It is not necessary to travel everywhere with a guitar, wreck hotel rooms, demand the whole floor for your sole use or hold parties for groupies to be a solo travel rockstar. Whilst some of these would undoubtedly be fun for awhile, they are more likely to result in a ban and large bill rather than rockstar status.
It is likely that you already possess most if not all of the real qualities needed to more than hold your own on the hostel circuit.
Solo travel has many advocates and numerous articles have been written detailing the advantages. Many people love the independence and freedom of being able to please themselves and this is often quoted as the main benefit.
The opposing faction argues that the lack of somebody to share the experience with outweighs any other factors. This is something that even the most ardent solo traveller occasionally has to accept and admit that on an extended trip they may possibly feel a little lonely at times. Genuine ‘loners’ are few and far between and those that are, maybe missing something; decent deodorant perhaps?
Being the centre of attention
Being alone all the time is not actually necessary however, all it requires is a little honing of the social skills and it is possible to find some company and often very good long term friends.
Everybody has seen somebody at a hostel or hotel that seems to hold ‘court’ everyday. It is likely that initially they seem to be part of a large coach party as they are never alone. Different people sit and chat with them whenever they are in the communal areas of the accommodation, having breakfast or enjoying a coffee, doing the excursions or going out for dinner. It is only when speaking to them that it becomes evident they are in fact travelling alone. They are a solo travel rockstar!
This poses a few questions, why are they so popular, are they exceptionally attractive, maybe they are rich and extremely generous, what do they have you do not? The most likely answer: nothing at all.
Most travellers have a great deal of experience to pass on, plenty of stories to regale others with, an independent nature, can competently wield a camera, possess common sense and usually a sense of humour. These are the basic raw ingredients that make up a rockstar. All that is needed is a little appropriate mixing and the ability to ‘market’ themselves and a social butterfly will emerge.
This does not require any ‘pushiness’ on the part of the natural rockstar, just being friendly, helpful, passing on advice and appearing approachable will usually suffice. Though of course for any networking strategy to be really effective it requires to be implemented at the right time and place. Any rockstar needs to be accessible to their adoring public or they will not be able to ‘idolise’ them!
Save the best stories for the communal areas such as the bar, with several people present. Constantly repeating the same story to groups will inevitably mean it being heard by some people too often. This will soon prove tiresome and the label of ‘bore’ will be attached rather than the coveted ‘rockstar’ one.
Become friendly with the accommodation owner/manager and staff. Apart from the obvious benefits of getting useful tips off them, it will soon become obvious to them that your vast wealth of experience can benefit their other guests. Before long they will be recommending that they seek you out, introduce them to you or even ask if you would be prepared to act as a ‘guide’ for awhile.
This can become an intrusion on your own time and enjoyment so strike the right balance. If these requests become too frequent politely inform the manager, this should do the trick as it will not be beneficial for them to offend their star guest.
Be wary of trying too hard as well, clowns are often the centre of attention. Being imagined as suiting a red nose, oversize shoes and becoming the laughing stock of the hostel is seldom fun…….. unless your name is Coco of course.
Always trying to be the centre of attention, hogging the limelight, being excessively loud and always attempting to have the last word or playing ‘one-upmanship’ with travel tales will not make you many friends. Pretty quickly the new found companions will suddenly have other plans and will actively avoid all but the briefest contact. Social hero to social zero in less time than it takes to spell bore!
It is possible the ‘rockstar’ may become a victim of their own success finding it difficult to find anytime to themselves. Whenever they appear other guests will drift over to chat to them, invitations to join groups/ couples heading out or requests to accompany them when they are off touring the destination.
The main reason many of us choose solo travel becomes ‘lost’, fortunately most people respect the privacy of others and such challenges to solo status are rare. The rockstar should however have sufficient confidence and experience to deal with this diplomatically if it arises. A polite thank you for the invitation, declining it but offering to meet up later will usually suffice. If a rendezvous is arranged ensure that it is honoured however, true rockstars may get away with being unreliable, travel ones will not.
Exchange contact information the people that are met along the way and genuinely make an effort to remain in touch whether returning home or continuing with onward travel. Nobody can ever have enough friends, getting an email or phone call from somebody that has not been spoken to for some time is always a pleasant surprise. That contact may even turn out to be of great benefit when looking for budget accommodation or tips in a particular destination, it may even develop into a potential ‘couchsurfing’ opportunity at a later date.
Choosing to go solo
Play to your strengths and be sincere and it is unlikely that any traveller will need to feel lonely for long. This is the joy of solo travel to me, being able to choose when I want to share, when company is wanted and when it is preferable to remain solo.
It is not necessarily easier to meet people when travelling alone, but it is true that couples and even groups often become a little insular, keeping to themselves. Meeting a Scandinavian couple recently, this was their experience; they often ‘missed out’ on mixing with others as people tended to leave them alone. Most of the serious hints mentioned here however are equally appropriate to couples travelling as solo travellers and there are plenty of gregarious partnerships that prove the point.
One last tip; it is not necessary to stop bathing, washing your clothes or hair to become a rockstar traveller, it may work for heavy mtetal bands of the seventies but it is guaranteed to make you the most unpopular guest in any hostel or hotel!