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Table for One

Ive been travelling on my own since 2001, and each of my trips has lasted from two to three years, so the most common questions Ive faced, particularly from other travellers, are variations of, Dont you get lonely? Is it easy to make friends? Dont you get tired? or Dont you get bored?

For example, I was having dinner on a rooftop restaurant in Agra, India with four Canadians Id met. We watched the colours change on the Taj Mahal as the sun set, and one of them asked me if I was travelling alone. On learning that I was, he said, How do you get to meet people? I smiled and pointed at the group round the table. I get to meet people like you.

Because despite what people usually think, travelling solo doesnt mean travelling alone. At least, not for very long. When I first went out to India, I was worried that I might find it difficult to meet people. In fact, I met more people than I could have possibly imagined. Now, when Im asked, Is it hard to travel on your own? my instant response is always, Yes, very because you almost never are. Locals invariably initiate conversations on the trains and buses if they dont, I will.

In the ubiquitous Myanmar tea shops, I never managed to sit on my own for more than a few minutes before a local, often with very good English, would ask if he could join me. (It was always a he.) And young backpacking couples travelling in India were surprised when I described the frequent conversations Id had with warm, friendly Indians, especially on the trains. If youre unaccompanied, curious locals see it as an opportunity whereas if there are two of you, youre probably already in a conversation with each other, and they wont intrude...

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