A Not-So-Solo Traveler

MotorbikesI have always considered myself a solo traveler. Solo traveling is easier and better for me. I can go where I want to go when I want to go and not have to worry about stepping on anyone’s toes. If I’m cranky, I don’t have to worry that I will snap at someone (a common issue at home)–I can just curl up in bed and watch TV or go take a walk alone until I feel better.

I have heard many stories of people who traveled with their friends from home and how the trip nearly destroyed their relationship.

So, I decided to always remain a solo traveler. I would travel with someone I met in a hostel for a couple of days or even a week at a time and then I could say goodbye before I had a chance to get sick of them or vice versa. For the first month and a half I was traveling, this method worked well for me. I met many awesome people who I’m now proud to call friends.

My solo traveling adventure was going beautifully.

Then I met Sophie.


When we met, we didn’t instantly hit it off. I was sick with a cold, she was miserable from lack of sleep and we basically wanted nothing to do with each other. But, due to a mishap at the hostel we were both staying in, we were forced to share a room. We would have to spend two nights together and then we both had plans to move on to different destinations.

Flash forward to three and a half months later and we are both nearly in tears saying goodbye to each other at the airport.

I don’t know what changed over the course of three months. I guess we got to know one another better. Even though we didn’t seem to have much in common, we both traveled in the same way.

And our quirks seemed to mesh together well. I have a habit of misplacing important things such as keys, so Sophie was the keeper of all of our room keys. Sophie was not confident with navigation, so I was the holder of the map.

She knew when I was emotional that I probably needed to watch another episode of the Mindy Project. I knew that when she was angry and miserable during a long bus journey that I should not speak to her and let her stew in her own thoughts. We got frustrated with each other, but then after and hour or so, we let it go.

Sand pic

We were a perfect match.

While I still believe that I am mostly a solo traveler at heart, I am so thankful I got the opportunity to make such a strong bond with someone during my trip and form a surprise friendship.


3 Reasons Why I Love Traveling with a Buddy

1. Safety

I felt so much more confident traveling with someone. Whenever we would get off the bus in a strange town at night and I would go into a panic about where we were going to stay, Sophie would calm me down.

Also, I would probably have never decided to do the homestay in Chi Phat if I hadn’t had someone with me. I would have felt too vulnerable in the remote village.

2. Better Deals

Outside of the big cities in Southeast Asia, there are not many hostels, which means you pretty much have to get a double room in a guesthouse. Traveling with someone who I could split the cost with saved me a ton of money! Also, when negotiating the price of tickets and trips, we could often get a deal because there were two of us.

3. Emotional Support

A travel buddy is great for sharing the good times with. But the bad times is when we really needed each other. She was mugged in Cambodia and I was there to help her bribe the police and sort out all of the details. I went through a period of what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life anxiety around my birthday and she was there to talk me through it. We became mentors and therapists to one another.


5 thoughts on “A Not-So-Solo Traveler

  1. Stephen Jones - A Thousand Miles

    Sometimes it is nice to travel around with someone, for a while. Generally, though, I prefer solo travel. 🙂 The last time I went through Europe, I travelled with a Korean girl, for a few days, which was great (ok, so I had a crush on her as well!).

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