The idea of travelling solo is often laced with thoughts of loneliness, and fairly so; we humans thrive in company and travel is no exception. Stings of loneliness strike at the most unlikely moments on the road – the nostalgia of a familiar song, a face that reminds you of someone you know, a thought that would’ve sounded better aloud.
There are no definite remedies to the ailment, but here are some things that have helped me wriggle my way out of that sinking feeling of being alone:
In a world that’s always connected virtually, it’s near impossible to feel lonely. I always enable some form of Internet on my phone or choose to stay at a place with free WiFi, and each time I discover something amazing or encounter boredom or loneliness on my travels, I log on to Twitter or Facebook and connect with my world, share my thoughts, and stay in touch with life as I knew it.
Call family or friends.
Chances are, a few minutes into the conversation you’ll realize why you set out on your own in the first place! Make small talk about your day and their day, but not about the real reason for calling. The more you talk about feeling lonely, the more lonely you’ll feel.
Talk to the locals.
I often travel in search of lesser-known destinations, and there have been times I haven’t seen fellow travellers for days. My general curiosity about the lifestyle of the local people in a place always has me striking conversations with anyone I can find, and sometimes those conversations mature into friendships, dissolving any elements of loneliness into thin air. A smile or an easy topic like the weather is a sure-shot way to break the ice.
Listen to upbeat music.
Music can be unbelievably therapeutic on the road, but it’s best to avoid familiar music that you already associate with another time & place. I try to upload new music on my phone before I set out on a solo holiday, and before I know it, I’m building new associations between places I haven’t seen before and songs I haven’t heard before. It’s a magical feeling when you get home and listen to your ‘solo travel’ music again.
Go for a run.
This is rooted more in science than in experience. Running, or any other form of physical activity, releases endorphins into the body, a scientific way of putting your mind at ease with happier feelings. Plus, as you build your own running trail in an unknown place, you are sure to discover something unexpected.
Try something you’ve never done before.
You know that high you get from doing something for the first time? It’s an essential ingredient to make any trip memorable, and much more so when you travel solo. The first time I hitchhiked up in the Himalayas of Spiti all by myself (it’s a feat surviving that in India), my spirits soared so high that I thought I could do just about anything; dealing with solitude was the least of these.
Someone could may as well have said, words are a (wo)man’s best friends. You don’t have to be a writer or poet to express yourself in words. Cheesy as it may sound, keep an online or offline journal of your travels, and focus as much as possible on the positives. Write about the things that have amazed you, the people you have met, and the joy of travelling somewhere that no one knows you. By the time you get home, you’ll have memories that will literally last a lifetime.
Plan your next trip.
If there’s something that feeds my wanderlust as much as travelling itself, it is planning a trip to a place unheard. When I start to get weary of where I am, I go all out to find an escape to a place whose legends have only been passed down verbally among the locals, and about which even Google knows little. That might not be everyone’s idea of travel, but whatever yours is, indulge it till it excites you and makes you forget the woes of a solo traveller.
Have you mastered the art of travelling solo? How do you deal with loneliness when you travel alone?
Travelling Alone in India: Am I crazy?
On Solo Travel & Indian Women.
5 Reasons Why Travelling Solo in India is Not So Scary.
Welcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, “sustainability influencer,” social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes that travel – if done right – has the power to change us and the world we live in.
nice post . myself traveled solo i do writing my experience , listening to music & having a chat with the local chai wala 🙂
Thanks Samaresh, yes the local chai walas are full of stories, a great way to blend in with the region 🙂
Why’d anyone use internet to during travel ? 😮
Don’t we have more than enough of it when we are not traveling ?
Haha we do, but from personal experience, there isn’t a better way when you desperately want to voice out a thought. I for one, am a Twitter addict. Love the virtual company on my travels!
A really nice post……nd seriously most of the methods suggested by u do come in handy….have used a lot myself 🙂
Just disagree with the going onl9 part 😛
Thanks Gaurav. Haha, ya seems like many people are disagreeing with that. Guess I speak for myself when I say I can’t imagine how people travel without Twitter et al. I outsource my decision making to it so many times.
Good tips,Experience great teacher is it not?? I can’t travel alone 🙁 I have travelled for my work. Its the bringing up I believe. Never given a chance to venture out alone while young..and
I belong to a diff. generation.
Is it, Chitra! And there’s always a first time. Maybe you could start with joining a group trip by yourself. That’ll ease you into the idea of travelling alone and yet you won’t be completely out of your comfort zone. Give it a try; it’s impossible only in the head 🙂
nice post shivya! its something i did a lot when i was working as a development worker! no longer now. I am a book addict and in those days before the internet they were my best companions. Wonder whether I will be able to manage a solo trip now? Want to do a backpacking trip in Europe solo!! in my bucket list… lets see when i do it 🙂
Thanks Sapna! I can imagine, I should’ve added “read a book” in the tips. Wow, a solo backpacking trip around Europe will be rather awesome. Make sure you master some phrases in the local language to get by!
its still a dream shivya, let’s see when it becomes a reality!!!
Thank you for your advice.
I’m 66 yo Australian female and I’m going to Canada for virtually my first trip overseas (a fortnight in New Zealand with my sister and her husband doesn’t really count). I’m going alone and travelling around on my own by train and Greyhound bus through British Columbia and Alberta. I am good on my own but I like your idea of keeping in touch by internet, so I’ve checked out where the local internet/cyber cafes are near where I’m staying. e.g. there’s a great cafe in Prince Rupert – i mean great food, coffee and computers. Just got to remember to take along a list of my internet passwords. I might start a WordPress blog for my trip and include what has worked and what hasn’t for others planning a similar adventure.
Sounds fun, Pat! It takes a little getting used to. Maybe on the first two days, you’ll feel a mix of excitement and anxiety, but gradually you’ll ease into it. If the Canadians are as friendly as I read they are, you won’t have a problem striking up conversations with strangers 🙂 Look forward to your blog. Leave me a link when you have one, would love to read about your experiences!
Thanks Shivya. These are some good tips. Talking and making new friends with local people is the best way to kill your time.
Agreed, always works 🙂
Very sound advice..but then why travel alone..I’m sure a post on IndiaMike would get you enough responses…but then ..sometimes it just has it’s advantages I suppose 🙂
Haha, it’s an experience and if it works you, it can be addictive!
visiting to the local market is one way I beat loneliness . And the best conversation is struck with Haryanvyi truckkers. It can be too much for a lady but a man would enjoy the conversation with them to core.
Local markets are a good idea. As a female, Haryanvi truckkers would be the last people I’d want to exchange any words with.
My favorite is spending time with locals followed by writing
I guess most bloggers would agree 🙂
Thanks Shivya! I will probably put some of your advice to use over my first solo trip (ever) to Dharmsala! 😉
Glad it’ll be helpful J 🙂 Good luck with the first solo trip! Dharamsala has enough & more to keep you occupied.
Heheh! It was GREAT…I plan to do one solo trip per year now.. 😉
Reblogged this on "Life,the Universe and Everything" and commented:
Such a lovely post…plan to put some of the advice into use over my upcoming, first-ever solo trip to Dharamsala…and probably will be able to come back and put together my own take on fighting the blues… 😉
Nice post Shivya. I wish to make my first first solo trip in matheran and would put to use your advice.
Thanks, good luck with the solo tripping & let me know how it goes 🙂
Hi Shivya, its really nice to read your thoughts and comments on solo tripping, well I used to travel all alone before couple of years. I traveled many countries alone but then I met some one special and then she became my life, but now unfortunately we are no longer together and I am going to travel alone first time to Singapore and Bali all alone….Dont know how will I do it but I just wanna rejuvenate my inner self again…Can you suggest me what should I do?
Go for it, DK! Nothing heals a broken heart like a new adventure, me thinks 🙂
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I forced myself to step out of my comfort zone. I threw myself out of a plane at 15000ft, I met locals amd had a big cry.
Sometimes you just have to!
Beautiful article, like always. Thank you for sharing the article.
I have travelled before, particularly before my marriage. I used to disconnect from the internet world and it is really soothing and helpful for one’s soul to travel alone. You get to know yourself more and more.
Thank you once again. You are truly an inspiration
Reblogged this on Santa's Reindeer and commented:
Really great ideas
when i face lonliness during my solo visit i serchases blindly which i dont wanted same as ” where i repair my mobile ” when i reached to that shop with help of 3-4 locals . i say him where is the bus station then he is in my list for locals but i cant stop conversation to locals. That thing is funny one but i confidend same as locals and my brain ever loaded for serching so many thing with noticeble in diary.
Were you a wise person to begin with, or would you say your wisdom comes from your journeys? (It is a genuine query, not meant as flattery) And this is certainly not regarding this post only but many others I’ve read. You mention you’re a travel writer, but did you become a writer to sustain life on road or did you have literary credentials previously
Haah, Yes, I totally relate to you in every aspect of travelling solo. I have been upto this solo travelling. Not that I have gone on many of the trips.Its just the one, to Goa. But I always knew I can easily do that. I am planning to go to Dubai this New Year. and I am sure its gonna be another learning experience for me. I have written a blog(just started blogging:D) about little of solo travelling. Still, need to be sure if Dubai is safe for girls? Please dont forget to tell me. Thanks 🙂
Good post Shivya 🙂 The best way that works for me is to mingle with the locals because that helps you from being lonely and of course going for a walk or wandering around with some upbeat music is simply great. For some reason I actually loved travelling alone and its so much fun! Never bored or lonely 🙂
Now it’s to get out of the home and Just Run on the streets of Mumbai..! I don’t need money to reach Mumbai .Local..!!😂😂 Thanks Shivya…!! Love you so much..! I was running away from myself..! Now you have given me word called hitchhike …! Now I’m going to apply that word in the sentence of my traveling…! I don’t travel more but I have desire to get that more word in traveling without using don’t…! Basically I’m from small village of Maharashtra..!
This is just awesome.. wanderlust stimulation accomplished..😁 .. Looking frwrd to sharing stories of my own some day..