Travelling alone – a new experience

Travel should be an opportunity to tickle the senses, but in practice it is not always that simple.

Business travel creates an opportunity to visit places, but in a cocooned environment of first-class hotels, fine restaurants, and business class flights. Rarely is there time to explore.

Travel with the family or a partner has its own restrictions. Where to visit, not taking risks, avoiding talking to fellow travellers lest they become leeches, where to eat …the list goes on and spontaneity is often lost.

When I took off for a thirty-day trip in 2010 I was a virgin solo traveller. An OAP who had nerdishly planned to travel solely by train from Stamford to Saigon, sleeping in shared rail compartments or hostel dormitories.

From the very first train to London the shackles were off, and I started talking to an adjacent startled passenger. It reminded me of an earlier trip to London when in the quietness of an uncommunicative rail compartment an elderly Australian man turned to me and said “Jeez mate, has somebody died”

Hanoi through train!

During the days that followed, I shared a compartment with Russian nuclear physicist whose wedding day and year was the same as mine, a surprised Australian girl found me sleeping in a mixed dorm in Warsaw, and immediately cracked open a bottle of vodka to share with me, I helped a youthful group drink the restaurant car dry of vodka on the Trans-Siberian train, I went horse-riding with an Israeli student in Mongolia, and shared food with fellow travellers in China and Vietnam.

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