Travelling Alone Need Not Be Lonely
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I am, as always, single in the city. However, I’m single in an entirely different city. Hola from Madrid.

Don’t tell anyone, but I was quite unnerved by the thought of traveling nearly 20 hours alone. But I’m safe and sound in my hotel room, looking out at the view of the Rio Manzanares, reflecting on my adventures thus far.

8 a.m., departure day: Judy from Robert Q Airbus introduced herself by telling me her first name. Still, she respectfully referred to me as Miss West, which made me feel terribly grown-up. A good thing, since I had a very grown up adventure ahead of me.

11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.: check in at Detroit airport, customs, boarding, etc.

3:15 p.m.: My flight to Atlanta was smooth and uneventful. But then I was looking at a three-hour layover in Atlanta. If I’d had a travelling companion, or any sense of direction, I might have ventured beyond the airport. Instead, I opted to pace nervously through the corridors.

But then a handsome American soldier approached me and said, “Pardon me, ma’am. I hope y’all won’t be offended, but me and the boys were just sayin’ we’d like to buy a drink for the prettiest girl in the airport. Would you do us the honour?”

Well, what are you gonna do?

Trust me: there are worse ways for a single girl to spend a couple of hours than in an airport bar with five good ol’ southern boys.

When I checked in at Delta International, I chatted with Lily Romero, Atlanta’s customer service manager. I thanked her for answering my questions about luggage transport and so forth, and she handed me my boarding pass with a knowing smile and a wink.

I matched her smile, then looked at my boarding pass and saw she had bumped me up from coach to first class. It never ceases to amaze me how far a kind smile and a little appreciation for good service will get you. I wonder if I hadn’t been travelling alone, would I have taken the time to chat with Lily? Would there have been more than one extra seat in first class?

6:45 p.m.: I wish I could tell you about my takeoff from Atlanta, but I was distracted by a friendly smile, a glass of champagne, and an enormous seat with enough legroom to accommodate the running of the bulls.

I’m not even sure if we were in the sky when Bernard, the in-flight service coordinator, handed me a dinner menu that would put most restaurants to shame. Dinner came in waves of salad and wine, grilled veggies and wine, roast duck and wine. For dessert, I opted to pass up the sweets for—you guessed it—more wine.

A little innocent flirtation with Bob, the gentleman seated next to me, made the first half of the flight (pardon the pun) fly by. Then I reclined my seat, and for the next four hours I had a well earned siesta. Did I mention—I’d had a little wine?

Safe landing brought me to my friends here in Madrid. And although my vacation has just begun, given the amount of people with whom I’ve interacted, I’m already proof that travelling alone doesn’t have to be lonely.

Have a question, a thought, or a story to share (anonymity guaranteed)? E-mail Christine at

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