AMA #10: Travelling Solo or in Company

Today is my last day of daily quarantine Ask Me Anythings.

Though I shall take a wee break from writing, I intend to write more AMA answers in the near future.

This exercise has kept me very busy, and thereby relatively sane, during 10 days confinement to a hotel room here in Heathrow.

I have all the wonderful people who fielded such interesting questions to thank for that.

Such wonderful people as my friend Andrea, who asks the following:

Do you prefer to travel alone, or with friends or a travel partner? I’ve not done the latter myself and have had very different experiences from travelling alone and going away with a friend, so I wondered if you had a preference and for what reasons?

Great question.

Can I preface my answer to your question with a quote?

I’m both an introvert and extrovert. I love people, but I need to be alone. I’ll go out to meet people, but it has an expiration because I have to recharge. If I don’t find the valuable alone time I need to recharge, I cannot be my highest self.

Denzel Washington

This is me, to a T.

I’m gregarious. I value time with family and friends, and I relish opportunities to meet new and interesting people. I need the input of other humans in my life, otherwise I stultify.

But after a two weeks, three weeks, a month, where my only time alone is five minutes in the shower, I begin to crave some ‘me time’.

I like to write and exercise and swim and meditate; things I generally prefer to do alone. In a past life in Guernsey, I would do at least two and sometimes all of these things before arriving into the office in the morning, by which time I would feel invincible. I didn’t have this luxury whilst travelling.

With that said, I did much prefer travelling with a partner or a small group of people.

Feeling slightly tired of one’s company after an intensive month is easily remedied – go spend a day to yourself! – and for me, much more preferable to feeling lonely, which it only takes me a couple of days to feel. (My inner Buddhist protests that I cannot be self-sufficient for more than a few days, but I can’t help it, I am needy in that respect.)

I was blessed by having connected with stupendous personalities, without whom the last 5 months travelling would have been unimaginably different. Dull, even.

Genuinely, I can’t imagine the last 5 months being nearly as enjoyable as it was, without having met these people.

Personalities potentiate each other, I think.

Latent traits and capabilities within you are in danger of remaining latent, dormant, unless you meet somebody who can awaken them. Somebody you spark with. (All ironically cheesy things for a partnerless bachelor to say.)

From a super simple point of view, more people means more energy.

If you get the right group of people with similar outlooks and sound personalities, with good energy, you are in for some glorious chirp.

I’m kinda laid back, laid back to horizontal, so to connect with firecracking personalities is a good thing for me. Meeting an array of glorious nutcases meant I had adventures that I might otherwise not have had, if I were on my own.

I put myself out there on social media, too, which I only obtained a year ago, and now cannot imagine travelling without.

Lots of chance meetings and fleeting connections were secured across time and space with social media, and led to great times down the line.

In short, the most enjoyable adventures I had were in the company of other people, much as I came to crave some alone time after weeks of sleeping on floors and in tents with other people.

I had travel partners for much of my trip – a couple met through complete happenstance – and the most memorable times I had throughout travelling were with these humans.


I met Henry the Younger of Sussex through Couchsurfing, the very first time I used the ‘Hangouts’ feature on the application. Basically, ‘Hangouts’ shows your profile and the profiles of other people on Couchsufing, and that you are available to meet up; a great way to connect with fellow travellers.

Henry and I met in Bishkek via Couchsurfing Hangouts and we spent almost all of the following two months together in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Henry and I spent 5 days hitchhiking from Kyrgyzstan through to Uzbekistan together, upon arrival sending out at least a dozen Couchsurfing requests (no way were we going to continue camping in 40 degree heat!).

We stayed first with Zoha, and ended up speaking at his wife’s school in a hastily organised ‘Welcome to English’ day.

One request was turned down by a guy called Yury, soon to be dubbed Papa Yura, because he was going to a music festival in the Aral Sea in the far west of the country.

Papa Yura declined our request by saying, “Hey, come with us to Stihia Festival!” He kindly organised us tickets, which were officially sold out by that point.

Zoha booked train tickets for us to the Aral Sea. The next day we travelled from Zoha’s place near Andijan to Tashkent, where we stayed with a young fellow named Fakhrullo, who showed us around the following morning before helping us to our train, on which we met Papa Yura and other such chirpers, many of whom we have remained in contact with. Magic.

After the overnight train, we got a bus to the remote town next to which the music festival was being held. I’m sat next to a Russian girl on the bus, with whom I fall into conversation, both laughing at the loud juicy sneeze the driver enjoys without putting a hand to his mouth. We share a breakfast beer together and have a chirp. After the festival, she and her friend join our motley group of chirpers on a trip across Uzbekistan, through Bukhara, Samarqand, back to Tashkent.

At the festival itself, I met many people with whom I stayed in contact.

I met the inimitable Oleg, with whom I spent the following month in Uzbekistan and spent a week hitchhiking and partying in Kyrgyzstan.

I met the glorious Svetlana AKA Techno Babushka, with whom I partied for the duration of the festival, drinking vodka and dancing together.

This example covers just three days in Uzbekistan, with dozens of connections made, many which I am confident will last a lifetime. The people are not only central to the journey. The people are the journey, or what is worthwhile about the journey, at least.

Technically, I was travelling alone. I flew to each of these countries alone, but spending more than a couple of days alone seemed wrong, to me, when on the other side of so many chance conversations laid unforgettable times with good people. So I socialised even when I didn’t feel like it, and always felt the better for it.

The solo gig I did enjoy, but it got tiring very quickly. Travelling and hitchhiking by yourself gets lonely, and planning and executing adventures is kind of dull without somebody to bounce ideas off and chirp with.

What I enjoy and value most about travelling is sharing time and experiences with good people.

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