When people hear that I have been traveling since January, their first question is some variation of: “Have you been traveling alone this whole time?!”
The answer is yes and no.
Yes, in the sense that I did not depart with a travel companion, such as a spouse, partner, friend, or family member, who has accompanied me to all the places I’ve visited. And yes, I have spent time alone during my travels.
No, in the sense that I have linked up with friends, old and new, pretty much everywhere I have been. I also planned my travels so that I’d be living in community.
I started out in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I was picked up at the airport by an old friend. I spent the first 10 days of my trip at a health retreat at the Fruit House hosted by some friends of mine.
After the retreat, I spent the next month traveling with friends I met there, some new and some old. I visited Pai, a mountainous hippie town north of Chiang Mai, Thailand; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a place so awful it deserves it’s own post in the series “Places not to go;” Ubud, Bali, a raw food-yoga-meditation mecca; and Koh Phangan, Thailand, pretty much a Thai island version of Ubud.
Aside from a handful of transportation days on buses, trains, and planes, I was only really alone for a week in Bali, recovering from when the sidewalk ate me, a couple weeks in Koh Chang, and a couple days in Bangkok.
I headed to Koh Chang after spending a couple weeks in Koh Phangan. It was an emotionally rough time for me, and I took solace in connecting with distant friends, listening to spiritual podcasts, practicing Kundalini yoga, and eating raw foods.
When in India, I lived at an ashram with a beautiful Brahmin family and their helpers, along with my fellow batchmates (in the Ayurveda and yoga trainings) who became fast friends. After India, I spent a few days in Bangkok alone, and then reunited with one of my dear batchmates who was a great help in putting this site together (Thanks, Tim!). We spent a week and a half in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
In May, I cheffed a raw food health retreat in Chanthaburi, Thailand, and had the pleasure of living alongside both new and old friends for a month. We developed a real sense of community in a short time.
From Chanthaburi, I traveled with two women for the rest of my time in Thailand (with a brief stint in Cambodia), visiting Koh Mak, Bangkok, Krabi (great rock climbing!), and finally Koh Tao, the scuba diving capital of Thailand. I spent my final days in Bangkok, where I connected with a man I met my very first week in Chiang Mai. Small world!
On July 7, I flew into Los Angeles, and spent four days in Long Beach with a good friend of mine. I am so grateful to have had such a delightful transition back into the western world. We crammed as many laughs, heart-to-hearts, raw food hot spots, retro shops, beaches, and hikes into my visit as possible.
From LA, I flew to Canada, where I have been living at a Buddhist monastery with a revolving crew of temporary monastics, life monastics, and lay people since July 12. It still amazes me that we are blessed with the ability to fly around the world in so short a time!
So, no. I really haven’t been alone at all, and yet, I kind of have been. It’s not so black and white!
I encourage anyone who has the travel itch, to go ahead and scratch it even if you don’t have a buddy to take along your journey. I sat with my travel itch for many months, maybe even years, before developing the courage to give in.
My suggestion is to book something–anything that resonates (retreat, training, volunteer work, homestay, course, etc.)–at the start of your trip. That way, you’ll be guaranteed to meet people with a common bond. I booked these sorts of things periodically, and met–and am still meeting–all sorts of amazing people!