TUESDAY TRAVELER - 4 February 2014 -Traveling Solo

I'd like to hear and share your travel stories.  If you have pictures, include your best shots so not only can we read your words but see you photos too.
Send them to me at:  TravelThruMyEyes@gmail.com. 

But for now, we'll talk about traveling solo.

While I may be solo, I am never alone
Those of you that follow my blog (thanks for following) know that I'm a single guy that sometimes dances to a different beat.  My frame of mind, not only when traveling but as I live life is, "while I may be solo, I am never alone".

Devils Bridge, St Johns Antigua
I've taken many trips to places where I didn't know anybody or couldn't speak the language, but I sure as hell didn't just sit around the pool sipping rum.  I took tours, walked the main streets (I still don't venture into dark alleys), ordered from menus by pointing to pictures, bought stuff when I couldn't accurately convert the money, and the list goes on.  Bottom line, I got off my butt and went out.

But I do enjoy lounging in and around the pool sometimes (Willemstad Curacao)
During the majority of my travels I have a goal to start short conversations with at least two new people a day.  When I arrive it's easy; I talk to the hotel staff, its part of their job.

As time goes on I'll talk to other travelers, bartenders, waiters, store clerks, and random locals on the street.  The conversations will range from recommendations by other travelers, the most popular local beverages and cuisine, directions, where to go, and equally as important where not to go.

Occasionally these short conversations turned into language lessons.  While I do know some Spanish, there are different dialects, local slang, and gestures that just don't translate well; for example, "guapo" in Ecuador (good looking) and the Dominican Republic (angry).  It's the same with English, just compare England with the US; what a hoot that is.

And there are times when I make new friends, ending up with them showing me around.  Instead of telling me where to have a drink or eat, we go there.  When the main streets and stores are crowded with other tourists, we take the back streets to the stores used by locals.  And when the taxi driver wants to charge me the tourist rate, they call a friend who only wants gas money.

As I mentioned earlier, I've done a lot of traveling solo.  It does have its advantages.  A few of them are I set my own schedule and make my own plans.  As long as I don't stay in a resort, hotels are cheaper.  And with my goal of talking to new people daily, traveling solo provides the opportunity to meet people. 

Throughout my travels I've come across some disadvantages of solo traveling.  The most evident one is I don't have many pictures with me in them.  But then I revert back to my goal of talking to people and if there is a shot I really want to be in, I'll ask someone to take it.

Tripods are awesome (Jupiter, Florida)
Another disadvantage usually happens after dark; no "wingman" (military term for not having somebody to watch your back).  A wingman isn't only nice to have after dark, but they're also good to have if when you're walking around town. 

On a trip to Panama City, Panama I was walking around to familiarize myself with the area when I was stopped by two elderly women sitting on a bench.

They called me over to the bench and asked where I was going.  I explained that I was just taking a walk and they pointed in the direction I was walking and said, "Do not go down there.  They will rob you".  It wasn't a casual warning but the tone of their voice let me know it was a matter of fact.  They knew the area and basically told me that for my own safety I'd better leave.  So I smiled said thank-you and headed back the way I came.

So, you see, traveling is always an adventure, whether you're traveling solo or with someone.  The biggest challenge I've ever found in traveling is where to go next.  Not worrying if I were to go it alone or have a friend join me. 

One of the publications (including blogs) I follow is "Solo Traveler".  Here's a link to an article they have about traveling solo; Solo Traveler; Travel Alone – Where and How.

 “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” - St. Augustine

Until next time

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