Everybody always asks me… “Don’t you get lonely traveling by yourself?”
My response is always… of course! Every day isn’t filled with wild rainforest excursions, epic pool parties or historic polo championships. Building a network takes time.
The work and travel balance is usually around 80% excitement/happiness and 20% anxiety/loneliness. I get nervous that I won’t be successful at meeting new people, I get depressed when I don’t make immediate connections and I get overwhelmed that I haven’t done everything as of yesterday.
As expected, the first few days are always the most difficult. I don’t feel comfortable hanging around the hostel crowd and I stay clear of “comfortable connections” so I make it harder than it would be for most solo travelers. My loneliness is a direct result of my own self-imposed restrictions, which I’ve created to help me obtain my goals.
With that being said, I’ve implemented 6 different techniques to minimize my loneliness while staying true to my objectives and getting the most out of the work and travel lifestyle of a digital nomad.
6 Ways I Deal with Loneliness As a Solo Traveler:
1. Get OFF the Internet
For a while, I got in the habit of logging into facebook or Skype whenever I got lonely to talk with friends and family or I’d watch my favorite shows from back home. I’ve realized this is a dumb idea because it just makes me miss home that much more. Now I do the complete opposite. I disconnect from my computer and head out to explore a new area or neighborhood. If I’m really feeling down I try to sneak into a new place.
2. Make a List
I try to re-focus on the task at hand. Why am I here? What do I wish to accomplish? Trade loneliness for ambition and make a plan of action. I made my list when I was stuck in my apartment in Medellin for 3 weeks with a fractured ankle.
3. Get Jealous
Before you turn off that computer, get yourself good and pissed off by checking out other inspiring videos or stories. Huh? Let me explain… Like many people, exceptional individuals doing remarkable things inspire me. However, unlike many people, when I hear about these remarkable travelers, athletes and businessman… I get super jealous. Why aren’t you doing that? Why can’t you create something great? That competitive fire quickly eclipses any loneliness and pushes me to create something great. Get pissed off at great people and then try to beat them. I think if you have that attitude you will eventually find yourself among them.
4. Sweat it Out
Exercising solves a lot of my problems. Stress, low-energy, man handles… everything. It also helps a ton when I’m depressed or lonely. I like to pretend I’m Rocky training to fight Ivan Drago all alone up in that cabin in the Soviet Union… Nobody’s watching but I’m getting ready to shock the world!
5. Spark a Conversation
I know this one isn’t for everybody. People are programmed differently and some are more reserved and blah blah blah… I think that’s all bull shit. If you can’t communicate with other people (in real life), especially as a traveler, you’re at a major disadvantage. Even when I first got to Argentina and couldn’t speak Spanish, one of my favorite things to do was venture out and strike up random conversations. There’s nothing better than forcing yourself into uncomfortable situations to change your attitude and thought process. Talk with waitresses, store clerks or tour guides first because as a rule they have to talk back. This helps you gain confidence to approach that hottie in club that isn’t paid to talk to you.
6. Get in Touch with Yourself
No, not like that! I’m just saying embrace the moment. Spend that alone time to think, reflect and be creative. Sometimes I enjoy my own company a little too much because I catch myself walking down the street laughing out loud at my own inside jokes. There is something great about complete silence. There is something great about having nobody to please, nobody to impress or nobody to affect your day. Sometimes loneliness is great!
Here are a few great articles from other work and travel pros with different prospectives and advice that address loneliness as a Solo Traveler:
- Solo Travel – “Loneliness as a fear for Solo Travel?”
- Boots N All – “Dealing with Loneliness as a Solo Traveler”
- Suzy Guese – “Curing The Solo Travel Loneliness Monster”
- Vagabondish – “10 Ways to Overcome Loneliness While Traveling Solo”