My pick for Room 101: solo bookers who call themselves solo travellers
Apologies in advance: I’m feeling very grumpy this week. As such, it’s the perfect time for me to pretend I’m a guest on the popular BBC TV show Room 101. If you’ve never seen it, guests get to argue the case for putting something they can’t stand into the proverbial Room 101 and get rid of it for ever. Room 101 is a reference to the torture room in George Orwell’s novel 1984. (Orwell is said to have taken his inspiration from a conference room where he sat through interminable meetings while working for the BBC.)
Items banished to Room 101 include people who call you ‘mate’ when you’ve never met them before, though coming from Essex we are rather used to that and quite honestly I wouldn’t like to see that go. Other observations include the frustration of being saddled with a waiter who pours a little bit of wine into your glass (totally agree with that, utterly pretentious). People who say “have a nice day” (sorry America, I don’t know why that winds some people up) and people who don’t pick up their dog’s poo (can’t argue with that) are two more. Travel-related good riddances include the prohibition of mosquitoes and expensive water in hotels. Yes and yes! The list is as eclectic as it is fascinating.
So here’s mine. I’m a huge fan of solo travel and without wishing to sounding like a travel snob, solo travel by its very definition means travelling alone, without anyone else. The whole point of travelling solo is to get away from everyone else and give yourself space to explore your new surroundings. Google it, if you don’t believe me. I just did and this was the top result:
Solo travel means you’re going somewhere else alone, where you will spend a significant chunk of time alone once you get there.
Thank you Quora.
Now call me thick if you like (though please not to my face, had about enough this week and need a dollop of nice, thank you very much), but how does that sit with someone making a booking for a group tour? My inbox and social media feeds are awash with travel suggestions that involve a solo booker joining a singles holiday or a group tour with other lone travellers.
Let me just stress, I have no problem with anyone who wants to do just that. It’s a great way to make friends and to share the experience of visiting a new country. But there’s a distinction between someone who books a single place on a tour and someone who deliberately seeks to distance themselves from a tour at all costs. The former’s a solo booker. The latter’s a solo traveller.
And they’re two different things.
Do you agree or would you send something entirely different to Room 101? I’d love to find out what your pet peeves are when it comes to travel. But if I’m a little slow in responding, that’s because I’m off to the remote Kyrgyzstan countryside for a week – solo of course.
You raise some interesting points, Julia. However I can’t agree with your 101 pick here. Who knows what is going on inside those people’s heads and why they choose to travel that way? Has anybody asked them? Or do people just think they’re antisocial so-and-sos? There are many different reasons for traveling – to discover, be alone, experience etc… but however annoying those solo people may seem from the outside, there is probably a lot going on inside. OK so they may book a group tour just to get to a destination or on to a travel, but I bet there a sh** load going on in their heads. As long as they don’t disrespect others then they are ok with me, but I still want to talk to them and learn their story. The trouble with Room 101 is it almost always involves a judgement of other people who do things differently. And it is those differences that give a spark to life. However, preachy as this may read, I would become one of those judgemental people very quickly if Mr. Farage were here right now, so who am I to preach?
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May 21, 2019 at 6:49 pm
Hi Pete, like I said, got nothing against anyone booking a tour as a single person but if they call themselves a solo traveller when they’re not on their own I’m arguing for Room 101. Me, I need to be a solo traveller, the whole group travel dynamic is far too stressful! I don’t think Farage has ever made it into Room 101 but there’s a thought…
May 21, 2019 at 7:07 pm
Interesting that you just wrote about this Julia, as this is a conversation happening within a Facebook group I’m a part of. I’m just wondering if there isn’t a finer distinction to be made – the solo group traveller as opposed to the solo independent traveller. Like you, I don’t understand people who claim that they are solo travellers but do all their travelling through groups. That doesn’t make sense to me. But, for many, travelling by themselves without people they know is the definition of solo travel – travelling with a group of strangers doesn’t count. In any event, I am a dyed-in-the-wool solo independent traveller, but will probably do a (solo) group tour to the ‘Stans this summer. So far I’m the only one interested in the tour, but I haven’t booked it yet because I’m fighting with my own inner demons between independent and group travel. But to be honest, I don’t have much time to visit all the countries on my own, and I feel a bit daunted by some of the countries for some reason.
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May 22, 2019 at 4:45 am
I’m wondering if we should call it stranger travel then 😉
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May 22, 2019 at 8:05 am