How to Avoid Loneliness While Traveling Solo
Traveling solo is one of the most challenging and freeing things you can do. This kind of traveling is pretty much avoided by most people because they’re worried about feeling lonely, being safe, or not having as much fun. As someone who identifies as a “social introvert,” even I was worried about all of these things when I studied abroad for a semester and started planning a lot of solo trips. If you’re worried about safety, especially as a woman, I’ve already written an article that can help identify ways to be proactively safe while traveling solo. But what about when it comes to feelings of loneliness or worries about eating alone?
If you’re traveling for long periods of time by yourself, such as a week or more, have an active idea of ways to keep in contact with people back home. The thing that was weirdest for me when I was visiting all these museums, taking tours, seeing beautiful cities, was that I didn’t actually talk to anyone all day. Having someone to talk to at the end of your day to recount everything you did and just chat is a great way to counter those quieter moments of your adventurous day. I always tried to make sure there was someone I could FaceTime or call, whether it was my mom or one of my close friends. And make sure it’s not texting! Try and make sure you’re actually talking to someone.
However, when it comes to texting, that can be a great way to keep in contact with family or friends about what you’re doing. It’s also a great safety tip so that someone, somewhere, knows what you’re doing in case something goes wrong. I also found that Snapchat was a fun way to show my friends what I was doing and things that I found super interesting. Taking photos throughout the day is a great way to utilize the free time you have being on your own. Take as much time as you want to take a million shots of that statue you find so beautiful! You’ll have a fun time showing them off to your family and friends when you get back home. Sidenote: Don’t be afraid to ask people to take your photo! I was always wary of who I handed my phone or camera to, but I wanted to make sure I had photos of me in the place I was visiting. One of my high school teachers traveled Europe solo for a few months and she says that her biggest regret is that she’s not in any of the photos, so anyone could have taken them. Also, be friendly and always offer to take photos for those who want to ask someone but don’t always know how. I try and be that person, and it’s almost always allowed me to meet new people and be friendly.
If you’re trying to save money and you’re traveling in Europe, you’ll probably stay in a hostel. These common-living lodgings are wonderful for meeting people you never would talk to otherwise. I’m still friends with some of the great women that I met while in Denmark and Scotland in various hostels from sharing rooms or sitting next to each other at breakfast. Be brave and start a conversation! It’s really fun to not only get to know someone, but hang out with them while traveling. I ended up going out with one of my new friends and had an unforgettable night with her and some other great people. Don’t knock talking to your neighbors till you’ve tried it!
Eating alone is one of the biggest fears people have about traveling solo. I’m not sure what it is about eating by yourself in a public setting, but it tends to make people feel uncomfortable. Which is funny to me, because if you saw someone sitting or eating by themselves, you probably wouldn’t judge them for it. Because there’s no good reason to! I found that when traveling by myself, there were restaurants and places I wanted to try out, and I wasn’t going to let feeling silly about it stop me from trying something new.
I found that sitting at the bar, finding a small table for two, or eating outside kept things interesting for me so that I wouldn’t feel bored. I would also bring a book with me and read while I was waiting for my food. People watching while sitting outside or observing people from the bar is one of my favorite things to do while I’m by myself, when I’m in airports or in a restaurant in Copenhagen. Servers and wait staff are 99% of the time super-duper nice people who want you to have a good time, and often I found myself having a great conversation with my server. Be confident and acknowledge your feelings of awkwardness, but remember why you’re there. Enjoy your food and take advantage of getting to eat wherever you want without having to debate with everyone in your group about it first!
Traveling solo has allowed me to visit and experience some of the most beautiful and historical places in the world, and I’m glad that I had enough guts to do it! Don’t let worries of loneliness or boredom hinder your decision to be adventurous on your own. What are some ways you deal with loneliness while traveling by yourself?