Traveling solo can be both thrilling and liberating - allowing a wonderful journey of self-discovery as you revel in new experiences. However, it can also be isolating at times.
The benefits of traveling solo
Before we delve into things, one of the advantages of traveling solo is the absolute freedom enjoyed by being the captain of your own ship, as it were. There are a multitude of benefits, some of which are:
- Going where you want, when you want
- Breaking out of your comfort zone
- Learning more about your capabilities…and yourself.
- Strengthening foreign language skills
- Increasing your independence
- Building confidence
These are the main reasons why solo travel is becoming ever more popular, particularly for women.
Inevitably, however, loneliness may creep in. Many solo travelers have experienced this, even if they are having a great time. It’s the isolation of being on your own; introverts even experience loneliness on the road. And while you may not completely stave it off, here’s how to greatly minimize it.
Take advantage of group day tours
From hiking excursions to jungle expeditions, joining group activities is an effective way to break free from your solo bubble. Take a language course or a cooking lesson. Not only is this an easy way to meet people, it also gives you a local experience.
In addition, Facebook has several solo travel groups you can join that may help alleviate travel loneliness by connecting with like-minded travelers - they tend to be very friendly! Also, consider joining travel-centric communities online such as Meetup.com.
Learn how to talk to strangers
This can be easy for extroverts. Not so much for introverts who like to keep to themselves.
As a solo traveler, the key to beating loneliness lies in taking that first step toward engaging with other travelers and initiating conversations with locals. While initially this may feel intimidating, over time it will become much easier. Learn some basic conversation skills such as asking their advice about things to see or do in your destination. Most people are usually happy to share their recommendations!
Keep in touch with loved ones back home
If there are family or friends back home that you miss while traveling alone, keeping in touch can help ease any loneliness during a solo journey. Even just a quick text or video call can remind you that you are never truly alone.
Also, be sure to tell at least two people back home your complete itinerary, in case of an emergency.
Go to restaurants with communal tables
Many of the hip restaurants nowadays include communal-style tables. This makes it much easier to strike up a conversation during your meal. Extrovert travelers love this, but if you are more of an introvert, you may have a tougher time. But not to worry! This is a very natural way of having an easy conversation with your new dining companions and discussing the meal itself is an easy icebreaker.
It is quite possible that you will run into other solo travelers along the way. This is the perfect opportunity to swap stories. Who knows? You may decide you both want to team up and go places together.
Join solo travel apps
In addition to MeetUp discussed above, Travello is a great app for connecting with other solo travelers. Simply tell the app where you are in the world and you will get connected to others in the same destination. You can also book hotels and tours using the app.
Eatwith is another great app for traveling foodies. It helps connect you with food tours, local cooking classes, and other foodie travelers.
Learn to love your own company
Take this time to pamper yourself. Choose one or two “luxury” activities that will make you feel good, such as a spa day, a shopping spree, or a fancy dinner. Splurge a little. Remember, you are your own boss during this trip and can do whatever you want without having to consult with anyone.
One of the joys of travel is relaxation after a long day of sightseeing. Bring books that you’ve been meaning to read. Then, park yourself in a quiet spot, whether it’s the corner of a cozy coffee shop, a restaurant, or poolside.
Though feeling lonely while traveling may be distressing, it's important to remember that it will pass. Take some time for relaxation and rest - soon that tinge of loneliness will dissipate. Additionally, don't forget the importance of mental well-being by getting enough exercise and sleep. This is, after all, a vacation, so make the most of it!