When I made the decision to take a year off, my decision to travel solo was not just because none of my friends wanted to do the same thing, but because I actively wanted to.
Far from being a lonely experience, travelling solo is actually more sociable, as rather than spending your time with your companion, you’re constantly forced to talk to other travellers for company, making new friends every place you stop. There’s also more incentive to talk to locals (and locals are more likely to approach you if you’re on your own), meaning you get a chance to get to know a country a little better. One of my favourite moments in my last solo trip was spending a couple of hours chatting to a novice monk in Luang Prabang, helping him practice his English, telling him about life in the UK and him sharing his experience of Lao life.
I also love travelling alone for purely selfish reasons – I can go where I want, when I want, not having to compromise by doing things someone else to do (or possibly more to the point, them having to compromise to do the things I want to). In fact I don’t think I could travel a whole year with one person, even most of my closest friends would probably drive me mad after not too long (and vice versa).
Despite all that, over the last few weeks I’ve been very pleased to find out my trip won’t entirely be a solo one – I’ve now had confirmation that at various points along the way I’ll get the chance to catch up with friends from back home.
First up, I’ll get to spend my first couple of days in Mexico City with Chris, who coincidentally will be there celebrating his birthday before heading home to London. A month or so later, he’ll be joining me on his return to Mexico, probably for a bit of relaxation time somewhere on the Oaxacan coast. Soon after, I should get to catch up with Matt somewhere in Central America, part way through his (slightly quicker) trip from London to Australia.
After that, I get a couple of months of solo travel again before being joined by Adrian for a few weeks culminating in the trek to Machu Picchu. I’m very pleased that I’ll get to share such a cool experience with a friend.
Once I’ve left the Americas, I’ll hopefully get to meet my Lao travel buddy Chris in his new home of Auckland, before heading on to join up with Matt for a second time, as he’ll be back home in Melbourne.
So all in all, I’m quite pleased I’ve got a nice balance between mostly solo travel and travel with mates. Luckily I’ve been away with all of them before, so I know we won’t drive each other too mad.