This time I will be answering the question I have heard quiet a few times before I left, also while I was away I heard it. Something a lot of people apparently can't understand: Why do you travel alone?
The question arises on the very moment I started making plans for this journey. As soon as my plans started to get serious, about a year before I left, I have spoken with several people who had similar plans. Eventually nobody turned out to want to go in the same direction at more or less the same time. So that leaves me on my own. But I already came to the conclusion that I'd rather travel alone, then together with someone who hasn't got the same ideas about the journey. So I just left and see how it went instead of searching frantically for a travel partner to avoid being on your own.
The disadvantages are clear: you are on your own, therefore can't share your experiences with anybody, two is always saver travelling, it is relatively cheap to go together and you can look after each other, should this be necessary. But as the famous Dutch philosopher Johan Cruijff once said: "Every disadvantage has its advantage".
So while travelling on my own I soon enough found out the advantages. It is so much easier to get in touch with someone when you're travelling alone. Not only with locals, but also with fellow travellers. One can be extremely flexible on one's own: when I don't feel like doing anything someday, I put myself down in a local park with a good book and can pass several hours like that easily. When I am enjoying a certain town, I stay longer. If not I immediately continue going again. I don't need to talk to anybody, never need a compromise, everything goes exactly the way I want it to go. And sometimes it is nice to be on your own, to have a bit of quietness.
And in the end of the day you are not on your own very often. There's many like myself with a big backpack, travelling the same way as I do. You'll bump into them at bus stations, on excursions, in hostels, in the cheap lodgings you've found in a travel guide and at the 'must see' sightseeing. And you end up talking to them. Exchange some tips and experiences. They'll tell you were to go, you'll tell them what to avoid. Or the other way around. And sometimes you continue in the same direction. On your own, or together.
Especially in cities it is nice to walk around with more than one newcomer. And that's how I saw New York, St.Petersburg, New Orleans, Guadelajara, Guanajuato, Valladolid, Belize, Antigua, Leon, San Juan, San Jose and David. With Heidi, Jo, Red, Carmen, Melissa, Neilian and James, Patrizia, Caroline, Scott, Michael, Dorit and Vanessa. From several countries like Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Italy, Canada, England and Israel.
I travelled the same direction as Nilande, Tierry, Quaroline and Jennika, Helen and Floris, Chris and Marie, Mascha, Uli and Chris. Several Americans, a Frenchman, 2 Swedish young ladies, a Dutch student, an English, a Flemish and a German girl. Just from point A to point B, or sometimes during an excursion. Because we happen to go the same way, or because we wanted to see something
And with some of these people you end up travelling for more than a day. Because you happen to have the same plans, or because it is safer in some cities not to be on your own. With Kirsten from Norway I travelled across the border to Port au Prince (Haiti), a journey not many travellers have made, during which we were conned at the border and jumped at from all sides on arrival in the city. Alex and Michael are 2 German lads who travelled all the way through Mexico, before we took the bus to the capital with the same name from Guanajuato. In a couple of days there we did a lot of sightseeing. With Karin from Germany I travelled through the whole of Germany. And because we both liked the country so much, it took us much more time than we had anticipated
The funny thing is that on the road you bump into some people more than once. Not because you plan to, but because you are doing more or less the same route. 2 Australian ladies I saw in 4 different Mexican cities, before I saw one of them again in Belize City. 2 Dutch students crossed my path in 3 different countries and an Australian camper in 3 different places in Mexico. Like them there were over a dozen others. German student Ulrike was unavoidable
Finally while I was there anyway, I was able to visit some old friends. Therefore I had lodging sorted out already and a good guide to go with it, so I would always recommend visiting someone who has been living there for a while. So I want to thank Frank/Max in Columbia Maryland (USA), Margreet and Rich in Vienna, Virginia (USA), Allison in Porlamar, Isla Margarita (Venezuela) and Euclides and Patricia in Port of Spain (Trinidad) for their hospitality. Thanx to them I had an ideal base to do some exploring.
Travelling alone: Definitely. Being alone: I don't think so.
'til next time,