The place becomes the people
Little can compare to the feeling of travelling alone. And one of the reasons I like it so much is meeting so many people along the way and building ever lasting connections. Even though I travel solo most of the time, I am rarely alone or lonely and below I shall enumerate a few ways that have always kept me in the company of others while travelling.
Hostels are probably the most affordable, secure and convenient accommodation available for travellers. They are usually situated inside city centres, within walkable distance to attractions, trains and bus coaches. They are probably the most convenient accommodation platforms to meet and interact with other fellow travellers.
If you’re the more reserved type, usually hostels provide extra incentives for socialising such as bar crawls, meals or activities. For those who prefer their privacy and those who might be put off by the idea of sharing a room with other people, hostels also offer private rooms but they obviously come at a higher price.
Personally, I always prefer sharing with other people since it’s a lot easier to make friends with the people you share a room with. Obviously, there have been times when I did not have the most pleasant experience. For example, sometimes you can get really loud and inconsiderate roommates that can prevent you from getting enough rest. However, my ear plugs never failed me in those kinds of situations. Plus I’ve always been comforted by knowing I can always change the room or get a private one if it got too much.
The best hostel I’ve ever stayed in was in Mexico. The price for a 10 bedroom room was about 8$ per night and had both breakfast and dinner included. On top of that, it had a rooftop pool, a bar and free yoga classes!
Social dancing has become very popular nowadays. The Afro-Latin Scene (Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba) has been increasing tremendously to the point that almost every city you travel to has clubs or bars that organise Dance Socials.
Dance Socials are events where dancers come to enjoy the music, practice their dance skills, and most importantly, socialise through dance. In the country of origins of these dances they are even more widespread and naturally not referred to as social dancing but rather just regular dancing since it’s part of the culture.
Taking part in the local dance scene while travelling solo is amazing because you get to know the locals in a fun and friendly environment. And who knows, you might even start a little romance while at it.
The three dances I am talking about here originate in Hispanic America , the Caribbean and Africa and have been imported pretty much everywhere else in the world.
Bachata originates in the Dominican Republic and is the second most popular dance style in the world. Most Salsa parties will play Bachata music as well but it has become very common for many clubs nowadays to have a dedicated Bachata night as well. As opposed to Salsa, Bachata has been popularised by Spain, through the Bachata Sensual Dance style.
Salsa is a style of dance originating in Cuba that has massively spread in South, Central and North America and has been fused with several other styles. Popularised by the United States through styles such as New York and L.A, at the moment it is the most widespread social dance around the world with. There is a very high chance of finding a Salsa social pretty much in every city you visit.
Kizomba is a dance that originates in Angola, and has widely spread especially in Portuguese speaking countries. The dance has been fused popularised by France through the Urban Kiz style. Although it’s the least widespread style of the three, it has been growing extremely quickly.
If you can dance at least one of these styles you are guaranteed to find places to dance in most cities you go. I would say that about 90% of the places I’ve visited had an afro-latin night, whether small or big. Even if you don’t know how to dance, most places organising these socials will also offer classes. For the more committed dancers there are several festivals organised nowadays around the world that bring together hundreds, sometimes thousands of dancers. And what better way to make connections than through dancing?
If you travel to a country that has a coast, then most probably you will also find beaches that attract surfers from all around the world. These places will have surf hostels or surf camps available where you can learn or improve your surfing skills. The best part about it is that you can meet fellow sun and sea lovers from across the world, surf the waves together and finish the day watching breathtaking sunsets.
For those who are afraid of water, I would say that surfing is also a great way to overcome your fears. I myself am a terrible swimmer and since I’ve almost drowned a couple of times as a kid, I had a fear of water for a long time. So the first time I tried surfing I was a bit anxious and afraid it might not be for me. However, to my surprise it was a lot easier than I thought. First of all, you start learning in shallow water. Secondly, there are plenty of others around you who can help you in case you struggle. Third, the board and wetsuit keep you afloat. Ultimately it has proven to be an amazing experience and a new hobby I’ve developed a passion for.
Couchsurfing is a great app and community for travellers. And while most people are put off by staying in a stranger’s house, that is not everything Couchsurfing has to offer. While hosting or surfing at someone’s place is the main option Couchsurfing offers, it also offers an easy platform for just socialising with locals, other travellers or attending social events hosted by travellers.
I used to use Couchsurfing for a lot more when I was on a really tight budget and before hostels had become such popular. I couch surfed extensively in Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam and most of the times I’ve met some fantastic hosts who I still keep in touch with.
While I nowadays rarely use Couchsurfing to find accommodation, I use it almost every time I travel alone to meet fellow travellers. Its Hangouts and Events features are a great way to meet other solo travellers or locals.You can let other nearby users what you are up to and invite them to join in on any adventures you might be planning. And the great thing about it is that you can select who you want to accept in your party, so it gives you a lot of freedom on choosing who you want to hang out with.
The connection Ting
For me, travelling alone is amazing – not because of the isolation that it can offer you but on the contrary, because of the new connections it enables. Because in the end, all that we really have in this terrifying life are the connections we make.