When travelling to any destination abroad on your own, or as a group, a crucial aspect to your trip will be your ability to meet new people and experience a variety of different foods, cultures, and perspectives. Not only will it make your travel more enjoyable but you’ll find that in places where you’re out of your comfort zone, the comfort you often find is in another traveller experiencing the same feeling as yourself. While you can easily hop on the internet or grab a lonely planet and read about the best spots to visit, where to stay, what to see, it’s much more effective to simply ask around. Seeing the emotion people often portray about a place they absolutely loved, or a place they didn’t, can change your perspective and experience of a place that might not always be at the top of the Trip Advisor Bali page.
Lonely is the wrong word, as it expresses a kind of depression, but travelling solo you can find yourself somewhat solidary – missing the conversation shared over a meal, or being able to relish at an amazing sight with someone that’s seen it as well. I’ve had many conversations with people I meet along the way about meal times. Breakfast and lunch seem to be easy to handle by yourself – you grab a coffee, read a book, and enjoy a quick breakfast or lunch on the go as you go about your day, but dinner is a completely different experience. Dinner generally signals the end of the day, a time to recoup and recount everything that you’ve done, and it seems a general consensus that dinner alone is the only meal where you really miss the company of another. However, as this is a common trait among travellers, if you happen to be sitting in your guesthouse and you get that familiar feeling in your belly ask almost anyone around you if they’d like to go for a bite, chances are they’re completely up for it.
The ‘Yes-Man’ principle is taken from a book written by Danny Wallace basically about a guy who’s in the pits that decides to start saying “Yes” to everything and sees his life turn around for the better. While it’s obviously important to use your judgement and gut feeling in any scenario, this principle is crucial when travelling anywhere – just say “Yes”. Someone you’ve never met wants to go check out a cool spot they heard about from a friend for dinner, go. There a cool sunset spot but you have to climb a funky set of rocks before the high tide washes in, go. There’s an extra seat in a car of people heading to a cool beach, go. You will never cease to amaze yourself at the amazing experiences you have when you simply say “yes” and go along for the ride. In the last few weeks I’ve searched for a secret sunken ship down the coast, swam against the tide to climb a coral rock face littered with crabs to watch the sunset, followed a funny Frenchman on a scooter to find the most amazing waterfalls, and roamed the midnight streets dancing with Ladyboy’s while trying to piece together the conversation from a thick Irish accent (think Brad Pitt in Snatch) – and every experience has been unforgettable. So if a friendly face asks you what you’re up to for the day, or eludes to a cool trip he might be taking, ask to join along, or ask them to join along in your adventures.
“Happiness is only real when shared”, is a quote by Alexander Supertramp (or Christopher McCandless – Into The Wild), and while I don’t necessarily agree with the finiteness of the remark, the principle that sharing a cool experience with others often being more rewarding, then simply taking it in yourself is quite sound. Not only will you find yourself in places you’d never planned, but you’ll create meaningful bonds with all sorts of different people, and when it’s time to head your separate ways you’ll again enjoy the solitude that comes along with travelling solo. So ask around, spread your invites, don’t judge, and say “Yes”.