Let me explain my position, I am a solo traveler through and through. I have been doing it for a year and half now and I would never trade it for anything. I am addicted to it but man, does it get on my nerves sometime being treated as one.
The issues I will be addressing here are the things I have been treated as a solo traveler. The purpose of this post is not to discourage people from traveling alone but to shed light on the things we have to deal with in hopes that you will try and avoid doing these things to us.
- 1. "Please Move so Couples Can Sit Together"
- 2. Treat us like a third wheel
- 3. Communicate in your own language
- 4. Talk Behind Our Back
- 5. False Empathy
- 6. We come and Go
- 7. Feel sorry for us when we take selfies
- 8. We have no say in decision making
- 9. We are expendable
- 10. Think we are faking it
- We love you but these got to stop
1. "Please Move so Couples Can Sit Together"
I mean, really? Can't you be seated separately for 30 minutes? I would be glad to move if this only happens once, but when I was on my way to the Milford Sound the other day, first I was asked to move because an old couple wanted to be seated together. I gladly did but then more came on the bus and wanted to be seated together as well. The one that got on my nerves are the two old couples who wanted four of them to be seated together in a row. What for? They didn't even talk to each other!
I have had it when the bus driver announced the matter on a microphone. As he spoke, he scanned through the whole bus and spotted me then stared right at me while addressing the matter asking people to move. So please, try to keep such requests to a minimum. I don't want to be a dick but some time, too much is too much.
2. Treat us like a third wheel
This doesn't happen often when we hangout with fellow solo travelers but sometime we don't have the option to choose. Sometime, we have to hangout with couples, or groups of "friends-for-life" people and that is when we feel like the third wheel the most. It is extremely awkward for us to engage in a conversation and laugh at jokes we don't understand. We really do try to blend in but clearly the conversation was not meant for us. All we could do is look out the window and hope that you will include us in the conversation.
That awkward moment when you don't realize you are the third wheel
If you are hanging out with a solo traveler, try and involve us in your conversation. There is nothing to lose for you anyway because we have no biased opinion against you. It is not just the conversation that makes us feel like a third wheel, but the body language can do too so be welcoming. Open your arms and welcome us to join the conversation and trust me, we will blow your mind away.. well maybe not, but you are sure to get an interesting perspective from us!
3. Communicate in your own language
This has been going on for far too long. When I was staying in dorm room in a hostel in New Zealand, there were at least 8 germans there and they turned the whole kitchen into Germany. It was so bad that some germans I know even try to avoid other germans because the excessive use of their language. After all, they are traveling in New Zealand, and they want to meet people from other countries too.
When there is someone in your group that doesn't speak your language, don't speak your language with your countrymen and women. It is not just rude but it sends a wrong message to us that you don't want us to participate because how could we? We don't speak your language!
4. Talk Behind Our Back
It is lonely enough for us to traverse the world alone and hope that we would find great companies to share the moment with but when that so-called great company decided to talk behind our back, it hit us harder than most. It is even worst when they talk behind our back right in front of us and think we didn't hear it. It made us doubt the goodness in people we always believe in. We put a lot of trust in people when we are traveling alone and we do expect some kind of respect back. Don't talk behind our back and pretend it didn't happen.
5. False Empathy
Don't look at us with false empathy. We chose to be a solo traveler out of choice, not because we don't have friends or families to travel with. We chose it because of freedom, because we can shape our lives with our own hands, and best of all, because we want to meet new people rather than be stuck in our own little bubble. So save your empathy elsewhere and let's just enjoy life together.
6. We come and Go
Sometime, we really do consider people we meet on our solo travels as good friends but the majority of the time, it is only one sided. After all, we shared one the best moment of our lives with you, so if we try to stay in touch with you, please consider it as a compliment and try to stay in touch back. A little effort from both sides goes a long way.
7. Feel sorry for us when we take selfies
I'm not big on the traditional way of taking selfies (don't get me started on the selfie stick), but as a photographer, I needed a way to include myself in my photos somehow. One time when I was hiking Ben Lomond mountain in Queenstown, New Zealand, the sun came out right when I was walking down from the cloudy summit. I decided to set up a tripod so that I can at least get one sunny photo of me and the place. A group of english speaking Asians walked passed me and I heard them say, "Aww.. he is taking a selfie. How cute!" and they all giggled their way up the mountain.
I took this right after that snarky comment. I think it was worth it.
Don't feel sorry for us. The best thing you can do when you see us trying to take a selfie, is offer to take the photo for us. Most of us will appreciate it more than a snark little comment of how sad and lonely we seem to be.
8. We have no say in decision making
When you are making a group decision, don't exclude us from the process and assume that all of us are flexible. It's true that some solo travelers (including me) are extremely flexible, but we do want our voice heard sometime and even though the decision might not go our way, we do appreciate being heard. It shows that you are happy to have us in your group.
9. We are expendable
This is correlated to #6, the feeling "we come and go" toward us may influence the perception that we are expendable. Even though we love going solo, we do prefer sticking to one group and actually develop our friendship for as long as we could into something more than a random encounter. Don't treat us like we don't matter, treat us like friends like we do to you.
10. Think we are faking it
Since it is in our nature as a solo traveler to try our best to blend in with people, it is understandable that you will perceive us as fake. After all, the questions we ask people usually follow a certain pattern that includes questions like "Where are you from?" and "How long are you traveling in this country?". We also seem to always agree with everyone and say yes to everything.
"The only resource of knowledge we can get except from our experience is through other people’s experience"
We can assure you that we are not faking it. We didn't just ask you those questions because we have to, we asked because we are genuinely curious. We asked them in hopes of creating a deeper, meaningful conversation about it. After all, the only resource of knowledge we can get except from our experience is through other people's experience. We say yes to everything because we want to experience everything. We want to befriended and get along with everyone. It gives us joy when we are able to have a positive impact on someone.
We love you but these got to stop
After all, we are all travelers. We share the same goal, the same roof, and the same world. We share knowledge, we share food when one needs, we learn from one another. We embrace you. You are our friends and we treat you like one. All we ask in return is for you to treat us like friends as well.
Agree or disagree about this post? Feel free to comment below or tweet me here: @peachananr
Looking for more inspirational articles? Check out The Solo Traveler’s Inspiration section where we will discuss topics related to the nomadic and traveling lifestyle and shower-thoughts that will invoke wanderlust in all of us.
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