It seems like a bold statement to make because of course you can travel solo, but it’s a choice. I was petrified of solo tavelling. What if I didn’t meet anyone? Or get along with anyone? My predominant fear wasn’t being lost or robbed or stranded somewhere, I was afraid of being alone and feeling lonely. During my first few hours (alone) in San Juan I decided to have a wander and get the feel of the place. After 20min and with another three hour wait until I was expected back for dinner, I found myself sat on the beach twiddling my thumbs wondering if I’d made a huge mistake. It took me half an hour to muster the courage to start a conversation with a stranger on the beach, but from that moment on I was never alone. I’d chosen to travel solo but I also chose to strike up conversations and get to know new people as often as I could. I met people through Spanish school, hostels, clubs and bars, hikes or trips. Sometimes I got to enjoy a brief amount of time with people before they would head off home or to another area I wasn’t interested in exploring. Sometimes I would click with people instantly and find myself bumping into (or arranging to meet) them further down the line, or we’d even start travelling together immediately. So you can choose to travel solo, but there’s no such thing as solo travelling unless you’re really eager to be alone.
I met this lovely Swiss girl at Spanish school and we joined up with another classmate to explore Corn Islands together. My Swiss Miss (Bianca) and I continued through the rest of Nicaragua together before heading off to explore Peru. We later split up as she wanted to surf at the beach and I wanted to explore Bolivia.
One lovely guy I met, saw how stressed out I was one night (I hadn’t researched a bus route properly and had a massive 12 hour headache to reach my destination) and made me a cup of tea. We got chatting a lot and had a hilarious night time Jungle trek experience before I left for another city and he went to see a volcano. We ended up meeting down the road twice after that and then coordinated ourselves so we travelled Machu Picchu and Bolivia together in the same group.
I met another guy for 20min at Aqua Lounge in Panama (if you’ve not read previous posts it’s a ridiculous club / bar that needs a water taxi to get to and has swings). After exchanging details and staying in touch we ended up meeting weeks later in Peru and travelling together for 1.5 months.
When you travel alone you’ll find you’re never actually alone unless you want to be. Quite honestly there are moments when you’ve got a mouthful of pancake, you’re trying to get your journal up to date and you wish everyone would just bugger off. You won’t like everyone you meet, and you won’t always want to do what other people in your group are doing – but the beauty of travelling alone is that you can pack up and head off any time you like, and you’re guarenteed to meet new people whatever you’re doing.
The most wonderful part of solo travelling is that if you don’t want to be alone you’re forced out of your comfort zone, you’ve got to get talking to new people and you’ll find they’re just as eager and open to talking to you. The friendships you forge on the road last a lifetime…