From wild Columbian parties to wayward grandparents on wheelchairs there are a lot of incidents which have left an impression on the solo travellers of the world. And though a recent study smashed the Twain-ian trope that travel “is fatal to prejudice” (it suggested travel doesn’t neccessarily open minds as much as we like to think), a trending Reddit thread (posted yesterday) in the r/solotravel community comes to Twain’s support.
How? A group of solo travellers are currently opening up about the moments that have stuck with them most, and it suggests at least a little warping of minds.
From the absurd to the thought-provoking, here’s a smattering of the best answers to the question, “What is the most interesting thing you have observed while traveling solo?”.
In true Reddit style, the answers go beyond responding to the question and branch out into anecdotal territory (i.e. travellers not just talking about what they’ve observed but what they’ve done). But hey: that just makes it even more interesting.
Here are the wildest things solo travellers have seen or done on their trips.
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Seeing an old man bombing it through Amsterdam in a wheelchair
To start us off is a doozy: one solo traveller recounts an experience so absurd it would make Camus clap. “In Amsterdam,” the Reddit user recalls, “I was sitting at an outside cafe having a beer midday next to a street for pedestrians.”
“This older gentleman in an automated wheelchair, going at least 20 mph yelling and swerving through pedestrians, ended up on two wheels for a few feet. Thought he was going over but he righted himself and kept going. The Russians at the table next to me where hootin n hollerin the whole time!”
“One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.”
Meeting people who judge you
“I am a married woman with a couple of kids and the most interesting part of traveling solo is how many people are visibly appalled that I would leave my children for a week or so” one user relates. “’Who is watching the kids’ is a question I’ve answered more times than I can count.”
“My husband, their dad, is ‘watching’ them, also known as ‘parenting.’”
Meeting people who assume your age should prohibit you from travelling
“I always explain that for me to be the best father I can possibly be, I need some selfish time. It works for our family but I know I still get heavily judged for this,” one user says.
Another parent had a similar problem, writing, “I say something similar – my kids and husband get the best version of me when I am able to take some time to myself to do things that I truly love.”
“A week of being selfish now and then seems reasonable considering how much of ourselves we give to our families.”
Seeing landscapes eerily similar to ones you’ve seen before
“The Ethiopian highlands look exactly like the Scottish highlands. It’s uncanny. Heather and clover everywhere,” is one of this thread’s top voted comments.
It’s also not the only one which picks up on this trend: “Bro i truly think there’s only so many unique formations on earth, especially to the average person’s short attention span/eye,” writes another.
“Cliffs in Ireland look like cliffs in Portugal look like cliffs in Iceland. I had more examples of these sorts of things when I was travelling more, but defo something I noticed.”
“When most people say x y or z is truly unique and unlike anything else it’s oftentimes because they’ve just not traveled much.”
“Doesn’t make it any less beautiful or awe inspiring, but not necessarily one of a kind/the only place you can experience/see something like it.”
Being solicited for ‘services’ in Colombia
“I was drunk, walking in Medellin looking for my friends at like 2am, in the club area (Parque Lleras),” one user’s tale begins.
“I asked some girls if they had seen a group of gringos walk by, and one said something in spanish like ‘why? We are all the company you need’. I sat on the bench next to them and they tried to talk to me for a bit but my spanish was shit at the time.”
“Eventually one handed me her phone with the notepad out with a ‘menu’ on it with prices etc.”
“I [enjoyed the company of] 3 girls for about an hour then they started asking for more money so I gave them however many pesos I had left in cash (not much like $50 CAD) and we continued for a bit, then I was done and exhausted and scared of getting robbed so I went back to my Airbnb as the sun was coming up and went to sleep.”
“It’s legal there,” the user claims, “so I’m not worried about posting this here, but of course your results may vary and proceed at your own risk.”
Being asked for weird favours
“An Egyptian customs official asked me to give him a pack of gum he found in my luggage.”
Being asked for pictures
“Literally dozens of Indians, sometimes in groups of 10 or more, asked to take their picture with me.”
Being robbed by monkeys
“Monkeys in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India, jumped onto my head, trying to steal my glasses. Twice.”
Being logistically screwed (but pleasantly surprised) by local customs or events
“[I went to] Sevilla and Granada during Semana Santa,” our final user writes. “Unreal, but also made arrival in Sevilla and the walk to the hostel a nightmare.”