Traveling Han-Style (Solo) vs Wingman’d

traveling alone? then who took the picture?

traveling alone? then who took the picture?

Random Observation/Comment #202: I consider myself a quiet guy with a lot to say.  It requires a bit of prying, but it’s quite easy to get me on some weird topic rant.  Since I try to gain a little bit of knowledge in everything, I’m sure it won’t take a long time of searching to find something we have in common or something we can just debate about.  With this being said, I guess I play more of a responsive role as a travel partner.  I walk around making observations and enjoy the new environment with open senses, but I’ll put in my two cents when the time arises.  There’s this side of me that gets lost within the moment and feels the need to be secluded, but another one that wants to talk about what I’m seeing and express those sporadic jokes that run through my head (instead of just taking a picture of it to laugh about it later).  I write this entry to answer a question that has been bugging me: Should I fly solo or look for a travel buddy?

I know some people who absolutely hate traveling by themselves.  They feel unsafe in an unfamiliar city and they feel so empty and quiet without a wall to bounce off some ideas.  I, on the other hand, love the solidarity.  I love walking at my own pace and seeing things that interest me.  I feel no need to follow someone else’s schedule and there’s a degree of freedom that brings everything together.  Plus, if I am in a social-type of mood, I can always meet new people at a hostel and jabber away about career ideas and similar topics of conversation with a new perspective.  There’s something about meeting a stranger that adds adrenaline to the equation.  After the first hour of going through the regular chit-chat introductions, there’s just an open slate of questions to keep a conversation rolling into different topics.

If I traveled with a best friend, we would definitely have these sorts of conversations with some inside jokes included, but your best friend’s image in your mind does not become tainted or boosted with any exchange of words.  The words don’t pass through a judgmental barrier, which is great between friends, but a little anti-climatic with my surroundings.  I guess the amount of new things you can learn about a friend (or the new things you want to learn without ruining a friendship) arrive a happy medium that should not be disturbed.  There are many cases where long road trips stuck in a car with someone for 15 hours at a time will drive one of the people crazy – especially if it’s just two people, sometimes you just run out of things to say.  Then you get this awkward silence and glowing evil vibe that makes everything uncomfortable.  There’s always the possibility of strengthening a friendship, but always that danger of mucking it up.  However, in the traveling situation, what are the chances that the person you meet half way around the world would become your best friend?  I’m open to the possibility, but the reputation you exude doesn’t make a difference – what matters more is your character.  I guess you could technically just lie about everything.  That wouldn’t be a bad social experiment…

Anyway, I’ve avoided traveling with someone I know really well to reduce the chance of messing up the relationship that already exists.  The solo traveling is probably not as safe, but it’s definitely much more flexible.  So, my quirky personal interests and weird walking habits have made me choose a solo-traveling solution?  I started to think it was the better choice until I actually found someone I like traveling with.  Maybe I just never gave it a chance or had the opportunity arise, but traveling with Natasha has actually been quite fun.  She enjoys the same activities as I do and we explore each city fulfilling our own role.  The conversations come in small waves, and in between, we just observe and make commentary where necessary.

I guess that’s the best part – the random commentaries that are floating in my head devoured in the moment.  The friend is just there for you to call his/her name and point at that clever little observation.  It’s that feeling of sharing that thought directly to someone – like twittering anywhere you want.  Hmm… it’s like being able to twitter anywhere at any time without any electronic device.  It’s genius.  The only down side is that it’s only with one person, but at least you know when this person is reading your tweet and whether or not he/she is interested.  Luckily, this service provides the visual clues of interest in the topic.  Plus, it has full voice recognition capabilities and responds with a set voice as well.  Brilliant!

So, I guess the key to traveling with a wingman is to have a good wingman.  You have to share the same habits in traveling and the same interests.  For example, a museum go-er would most probably not enjoy a huge hiking scene.  Or a lazy person would not want to explore the whole city by foot.  Frugal travelers may not always agree with the traveling styles of those who want to live luxuriously on their vacation.  There’s just a long list of ground rules that must be followed or else traveling together could just mean sleeping in the same hostel (which is cool too).  I guess the best course of action is to plan the trip together and see the common interests in activities.  If you find an interesting person with a similar taste, then the trip will be that much more enjoyable.  A base familiarity at least helps remind you of home.  When you’ve been traveling as long as I have, you start to miss home. Sigh.

~See Lemons Zusammen