Picture it: you are in another country, traveling by yourself. You have had a great time so far, seeing so many different things you had always dreamed of seeing. But you start to feel out of place. You see everyone around you talking to their groups of friends or people squeezing in together to get a picture with everybody in it. That feeling of loneliness is setting in. Why couldn’t any of your friends or family come with you? There is no one to share these amazing experiences with, no one to talk to. Let me tell you, that you are not alone when it comes to feeling lonely while traveling solo. I have felt lonely while traveling previously and I’m sure I will feel lonely traveling in the future. The good thing though is that there are ways to handle this feeling so it doesn’t ruin your trip or make you not want to do anything. Here are some ways I have found that help me out when I am feeling lonely while traveling solo.
If you’re like me when traveling solo, you make sure to stay at hostels. Not only are they budget-friendly, but they are a great place to meet new people. Hostels always have great activities lined up every day, so make sure to participate in these! I have talked with so many people while staying in hostels, some were even solo travelers as well! It helps to know and see that other like-minded people are doing the same thing you are and that everyone can come together and be there for one another, even if they don’t realize how much it is helping others. It can be nerve-racking to think about trying to talk to a stranger or a group of strangers, but it’s one of the best ways I know to break out of your shell and grow as a traveler and person.
This next way to cope when you are feeling lonely while traveling solo is one that I need to start doing more and that is to do something spontaneous! Usually, when I travel, I have every day, hour, and second planned to a tee, but I’m trying to get better about blocking time to allow for me to just explore and see where it takes me. When you are feeling all alone, all that is running through your mind is how no one is there with you and that it doesn’t make a difference if you lay in bed all day or if you go out and explore. But these things matter! Go try a restaurant that you walked by earlier or research an activity that you have been wanting to try but have been scared to do in the past. These moments where you are in doubt and by yourself will prove to you the kind of person you are and make seeing the process of your growth that much more satisfying.
The last piece of advice I have for the lonely traveler who is feeling defeated and down is to stop and take a breather and have a night in during your travels if possible. Most of the time, we think of traveling and exploring as a non-stop adventure, never resting or pausing to check- in with ourselves to see how we are feeling. I feel it is important, especially when you are traveling solo, to be kind to yourself and take the time you need. I have tried this a time or two during my travels and it has worked like a charm. I will spend my self-care time reading, journaling, or reflecting on my trip so far. It is a great reminder of just how far you have come by yourself and to be proud of yourself for doing the damn thing! I know it seems like a small thing to ask you to slow down, but I feel like it will help you find yourself and help defeat your loneliness or at least make peace with it and not have it feel like a burden.
Like it or not, feeling lonely while traveling solo is bound to happen at some point during one or more of your travels. When I think about it, I have had it engraved in my head that feeling lonely equals being unhappy or unlikeable. I’m trying to unlearn these bad thoughts and think about it this way: being by yourself means that you like your own company and that maybe sometimes you prefer it that way. Being in a different place all by yourself allows you the space to learn things about yourself that you might not have realized. Being outside your own reality can allow you to open your mind and embrace all the experiences you will have by stepping out of your comfort zone. Traveling solo can be the scariest, most terrifying thing you can do, but it can also be the most fun and most rewarding.