Dealing With Loneliness While Traveling

Posted: November 2, 2011    Categories: Travel

It isn’t my most frequently asked question, but it is probably a firm second. When people meet me for the first time one of the questions I am inevitably asked is:

Don’t you get lonely traveling by yourself?

Before I directly address this question I should back up a bit and explain why I travel alone.

When I first had the idea to travel I asked one of my friends to come with me. I was willing to pay for everything and cover all the expenses.

They said no.

I had several other friends who suggest we meet up while I was on the road. They would fly out to wherever I was and we would travel together for a week or two.

Not a single person ever made and effort to meet me on the road.

I’ve even invited other bloggers on sponsored trips with me. Again, the answer was always ‘no’.

So it wasn’t as if I didn’t try to get friends to come with me, it was either:

  1. They didn’t want to travel
  2. They didn’t want to travel with me.

(In hindsight, I think a lot of people find the idea of traveling much easier than the reality of it. The great trip is always something for “later” or “someday”, but never now. That, however, is the subject for a different post.)

The choice I faced was pretty simple. Either I travel alone, or I don’t travel at all.

For me it was a no brainer.

I’ve never been the sort of person who worried about doing things alone. If I wanted to go see a movie, I’d go see a movie. If I wanted to go to a restaurant, I just went to the restaurant. Occasionally I’d go with one of my friends, but if that wasn’t an option I just went.

I know some people who are terrified at the idea of doing things by themselves. They will not leave the house unless they have someone else to go with them. They view going to a movie or eating dinner alone to be a mark of failure.

Prior to traveling full time I lived alone for most of my adult life. At no point before I started traveling did anyone ever ask me if I got lonely. A fact I find curious and fascinating.

Today I meet more people than I did before I started traveling. The interent has made it possible to meet a wide range of people who I otherwise might never have met. In almost every city I visit I have readers who I meet up with for dinner or drinks.

…and that isn’t even considering all the people I engage with online.

People confuse being alone and being lonely. They are two very different things. I confess that there are times when I wish I had someone to talk to in person, but those tend to be few and far between.

So the answer is: not only am I not lonely, I probably have a much richer social life now than I ever did before.

Don’t let someone else hold you back. If you can travel with another person, great. If not, you’d be amazed at what you can accomplish by yourself.

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