Traveling alone and meeting people
At first when I told people I was going to travel alone, most people wondered if I’d be lonely on the road without anyone to talk to and visit places with. After more than 4 weeks traveling, I can tell you that traveling alone certainly has its ups and downs. It just depends how you cope with it. But you’re never really lonely if you put in some effort. This also highly depends on your personality and your social skills of course. For me it’s been rather easy to talk to people and meet new people.
You’d be suprised how easy it is to meet people in hostels. A majority of the people staying there have the same mindset and same goals as you. I’ve met a bunch of interesting people who have a rather suprising background and reason for traveling. Talking with these pepole really broadens your way of life and way of traveling. In Ilha Grande I’ve met a guy who was an internet entrepeneur who was creating start-ups and writing programs from a deserted beach resort. He literly told me that he was looking for a quiet and relaxed place with a nice beach to work from. The advantages of being an online entrepeneur huh…. He was a programmer too, meaning he could just do his work online and from anywhere in the world. Another person I met right here in Buenos Aires, was a 30 something fashion blogger who was staying in the hostel temporarely as she’s in between moving. When she told me about her blog, I simply thought it was about a small fashion blog, but she told me she actually has 400.000+ subscribers on her facebook fanpage! On top of that, she’s being sponsored by Unilever to write something about their products once in a while. Quite amazing if you ask me. There are plenty of ways to earn money while you are traveling. You just have to start somewhere. You guys probably wonder: “But hey, what about you Alex?”. Well, I did think about making money while traveling, but to actually produce something that can support you while traveling takes time and probably a lot of falling down and getting up. I did think about getting deeper into that when I get back, maybe I can start up something for my next trip around the world.
Whenever I visit a new city, I try to look for free city tours within the city. More than often there are free tours organised by people who work with tips at the end of the tour. These tours are also a great way to meet fellow travelers and tourists. Even if it’s not a long term friendship, it’s still nice to meet up with some of the people afterwards to visit other places in the city.
I’ve mentioned couchsurfing more than once in the blog already and it probably won’t stop any time soon. Couchsurfing is a great way to get into contact with locals and other travelers. Besides the fact that you can look up “couches to surf on”, there are often plenty of activities and events that are posted in the groups. I love the whole surfing of a couch because it let’s you see and experience the city from a local point of view. You share the life of the person hosting you and they often have great suggestions on things that aren’t mentioned in any touristic books. I’m suprised how open and friendly people can be when offering a place to stay for total strangers. My host in Buenos Aires made my stay just like home. She even cooked for me! One day I told her I ate a cheap milanesa somewhere from a street vendor, she told me “oh no Alex, that’s not a REAL milanesa! Please don’t think that is typical Argentinian milanesa”. The next day she made me some homemade milanesa à la napolitana and trust me… it was the best! Other than being hosted, I also attended several meetings, such as the weekly meetings and also the Ultimate frisbee/picnic meeting. I’ve actually even “organised” some events myself! Well to be honest, I just didn’t want go alone and was looking for company and people just replied. It’s just that easy. It never hurts to ask. I’m not really sure if people are like this everywhere or if this is just the mentality of South-America. The thing I noticed, and love, is that people here are amazingly friendly and talkative. You can pretty much talk to anyone here and they don’t shy away from talking to you. Mind you, you do have to speak their native language though. Sorry no English! But once you are able to speak a few words they will be more than willing to talk to you. I’ve traveled in Europe and Asia and I don’t remember the people being THIS friendly. Most of the time they would just answer you quickly and then give you this weird look. I could be wrong though but i’m just thinking about my past experiences.
I had a talk with a more experienced traveler and he told me about the disadvantages of meeting people. I did say it was easy to meet people, in fact it can be too easy at times, meaning you end up meeting a lot of people in a day and more than often you forget 70% of the people you meet, let alone remembering all their names. I tend to forget names easily and only “try” to remember the people I actually had a decent conversation with. That’s also the advice he gave me, don’t bother with remembering every name of everyone, just focus on the people you’re actually interested in. Because introducing yourself over and over again can get seriously tiring. Anyway, the point is, when you’re traveling alone, you’re never really alone. There are plenty of ways to meet people along the way. This is also the fun part about traveling alone, you constantly meet new people and learn about different cultures and histories. Everyone has an unique story. Oh yeah I even met a magician here in Buenos Aires. True story!