At a party the other night I was chatting with some new acquaintances and, naturally, Solo Traveler came up,
David, the guy in the couple, lit up. His enthusiasm was immediate “I travel solo. It’s so much more social.”
It’s the same for me. I travel alone, not lonely.
I travel solo for the interesting people I meet, whether it’s for a day or for longer should we end up traveling together. I travel alone for the company.
You can read my 10 tips on how to beat loneliness on the road here: How to Travel Alone Without Being Lonely: 10 tips & 5 posts.
In this post I want to celebrate some of the amazing people I’ve met and how I met them. This is the proof that one can travel alone but not lonely.
Learning to Live Positively
“Positive thinkers go everywhere. Negative thinkers go nowhere. ”That’s a line from the conversation I had with Ron in Key West a couple of years ago. I met Ron on Mallory Square, where the cruise ships dock and where many go to see the sunset from Key West (though I prefer the view from the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park). Amongst all the tourists from the cruise ships and a few locals, there was Ron relaxing and taking in the scene. One of the few places to sit was beside him so I went and had a seat and it didn’t take much of a smile to get a conversation going – a great conversation. The opportunity to chat with Ron enriched my trip to Key West enormously. I learned some things from him about how to live positively. You can read the full story and watch a video of Ron giving his theory of life here: Positive Thinking and Solo Travel.
The Excitement of Taking Calculated Risks
From Penny I learned the value of taking a leap. Never having traveled solo before she started a five-month trip to celebrate her 40th – and she started in India. I met her at an Ashram in Rishikesh where we had both booked in for a week. It was the first week of her trip and I could not believe that she had decided to start in India and end in Australia. I would certainly have done it the opposite way around. But, things absolutely worked out. Penny and I spent the week there hanging out with other women and then we went off to Rajasthan together. We saw the Taj Mahal together and other highlights of the Rajasthsan circuit. We shared hotel rooms and figured out the train system and explored markets… we traveled well together and I was glad to have her as a companion. After two weeks, we parted ways and traveled solo again
Learning about the Surprising Impact of a Black President
I met Starla on Venice Beach, California in early 2014. The Black Lives Matter movement hadn’t really reached my consciousness (it started in 2013) nor had the understanding that by elevating the status of some in an oppressed group, society may more easily worsen the oppression of that group as a whole. Starla explained this to me, not from a theoretical position, but from her life experience. She said that since Obama came into power the lives of Black Americans had gotten worse. It baffled me but alerted me to the issue. And then I started seeing newspaper analysis and essays on this phenomenon. By voting for Obama anyone could say that they are not racist and feel free to act so in other circumstances. Meeting Starla caused me to read the news differently. My story on Venice Beach is here.
How Many New People Can You Meet in a Day? A Lot!
There were brief conversations here and there throughout my two days on the slopes of Whistler but there were four encounters of significance. Lessons. Meetings on the gondolas. Runs taken together. Meals shared at communal tables. Skiing is an incredibly social activity. Even if you head to the mountain solo you won’t be for long. Get the full report by reading A Solo Ski Trip is a Social Affair.
Discovering the Nuance of a Culture
It didn’t take much to meet Baabush. Outside a temple in Pushkar he was managing the shoe lockers when he heard my voice and asked where I was from. When I said Canada he asked if I could speak French. Yes! He took a break and we spent an hour practicing French together and in the process I learned about his life, his family, what his home was like, his schooling and ambitions. We talked about life, in French, and I learned so much about India. Read: Enchanté, Baabush – Enchanted in India.
Friendly Locals are Always Ready to Share Their City
I have had many perks as a result of being a solo traveler. People have gone out of their way to show me their city. Others have bought me drinks. But in Rochester, New York, I enjoyed a first. I went to Hogan’s Hideaway for supper one night and when I arrived it was busy, but there was one spot at the end of the bar. Sandy and Mark squeezed a bit to let me in and we got chatting. It’s amazing how fast conversations can take off. We talked about their work, my work, travel, travel writing, solo travel and, of course, Rochester. When their table was ready they invited me to join them. Shortly after our meals arrived, so did Tom and Darlene – friends of Sandy and Mark. Tom had been the owner of the restaurant up until a couple of months before. So my questions on Rochester began to focus on the restaurant itself. By the end of the evening I had not only had a great time but I had learned a lot about the city, the restaurant and… I had a free meal. Sandy and Mark kindly paid for me. Read The Solo Traveler Advantage
Finding the Man About Town in Small Towns
Jamie Steel is the type of person I look for in every small town I visit. He is one of the reasons that small towns make great destinations. Jamie is exceptional for his role in the music scene. The important characters of other towns may stand out for their age, the stories they tell or their unofficial political role. These are people really worth knowing but they are rarely tripped over. They are typically found through others. I find them by simply asking. Read The Harley Haggerty Technique for Meeting People to get the full story on how I met Jamie but suffice to say that the encounter was well worthwhile. I spent that evening heavily into the local music scene listening to Adam Olmstead and the Nashville String Band that includes a number of Grammy Award-winning members.
You Can Travel Alone, Not Lonely
At this point I hope it is clear that it need not be lonely to travel alone. Here are a few more posts for you.
Solo Travel: You Don’t Have to Eat Alone
A Language School Experience: Solo and Very Social
A Solo Travel Introvert? 7 Tips to Somewhat Social Solo Travel
Travel Alone and Love it: 50 tips (Revised and Updated)
Solo on a River Cruise: Enjoy Both Social and Alone Time
Steve from Seattle Serves me Starbucks in Patagonia
Travel to Learn: There are Thousands of Opportunities
Sleeping with Strangers: The Hostel Experience