loneliness

As I write this I’ve been traveling for nearly four months and they have been the best four months of my life.

Travel is such an intense experience and one which you have little control over. You never know who you will meet or whether you will even like a place. You just have to go with the flow and be open to new experiences!

The hardest thing that I’ve had to come to terms with whilst being on the road is sporadic loneliness.

Loneliness strikes when you least expect it. You can be living it up with your brand new friends at a midnight beach party one night and stood at the bar alone the next.

I liken travel to being on a rollercoaster, there will sometimes be intense highs and the next minute there can be an intense low. When travelling you need to take the rough with the smooth.

Don’t get me wrong sometimes it feels good to be alone. As I write this now I’m actively seeking some ‘alone time’ after a few weeks of travelling with some really great people through Laos!

The worst feeling is when you feel alone and you just don’t know how to fix it.

 

After dengue fever I kind of started to be a semi recluse. I couldn’t bear the thought of dorm rooms and their lack of privacy. Instead I holed myself up in private rooms in Chiang Mai and enjoyed having an appetite again and living in a vibrant city with Western amenities. Although I was happy I sometimes felt lonely.

I lost my social mojo.

When I was back to my full health I went on a jungle trek and I met some amazing people. It was then that I vowed never to feel lonely again but to do something about it.

Come on I’m travelling the world on my own, the least I can do is go up to some strangers in a bar and strike up conversation!

So here are my tips for combating loneliness whilst on the road.

Embrace loneliness

Sometimes it’s nice to be alone. In this world people seem to avoid doing things on their own because they fear that they will be lonely. I find that time alone gives me time to grow, be myself and analyse the amazing things that are happening in my life.

When you are alone you can do exactly what you want to do and don’t have to consider anyone else. If you want a massage get a massage. If you want a beer in the middle of the day go ahead!

There’s a reason why many people choose to travel solo; because it gives them the ultimate freedom in life. To do what they want, when they want.

Skype Home

I always find that when I feel lonely I want to talk to people who know me. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood for the same old traveller talk of ‘where are you from?’ and ‘where are you going?’.

Keeping in touch with friends and family is easier than ever now. It also puts everything in perspective. While they are at home you are free to live the life you want. Tell them all about your adventures and hear all of the gossip from home.

Book on a group tour

I’ve met some really great people on group tours. They tend to be people with a similar interest to you and you will always end up talking to everyone. I met some amazing people when I went trekking in the jungles of Northern Thailand, on a desert safari in Dubai and when I took the slow boat to Laos. If you don’t ‘click’ with anyone on the tour, don’t worry! At least you have been on an exciting new adventure!

Change location

Sometimes all that’s needed is a swift change in location. Sometimes you just don’t enjoy being in a particular city or town because of the people or atmosphere. I didn’t enjoy being in Kuala Lumpor in Malaysia so I moved on as soon as I could.

Some places have friendly locals and some locals are more cold. Just spend time where you are happy and where you feel comfortable.Β You won’t like every place that you travel to and that’s normal.

Move to a hostel

Hostels are very social places. Place twelve strangers in the same bedroom and you are bound to talk! Hostels also tend to attract younger travellers and some even organise group activities and bar crawls so that it’s easy to make friends!

I stayed in an amazing hostel in Melaka, Malaysia. Each night they held ‘dinner club’ where anyone staying at the hostel had dinner together in a budget friendly local restaurant. It was a great way to meet new people and the hostel had a really inclusive, homely feel. Other hostels should take note!

Follow your passion

Or do anything that you love doing! Naturally you will have a lot of free time on the road when you are not travelling with others. Use this time to do the things that you enjoy to do or build a better life for yourself in the long run.

Read an inspiring book, explore the jungle, go for a bike ride, volunteer at a local school, talk to the locals, exercise, meditate, Write a book or blog. Just do whatever makes you happy!

 

 

Hopefully you will find some of these tips useful. Whenever you feel lonely on the road remember that it is never for long. If you act friendly and social people will naturally be drawn to you!

Have you ever felt lonely on the road? If so what did you do to combat the loneliness?

 

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16 thoughts on “Pearls of Wisdom: How to cope with loneliness when travelling long term

  1. Great tips! Even traveling with my husband, I get lonely sometimes. Not because I’m alone as much as because I miss having a great support network of girlfriends ready for me whenever I need them. Don’t get me wrong-I’m extremely grateful for the new people we meet and the fact I get to travel with the love of my life, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy when you see all your loved ones back home without you! I don’t know what I would do without skype πŸ™‚

    1. After 4 months I still get lonely at times.It was a hard decision to leave my life, family and friends behind but I already feel like it’s the best decision that I have made. Through being alone and being self sufficient I’ve learn’t so much about myself and the world around me!
      One day I hope to be as lucky as you and have a husband to travel with πŸ™‚

  2. Great tips! One of the best things about traveling alone is we have the choice to do any or all of those whenever we please, and without a plan. I find that I really love my ‘me’ time, especially if I have a great book (which is almost always) or writing to catch up on. But I love that I know if I want to meet people, I can open up a Lonely Planet, choose any hostel or bar, and know I’ll meet dozens of other travelers!

    Love your blog by the way. I’m new, and looking forward to more!

    1. Thanks Jessica!
      I love travelling alone but I do find it hard to meet people sometimes, especially in Asia where there’s very few hostels! I’m so lucky that I enjoy ‘alone’ time. I much prefer exploring somewhere alone!
      x

  3. Good day! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same topics? Thanks for your time!

  4. First congrats on four months of traveling solo! I love this post because it’s very honest. I recently completed a solo cross country trip across the U.S. At times I felt extreme bouts of loneliness, but at other times I met some really amazing people on the road.

    I’m sure some solo travelers will benefit from your advice : )

    1. I can’t believe that I’ve been travelling for nearly four months! I really want to let people know about the realities of travel.Travel is one of the greatest experiences of my life but it’s not always easy.
      I would love to travel the US! American people are usually really friendly and it’s so diverse!

  5. I think the important thing for a solo traveller is not where u go, but what options are available.

    I *really* recommend going on a trip with Exodus or Explore or one of those adventure companies. They are excellent and a great way to meet other people.

    However, I have also gone *full-solo*, so to speak. If u decide to do that my main tips would be…

    1. Stay in hostels, they are THE BEST place to meet other travelers.

    2. If there are no hostels, go on 1 or 2 day activity outings, e.g. diving, climbing, canyoning, etc. They are another great way to meet people.

    3. Carry your smartphone with you and join websites like Wandermates.com or AirBnB to help meet other people (like me http://www.wandermates.com/profileview.php?profileuserid=6 πŸ™‚ None of them are perfect, but they are useful.

    4. Go on a backpacker-type bus tour. They are brilliant also and a great way to hook w guys:)

    1. Hey Suzie, thanks for your tips πŸ™‚ Especially the wandermates one πŸ™‚
      I found that I’ve met some amazing friends on longer tours such as jungle trekking in Northern Thailand and the slow boat to Luang Prabang! Being with the same group of people for a few days really helps forge close friendships πŸ™‚
      I will probably be on backpacker buses in Oz and NZ, I can’t wait πŸ™‚

  6. Thank you so much for this post Stephanie! I’m about to embark on at least 5 months of solo travel in SE Asia and the reality of it all is finally starting to hit home. It’s good to know that you’ve had such a fantastic adventure over there and that experiencing loneliness whilst inevitable at some point is not the end of the world. I plan on enjoying my own company when I have it and making the most of great social opportunities too. I absolutely can’t wait!!

    1. Oh you will love it Lorna! I love how differnt South East Asia is, even rips to the supermarket are exciting! Keep a look out for whitening beauty products!
      I feel so much stronger as a result of travelling alone. I did come to love my own company and embrace loneliness. x

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