Alone Time. Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom

I read this book a few years ago, but I felt like it was a good time to go back and skim through it to remind me of its power. At this moment we are in the midst of a pandemic: alone time is more of a forced alone time rather than a choice. Once it is safe enough to get back out there, we will probably be spending lots of time with friends and family making up for those lost moments. At some point, the ability to be alone by choice will be a commodity we must treasure once again, or for the first time.

Indeed, one of the keys to enjoying alone time appears to be whether or not it’s voluntary. Additional factors, like what people think about when they’re alone, their age, and whether the time alone is temporary, may also play a role, but choice — taking some time to yourself because it’s what you desire, and not because you’ve been abandoned by your social network or have no other option–seems to be crucial

Rosenbloom takes us on a tour through her alone time in Paris, Istanbul, Florence, and New York. Her experiences introduce the reader to different things you can do and accomplish by yourself. Going out to eat, visiting museums, and trying new things are just a few things that many people feel uncomfortable doing alone. This book is a prime example of why it doesn’t have to be scary. Rosenbloom uses social science and experiences from other people and herself to explain why alone time is something to take advantage of.

The study, published in the journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, found that conversation interfered with visitors’ making a connection to the art. People who weren’t discussing the art with a companion were more frequently and more strongly emotionally stimulated by it.

She does a great job at capturing the essence of the cities by being open about her experiences and what she learned from it. The end of the book also has tips for solo travel.

In my opinion, there is no reason to be afraid of alone time, especially when you really get to do whatever the heck you want with no one to answer to. After reading this book I planned a solo trip to Charleston, South Carolina and it is a memory I treasure all the time. For now I will dream of the day when I can make more trips alone. Until then, I will leave you with some advice my dad has taught me about traveling.

  1. Pay attention to what is around you (he is talking in terms of safety)
  2. It’s tough to be a world traveller when you’re a picky eater- he once only had canned horse meat and a bag of mini snickers to live on in order to survive on one of his trips
  3. You can’t control the weather

The doors were open to the morning and to the courtyard beyond. All cities have their silent hours. Even, as it turns out, Florence.

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