On companions and more reasons

August 15, 2008 at 2:37 am Leave a comment

I’m reading a book called Practical Nomad How to travel around the world. It’s written by an American who’s been traveling for decades and now works as a travel agent for Airtreks.com

Had i read it earlier i might have made some better decisions. But there are so many things that had i done them would have made me better prepared for my trip that to regret any of them is futile. One of the most shameful truths is that i know almost nothing about the countries i am going to visit. If i had more discipline i would have gone to my college library and spent a few days browsing histories of the various countries, and then a few more nights on wikipedia learning about current events. One of the questions i ask myself, is what can i get out of trip to a place i know nothing about? How can i appreciate the present if i know nothing about the past? Partially, i feel like a fool with some money and a passport.


In one of the last chapters E.H. suggests that women are more likely to take on traveling companions primarily because they don’t feel confident enough to travel alone. The problems with this are that (unless you get lucky and share many similar interests) you will end up feeling resentment because you’ll feel that a) your partner is holding you up or b) your partner is abandoning you to pursue her own interests. YES!

Then he express what i’ve known since my first hour of traveling alone, before i even left new york city, when i waited at the gate in JFK to board my plane to Spain, that if you travel alone but wish to travel with someone else during your trip (for safety or conversation or to save on hotel costs etc) you will easily find other single travelers who feel likewise!

I am often asked about why i don’t just go on a prearranged tour. I haven’t been generally successful at expressing my reasons, but here are some of them (verbalized with assistance from E.H.)

Prearranged tours:

– limit interaction with locals
– you are STUCK to everyone in the group
– are planned trips and have almost no flexibility
– are designed to maximize your comfort and fulfill the expectations you came with when you booked the trip, often at the expense of locals and their environment
– are almost always designed to last no more than a few weeks
– are expensive because the prices are inflated to compensate all the middlemen involved

Another question i am asked so often (and with such serious and worrisome intonations) is whether i’ve found a place to stay when i get to where i’m going. I wish i could show how easy it is to go (at least in the global south) and find a place to stay. For example, if i arrive in Bangkok and my cs host cancels, i may end up spending $20 instead of the $10 i hoped to spend if i feel like taking one of the offers of the dozen or so touts i’ll come across at the airport trying to sell rooms in their hotels, but in the end it won’t make any difference. I’ll have shelter.

From the book:
“Experienced travelers rarely worry about finding a place to sleep, not because they’ve learned any special room-finding skills but because they’ve learned that it’s not really that hard to find rooms on arrival.”

I feel that the people who worry about such things are not confident enough in their ability to persevere amidst uncertain and stressful conditions. And if you wish to argue that it’s better to limit as much stress as possible you’re denying yourself some very pleasurable, stimulating, satisfying, astonishing experiences.


Entry filed under: travel. Tags: .

“you’re searching for freedom, it doesn’t exist” -mom 10 hours

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