I find travelling solo is rewarding and enriching. Although clearly daunting that you will be away on your own for a sustained period of time which might naturally make you fear that there will be periods of loneliness but even considering that possibility I believe solo travel is something that it totally worthwhile. I have had many holidays and trips with friends before which have been amazing and invariably I spend the whole time laughing and joking and never wanting it to end. In addition, some of my most memorable travels have been with Ex’s and there is no doubt that sharing travel experiences with a loved one can be very special. However, for me, the freedom and independence you get from travelling solo is equally amazing. It does of course come with its own unique challenges and in this blog I will look at one in particular:
The 3 day friendship.
Being on your own undoubtedly means that you meet more people. Not having your friends or loved one to rely on for company or conversation forces you to go out and talk to others. I am quite shy before getting to know people properly, so for me this is always a little daunting, but invariably people are in the same position as you and in a hostel you will generally always have one thing in common, the fact you are all on some sort of journey.
Often, going to a hostel bar or common area alone can become a wonderful step into the unknown as you have no idea who you are going to meet, and where a conversation is going to take you! For me it brings a complete ‘pot luck’ element to my travels and I like that!
I am now 5 weeks into my latest long term travel adventure, and I have already lost count the number of amazing people I have met along the way. It is easy to share a conversation with fellow travellers at the hostel bar or over breakfast, or with your newly acquainted roommates in your dorm, listening what they have been up to that day, or sharing tips about countries you have already visited and that they are going on to soon. The things you all have in common soon become strong connections and these people feel like genuine friends for a few days! You end up sightseeing together, or go out for dinner or spend an evening at the local bar with each other. For these few days, you treat these people like your normal friends. You by-pass the superficial questions like, Where are you from? How old are you etc? Instead you strike up genuine conversations – talking, debating, joking and laughing about all the things that you would choose to talk about in what you may consider your ‘regular life’.
It’s these friendships that are indeed to be cherished while travelling solo, as it combines the benefits of travelling with a friend or partner but also maintains that solo independence. With people you have only known for a few days it is easier to tell them if you don’t want to visit a particular site or that you don’t want to eat out that night than maybe it would be to say that to someone you have known for years and who you don’t want to offend!
The acute difficulty with these short friendships though comes when it’s time to you move on. Then you can experience the real pain of saying goodbye for you would have been around these people for a number of days, enjoyed their company and your friendship with them is only just beginning (which is often the most exciting part!!). There is no easy way through this however because all of you are travelling and your travels take you all to different parts of the globe. Of course, social media is great for keeping in touch, and you can follow their progress that way. I love it when people I’ve met then go to the places I’ve already been to and I visit the places they have recommended to me! You can still chat and comment on their future travels and when you know your paths will cross in the future, you can look forward to meeting up with these special friends again in other parts of the world!!
Sometimes you may even decide to travel for the next few weeks or months with your new-found travel companion, but the likelihood is that at some point you are back to being a solo traveller. This gives you the wonderful freedom back again of being alone but then once again you have to start up new friendships!! Asking yourself if these people match up to the calibre of the ones you have just left, and the working out in your head if you do in fact want to spend quality time with these people! (and they, of course, will be thinking the same about you!) When this friendship process is repeated on multiple occasions a week then it can become a little tiresome and the advantages of a long-term travel buddy become an attractive thought in your mind for a while!
So, in my view, anyone travelling alone can undoubtedly find the experience enriching, exciting and most definitely character building. However, just be prepared that although making a huge number of new friends is unquestionably an inspiring experience, it does of course mean saying goodbye to these new friends every few days and putting in that extra effort to find their short-term replacement. I maintain that it is useful to remember it is far better to have a constant rotation of new found friends than, either one you do not want to be with, or indeed none at all – I see it all as a question of balance and getting the best of both worlds!