I am an introvert. To my friends when I say this they always laugh and think I am kidding. Around people I know and am comfortable with I tend to make myself the center of the party. I think I walk the thin line of being annoying. That all changes when I am alone or meeting new people. I become quiet and tend to feel very awkward. I have been working on opening up around strangers and forcing myself out of my comfort zone. When I was in London I went to a gay pub across the street from my hotel called Halfway to Heaven. I actually visited alone about 3 times. The first time I went I walked in ordered a beer, drank the beer, and left immediately. I think it was literally a 15 minute excursion. The next time I went I had 2 drinks… Went downstairs and waited for the drag show to start (which started late but… I mean I’ve never known a good queen to be on time). I didn’t actually see the drag show because my inner saboteur told me it was time to go back to the hotel. This time I think I was out for about 45 minutes. Small steps!!
When reading blogs and endless Reddit posts about going out at night while traveling alone it always seems so easy to meet people. You find friends and go out all night. I had my doubts this was true. You will find reading this blog I may sound like a pessimist and sometimes I am. You will now understand my shock when on the third trip to the same pub I was standing outside with my drink and a guy named Louie walked up and asked for a lighter. We started chatting and when I told him that I was in London alone he said he had some friends inside and they were on their way to meeting more friends before they headed out. He invited me to join them. Here is a rule I kept reading when researching solo travel. Always say yes! (of course use your instincts about being safe). I immediately said I would go and we took off. We visited a couple of places that had long lines or were already full. They told me that the gay scene in London has changed in the last several years and all the good places are now closed. We were in a group of ten people so it wasn’t always easy to get in places.
We ended up at a club called Village. It was a small place with a bar upstairs and a club downstairs. It had everything you could want from a gay dive bar. Go-go boys dancing on the bar. Shirtless men walking around handing out shots. Questionable house music. I had an amazing time dancing, drinking, and chatting with the people I just met. I ended up getting back to my hotel around 2AM with a raspy voice and a bit too much to drink but I had so much fun.
I can’t pretend I found life long friends. I didn’t friend them on Facebook, follow them on twitter, or SnapChat. We didn’t exchange phone numbers or email addresses. I would not be able to find them again if I wanted to. This is the downside of the night and something I have been told to get used to when traveling alone. It seems strange and it forced me to live in the moment. I have my memories of this night. I was rewarded for stepping out of my comfort zone and doing it multiple times before I had success. I am grateful for these few hours of fun. My advice to new solo travelers who are trying to find the courage to go out alone at night is the same I found when researching solo travel… Step out of your comfort zone. Be prepared to say yes to everything (within reason). Don’t expect to gain life long friends. Live in the moment!
Have you ever went out alone while traveling or just around your hometown? Share your stories and tips in the comments!
Until next time.