I will continue to travel alone if I can’t find anyone who’s free to join me.
My first ‘official’ solo travel trip was in 2007, to Sydney. Being excited just by the idea of going to Australia, a country I had never visited before, I didn’t properly consider the implications of solo travel before I hopped on the plane for my “adventure.”
I had been traveling with friends often enough to know that the most affordable and best way to travel was to stay in hostels, but because I had only been traveling with friends up until that point, I was not aware specifically of why hostels were the choice of accommodation, aside from saving money. As I was living in Hong Kong at that time, it wasn’t a normal part of the culture to randomly speak with strangers, which made meeting like-minded travelers much more difficult with my hostel experience. Reflecting upon the five days of my first solo travel experience, I can sum up the trip up with one word: lonely. I did not fully immerse myself into the hostel experience, walked around the city by myself. After viewing the usual tourist attractions, I headed back to my room before sunset with nothing to do. When I left Australia to go back to Hong Kong, I remember being relieved and thought to myself, “Whew, I finally get to go home.” Not something travelers would call a memorable trip if you have that thought after only a five-day trip!
Almost 10 years later, I don’t think much about solo travel now. My most recent trip alone was to New Zealand and Australia, for a much longer time than five days (18 days), and I mused upon my first experience also in Australia, and how much I’ve grown as a solo traveler. Since my horrible first experience, it wasn’t for another five years before I dared to venture on another solo trip; one that was much longer and one in which I prepared well for: bringing books to read when I wasn’t able to meet new friends in hostels or tour groups, talking to everyone as much as I could.
The longest trip alone was two months in South America, in which I made new friends almost every day and traveled with them for as much and as long as I could. I still prefer to travel with a friend that I know I can get along with; but over the years of trial and error with travel buddies, I’ve come to accept that there are some people you just don’t click well with abroad and to keep that friendship local. There are also some friends that started off as travel buddies, but we soon became lifelong friends after realizing how well we get along (or learned along the way of how to get along with each other.) For the friends that I realized I don’t travel well with, these are the times that made me grateful for I can still travel alone to new places for extended periods of time. Meeting new travelers along the way, you can easily change buddies if you don’t travel well together. Funny enough though, I haven’t had many issues with getting along when it came to meeting new friends while traveling. Maybe, it was the common passion towards travel that even though we may not have someone locally to come with us on the trip, we still had the strong urge to see the world, even if it was by ourselves. Some people thrive on traveling solo and are addicted to it, however, they are able to do whatever they want whenever they want, and have no need to accommodate to preferences of another person. For me, I still prefer to travel with others and accommodate to a certain level of their travel preferences, and have someone to share the memories with. But my thirst to see the world is still too big that I will continue to travel alone if I can’t find anyone who’s free to join me.
Tracy is a travel photographer. Check out her collection on Jetset Times SHOP.