These days, more and more people are traveling solo, in fact, searches for “solo travel” have gone up 600% this year! While there are many articles on how to prepare for your first solo travel, there is not much advice out there about what to do when you feel lonely while traveling.
I have been traveling alone for quite a while now, while there are times I meet new friends and join forces on adventures, a majority of the time I spend absolutely solo.
The lifestyle of a digital nomad is super appealing to many people. I mean, what an amazing dream life! You have the freedom to travel to exotic places, far away countries, break the social conformity of the 9-5 lifestyle, as well as the freedom to work whenever and wherever you want to!
With a dream lifestyle that has bucketloads of perks, there are also a few side effects such as loneliness and homesickness.
While I absolutely love to travel alone, there are many times where I get caught up in the emotions of feeling alone and lonely. Since then, I have created this step-by-step plan for what to do when you feel lonely while traveling.
Every negative emotion stems from fear, and loneliness is primally our protection for survival. If we are separated from others, we are more vulnerable to the elements. Evolutionary speaking, there could be a Saber-toothed tiger chasing after us!
The feelings of loneliness and homesickness are abundant in the Digital Nomad/backpacker community. These feelings can overcome your enjoyment of the freedom lifestyle if you push it away and stuff them. Here is a list of things that you can do to overcome feeling alone and lonely.
Think of emotions as hot steam trying to evaporate from your body. The more you stuff the emotions in and do not deal with them, the more they will raise pressure and eventually lead to a blowout (aka meltdown!) Do not let the feelings of loneliness and homesickness take over your enjoyment of life-but also do not ignore them! Sit in stillness, meditate, observe and feel whatever comes up for you.
When I feel loneliness or homesickness, I sit in meditation and just sit with those feelings. I literally take my mind, travel it through my body, feel where the physicality of that emotional energy is stored- and then feed it love and kindness. Just as Buddha states that all conditions in life are impermanent, so is this. This too shall pass.
You are literally the dream lifestyle that MANY people would do anything for, life is awesome!! Think back to when you aspired to achieve this lifestyle, think of how that felt, and then sit in the realization that you are THERE! Experts say that when you feel a negative thought, try and replace it with three positives. I am the queen of positivity so I will list some out for you right now:
Another idea is to get MOTIVATED, think of that project or idea you have been wanting to put into fruition and get started! You have much fewer distractions to get that running than if you were home. The feeling of motivation will triumph any feelings of loneliness or homesickness!
There are SO many online ways to meet new people and make new friends while traveling nowadays.
Nomad List has a forum section to connect with other digital nomads. I love this website so much that I can write an entire blog about it!
Digital Nomad’s forum is a way to ask questions and connect as well
Meetup.com is wicked for meeting people with like-minded passions and interests.
Couchsurfing.com always has fun meetups as well.
I recently was having a moment of loneliness in Medellin, Colombia, then I decided to go on a Facebook group called “Medellin Expat Girls” and voila! I now have a bunch of coffee meetups this week and all of us girls are meeting up this weekend!
Sometimes all it takes is a moment of vulnerability to breed true connection.
Search on Facebook for digital nomad or communities in the area that you are currently in, there are so many!
Another way to get social is to get off your phone or laptop, go for a walk and start talking to people! Its almost saddening how we have become so accustomed to relying on the “interwebs” for connection, that we have lost our sense of REAL connection.
Connecting with strangers is such a rare trait nowadays, and that’s something that I LOVE about travel! You can strike up conversations with people whom you will never see again- so why not practice your conversational skills!? You never know what new friends you will make!
I know I know… Hostels? Ew! Seriously, they are not what they used to be. In fact, some of the nicest places I have ever stayed in were the hostels, and they are a perfect place to go when you feel alone.
The best part about Hostels is that they are a social haven! There is always events, food making nights, happy hours, games and pub-crawls, specifically set up so people get to know one another!
I remember staying in a hostel in Vietnam once while they had a spring roll making night and it was so much fun! I met some friends that night that I still keep in contact with 3 years later, and one of them I recently met up with in England!
I included both places as I know there some of you are digital nomads and the other half are travelers!
On the Nomad List, you can find a list of all the Coworking spots near you, this is a great way to find other digital nomads who are on the same journey as you are. Not only will you end up having positively inspiring conversations, but also, your presence could possibly lift up someone else’s spirits who may be feeling alone and lonely as well!
If you are not living the digital nomad lifestyle, or want a different social environment, Go out to a pub or lounge, sit at the bar, and get talking.
One Thing I do is when I see a group of people laughing, I laugh with them!! Sounds crazy but it is a great way to start up a conversation with a whole new group of people at once.
Then I start teaching them fun games like my coaster flipping game…(that game is so fun it should be a whole blog article in itself!) Traveling alone really forces you outside of your comfort zone, which makes you come out of your shell and become more social!
I absolutely LOVE solitude while traveling, I am literally myself’s best friend when I am alone. I laugh out loud at things, photobomb people’s pictures by myself, dance when I hear loud music, and stop and pet dogs as long as I want!
One thing that I really concluded while traveling last time is how happiness is sourced intrinsically, not extrinsically. When you take away all distractions and external sources that you once thought made you happy-you realize that it all comes from within!
You really have a ton of more freedom, and can embrace who you really are while you are solo. Just think about it, everything you do is on YOUR own schedule, you have the ultimate freedom to make any decisions that are all up to YOU.
I would love to hear your feedback, if you have any comments or feedback, please comment below!
In fact, I would love to get a forum going. If you have any advice for what to do when you feel lonely while traveling that I did not cover in here, please add it to your comment below!