There is a vast amount of discussion on wordpress blogs about travelling solo. Having experienced both travel with a partner and travelling solo I thought it was time I shared a my perspective on both, in a new segment for a Wandering Memory.
In this initial post I will concentrate on an aspect of travelling many people overlook when suggesting to travel solo. That aspect is something we all go through at one point or another in our life – Loneliness. Yes it’s not all glitz, glamour and parties, travelling the world solo can be very lonely at times, both emotionally and physically. Loneliness is not something you will experience constantly, as you will meet thousands of people on your journey – but you cant be with them all the time!
So how did I deal with it?
Choosing to travel solo takes a lot of courage, even for those who are already comfortable with themselves. Being alone in any foreign country can be daunting prospect for even the most confident. Personally I was neither a confident or a brave individual at the point in my life that I decided to travel around the world solo. I had previously experienced travelling alone to destinations that I had friends in, but travelling to a foreign country without any safety net – well that’s a different experience altogether! In some cases there was no family, no friends, I didn’t even know the language… but I did it anyway.
Conflicting emotions including fear and excitement ran through me daily. Some were like a drug, completely intoxicating, whilst others left me feeling very alone and sad. These are the extremities of emotions a number of travellers face. I believe that it is completely normal, it’s what makes us human. Think about the fact that there are thousands of people exactly like you, travelling at the same time as you.
I felt loneliness numerous times whilst travelling, sometimes even when I was in the company of other travellers. It was more of an emotional than a physical state. When you can’t necessarily relate to what’s going on around you, the people you are with, the location you are in, or that you just don’t want to. I saw so many people cave to their emotions and go home, but I wasn’t going to be one of those. Feelings can be tricky things, and getting a grip on your emotions is essential when travelling solo.
Everyone is different, and although I was usually surrounded by other travellers I met along the way, my personal challenge was being comfortable being alone. Comfortable in myself, comfortable with who I was, where I was and where I was going. I broke a number of times, thinking that I had had enough and it was time to go home. If I had acted on those thoughts I would have missed some of my life’s most incredible Wandering Memories.
Embracing my loneliness was not easy and takes time and experience but it does come.
A few of my coping mechanisms were:
- Visiting the cinema alone,
- Reading in the park alone,
- Attending social events on my own,
- Going to dinner alone,
- Day tripping alone,
- Going for a run or walk,
- Getting lost in my writing.
Over time I got more and more comfortable with my loneliness, and actually didn’t feel it as often. Don’t get me wrong it was still there, but when it did occur I coped! On occasion I actually began to enjoy my own company, my own Solitude
You can’t let yourself be a slave to your emotions, go out there and see the world. If you are already out there, take every advantage you can – even if it’s on your own!
If you are thinking of travelling alone or are already travelling alone and are struggling, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org I am always happy to help!
Next up – Can you really find yourself whilst travelling solo? Stay tuned follow A Wandering Memory today.