When I flew into Ladakh last fall, I had no phone, no friends, and no plans there other than to rent a motorcycle and explore the Himalayas.
On my first day out I rented a bike and rode straight into the desert alone. After an hour or so, I found some mountains that looked like the surface of Mars.
“I’ll never ride a bike on Mars,” I thought to myself. “Fuck it, let’s give this a shot.”
I rode up the mountainside until it was too steep for my bike. It was hot and I had no water or sunscreen, so I tied my shirt around my baldhead and trekked further.
Then I spotted a village in the distance with a Tibetan Buddhist monastery atop a hill.
I rode there on my hot bike and when I arrived, the monks gave me water and invited me in to the monastery to meditate. An old monk stared at me for five minutes straight, as I was likely the first foreigner to visit all year during COVID.
The next day I went to downtown Leh and met a Russian girl named Vera in line at the ATM. We got coffee and I told Vera about my bike adventure. She grabbed my shoulder and said, “Take me.”
Thus ended my solo trip.
Vera and I quickly became friends, exploring ancient monasteries and ruins around Ladakh for a full month. And unlike my phone-less ass, Vera had an iPhone 11, which we used to take these crazy pics.
Vera later left and I joined a motorcycle club for an epic off-road adventure in Zanskar, which I chronicled in a previous blog.
Why am I writing all this? It’s a prime example of a solo-trip that turned into companionship: a non-mutually exclusive travel phenomenon.
Would I have attempted these crazy expeditions and made the new friendships if I was traveling with some friends, or a girlfriend, or wife? I’d say 95 percent of the time the answer is no.
Does going solo make the best trip?
“I don’t mind traveling with a companion sometimes, but solo travel is bloody liberating. I love the freedom of making my own plans, without having to wait on someone else. I change plans frequently too, depending on how I’m feeling on any given day.” – Mitsu from Goa
“When you are a solo traveler you can chose when, where and who to go with. And you can change places, partners or whatever, whenever you want. Long story short, it gives you the FREEDOM.” – Vera from Russia
“For the last five years I have been traveling solo and the best part is freedom. It makes you mentally strong, widens your horizon of thoughts, and triggers your creative instincts. ” – Sourav from Patna (aka RovingLama)
“Solo traveling is an experiment in dealing with the ultimate human fear: solitude. I prefer a travel companion who is just right, gives you space, doesn’t need to be in your face always, but has a good synergy with you.” – Nanditha from Bangalore
“The only thing better than solo traveling is solo traveling with no phone, because then no one can message you. That’s freedom.” – The Editor, Renegades Logbook.