How to Overcome Loneliness When Traveling Solo
As a freelance travel writer, I get to explore places you’ve probably not even heard of! It’s the best feeling in the world, traveling through exotic bazaars, remote villages and dense jungles, camera and voice recorder in hand, jotting down notes in my tiny diary as I my fingers take shot after shot of scenes beautiful beyond imagination. In my five years of traveling, I have visited over twenty countries. My end goal is to travel all over the globe—and to relish every moment of it!
However, as with anything you do, there’s a flip side. While I am very passionate about my job and wouldn’t change it for the world, it does get a bit lonely sometimes. When you travel solo, it means that, a lot of times, the only people you get to talk to are the friendly waitress who serves you fish and chips, the vendor you buy a spicy enchilada from, or the inquisitive old lady who sits next to you on the bus and spends the next two hours prattling about the heroic adventures of her pet cats (the ‘old cat lady’ seems to be a theme in my travels!)
Pardon my rambling, but my point is that solo travel does set in the blues sometimes. You long for the quiet familiarity of home and the friendly banter of loved ones. It’s even harder when you’re in places where the internet connection is spotty, making it impossible to Skype call home. At times, I feel so homesick that I open my laptop and start browsing family photos. Yes, even the epically embarrassing ones. Watching the smiling faces of my parents and brothers never fails to comfort me.
Over the years, I’ve come up with some great (for me, at least!) ways to overcome the crushing loneliness. If you’re anything like me—a solo traveller who’s greatly attached to home and family—some of these tips should be helpful:
- Indulge yourself
Whenever I feel down in the dumps, I take it as an excuse to indulge in a self-pity session. I grab a huge tub of chocolate chip ice-cream (the best dessert ever!) and watch sappy romantic comedies. It makes me feel better in no time!
Well, traveling is no different. Every time I’m missing my loved ones, I spoil myself with a feel-good session. It may be a spa treatment, savouring a slice of chocolaty goodness and a large mug of coffee in a corner café, hitting the mall and splurging on some new clothes, or joining a yoga class. It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy or outrageous. As long as it makes you feel good about yourself, go for it!
- Keep yourself busy
Make sure to keep yourself occupied at all times. I never travel anywhere without my favourite book. I also make sure to download all my favourite TV shows on to my laptop. This way, every time I feel the blues settling in, I have something to keep my mind busy and occupied.
Also, food helps! Keep a stash of snacks with you at all times. M&M’s, cookies, chocolates, gummy bears, toffees, bagels, Nutella, anything you fancy. Just make sure you have something to munch on whenever you start feeling lonely. Trust me, it’s an instant fix!
- Join a travellers’ community
This is possibly the best idea I’ve ever had! It began during a particularly intense self-pity session. I was searching online for ways to overcome loneliness when traveling, and I came across this online community that offered resources and support to solo travellers. I joined on a whim and instantly connected with people over (you guessed it!) travel.
Over time, I have joined many travel communities, but my favourite so far is definitely GatherOnline, where people can join in on conversations about their favourite topics. You’re free to give travel tips, discuss your bucketlist, talk about your worst travel experiences, and so on. I was able to talk about my loneliness at length and was overjoyed to find I wasn’t alone in that regard. Many other members admitted to being homesick and offered some really amazing feel-good tips. It was a great experience!
Traveling alone is not easy, but the perks of being able to explore the world more than makes up for the downsides.