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.
Read: 12 People Who Inspire Me To Keep Moving
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”
Great tips. Although we travel as a couple and don’t get lonely this means we often miss out on meeting cool people. An advantage of travelling solo is that you have an increased motivation to get outside of your comfort zone. We need to talk to more strangers!
I swear to God next time I’m in a hostel with a romantic couple making out before me, I’m gonna scream so loudly that they will both run for the hills. If you’re travelling as a couple, why don’t you get yourself a cheap, private room. If you had bothered to seriously research online, they aren’t very expensive compared to your hostel bed bunks (consider this: you had to rent at least TWO bunk beds). I did two months backpacking around Europe. While most days seemed like a breeze and I made plenty of friends and met interesting people, there were a few nights which were totally ruined by cheapskate couples having sex in their bed bunk just a few feet from me or even on top of my bed bunk (go figure!), it felt nauseating when I was trying to get some quality rest (your feet does get tired due to all that walking). As far as I know, it’s against hostel rules and discipline to have sex if anyone complains, although no-one really complains. I understand your need for intimacy and bonding. I wouldn’t want to intrude into your privacy but you don’t think twice before intruding into mine: why do you have to get horny like rabbits AS SOON AS I enter the room. I don’t really want to watch it, why don’t you take it elsewhere like the elevator or lobby. Assholes. In each case, the male half of the romantic couple looks sissified and thin like a reed. The female looked like a loud-mouthed big cat – they automatically assume that I’d be OK with them having sex right in front of me. Maybe it’s something to do with my polite looks and easygoing manners. I really wanted to scream each time I was caught in a TRIANGLE like this. I mean after suffering that ordeal of another couple making out, my loneliness became more profound. As soon as I felt better, I would! immediately step out to have sex in order to get rid of that feeling of cuckoldery. On one occasion, I was in this hostel room with a romantic couple with all other beds empty. I was very tired that day and didn’t want to step out of the room. The couple came in after me and looked fresh as a breeze. Without even so much as a “hello”, they started undressing, kissing and having sex and of course, the loud noises. I was forced to watch this again! I was angry and pissed for almost an hour. After that couple got tired, I sat up to work on my laptop a bit. This bitch had the gall to ask me to turn off the lights because she wanted to sleep. I got pissed and told her that I needed the lights to finish my work, she can go fuck herself and her douchebag boyfriend. It quickly led to a confrontation. The woman started yelling at me, her sissy boyfriend was watching our cat-fight from the distance. He was too pussy to come near me, I’d have punched him in the face. I just told them off and asked them to mind their own business and I didn’t want to talk to them. After 2 hours, the bitch kinda turned track, in an apologetic meek tone, she requested me to fill her coffee flask as she was too tired to do it herself. I again told her, “Go fuck yourself. I have better things to do than empty your coffee flask. Why don’t you send your douchebag boyfriend to do it for you.” They both finally got the message, and stopped bothering me. Surprisingly, they did not have sex after that in my presence.
Thanks Erin, You two should split up for a day and see who can make more friends!
Nothing wrong with enjoying a little after dark entertainment!
Great tips, and you’ve listed things I never thought of. One thing I suck at is trying the native language more. You convinced me to!
awesome, AWESOME post — BRAVO!! *claps*
True story. I need to start discovering new styles of music to change the mood and train of thought.
Thank you! *blush*
Love the post Gareth. I think these tips are great for people looking to get out of their comfort zone in general, not just travelers. People who are still living in their home town can still have new experiences and meet new people if they take a step back from their every day routine and are willing to venture out of their comfort zone.
Loved this post. Super useful! I’ve travelled alone and the only thing I don’t like so much about it , is constantly looking like an alcoholic when I’m drinking alone! Guy travellers get away with this so easily!
Think of the ways we try to separate the outside climate from the inside climate.
This job involves performing regular checks on the quality of operations of an organization.
The focus is on establishing internal policies,
targets, objectives and procedures.
obtenir plus d’information recently posted..obtenir plus d’information
I love this line: There is something great about having nobody to please, nobody to impress or nobody to affect your day.
Marysia @ My Travel Affairs recently posted..Friday Lens Affair #28
Interesting – you start with ways to deal with loneliness and at the end you way “Sometimes loneliness is great!”.
You are right about many things, I agree…
I think friendly people are great, having company is wonderful, but loneliness has its own sense and it can be enjoyable as well
WOw, some wonderful ideas……
Well, people think using social media will help them but you are right it makes you miss the home more……
I just want to let you know you saved my day. I’m alone in a thai excluded island, so far from home and specially today I felt very lonely… It’s good to know someone felt just exactly the same…. and found a a way!
7 am: going out for a run!
Thanks and cheers!!!! 🙂
Very interesting post buddy, Really enjoyed it.
Thank you so much for saying “get jealous”. I was always so jealous and envious of mostly everyone I came in contact with – why wasn’t my life like that! Being depressed and having serious friend envy led me to my path of becoming a solo traveler and starting my own blog. I am so happy to see such a great community of [solo] travelers overcoming/dealing with their issues. If anyone wants to read my blog, its: http://www.thepersistentpassport.com
Thanks For Sharing This Awesome And Informative Post. How Can I Appreciate To Your Work I Can Not Describe It On My Language? Your Blog Help Me More To Survive My Disable Life and travel with it. I read the full post very carefully that gives me extra energy to survive my disabled life travel any country without anxiety.
As a travel lover, my discrimination is I am a wheelchair for this reason most of the blog I see that in Air, Bus, train there has no facility to travel wheelchair accessible. You find out a real evidence of disabled people and also wheelchair users.