This week I am headed to London to hang out with some friends and it got me to thinking.
I have started to really enjoy traveling alone. I spent most of my youth travelling with my best friend. Bouncing around from city to city getting on each others nerves and laughing at things only the two of us would think was funny ( sexy priest calendars in Italy, the abundance of mannequin stores in Istanbul, the amount of dogs in Egypt, you get the point)
I need someone around to fully appreciate weird photo shoots.
*NO BENCHES WERE ACTUALLY HARMED
However my last few trips have been solo. Last year in England I stayed with a friend but she had school and we spent most of the time apart. Her studying and going to class, me bouncing around England. It forced me out of my comfort zone. It forced me to figure out how to get places with no help. I hate asking for directions and I hate being lost. I get frustrated. When you are with someone you can rely on them to help figure things out. When you are alone you have to get it together.
I loved that. In fact I needed that kick in the butt. I asked directions I looked at maps, I made new friends. Which to me is the best part of solo travel. It forces you to make friends and I love making new friends. When you are exploring with a friend you end up being less likely to strike up conversations with strangers because you already have each other. When you are alone people are more likely to talk to you.
It was great. I made a bunch of friends with some locals and some other travelers. People I am still talking to today and planning trips with!
Then I went to Nantes, France for a conference, solo. I had been corresponding with a fellow blogger attending the conference, whom I never met, and we decided to save money and stay together. It could have been a disaster.
We could have hated each other, it could have been really weird. It was the exact opposite. It was really lucky it worked out that way. I booked a two person hotel room on the outskirts of town. Nantes isn’t that big so staying out of the city center did not seem like a big deal and the price was so great. I arrived after my roommate. When I walked into the room I saw a tall, stunning Italian girl blow drying her hair in our small cramped room.
And when I say cramped I mean it. Our beds touched and we did not have enough room to move them apart. We were practically sleeping in the same bed. The second I burst into the room tired and dirty from travel. We started laughing about the size of the room and the plastic walls in the bathroom. I knew I hit the jackpot with my room mate.
We then spent the rest of the trip laughing ,bonding and of course drinking. You never know what you are gonna get but what I got was a new friend. Together we formed a little group of bloggers whom I fell in love with.
If I had gone with someone I already knew I would never have gotten to spend as much time with Stefania (everysteph.com)
My trip to Turkey was partly solo/ partly group. I attended the World Travel Market in London for 4 days. I met up with Stefania and a few other friends. However I stayed alone and attended meetings and talks alone. The conference was stressful. It was a great learning experience for TBEX Asia this fall but I was unprepared for the sheer magnitude of the event
Then I was off to Turkey on a group tour which I don’t usually do, with people I have never traveled with before. It was not what I had wanted it to be. The tour was too touristy and our idea of what we wanted to do was a bit different. Example I like to go to local places and hang out, they wanted to go to the mall.
I have since decided that I love solo trips. It makes me feel accomplished when I tackle a place alone. It makes me know I can take on the world. But, to me, nothing beats sharing moments with a friend whether its a best friend or a new one. It is an experience that bounds you. It is one I don’t want to let go of.
I want to make sure that this year I do a mix of solo and partner travel.
What do you think: solo travel? or do you feel better if you have a travel partner?