If you are considering taking your first solo trip this year, you might wonder, “Is solo travel lonely?” This is the most common question I’ve been asked in my years of traveling alone.
As a solo traveler since 2010, in the days before so much technology was in our hands, I was out there abroad and alone.
Was it lonely? Yeah, a little. But that absolutely shouldn’t stop you from booking that trip!
The key is to know what you are getting into before you go and expect that you have some ups and downs.
In my experience, it has always turned out great, even after a mini meltdown.
As long as your expectations are in line with reality, you are going to do great. When I took my first solo trip, I hit a few low points that I will reveal in this post so that you will not only be well-prepared but also have the opportunity to avoid my mistakes.
In this piece, I’m diving into what it really means to travel solo and sharing my personal tips on how to handle those moments of loneliness that can sneak up on you.
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How To Avoid Feeling Lonely Abroad
From the looks of things on social media, the solo travel lifestyle seems like a breeze, where no one has a bad day, and jet lag is the only concern you should have!
From my extensive experience with solo travel, I’ve learned that it’s not always as portrayed. It’s quite normal to occasionally feel lonely.
I’ve personally had days where I was a little down and wanted to just fly home. But I learned how to have a good time despite the pangs of loneliness that occasionally crept in, and you can too!
Here are a few of my best tips from my real-life travel experiences!
#1. Don’t Isolate Yourself With The Wrong Accommodations
What you might not immediately consider is that your problems will travel with you (but that’s okay).
If you plan to travel to escape a breakup, grief, loss of a job, etc., getting out of your comfort zone by traveling will have moments of actually amplifying your pain.
But you know what they say, no pain no gain. And I should know; truthfully, I have a lot of experience traveling to heal from heartbreak.
The first time I went abroad alone, I was attempting to forget all about my failed relationship.
I had this idea that I would travel to Italy and just get swept away in the romance of it all.
I hadn’t considered how isolated I would feel when I booked that hotel that was in a remote area 20 minutes from the old town, filled with honeymooners.
It was there and then I thought, well, learned the first lesson that I should warn other solo travelers about.
What you can take away from my hotel booking mishap is that staying as central as possible will help you avoid feeling isolated.
Consider staying in a hostel with a private room or dorm room if you identify as more of an extrovert solo traveler. Or if that isn’t your thing, get a hotel room that is in the city center.
#2. Go On A Small Group Trip Every Other Day
When going to a new place, a great way to meet new people and make new friends is by joining an organized tour.
It’s the best way to meet other solo travelers and like-minded people.
I find it’s a smart way to break up alone time and avoid feeling lonely when traveling to a new destination. Typically, I end up on a food tour because I travel to eat and find myself with a new group of friends by the end of the day.
If you are trying to stay on a budget, you can join a free walking tour. Just Google the city you are visiting, there is a good chance you will have a few to choose from.
So many times I came away from a trip with a good friend that I met on a tour!
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#3. Get a List of Activities to Keep You Busy
One of the mistakes I made when first traveling on my own was not having enough to do. I didn’t have detailed travel plans and that led to a bit of loneliness.
What really got to me was eating dinner on my own. Since I wasn’t comfortable with my own company, the time I had alone just led to me feeling sorry for myself.
One of the best things you can do when you are dining alone is to have a few things ready to keep yourself busy. It helps occupy your mind so that you don’t feel bored.
If you don’t have a travel friend, the next best thing you can do is keep busy!
A couple of my favorite ways to pass the time are:
- Learn the local language with a fun app
- Edit photos on my phone
- Save locations in Google Maps for tomorrow’s adventure
- Text with friends and family
- Bring a good book
#4. Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture
Make it your mission to make small talk with the local people. Ask your tour guide for local travel tips and where to eat.
There’s a good chance they will suggest a great place you might not have found on your own.
For safety reasons, I don’t go around telling everyone I meet that I’m traveling alone, but tour guides are my exception.
Another fun activity could be to join a cooking class!
#5. Don’t Book Too Long of a Trip
If you’re worried about feeling down during your solo travels, it’s wise to start with shorter trips.
Opt for brief getaways close to home. Many of my most memorable travels were just a short distance from my doorstep.
Day trips are another excellent choice, offering a chance to test the waters of solo travel with minimal commitment and expense.
If you discover that solo travel suits you, you can gradually extend your adventures further afield next time.
#6. Change Your Perception of Going Alone
Following my first solo trip, I came to a powerful realization: being on my own was actually a gift.
It was a chance to spend time with myself, turning any initial fear and shame into excitement and strength.
I began to see this solo time as an incredible opportunity to focus on my mental health and to enjoy some much-needed space.
It was during these moments alone that I deeply reflected on what I truly wanted from life, feeling incredibly lucky to do so while exploring a new country.
Once I reframed “alone” to “freedom,” I started to look at long-term solo travel as something I could use to my benefit.
What You Can Learn From Travel Bloggers Like Me
As we wrap up this post, I hope you have learned some different techniques to help prepare you for your upcoming solo adventures.
Solo travel can teach you so much about yourself. It helped me better understand what I wanted from life and I am forever grateful.
Embrace the solo journey with confidence, welcoming the occasional moment of solitude.
Remember, you’re truly remarkable for daring to embark on a solo trip, an adventure many never dare to undertake!
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