Monday, 13 June 2016

Travelling Solo

   There are countless blogs, books and videos out there that lists seasoned travellers' thoughts on travelling solo.
   I will not compile the long list from their experiences here but rather note a few items I experienced on a number of overseas trips that opened my eyes for any my future travels.
   There are three possible types of trips:
      1. You plan a solo trip and you travel on your own
      2. You plan a solo trip and then a friend(s) mentions that they would like to accompany you
      3. Your friend(s) plans a trip and invites you to come along
   In all three types, I would start by discussing with myself and any prospective companion(s) to find out what our expectations of the trip would involve including what we like to do and what we have and have not experienced on previous trips.
   I would then compare all of their likes and dislikes to what I prefer on a trip:
  • Accommodation: where do they like and not like to stay - inexpensive hostels, expensive 5 star resorts, camping?
  • Trekking: have they had any physical adventures; are they physically fit for strenuous activities?
  • Water activities: do they like water sports such as kayaking and sailing? sitting by the pool?
  • Long distance tour cycling: can they handle camping every night, bad roads, bad weather, steep mountain roads?
  • Tourist hot spots: loves popular, crowded tourist exhibits and an ABC (Another Bloody Church) or out of the way places where the locals hang out?
  • Get lost in a  new environment or do they have to text their friends every few hours?
  • Financial:
  1. Penny wise - do they haggle with a poor merchant selling bananas in an underdeveloped country?
  2. Pound foolish - will they run out of money and have to borrow from you?
  3. Will they insist on using a common money purse to pay for meals, accommodation and events if you don't have the same taste in food, places to sleep and country highlights? 
  • Do they have a passive-aggressive personality - how will they wake up each day?
  • Three or more in the group - will there be a chance of cliquey personalities; what is the ratio of men to women?
  • Will they be flexible throughout the trip due to a change of plans?
   You may have all of the above covered and agreed upon by yourself and your travelling partner(s), however, one must remember that the ability to adapt is more important than the ability to plan. Your plans are always going to change no matter what your itinerary is written on paper.
   I would not feel bad about not joining them or have them join me. A trip involves time and money and I wouldn't want to take a trip with them just to not cause any disappointment. If you don't want them to come along or join them on their trip - have your diplomatic excuse ready!

   And then there are times when it's all good at the start and then things happen. I was on a round the world cycle trip with a very compatible friend when after 3 months, a family member of hers passed away. We went back home to attend the funeral and support the rest of the family. After 2 weeks, we went back to Europe to carry on with our trip. Big mistake - there was no proper closure that my cycling partner had with the deceased and her family members and our trip lasted only 3 more months. My partner was out of sorts and could not deal with her loss; our friendship as cycling companions and as close friends deteriorated.
   I have told my 4 children that they should take a lengthy trip with their betrothed before their marriage. Being in a different country and adapting to a new environment, climate, people, transportation, meals, tours, accommodation and expenses is a true test of compatibility.