Ok, so I know I go on about how amazing solo travel is ALL THE TIME, but this post is a little different to my usual spiel. This one’s about how some travel experiences really benefit from being shared with a pal or two. You’re thinking, “make your mind up”, right? Well, hear me out.
I love being solo on the road, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I like being alone on the road. Well, at least not all of the time. True, I’m a bit of a loner who loves her own space, but some of my most incredible moments have been purely down to the people I’m with, not the place that I’m in; and, it’s those people that I’ll remember when I’m homeless and penniless because I blew all my money on travelling. Sometimes, and this is travel gold, brilliant people align with incredible places, and it’s this massive treat that I’m banging on about today.
See, there are some things that just shouldn’t be experienced alone, and lots of solo travellers seem to agree with me. Those big bucket-list destinations are more fun and memorable if you’ve got a travel-buddy to share them with. Here’s some proof.
Iguazu Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and is therefore a must-see if you’ve bothered to go all the way to South America. It’s perfectly easy and safe to visit solo, but I really didn’t fancy experiencing such incredible sights on my lonesome, so I adjusted my plans a little and tagged along with my Belgian buddy Mandy. Perks of a pal at Iguazu include having your own personal photographer for the thousands of clichéd selfies you’re going to want to take, having someone to complain to when people get in the way of said selfies, and, well, general companionship and lols during two long days of walking around las cascadas hermosas (that’s the beautiful waterfalls in Spanish – I’m showing off). In my humble opinion, being at Iguazu alone might get a tad boring after your first ten waterfalls or so.
Mendoza was another place that was high up on my bucket-list (*drools about wine*), so it was important to me to have a fun crew to see it with. Steph and Richard became my wine-tasting sidekicks, and I’m so glad I practically stalked them across Argentina so that my trip would coincide with theirs. I mean, who wants to go on a bicycle wine tour alone? Firstly, where’s the fun in tasting delicious wines without having someone to guess the flavours with (can you taste grass in yours or not??). Then, there’s that all important safety in numbers: although, whether that counts when the danger is trying to navigate Argentinian traffic whilst spectacularly pissed on too many glasses of Malbec, is debatable.
When I went to book my Salar de Uyuni (Bolivian salt flats) tour, the first agency I spoke to gave me some advice: “go find some people to do it with before you book your tour, you’ll have a much better time.” So I did, and I did. Two fun solo-travelling gals in my hostel also wanted to do the trip, so I sweet talked them into extending their stay so we could head off together. And, we’re so glad we shared the experience. Cindy, Ariane and I had so much fun cruising around in a jeep, seeing incredible sights, and running about being silly for three days.
It could’ve been such a different experience, which my new pal Jarrad found out when he ended up in a jeep with a French family of five for the entire salt flats tour. We hung out with him whenever our paths crossed, but other than that Il était complètement seul (that’s he was completely alone in French – now I’m really showing off). The poor lad even had to take his own nude salt flats shots, but we were all very glad that he’d made the effort. His plight made us realise that a big part of what made our trip memorable were all the laughs, in-jokes, and moments of bloody brilliant friendship. Sure, the salt flats are one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen, but it’s memories of grooving to our timid driver’s weird playlist of foul-mouthed hip-hop that makes me smile when I think about that trip.
So you see, my case studies prove that sometimes you need a pal. And it’s not only the big trips that benefit from company: going dancing with a new group of girlfriends is rad, as are rooftop BBQ’s and drinking games with a fun new crew.
When I first set out on my current solo voyage, I had it in my head that I had to do everything alone, or it was kind of cheating. But now I realise that Sophie from three months ago is a bit of an idiot. Sure it’s fun to be independent, but some things really are better with buddies.