From my very first European vacation, I have enjoyed traveling alone. The freedom to change your itinerary on the spot (mid-museum even!), do nothing or jam pack the day, and randomly decide to simply take in a film…. or a nap. When I am abroad, I prefer to stay in hostels. This way, I have built in conversation partners.
During my 10 day Scandinavian adventure right before returning home from England, I spent most of my days sightseeing and reading (Denmark will be the topic of a future post!) and saying maybe a handful of words. I was starved for conversation when I got back to the hostel each night. I fondly remember my Stockholm room of six women. The woman on the bunk above me was a Canadian attorney who also happened to be travelling alone. We got to talking and had a rather lively discussion of comparative human resources law! As boring as that might sound to the rest of the world, we both thoroughly enjoyed it … and the company it provided.
When I went to Salt Lake City on my vacation, it would have been really nice to meet up with someone (a friend of a friend) and have a shared meal. Traveling alone means a lack of other-than-transactional interactions. Unfortunately, none of my friends had friends in that city.
Hmmmmm …… Maybe a new network building site could be arranged that would help people in their extended social circles. I’m not a programmer or anything, but I thought that might be something cool. Like Couchsurfing, only not with complete strangers which freaks me out.
Not everyone is so freaked out by that, though. Rebecca, my little sister, recently returned from a grand European adventure, during which she had wonderful experiences with couch surfing. I am envious both of the courage that takes and for the research grant that paid for the trip!!!!!
Now if there were a site that where I could meet people based on social circles (very LinkedIn-esque), I would love to host new people who happen to be visiting in my fair city or to take advantage of such opportunities when I’m traveling. Being able to exchange stories of how we know our mutual acquaintance, or piecing together our own 6 degrees puzzle to see whom else we might know sounds like a very entertaining evening.
Would you be willing to go out to dinner with a friend of a friend who is a stranger to you? or How weird is it that one of my favorite memories in what I consider to be the most beautiful city in the world was a conversation about HR law?
4 thoughts on “A Friendly Face Far From Home”
Okay….so the cosmic sisterhood continues. I was JUST talking to my daughter about travelling alone because we’ve both done (alone) trips alone to Europe. I like it for the exact reasons you state. I’ve never stayed in a hostel. Do you think someone in their mid 50’s would be comfortable? What if you’re traveling as a couple? Can you make reservations? Can you stay for more than one night at a time? The world just opens up more when you’re by yourself because you’re forced to make conversation with people you might not engage with if you were with a good friend.
And I’d like to know where people I know – even or maybe especially the 6 degrees removed folks you mentioned – when I travel. Like I was just in a city in California a few months ago that was a little, little town, and a woman who reads and comments on my blog a lot said, when she saw a post about it – that she lives within a stone’s throw of where I was. Damn! It would have been fun to meet her for coffee or something.
and yes I’m comfortable meeting with a friend of a friend. I’ll do it in England in a year or so – and I’ve done it with my kid’s friends often. Met up not too long ago with a friend of my daughter’s for dinner in L.A. It’s fun.
You’ve got a great idea for some kind of cosmic hook up thing with travellers. I’m going to think about that some more.
And I was in Salt Lake City for my mom’s 80th birthday party in June. I wonder if I was there when you were there. How I would have enjoyed visiting with you.
Maybe one of these days we’ll be vacaying alone in Europe and join paths for a while. I know I’d get a kick out of it.
Oh and – I like it for the mid-museum, Yeah, I’m done here, kind of thing too. I can do and see what I want to do and see – but I’ve travelled with people who are accomodating that way too. Like – okay – see you tonight when you both take off in the morning.
In talking to DH2U, it turns out that Friendster used to be like the cite I was describing, but Myspace ended up pushing them out.
Okay, we need to stop leading the same life, or at least sharing a brain. It’s getting a little freaky … in a good way! Whenever I have stayed in hostels, the average age is what you would imagine, but there have always been older travelers staying there as well. They are normally the ones I end up hanging out with, as their travel stories are to die for! I met a fabulous woman in her 70s who was slowly working her way around Europe. She was quite the delight. They do have rooms for couples (my friend Hillary and I stayed at one in Paris), and others are just big dorm rooms with anywhere from 6 to 50 people.
I haven’t tried the traveling together but exploring separately. The only time I came close was during my trip with Hillary, but what she had in store for the day sounded so much better than my plans, that I went with her!
It seems like you are often in my neck of the woods. Who knows, maybe we won’t have to wait until Europe to meet. But, if we are both in the same place at the same time, will the universe explode?
Ha-ha…we might simultaneously combust. Love the 70ostrich yr old woman galavanting around by herself. I so want to be that kind of 70 yr old one day