“Are you going alone?” is probably the second most frequently asked question I get about my trips (The first is some version of, “Is it safe?”) Although I do miss having adventures with my travel wife, solo travel is anything but lonely.
After staying with a Couchsurfer in Guadalajara and meeting lots of local people, I moved to Guanajuato, a city I hadn’t heard of before planning this trip. It is an old mining town with beautiful buildings, rich culture, a perfect climate, a maze of steep streets and alleys, dozens of picturesque parks and plazas, and tons of tourists. A perfect place to rent an AirBnB for a week and just slow down and soak up the culture.
I’ll admit that after two days of wandering the alleys and marveling at the music, dancing, and street vendors that filled the streets every night, and stopping by the bakery across the street several times a day, I was feeling the need to connect with someone.
So I turned back to Couchsurfing where members can post public trips just to say they are in the area and wouldn’t mind meeting up. That’s how I met Gabriel from Houston who was pushing himself outside his comfort zone on his first solo trip. Despite our multi-decade age difference, we discovered we had amazingly similar Catholic upbringings (serving as altar boys, participation in youth groups, parents on church committees, moms who cleaned and decorated the church, etc.)
We also learned how our stories compared of growing up gay and Catholic in different decades, and I was left in awe of how Gabriel has faced challenges with the wisdom and strength of someone well beyond his years.
Gabriel and I spent three days exploring the city together, having great conversations, and learning more about each other.
So traveling alone does not mean you have to be alone. Solo travel actually opens up opportunities that might not exist if you’re traveling with someone. The beauty of traveling solo is that you make your trip whatever you want it to be. You can find interesting people to hang out with, stay with locals, make new friends, or you can use your time alone in a place far from home to clear your mind and just be. There is no one right way to travel, but don’t let a fear of traveling alone keep you from seeking adventure.
And you don’t have to be a Couchsurfer to meet people. Volunteering is another great way to meet both locals and travelers. Or, like my new young friend, you have the energy to go out dancing until 2 am and come back with plenty of stories of the people you met.
Spending a few days with Gabriel led to me doing even more than I expected in Guanajuato. Find out why we’re wearing life jackets in my next post!