- How To Travel Alone
- Will It Be Lonely?
Are you dreaming of a travel adventure, but nervous about setting out on your own? I’ve heard many people tell me that they would love to travel, but they just don’t want to be out there all on their lonesome. They ask me, “will I be lonely as a solo traveler?”
Take it from me; the fear of loneliness is not a good reason to hold yourself back from your travel dreams. When you start out as a solo traveler, you will never really be alone if you don’t want to be.
When you go travelling on your own, you will more than likely make lots of friends on your voyage. If you are a friendly and outgoing person, it’s hard NOT to make friends in the social atmosphere of a hostel, train, bus, tourist attraction, group tour, bar or other public space.
You will constantly have opportunities to chat with other people and get to know them. When people ask me, “will I be lonely as a solo traveler?” I wonder if they have ever been to a hostel before. It’s such a social atmosphere that no one is ever lonely if they don’t want to be. Most hostels will have a common area where people will be playing card games, watching movies, doing their laundry, cooking food, and talking to each other.
If you are a solo traveler and you are feeling a bit bored, homesick or lonely, all you have to do is wander out into the main area of the hostel and you will meet many other travelers just like you.
You can share stories about where you are from, where you have been, and where you are going. Your new friends will tell you about all of the adventures they have had, recommend places to go, and might even invite you along with them on their next day trip. The great thing about meeting people while you travel is that you already share a common interest of seeing the world, so you automatically have something to connect on.
If you feel awkward about striking up a conversation with a stranger in a hostel, try to remember that they are just like you. They are traveling in a foreign land, perhaps by themselves and they might feel just as awkward. They probably asked the same question, “will I be lonely as a solo traveler?” before they went on their trip. They will probably be happy to meet you and make a new friend.
Friends that you meet on the road can also last a long time. In 2009 I was staying in a hostel in Wellington, New Zealand, I shared my room with one other person. Her name was Bridget and she was a New Zealander from Auckland who was travelling with a German friend. We started to chat at around 8pm, and we didn’t stop until well after midnight. We got along like a house on fire, and we shared stories of our travels, our love lives, our hopes and dreams, and everything in between.
When I awoke the next morning, my roommate had already left to her next destination, but had left me the sweetest note with plenty of recommendations of great things to do during my stay in Wellington. We kept in touch on Facebook, and a few months later she came to visit me and Lee when we were living in Christchurch. A few months after that, we visited her in Auckland and she kindly let us stay in her beautiful apartment.
Wherever I am in the world, my door will always be open to her and I’m sure she would do the same for me. I have many friendships like that, with people whom I have connected with on the road. I may not see them for a while, but if we were to meet up in person again we could pick up right where we left off.
Through travelling the world, I have met many other truly amazing people who have been wonderful friends to me. It’s sad to leave them when I get on a plane again, but I know that they are always there and I can keep in touch no matter where I am.
I believe that closeness in friendships and personal relationships isn’t about geographical proximity or the amount of time you have known someone. It’s about connecting with someone in an honest and open-hearted way.
When you are travelling on your own, it’s actually easier to make friends than when you are travelling as a couple or in a group. When you are travelling with your friend or significant other, you will be spending most of your time talking and socializing with them. This decreases your chances of having an opportunity to strike up a conversation with an interesting stranger.
However, if you are on your own you will find that meeting people happens very naturally as you travel. Instead of talking to your travel companion, you’ll find that you have more natural opportunities to chat with others. Also, often when you are sitting by yourself – people tend to invite you to join them!
Although you will have many opportunities to be social while you are traveling, there are some times when you will be alone. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be lonely. Being alone doesn’t have to be lonely. It can be quite pleasant, if you know how to enjoy your own company. So, if you are wondering “will I be lonely as a solo traveler?” you might be asking the wrong question. Yes, there will be times when you are alone, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be lonely.
I really like solo travel, because it gives me the freedom to choose whether I want to be on my own or spend time with other people.
If I feel like being on my own, I will go to an art gallery by myself and spend hours staring at the paintings without worrying about anyone else getting bored. I will go to a cafe or a restaurant on my own and linger over a meal while reading a book. I’ll walk around, just paying attention to my surroundings and noticing all of the little strange things that make that destination unique. These are some of the most lovely moments.
If I do want to socialise, all I have to do is head to the hostel, go to the pub, join a walking tour, etc. Solo travel gives you the choice of spending your time around other people, or on your own.
If you are wondering “will I be lonely as a solo traveler?” – don’t worry. Enjoy the adventure, strike up a conversation with a stranger and you will come home with plenty of great friends to stay in touch with. In the moments when you don’t have a friend to hang out with, take it slow, enjoy your own company and soak up the surroundings. Don’t let the fear of being lonely hold you back from solo travel.