The One Thing I Miss Because of This Hobby
There’s one thing I miss because of the points & miles hobby. Yes, this hobby has significantly improved the quantity and quality of many of my travels, but there’s something I miss in this travel hobby. I have a feeling I’m not the only one.
My Previous Travels
Before getting into the points & miles hobby, I was definitely a “budget backpacker” traveler. Whatever was the cheapest, most cost-saving way to get from A to B was my preference. Unless this involved significant losses of time or unbearable hassles, I chose the cheapest route. That may explain a lot of my decisions about value extraction and not paying for things I don’t use / want / need in this hobby.
The same applied for lodging: find the cheapest option. As such, my friends and I spent a lot of nights at backpacker hostels. Yes, it’s totally safe. No, it’s not like the horror stories on the news or the movie “Hostel”. It’s an inexpensive way to share a room with others (there are private rooms at most, for a bit higher price but not much), have a shared bathroom down the hall, and simple furnishings at an inexpensive price.
I even stayed at a hostel last month in Dakar, Senegal, since there were no options where I could use points. For $7/night, I stayed in a room with 4 strangers and simply kept my stuff in a locker. It’s pretty close to “free”, which is always my desired price on lodging.
The One Thing I Miss
At the hostel in Dakar, I was reminded about my favorite thing hostels offer that this hobby doesn’t: community. Here’s what I mean by that. I travel solo a lot. Fly solo, check into the hotel room solo, sleep in my own bed, then walk around the city solo the next day. There are a lot of trips I take where my wife isn’t able to go, due to her schedule.
Before I got into the points & miles hobby, staying at hostels always had a guaranteed new friend to explore the city with. It’s commonplace for people at hostels to ask a stranger in the common room or breakfast area to explore the city together for the day.
I’ve explored numerous countries with random people from all over the globe, and that’s something I miss in this hobby. When I use points & miles to stay at a hotel alone, I’ve tried striking up a conversation with other people at breakfast. Maybe they want to explore together. The standard reaction is akin to looking at me like I’m probably a serial killer. People respond like I’m trying to lure away unsuspecting victims. It seems like most people sitting alone at hotel breakfasts aren’t open to exploring together. Deep down, I’m sure many of them really do want someone to see the city with. The trick is figuring out how to tap into that.
The one thing I miss in this hobby is having someone to explore with during solo travels. I wish people I encounter now could be more open and spontaneous like the people I encountered in hostels previously. It would be great if people would be open to exploring a new city with a new friend—rather than seeing this person as a stranger. The one thing I miss with this hobby is that, at least in my previous travels, solo travel didn’t remain solo for long. Am I alone on this? How do others find new friends to explore with during solo trips?