Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Streaming as a Solo Traveler

As we all head toward the new year, you may be planning to take some big trips sometime in the next twelve months. You might be going out of state, out of country, or out of continent. You could be visiting someone, embarking on a cruise, or buying a package tour. Your interests may vary, from museums to scenery to local cuisine. Your group of companions may be large or small. No matter what configuration your trip takes, I’m sure you’re going to have a great time. In past entries like How to Stream While Traveling Anywhere I’ve talked about going live while traveling with someone else. In ones like Travel with an IRL Streaming Backpack I’ve covered the various tech options available, and in the entry Streaming from Japan I covered my specific anecdotes as a Twitch streamer in Tokyo. This time, I want to further explore a particular type of trip that I’ve recently come to love: solo travel. And furthermore, we’ll explore how I take advantage of this method's strengths for my Twitch streams. 


This year, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have taken three separate trips outside the US, first going to Athens, Greece and then going to Tokyo, Japan twice. I approached all three of these in the same way: simply arriving in one single city and existing. I didn’t plan to go to any other parts of the countries I was in, despite both locations having numerous gorgeous locales outside their capitals rich in history and culture. I didn’t even look at where others would recommend to visit in those cities, other than a few cursory glances. I’d just get a small local hotel room near the center of town (or near a train line) and figure out what to do as I went along. 

As a solo traveler, you can spend as 
much time as you want, doing what 
you want to do.

I realize that this particular method of travel is a major turn-off for many. Lots of us reason that since we only plan to visit wherever we’re going once in our lives, we’d prefer to see everything we can see in a single whirlwind trip. I certainly understand the logic, and I’ve had plenty of amazing trips of that style as well, but there are some distinct advantages to my kind of unplanned traveling. The biggest benefit is also the simplest: when you have no plan, you’re open to many more things. In Greece I found out from locals about events, landmarks and interesting parts of town that easily became my evening or next day’s objective. In Japan, being able to speak the language I was able to get even more spontaneous. I took someone I met in a bar to their first maid cafe, I went to karaoke with a fellow lover of movie musicals, and met friends on the first trip who invited me to events on the second trip. Since there was never anything on my schedule, there were no limits to what I was available to do on a moment’s notice. 

A fear of missing things can always creep up when on vacation to another country. If I’m in Greece, can I really miss out on the amazing history of Crete or the beauty of Santorini? In Japan, do I not care about seeing Mount Fuji or visiting a hot spring? I combat this anxiety however, by simply telling myself that the trip I’m on is only the first trip, not the only one. With Japan, this ended up coming true even within the same year. Greece is less likely on that front, but even if I never came back I’d be more than satisfied with the experience I had. I saw so many amazing things, and I found a lot of places I wouldn’t have found if I were rushing from bullet point to bullet point. 


My trip to the Mall of America was 
pretty much like this, but with 
fewer zombies.

As a Twitch streamer, it can be very uncomfortable to go live when others are with you, if they aren’t a part of the shows you make. Depending on who your traveling companions are, this may even make you uncomfortable enough not to want to go live at all. Having traveling companions who all have their own interests and desired destinations can also make it difficult to decide what to do and where to go. This can create a lot of tension and indecision among the group, and by the time you’re on the way to wherever you’re going there might not really be enough time for a broadcast. Conversely, as a solo traveler you’re given complete freedom in when you go live, where you want to go and what you want to do. The trip is completely yours, and you can take as much time as you need to fiddle with your stream (something that can be awkward when others are with you and don’t want to wait), talk to chat (outright rude when you’re with a group and having a separate conversation with virtual people they can’t see), and do whatever kinds of show-hosting activities you like to do on stream. 

Interestingly, as I continued making these kinds of shows on my trips this past year, I came to the realization that I conduct my solo travel streams in much the same way that I play singleplayer video games. In an open world game like GTA, Elden Ring or Spider-Man, I’m often more interested in pursuing side quests, appreciating artwork, and reading random text entries that I find than I am in accomplishing the actual objective. My style of solo travel streams allow me the same level of independence and exploration, and that’s why I find them so fulfilling. 


Of course, when traveling alone it’s important to be extra careful. Make sure you know how to call the local police, and take a look online at which parts of town you should avoid. Like with any travel experience, it’s also important to pay attention to how you handle your money, and where you keep your money. Pickpockets and scams are common in pretty much all tourist destinations, and you can find out about some of the biggest issues wherever you’re going with a quick online search. I like to keep a bit of ‘emergency money’ in different places. Most stays in my wallet, but I keep a bit of cash in my streaming backpack, and a bit more cash, along with one of my credit cards, in my hotel room, just in case. That way, if something does happen to my wallet, or even to the bag I’m carrying, I’ll at least have something. 

As long as you’re paying attention and using common sense, you’ll be fine. Travel is such a rewarding experience, because you really gain perspective about how other people live. Especially after going outside the country, you may even end up reconsidering what you think of as ‘normal’ when back home. Most of the tips in this entry have been specific to my preferred method of solo travel as a Twitch streamer. But again, no matter how you like to take your trips, or whether you stream while taking them, you’re going to have a great time. There’s a whole world out there to explore. Go out and make some unforgettable memories! 

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