 am Sally said:

        My family just thought I was a jerk. Especially because I would be very extroverted at school (what can I say… I like being the center of attention), but as soon as I got home I would switch off. My mom was shocked when she met parents of my friends and they would be going off on how funny and nice and outgoing I was because I was certainly never those things at home!

  16. On September 3, 2015 at 10:24 am Linda said:

    I had to smile, because I am a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) who loves my alone time and I cannot stand large crowds and a lot of noise. 🙂 This is such a great post, thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  17. On September 8, 2015 at 11:57 am Ray said:

    This is exactly how I prefer to travel (and live, I make and repair violins). Often, all you have to do is travel (whether on vacation or not) at a slightly slower pace and it enough to be traveling alone. The crowd whizzes past while you are literally able to see and smell the roses that are growing between the cracks. A rare warbler or being able to hear the last call to buy that last ticket to hear your favourite violinist. Thanks for the post.

  18. On September 12, 2015 at 1:28 am Cest La Vibe said:

    Funny post! And sometimes you do just want to avoid people!
    Cest La Vibe recently posted..Lollapalooza 2015 in Pictures

  19. On September 19, 2015 at 4:26 pm Alana | Paper Planes said:

    I always felt like when traveling solo the times I felt like I wanted to be around people I ended up being completely alone…and then when I was fine being on my own, that’s when I’d find myself in huge groups…??
    Alana | Paper Planes recently posted..50 of the Best Cafes in Chiang Mai

  20. On September 26, 2015 at 9:37 am Safia Miletus | Vagabondesss said:

    I should be working, yet here I am on your blog again! You are the funniest blogger I follow 😛

    People ask me if I get lonely when I travel alone and I DON’T, in fact I struggle to get alone time! Because everyone sees that poor lonely girl all by herself and want me to join them and of course I do because they are so nice and sweet… and then *BAM*, no alone time whatsoever.

    Finally an article on how to avoid people when traveling hahaha! I thought I was the only one!

    I am proud of my anti social moments!!!

    <3 <3 <3
    Safia Miletus | Vagabondesss recently posted..Free Like a Bird

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