Does solo = lonely?

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by Speeder54, Mar 29, 2011.

  1. nulldevice

    nulldevice Adventurer

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    1) It is always better to travel alone than with someone who has incompatible riding habits or skills.
    Be very, very careful who you choose to take a long trip with. many years ago I planned a trip with a long time riding buddy, and our riding styles were compatible. Come the day of the trip he shows up with another buddy. I could not stand to ride with him,

    2) A very good idea to separate if a trip is going badly.
    I lasted one day before we separated, they their way and me mine. Gawd, stop and turn off the motor to make a quick 30 second roadside decision and he had to do the full TCLOCKS routine before he started up, he couldn't sustain Intestate highway speed because his motor oil consumption went crazy, and was just generally too slow a rider.

    3) This can be a very bad idea.
    If your history doesn't include several all day multi-hundred mile motorcycle day trips and long distance several hundred mile round trip weekend camping trips you have absolutely NO history riding with them. You also don't want the danger of a new rider on a new to them motorcycle. Your new story will probably be a tragic one.

    4) Don't be over eager, aggressive, insistent, when you invite strangers to ride along. Many are like me, visit while stopped on the roadside, maybe share a picnic or restaurant table for a meal, but I prefer to ride alone on the trips. See 1) above.

    5) Use some sense. Be choosy about invitations, especially in isolated circumstances. You are alone and there are predators out there.

    Regarding equipment, use it for a few weekend trips before you head out for the long haul.
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  2. HandCanonShootr

    HandCanonShootr Been here awhile Supporter

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    Always loved Backpacking Solo, and with good friends/fam as well. Moto rides have usually been solo, sometimes to a rally or ride & camp. meeting up with a few or a bunch of ADVers for a few days with a solo ride in has been a great combo. Made a few good friends with possibilities for longer term travel.

    While Solo, (if you desire), you are much more likely;
    To strike up a conversation with either a local or other traveler.
    To spontaneously change route, or days/weeks destination.
    Ask/Share someones camp site in a full Campground.
    Share a meal/fire with another Solo or camping person.....
    Join another, for a Hike /Daytrip the following day...
    Not have to deal with a Tired, Sick, Self-Centered, Partner.

    Makes the Friends I meet over a fire, or a shared ride/meal that much more special.
    But I can always enjoy the solitude, always have myself to talk to. Find & enjoy much better meditation/spots as well. and stealth camping, way easier.

    YMMV,
    Mike B
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  3. SouthAmerAddict

    SouthAmerAddict Adventurer

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    All I can tell you is I've traveled solo in Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. Never, not once, have I ever felt threatened. I've met nothing but the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. Just got back from a 9 week trip on my DL650 VStrom in Mexico and Central America solo, and had a great time.
    I don't like traveling with other people on a long trip. Too many disagreements about when to stop, where to stop, where to go, where to stay, different approaches to spending money, etc etc etc. No thanks.
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  4. bryan burke

    bryan burke n00b

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    This is my first post to ADV, but I've ridden in 14 countries, mostly solo. I've also done a lot of solo river and sea kayak trips. Same issues, different vehicle. Here are my suggestions. Topics will jump around a bit! 1) Your bike will eventually need you to fix it, even if it is just a flat. Get a good manual and a complete tool set. Learn to use all the tools by doing all of your own maintenance. Eventually you will face something daunting like an electrical problem or a radiator leak. Be patient. Figure it out a step at a time, and you'll get through. 2) I like to take one or two very dense books - classics like Plutarch, Livy, Thucydides - because they last a long time. And a small radio so I can listen to the local music and language at night. A small, cheap tablet keeps me in touch with the world. Paper maps are best for route planning. 3) Personal security is not something I worry about since I don't flash expensive watches, phones, cameras, etc. In years of solo travel in remote places I've had one thing stolen, an ordinary watch snuck out of my tent. I carry cash in a money belt. Basically, criminals don't waste their time looking for people to rob in campgrounds or remote areas when the pickings are so much better in a city. 4) Riding alone, you don't have to deal with your fellow rider. They often want to go faster or slower, see different things, have different eating habits. I like to camp as primitive as possible but eat one meal a day from local markets or food vendors, stopping often for scenery, ruins, etc. Riding with people who like motels and all meals at restaurants and just want to make miles is too expensive and too many decisions to make. 5) Don't worry about your language skills. People always want to help. Know anyone who speaks Albanian? Neither do I, but Albania is one of the coolest places I've been to and I felt very welcome. I'll never forget camping at the end of a long road and asking the host (who did speak some broken English) "Do you get many American visitors?" "You are the first." He was probably as excited as I was.

    Just think about when a foreigner visits your town. Your first instinct is to welcome them and help them.

    Finally, if you wait around for the perfect trip partner, perfect time, perfect vehicle... you'll spend the rest of your life at home.
  5. rtcoker

    rtcoker Adventurer

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    THIS!!! Exactly!
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  6. rtcoker

    rtcoker Adventurer

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    I need to point out. the OP (original poster) made this in 2011. Likely he has already traveled and is back. But, since this thread was re-invigorated by ADV and has new posts, it is an interesting read.
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  7. Pipeline Pig

    Pipeline Pig Adventurer

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    I heartily second that Flashmo. What you said has always proved true for me. I just finished a 15,000+ mile ride in 2018-19. Many people took me in and helped me in different ways. I've found there are a few things you can do to ingratiate yourself with folks.
    1) Eat what they eat. If everyone is eating chicken head soup, then have a bowl, and act like you enjoy it.
    2) Help out with chores. Look around and see if there's anything that needs fixing.
    3) Treat people the way you want to be treated.

    Remember what Blanche DuBois said in Streetcar Named Desire. "I have always depended heavily on the kindness of strangers".
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  8. De La Vega

    De La Vega n00b

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    I just finished up my first 1400 mile loop through Baja, Mexico 3 weeks ago solo. The first day, the sensation of being alone in a foreign country driving through Mexicali was pretty intense. I kept telling my self, "what the hell are you doing". After about a day and a half, that fear faded pretty quickly and I started to flow on my own with the experience and it was priceless. You meet other riders and people along the way and can join or not based on whatever you feel at any given moment. This freedom really enhances the adventure motorcycle experience.

    I live up in East Glacier and was kind of thinking about a South America trip on the horizon, so reach out if you want to talk about it. The downside of riding alone is obviously safety if things go south medically or mechanically.
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  9. chupa88

    chupa88 Been here awhile

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    I've been ridden across the US twice. Each time I was on the road for about six weeks. On my first trip I was alone for about five weeks. My then girlfriend flew out and joined me for five days. My second trip a friend joined me for about four weeks and I was alone for the final two. As many others have said, there are pros and cons. On my first trip, it was the first time I was riding alone for such a long amount of time. So each day was an adventure and a challenge. It was amazing for the first week or so because everything was so new. After about the tenth day, I started getting lonely. Whether it was wishing there was someone with me to share the amazing sights or quirky towns, or wishing there was someone to talk with and share dinner with. Dinners were probably the loneliest time, especially if I was eating at a restaurant alone.

    On my second cross country trip, it was really great to have a good friend along. We had Sena headsets so we chatted and joked pretty much for two weeks straight. It made it a lot of fun! And for the long days where we had to do 600 mile days, having a buddy there with you and chat with made it bearable and helped push each other to the final destination. But by the third week, it was noticeable that we were getting a bit tired of being with each other 24/7. There were the long silence on the headsets or my friend would say "I just want to listen to music." If I were to do it again with a friend for such a long trip, I would make an agreement that if anyone wanted to get a room to themselves for the night just to have some alone time, no one should take it personally. Same with just saying "I'm gonna listen to music for a while," or just sitting away at a rest stop to recharge. Just make sure your friend knows you're not pissed at them but just need some alone time. It's just part of being with someone 24/7 for weeks at a time. By the time of my return leg, I was ecstatic to be riding home alone for two weeks straight!

    I think loneliness also has a lot to do with your home life. If your normal life consists of a spouse and a handful of kids, then a few weeks alone on the road would seem like heaven. If you're single and live alone, being on the road by yourself may either feel normal or it may actually exacerbate the loneliness since you're outside of your normal routines.

    And as many others have said, having a travel partner will slow you down (or you're the one slowing them down) and you will have to adjust your itinerary at least a few times. But at least for me, it was great to have someone to share the trip, sights and meals with. And it brought down the cost a lot by splitting motel rooms. And having a travel mate also makes it a bit safer by having another set of eyes and hands to help with any situations. So everyone will have to evaluate their own situation. I wouldn't hesitate to travel alone or with a good friend for a week or even two. Any longer, I would only do with a very good friend and know 100% that we moto travel in the same manner.
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  10. dpwell

    dpwell Adventurer

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    I took a 1 month ride from Vancouver to Dawson City and back in summer 2009. The ONLY time I felt lonely was when I turned up in Whitehorse. It was a sunny Friday evening in mid June and there were lots of people there. I had to stand in line to get a table at a restaurant. I felt lonely that evening. But the rest of the trip, not at all. If I'm riding all day through remote, beautiful scenery, I couldn't feel less lonely. It's one of the best things I've ever experienced.
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  11. sixpots

    sixpots Deano

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    Yep rode a KLR from Montreal to Santiago Chile on my own in 2017. All the through US, Mexico, Central America then on the Stahlratte to Colombia and all the way to Chile. Didn't really speak much Spanish, am hopeless with food, I'm a bit oldish for Hostals (57 at the time) and was always on the bones of my ass (cheap!). Never been so lonely, never learned so much about myself, never really scared, never had a better time ever, and never knew till then how fortunate my normal life is. The daily challenges of travel were so totally addictive I couldn't wait to get going daily to see what's down the road....and on your own you can! If I had waited for someone to make the commitment to come with me I would never have left. I do struggle to ride with friends now as I tend to get bored and wander off towards whatever takes my interest. Hmmm. Other than a couple of tour groups I met many lone riders or couples along the way. Loved sharing the banter and camaraderie of those with the balls to make the commitment\sacrifice to turn their back on everyday ordinary and risk the unknown. Aaaaah hmmm.....I've just turned 60 and I've still got to ride India...I'm goin...just need to get through this virus crap and I'm gonna need a big fuse to get a defibrillator to work on the AT! Wash ya hands and go riding!
    Cheers Deano
  12. Dirty bike

    Dirty bike EricV

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    I have done a lot of solo trips in the US and Canada. I would get an unexpected week or two off during the summers as business used to slow down then where I worked. I would toss some stuff on the bike and pick a general direction and go. Camping mostly, sometimes remote, sometimes a convenient RV park grassy spot, (showers, laundry). Sometimes the RV park might be outside town, along a river and they might charge me $2-$5 to throw up my tent on the grass. Sometimes it would be in town and $15 and I'd pass on it unless I was tired or needed the facilities. I lived alone at the time, so being alone was nothing new. I found that keeping a daily casual log gave me an outlet for sharing what I was seeing or experiencing. If something happened during the day that was particularly of note or got the adrenaline flowing, (DEER!), I'd stop shortly after and write down some notes about it. At the end of my trips when I had some time, I would type up a ride report for the local listserv or to post on a forum.

    People mostly enjoyed the RR, and sometimes I would get questions about what something was like during my trip. Some questions were easy to answer, specific things like did you have to set up the tent in the rain, where picnic tables at a remote campground, etc.

    Other times people would want to know more esoteric things like what it felt like to be riding solo on a remote Alaska or Yukon road. To those questions I often simply said, go ride there and you'll find out. I felt like I was not responsible for sharing those feelings with others just so they could learn a little second hand. To truly experience those things, they would have to experience it themselves. I tried not to be an ass about it, but also tried to enable/encourage others to just go. Find out for themselves.

    Over the last decade I've been married and I travel with my wife 95% of the time. She rides her own bike and is a capable rider. We've ridden in every state and several countries. We can do long distance, (both of us are IBR vets), or poke around seeing things and not cover much ground. Still, it's a different kind of travel. We have Sena for comm, so while neither of us is chatty, we talk about things we see while riding or communicate about the trail/road, giving the following rider heads up on lines or issues on the trail. We talk ahead about stops or lunch preferences, etc. I know she wants a hotel room at the end of the day and various other things. We camped for a couple of summers and that transformed from a minimal experience to one involving a 6 man tent, chairs, full on aluminum cots and other creature comforts that made for quite a heavy load on the back of my bike and a lengthy, (compared to solo), camp set up and tear down. She wanted comforts that I didn't need. She was capable of roughing it, just simply didn't want to.

    We stopped camping after two summers. It was just easier to hotel it and accept the limitations so that she could have the creature comforts she wanted. I guess the point here is that when you're traveling with a companion or companions, you have to be flexible enough to shake out what's going to keep the trip flowing w/o a lot of drama. Maybe that's a hotel once a week and camping the rest. Maybe that's lunch stops at a sit down restaurant. Or conversely, the advance agreement that everyone is responsible for their evening food/beverage needs and by the time we hit a spot to camp, you don't have to ride somewhere to find those things. I.E. remote camping and you didn't get what you needed at the lunch stop or gas stop earlier in the day, so don't whine about it.

    I enjoy my wife's company, but I prefer solo travel for all the reasons others have stated. It's just more flexible and you only have to do what works for you. Selfish, but isn't taking a solo trip a little selfish anyway? Not in a bad way. Treat yourself. I'm comfortable with the voices inside my head. Some folks are not. I really like that my wife and I can be quiet together in each other's company. Hiking can be quiet or we can chat, but we don't need to be constantly making conversation. Riding is the same.
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  13. LightRider2.0

    LightRider2.0 n00b

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    I had the SAME EXACT concerns when I planned my trip down through Mexico and back. I recently returned from that adventure, having found I had no reason to fear being lonely! Riding by yourself puts you "out there" and makes you more approachable to the locals. I had so many AMAZING interactions! Perfect strangers bought me lunch, invited me to stay in their homes when I needed a place to sleep, made home-cooked meals for me, and helped me find the coolest roads and neatest places to see along the way. I recorded over 20 episodes on YouTube if you want to check it out: . You'll find tons of interactions with perfect strangers in every single one!!! I say just plan your trip and go for it...
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  14. Baynes Lake Hank

    Baynes Lake Hank n00b

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    Hey Speeder54 - I have been thinking about a similar trip/timing although my plans are not developed at all. I also live within 1.5 hour ride of Kalispell. Maybe we should chat … BLH

    Attached Files:

  15. CavReconSGT

    CavReconSGT Just the right amount of evil. Supporter

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    I have ridden most of my rides and a lot of my camping trips solo. I love it that way. I have had some good trips with compatible people but even with the best of friends. With one person it is a decision, whether to stay, where to stay, how long, which direction, etc. Two or more people, its a committee decision. Never liked committees.

    KR
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  16. Booghotfoot

    Booghotfoot Been here awhile

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  17. Ralph Van

    Ralph Van Ralph Later

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    Traveling alone I have always ran into other riders or travelers who share excellent information. Sometimes other riders will want to join you on parts of your trip. Use your common sense, talk to the locals. If you don't speak Spanish learn it. Carry coins or small bills for the more poor folks, a lot of stickers for the kids, don't be a arrogant jerk, read about the places before you go. Be friendly polite and nice to a point.
    The biggest risk is not going, may be you will find somewhere you will want to return again and again or even stay.
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  18. Macho Man2

    Macho Man2 Long timer Supporter

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    I've been following her travels and I'm enjoying doing so...and she's real easy on the eyes as well lol.
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  19. fitzPA

    fitzPA Been here awhile

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    People find you more approachable when you travel alone and will start conversations with you and be more willing to go out of their way for a lone traveler. You will be more likely to engage strangers as well, so you have someone to talk to or ask questions of.

    I never really thought about this, but it seems to be true;
    I've go out riding almost every week and usually stop at the same convenience store.
    Out of the last 6 times, 3 were with other people and 3 were solo.
    Guess what?

    Yup; strangers approached me when I was solo but not when in a group. Strangers seemed
    interesting in what i'm riding, where I'm riding and telling me about their bikes etc.

    Interesting phenomenon
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  20. chupa88

    chupa88 Been here awhile

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    This is definitely true. I've encountered countless people on my two cross country trips when I was solo. It's a nice treat when you're alone and there have been people I've met and conversations I've had that I will always remember. The bonus of solo travel, if you enjoy the interactions and if you're an out going person. Like I said, there are pros and cons to being solo and with a partner, similar to non-moto life.