In the Weekend Magazine from UAE's Khaleej Time, Thuymi from AdventureFaktory and I discussed the pro's and con's of "solo travel". Whilst we took opposing sides for the article, I think its fair to say we shared similar views on travel.
Why I am a fan of "solo travel"
Would I consider myself a solo traveller? No. Well, not anymore.
These days, almost all of my travel is done with my wife and we fit snugly into that #travelcouples bracket – candlelit dinners instead of the late nights, politely asking strangers to take our photo infront of The Bridge of Sighs and debates over whose suitcase the heavy family gifts are going in.
As we excitedly await the birth of our child, we will soon transit into the world of family travel – itineraries dictated by sleeping patterns, carry on luggage full of nappies and bulk-head row be default.
But some of my fondest travel memories also come from the times I travelled solo. When I would book tickets impulsively, plan my itinerary around sporting events and accommodation was determined by cheapest price! Solo travel shaped the way I experience different cultures, different countries and experiences. It challenges you to meet new people, solve your problems and make decisions. The one thing I will say about solo travelling is, you are never actually alone. Everywhere I travelled “by myself”, I found that I would make new friends, start conversations with strangers and discover that people in different countries are really not too different from myself. All this was before smart phones and social media! And it was incredible!
As we plan a trip back to South Africa for a family wedding, I sit making email enquiries about a 4 day photography safari in the Kruger. Just me, my camera and some of the most beautiful animals on the planet. It isn’t an escape, it isn’t any need for “me time”, but it is something I really am looking forward to. For a short few days, I will make my own plans, I will seek out conversations with people I don’t know and if things go wrong, I will sort it out myself.
Solo travel is all about life experiences. It doesn’t mean you wont ever enjoy travelling with other people. It doesn’t mean you wont make new friends. It doesn’t mean you will be that lonely guy without a partner at the barn dance. You may define your travel style as a “solo traveller”, but rarely are you ever truly alone.