Why travelling solo is not a lonely place to be

One of the things I often get asked about travelling on my own is do I get lonely? Or is it hard to meet people?

I wanted to do a post on this because it’s a fear that stops many people from booking that plane ticket, yet travelling solo has enabled me to meet some of the most interesting, like-minded and wonderful humans I’ve ever met. It’s such an enriching experience and travelling alone can provide many opportunities to grow an individual, more so than you necessarily get when travelling with other people.

group of people in bar smiling
Just a handful of the amazing people I met on my travels in New Zealand

So, in short, the answer to those questions is no. It’s not just a simple no though because to get to that point I had to learn a few things first. But, now that I’m 18 months on in my journey, I can definitely say my answer swings way further towards that ‘no’ than ‘yes’. Let’s take a look at why…

Do you get lonely travelling alone?

To answer this first question in more detail; to begin with I did get a bit lonely because I wasn’t used to being comfortable in my own company. That became lesson number one for me.  That moment you realise that no one is judging you for being on your own or don’t even consider it, because they’re too busy living their own lives, is a big step forward.

Now that I’ve learned to be happy to do activities, go for a walk or eat dinner out alone, I’ve actually discovered how much I value my ‘me’ time and the selfish advantages that come with it. This helps me in the ‘lonely’ moments because I remind myself of what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and how I should value the moments of ‘me’ time. Now I revel in the opportunity to be completely selfish without it affecting anyone.

Now I find, as soon as I meet people again, I soon forget about any ‘lonely feelings’ anyway. Sometimes I even end up craving a bit of alone time again…haha! From this, my main lesson learned and my advice to fellow lone travellers is to value the alone time you get; remember it’s your opportunity to do things purely and selfishly for you.

Do you find it difficult to meet people when you’re travelling on your own?

Once you get over the embarrassment of approaching or talking to whoever pops up in your hostel or on the activities you embark upon, you find it incredibly easy to meet people all the time.

It’s actually easier to meet people on your own than in a group because you can’t just rely on your mates or travel companion’s company, which can make you lazy when it comes to interacting with other travellers.

As a solo traveller, you have to push yourself to make that effort with people otherwise you’re going to be on your own most of the time. This is the same for all the lone travellers which puts you all in the same boat. Try to remember that when you have those ‘should I/ shouldn’t I talk to them’ moments.

selfie with go pro in clear water
A crazy, fun bunch I met when I did Pippie’s tour to Fraser Island.

I’m a fairly approachable and friendly person so I guess I’m lucky that I find it pretty easy to chat to and get on with people. I do understand this doesn’t come quite so naturally for everyone. I haven”t always found it easy and I do still get a few butterflies when I arrive at a new place, but I can assure you that the more you do it, the simpler it becomes.

If you’ve decided to travel alone, you’ve already taken the first massive step out of your comfort zone so really this aspect of your journey is only another small step to take. Pushing yourself to meet people all the time is a wonderful thing when travelling. It’s super rewarding and will take you home with the valuable trait of being able to speak to anyone. Extremely handy in the ‘real world’ we call back home.

TIP: If you are someone that finds the idea of this all a bit too daunting, a really easy way of meeting people is on tours and day trips. Get yourself booked on to an excursion or activity from your hostel or a local travel shop and I can guarantee you’ll be at the bar with a whole bunch of people by the end of the day. My pic above on Fraser Island is a great example of this!

The people you meet….

Now, when it comes to the type of people you meet on the road, there’s definitely those people you just get on with and then those people you meet and really connect with. For me, those people you really connect with, that have a similar quirky side and aren’t afraid to be themselves, are the people I’ve created some of the best memories with.

Finding these people when you travel is like finding those places that take your breath away; special. I’ve learned so much from the individuals I’ve met and bonded with on my journey. And, to relate this back to the question of meeting people, I don’t think I would have necessarily met them or spent those valuable moments with them if I hadn’t been travelling alone.

Hopefully, in this post so far I’ve reassured you of the benefit of lone travel and the simplicity of meeting people when you overcome those initial internal barriers. Now I want to elaborate further on the friendships I forged. I believe it will help to demonstrate the value of travelling alone and meeting people like this.

The awesome friendships you forge on the road

selfie of four people in an open top car
The gang of solo travellers who I ended up travelling part of the East Coast of Australia with for a couple of weeks

If we’re truly honest, as travellers we all have a bit of a weird, quirky side in us somewhere; well I definitely do anyway. And, if you’re planning/or are on a solo trip travelling, then you definitely have some outgoing, but also probably slightly wacky and wonderful traits in you. There is nothing better than meeting people who have those same traits and unleash your quirky side, enabling you to be the most fun and best version of yourself.

There’s the everyday, standard encounters of travelling life where you’ll chat to people and maybe spend an evening or a day with them. Doing this, you meet so many people from a whole array of cultures and backgrounds and within the many, you come across the diamonds that have a real impact on your travel experience. These are often people you probably wouldn’t have met in your usual routine at home, or they might even be people you wouldn’t expect to form a friendship with. They may even come from a country or culture you don’t know much about, yet you still just click.

The people I’ve met like this I’ve learned so much from, spoken with them about such diverse topics away from the usual ‘traveller chat’ and made some really epic memories with. It’s made me realise what I look for in the people I want to spend time with and have in my life.

Three people grinning and laughing for a selfie
I had some of the best days travelling in Australia with Bene from Norway and Lennart from Germany. Never would have met them back home

You know when you meet these people because you actually relax, let go, be yourself and unleash the ‘weird’ side of yourself as you discover there’s no qualms, no drama; you’re all being yourselves and enjoying the moment. It’s the start of a beautiful friendship and in my case, I hope a lifelong one.

So my advice to anyone considering a solo trip or who struggles with meeting people – put yourself out there, talk to that person you keep looking at across the room, or strike up conversation with the person on the bunk below and find those gems that might make your memories of that place truly memorable. At the end of the day, if it doesn’t go to plan, you’re travelling and can move on to the next place, never have to see those people again and not look back. You’ve got nothing to lose, but everything to gain 🙂

On a side note….an inspirational book to read

After I wrote this post, I read a book by Alastair Humphreys called ‘There are other rivers‘. Alastair is an adventurer who decided to walk across India using the route of a river as his path. This was not a journey to see the tourist sites of India, but instead a way to discover real India. Plus, an immense personal challenge of only going by foot, using no other transport methods, and with no real plan other than to get to the source of the river.

The main thing about this book is that it’s not a travel book, providing you with the best sites to visit in India, but instead it delivers true insight into the mental and emotional journey he goes through as he embarks on this challenging adventure. What resonated with me most in relation to my own travel (which is far less physically demanding) was his references to doing it alone, the mental barriers he overcomes by reminding himself what drives him and what he discovers about himself along his path by the river.

Passages in his book relate strongly to this post because it demonstrates how embarking on lone ventures can throw you right out of your comfort zone and challenge you in ways you did not expect. And, along the way you will build a huge amount of resilience and learn some of the most valuable life skills.

I’ll leave you with a quote from his book that really struck a chord with me and made me appreciate the beauty of embracing those special moments that you have all to yourself:

“Nobody within thousands of miles know who I am. Nobody knows my name. I can be intimidated by that or relish the freedom it offers”

Alastair Humphreys, There are other Rivers, 2011.
girl lying on a beach
Me enjoying the freedom of some ‘me’ time in Newcastle, Australia. And yes this is a shameless timer pic 😉

Please comment below with your thoughts on lone travel or if you have any other questions on this topic 🙂

Wonder Seeking Sarah
XOXOX

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