This is a guest post by Thomas A. Dowson.
Sometime along the way, and I am not sure when, I decided to become an archaeologist. One year I was studying geology at university and the next I was looking at stones, bones, and bits of pot. Being an archaeologist may not be all Indiana Jones, but it has greatly influenced my love for solo travel.
One of my earliest experiences away from home was island hopping in the Aegean. Having just finished a couple of months at a research institute in a tiny Bavarian village near Munich, I decided a holiday was what was called for. I got myself a return ticket to Athens, and boarded the plane with only a small backpack and a glossy travel guide to the Greek Islands. Other than the date and time of my return to Munich, I had no plans.
Once in Athens, I immediately went standby for the next flight to Heraklion, Crete. I had the well-known Knossos in my sights. As a student, I had spent many hours studying the ‘royal palace’ and its frescoes for essays and exams, I so wanted to see this controversial archaeological site for myself. After four days, many more sites and a few museums, I then spent a couple of weeks making my way back to Athens and my return flight to Munich, going from island to island by ferry.
Many years later I now count those three weeks of solo travel among the best of times travelling I have ever had. Being in my mid-twenties probably had something to do with it. But, just as Aleah outlines in her post, 3 Reasons to Travel Solo, because I was on my own, I went where I wanted to and when, I met some great people (including a Greek student of a friend of mine who taught at a University in Australia), and I met some friendly locals who showed me a few archaeological sites off the beaten track.
My archaeological research on prehistoric art has taken me to some spectacular places around the world. A year after my trip to the Greek islands I spent a month in the south of France visiting the many caves with Ice Age art. After that, it was six weeks in the American southwest seeing some truly amazing archaeological sites. Some of these travels have been with fellow students and colleagues, some with friends and family, and many more solo.
Unfortunately, some of my best trips have been destroyed by travelling with friends whose eagerness to see another archaeology site did not match my own insider’s interest. When I travel, I plan my itineraries and day-to-day activities to see as much of the archaeology as possible. And this is particularly the case since founding Archaeology Travel, a guide to archaeological sites and museums around the world. For others who do not share my level of interest, one ‘pile of rubble’ starts to look like any other!
While travelling with friends is great fun, and I still do it, if I am on a mission I much prefer to travel solo. I can stay at a site or in a museum as long as I want without having to worry about someone else’s boredom. And, when I am travelling alone, I get to see so much more than when I am with someone else – just what I need for my Archaeology Travel Blog.
About the Author
After many years teaching archaeology to university students, Thomas gave up the Ivory Tower and started to explore his passion for prehistory on the road. He founded Archaeology Travel, a comprehensive online guide to finding and sharing some of the more exciting archaeological sites and museums around the World. He also regularly blogs about his own adventures back into the past. Connect with him through Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.