It should not come as a shock to anyone that when you’re solo traveling, sometimes you get lonely. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying in a hostel or doing group activities, sometimes the cultural or language barrier can create a sense of isolation. Especially if you’re staying there for awhile. I know I’ve been there so many times, even when I was volunteering in Nepal. The language barrier and lack of social interaction with people who spoke the same language as me often made me feel isolated during that time. I felt like I could not communicate efficiently and it made me feel cut out a lot. However, I managed and I made it through and would 100% do it again. Today, I want to talk about that sense of loneliness we sometimes feel when we are traveling and how to go about dealing with it.
When I first started solo-traveling being lonely wasn’t a fear. I never truly felt alone at first. I would always meet and make friends easily. A solo trip to dinner or for drinks turned into making a life-long friend. Eventually, when I stopped traveling alone domestically or volunteering when I traveled abroad, I started to feel a little bit isolated. It was not the best feeling, but it did cause for some great self-reflection and an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone.
I think we can all agree that being lonely sucks. Even those of us who chose to solo-travel and are ready for the self-reflection that comes with that, being alone can still feel yucky. As humans, we need social interaction and connection. It is what we are wired for. One way I have found to combat this loneliness while traveling solo is video chatting my friends. I know it sounds so basic, but it seriously helps so-so much. The only drawback is that you’re on the otherwise of the planet so finding a good time can be frustrating.
Another way I have found works with combating loneliness while traveling is to get out of your comfort zone and book a small group activity. I know not everyone wants to put the money into that, because doing it without a guide would be cheaper, but you can meet great people when doing so. People who you can meet up with later without a guide. I did this in Thailand and went on this guided tour outside of Bangkok and met two great people that I still keep in touch with!
A useful thing, that I have already mentioned, is use your loneliness as an opportunity for self-reflection. I feel like many people in this world do not truly no how to be at peace alone. Society has a way of taking pity and sorrow on people who are alone. Think about it, when you see someone eating alone at a restaurant your first thought is probably pity. However, there is nothing to feel bad about. When in all reality, being content with being alone is the most powerful thing you can do. It teaches you to become your own best friend and love yourself.
If loneliness is something you’re afraid of that is keeping you from solo-traveling, don’t let it. If it’s something you’re dealing with while traveling, currently, it gets better and there is so much growth that comes with it. Being alone isn’t a bad thing. The biggest drawback of being alone while traveling is that if you want pictures, you have to take selfies, ask, or get creative! If you have experience this while traveling and have more advice or want to share, drop a comment!