“There’s nothing better than traveling alone,” most men will tell you. Emphasis on men. And the women who try to tell you the same are subconsciously (though often overtly) just working to get banged by the men who love traveling alone or are suffering from an Elizabeth Gilbert-inspired breakdown brought on by the end of a years-long relationship. No, no. The only weirdos who like traveling solo are megalomaniacs and sociopaths who feel no motivation to remain connected to anyone, whether those they’ve left behind for the trip or those they encounter while on it.
In film and TV respectively, the two most overt examples of this terribleness that is flying solo are Frances Halladay a.k.a. Frances Ha (Greta Gerwig) and Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), both of whom decided to up and flee to Paris as though it might be the solution to their woes. In the former’s case, the catalyst was impetuosity brought on by the loss of her best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner), to her new fiancé. Feeling constantly alone and misunderstood, however, isn’t a problem that dissolves with a new location. Although Frances has a contact in Paris, managing to reach her at the appropriate time proves futile, prompting her to wander the streets by herself occasionally reading Proust and wondering why she used her credit card to take this rather inane journey.
Where Carrie Bradshaw is concerned, well, her narrative is perhaps even worse as she chooses to uproot her extremely well-established New York life in support of her narcissist boyfriend, Aleksandr Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov). With a gallery opening and exhibition taking him away to Paris, Carrie decides it’s finally time to surrender to the city that once stole Big away from her.
But rather than the move shaping up to be the glamorous and romantic existence she suspected it would be, it turns out to elicit the even more negligent and workaholic side of Petrovsky. Like Frances, Carrie, too, wanders the streets of Paris in search of a connection of any kind to stave off the loneliness invading her–only finding it in an oversized canine sitting next to her at a cafe.
The ideas that both women had of finding something they couldn’t at home by going to a foreign city serves to iterate just how overblown and overhyped travel for the purpose of “self-discovery” or “a new life” can be, often culminating in the realization that people frequently don’t give a fuck about you, when they can barely bring themselves to care about those they actually know. Inevitably, Frances and Carrie return from whence they came, New York, to give themselves the emotional jumpstart they were each seeking in traveling to Paris.
And yet, no matter how patent or iconic these pop cultural examples of traveling alone (particularly as a woman) are in exhibiting futility, there can be no stopping a girl from doing it until she learns for herself the exact extent of the crippling isolation.