Allow us to introduce you to a Solo Traveler City Host! The City Hosts will hold a meetup or two each year in their home town, helping solo travelers to connect face-to-face. Over the next number of weeks, they will share with us a personal solo travel story.
Please meet Jen, a solo traveler from London, who is currently traveling around the world. You can read about her travels at She Gets Around and Volunteer Addict, and follow her on twitter: @jlowthrop. Jen wrote this post during her first day traveling solo in Sri Lanka.
After an emotional morning, a few tears and feelings of loneliness, the second half of my 24 hours solo has improved no end! Arriving in Sri Lanka in the dark I got a taxi straight to the hotel I had booked in advance (the cheapest I could find with a website) and was soon snuggled in a very big, very comfy double bed, complete with mosquito net, en suite bathroom and fan.
I slept almost solidly for 12 hours, hoping to wake up energised and ready for anything. Sadly, emotions had kicked in and instead I was sobbing on the phone to my mom. But fast forward an hour and I was out and about, swinging my bag as I walked down the streets of Negombo. I stopped for brunch in a café where I struck up a conversation with a lovely Australian girl. Unfortunately, she was leaving on an organised tour the next morning, but she gave me a few tips on the town.
Next, I headed into the centre, got some nice shots of the fishing boats coming in, a few whiffs of fresh prawns and shark and was asked a total of 43 times in 20 minutes (yes, I counted!) if I would like a ride to town in a tuktuk.
Traveling alone is more often than not going to cost more than traveling with another. You have to pay for a room to yourself, taxi/tuktuk rides cost the same whether they are full or you have it to yourself and even some tours have cheaper prices for groups or couples. So you really have to save where possible. Walking is a sure fire way to do this. A 3km walk into town and then back is nothing when the day unfolds ahead of you. So I said no to every one of the 43 tuktuk drivers, sometimes more than once. I saved 400 rupees (approx £2.50).
Along the walk I met lots of friendly locals offering advice on where to go and what to see. Although my main aim of finding a bookshop to buy a Lonely Planet guide could not be completed, I had a brilliant, energising stroll through Negombo, past churches, children playing, canals and the best bit: the seaside!
On my return walk towards the hotel I was stopped by another local asking me the usual, ‘Where are you from? How long are you here?’ He then invited me in for tea and so I said yes! Well, why not? He was hosting a party for his mother in law who was departing to Australia for a few months, so with at least 20 people inside I felt safe to go in.
An hour later I headed back to the hotel having acquired a couple of Sinhalese words, a new family of friends and an invitation for dinner when I am next in the area! I am no longer alone… but you very rarely are when traveling solo.
I must dash now. I have a hot dinner date with a plate of freshly caught fish… and I don’t have to share it with anyone! Can’t wait!