They say the best way to test a relationship is to travel together—if you can travel together, you can do anything together.
While we’re not suggesting you should choose a travel partner with the same care you would a partner for life, we would say it's prudent to check you are on the same page as one another before embarking on a trip.
Meet up, talk about what you each want to do, your interests, and what are you hoping to achieve. Plan for the unexpected. Talk about what happens if you decide to split up and go your own way. If you feel there is a good chance of this, be wary of intertwining your costs too much.
Southeast Asia easily accommodates different paths, so you may start a trip together in Bangkok for example, then see one party head south to the islands while the other heads north to the mountains, with an agreement to meet back in a few weeks for another leg together. The more you plan a trip together ahead, the more you can work these kind of junction points into your trip with a minimum of friction and cost.
If you don’t have a travel partner but would prefer not to travel alone, joining a small group adventure tour can be another option worth considering. There are pros and cons to this, but this can be an easy way to overcome the “I want to travel but have nobody to travel with” situation.
If a tour isn’t really your thing but you would still prefer to not travel alone, we’d suggest starting off in some of the more popular traveller centres to see who you meet. Places like Khao San Road in Bangkok are epicentres of the independent traveller scene and you’ll generally be able to meet other travellers fairly easily.
If, once you are in-country, you’re still struggling, doing short day tours (say food walks or bar crawls) can be a good easy and affordable way of meeting other travellers who may have the same interests as you. Another option for the more budget-focussed traveller is staying in dorms and hostels with large social common areas. These are also good starting points—thought they’re probably also very useful for meeting people you really do not want to travel with!
For the first time solo traveller, taking the first steps through the departure gate can feel like huge leaps, but you’ll find your footing in a swirling pool of travellers quickly.
If you’d prefer to see if you can find a travelling companion before you get going, there are loads of online resources to see what you can can. Aside from the obvious Facebook, others include:
Thelma & Louise
“Our purpose is to be the best online community and travel resource designed to help women share experiences, be inspired and connect with friends and travel buddies both online and in the real world.”
“TravBuddy is a site for people who love to explore the world around them. You can use TravBuddy to find travel buddies, record travel experiences in travel blogs, or share travel tips with travel reviews.”
“We envision a world made better by travel and travel made richer by connection. Couchsurfers share their lives with the people they encounter, fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect.”
If travelling solo is more your thing, it is a good idea to keep family and or friends at least semi up to date on where you are. In the world of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook this can seem almost hard to avoid, but travelling solo does mean that if you’re caught in a bind, it is helpful to have others know where you are and how you're doing in the event of any emergencies.
Planning well is an integral part of getting the most out of your trip. Be it picking the right backpack, the right vaccinations or the right country, the simple decisions are often the most important.