I started traveling alone when I was 11, and I had sure met my share of interesting people through the years.
While I had forgotten most of their names, I will always remember how they made my trips memorable. As a young solo traveler, I often depended on the kindness of strangers, and looking back, I’m amazed now at how good people can be.
Here are some of them that I met in my solo travels.
He takes the responsibility to take care of you, once he learns that you’re traveling by yourself. He makes sure you find your hotel, that you know exactly how to get there, and wants to know that you arrive there safely.
He may even give you his number, and before you part, there are several warnings and reminders of what to do and what not to do to keep yourself safe.
I have had so many experiences of this. The best thing I remember was arriving unexpectedly once in San Miguel, Bulacan, not knowing where to stay. It was getting dark and I decided to ask a tricycle driver, a married guy in his 40s.
He didn’t know of any hostel or inn, but he didn’t leave me hanging. He asked the other drivers in the area, and when he learned of a place (which turned out to be the local motel), he took me to a roadside restaurant in the public market. He asked the waitress to allow me to sit there and wait for him.
By 10pm, he and the other tricycle drivers arrived. They began drinking, and between joshing each other and flirting with the waitress, they talked to me, joking that they saw a resemblance to Maricel Laxa. I set aside the notebook I was reading and joked around with them as well.
By the time midnight rolled around, my self-appointed savior left his drinking buddies and took me to the place they called “Inong,” a makeshift place for clandestine lovers. He said that because I checked in at midnight, I can stay up to 6am the next day.
The adviser is someone who has a suggestion or a recommendation for virtually everything that you’re planning to do.
She has warnings and cautions too, and while you appreciate her suggestions and helpful tips, sometimes you can’t help wishing that she should have waited first to be asked for her advice.
The Friendly Local
This is someone you can only hope to meet when you arrive at a place for the first time. The friendly local has a lot of precious tidbits of information to give, and may even offer you a place to stay or a meal to have with her family.
Meeting her is priceless, for not only do you get to experience the things you can’t usually find in guidebooks, you’d also get a deeper appreciation of the place through her eyes.
In my solo travels, I usually meet this person on the bus, or while waiting for a flight. Since 2008, though, I began using Couchsurfing to specifically find a friendly local.
The Fellow Traveler
You start out traveling alone, but somehow, along the way, you get to start talking with your seatmate on the bus, or perhaps the girl with a huge backpack ahead of you in the ticket office. You talk for a bit, then realize that you’re headed the same way. Presto, you have acquired an instant travel companion!
This happens to me often when I travel solo. I start out alone but end up traveling with other people. I love traveling by myself because of this; when I’m alone, I meet so many people who make my travel experiences fuller and more meaningful!
The lover always assumes that if you’re a woman traveling by yourself, you’re out looking for some “adventure.” I’ve met some of them, and while there were a few who were definitely creepy, others were harmless and more, shall we say, romantic.
I remember most the guy in Siquijor. He was quite persistent in taking me around when he learned I was alone. He took me to a basketball game and introduced me to his friends, then he took me to his family. He proposed to me at the pier—a clean and beautiful place with blue-green waters.
Unfortunately, I was never one for short-time encounters, and he had to make do with a bottle of beer I bought for him in the town plaza.
How about you? Which of these people have you met on the road? Tell us in the comments below!