Travelling Solo – Loneliness

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 travel@awanderingmemory.com I am always happy to help!

Next up – Can you really find yourself whilst travelling solo? Stay tuned follow A Wandering Memory today.


46 thoughts on “Travelling Solo – Loneliness

  1. I usually travel solo, and I build in social opportunities. For instance, when I went to Spain for two weeks, I spent three days at a yoga retreat. I was around like-minded people and socialized a lot. At another place, I stayed at a B&B where everyone came to breakfast at the same time and ate at the same table. I would also sit at the bar at some places, which makes it easier to talk with people. And, along my travels, I collect friends so next time I return to a place, I might have a companion for at least a meal or two!

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    1. It’s a great way to be. We are very similar in that we have a very social persona. This was a long while ago when I was quite young therefore a piece from the past. Glad you felt like commenting though much appreciated!

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    1. Hi Peter. I completely agree… I found myself lonely on occasion whilst with other people defining your point above. I thought it was a different approach as I loved traveling solo and am very lucky to now travel with my wife but it’s not all glamorous. Just a bit of a hint for all travellers out there

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  2. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I traveled solo to Europe many years ago and found it a challenging time but it definitely helped me gain in confidence. It was hard and I was pushed way out of my comfort zone but I guess that’s what independent travel does to you. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Miriam. Sorry for the delay we are in Malta currently coming back this afternoon. I so agree that the confidence levels are truly affected by travelling. You really get to learn a lot about yourself daily! And I made so many great friends along the way…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I’ve done a lot of travel to places solo but usually where I end up joining a group of people I don’t know. Usually there are a few days in which I’m completely solo and I love it. I’ve done solo volunteer trips too for a week but always do a home stay so I’m immersed in the local culture. I can do a week alone but I think that is my maximum. But usually with every trip I do at least 2-3 days alone but I often find I’m never really alone since I always meet people like the tour guide, a taxi driver, hotel staff etc. dining alone is the hard part since it is boring and can be strange as a single woman but I still do it.

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    1. Ah yes I thought of you when I wrote this Nicole. I admire how you look at live and take the opportunities when they present themselves. I am very lucky that I no longer travel very far alone these days as I have Megan. But you said even back then there was people to chat to in the bar the taxi the hotel. If you look hard enough and take that leap of faith it’s just about you personally that is where loneliness is. When you become as you are a confident content traveller you can really take every experience by the horns! It’s a rarity these days that I feel alone because I am happy with my own company have a great live and enjoy being me!

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  4. I usually travel with another person or two and I still feel lonely even though I was with other people because there were no connections between us. I feel like who we travel with and our relationship effect the way we feel about loneliness as well. I’m glad to know that loneliness while traveling isn’t something to fear.

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    1. Hi pisey. Thank you for the lovely contribution I am so happy the post resonated with you. You picked up on a very important piece which was even when traveling with people you can still get lonely if there is limited connections… But when you embrace it and take yourself off and do what you want to do! Then suddenly it all clocks… Nope nothing to fear at all it’s actually incredibly liberating traveling alone. Let us know if you have any other thoughts and please join a wandering memory as we look at all sorts of new and wonderful experiences

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      1. I ended up traveling by myself even though I started with 2 other people. I took advantage of London’s free museum’s entrance fee while my companions went make up shopping.

        I really like your insights into this post. I hope you will write more posts like this one. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hey pisey. I do insight pieces every now and again. Check out the historic ones under the insights tab. There are also a lot of experiences and stories and a. Number of country pieces too. We have clocked up 53 countries so far! What’s next for you?

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      3. I’ve always wanted to go to Japan. I’ve had layovers in Tokyo a couple times but never enough time to go out. I have friends there I would like to visit. Have you been to Japan? If not, are you planning to go? I would love to read up on your stories if you manage to go before I do

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  5. I didn’t do much traveling until I was in my 50s, then went a lot for the next 20 years or so. I loved solo traveling, not having to depend on anyone, and doing whatever I pleased with no schedule or itinerary. Only once was I homesick…and to this day I don’t know why…I missed my husband, and I cried and cried to two days–VERY unusual for me–and ended up going home and canceling my planned “reality tour” (they reimbursed the money I paid, which was a bonus…I had traveled with them three times before.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are so very brave! I travel alone for business a lot but it’s the social activities that I cannot do on my own. I cannot imagine going to dinner on my own or to the movies or even sight seeing – I definitely need a friend or two or three to be with me. Thanks however for sharing such a great post and encouraging me to think different about travelling solo 🙂

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      1. No, especially if you always feel you have to surround yourself with people or feel wanted to be happy. At first, it can be uncomfortable and lonely, but if you get beyond that, it’s so very healthy and healing.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Travelling solo has never appealed to me for all the reasons you’ve mentioned. I’ve always felt I needed to have someone with me to share the experiences in the moment and then later share the memories. Having said that there were times when I was travelling with my family last summer when I just wanted to go off on my own because everyone was having issues about when to go, where to go and just plain getting off the couch and going. In fairness to them, one of them was ill and the other had a baby to contend with but I felt trapped and started to resent being there. Luckily that only lasted a couple of days and most of the trip was grand.

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    1. Hi Mama Cormier – Thank you for your comment it is very interesting how different people experience such things and how perceptions are so different. I know how it feels to be with people and feel really alone, although those days are ling behind me. Have you visited the full A Wandering Memory website?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am so happy tbe blog made you follow. I look forward to your future comments and readership. Is there anywhere in particular that interests you? How much travelling do you do? Oh and where are you based now? Thank you so much for the support

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I live in Toronto, Canada. Last summer we travelled to Italy where our son and daughter-in-law hosted their family wedding. It was a trip of a life time. I’ve also been to the Netherlands and Ireland twice. I retire in June and I’m hoping to do a lot more travelling.

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