How To Cope With Loneliness On Your Solo Trip
Tips and tricks so you stay connected, meet new people, and make the most out of your solo trip (even when loneliness hits)
by ELLA KERR
December 15, 2022
↠ Irritability Or Frustration
↠ Not Wanting To Leave Your Hostel Or Hotel Room
↠ Excessive Sleeping
↠ A Cell Phone Plan For Your Solo Trip
↠ Comfort Items
↠ Schedule Time To Connect During Your Solo Trip
↠ Minimize Time On Social Media
↠ Plan Distractions
↠ Join Day Trips
↠ Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
↠ Reach Out To Friends Who May Be Local
ACCEPT THAT LONELINESS HAPPENS ON A SOLO TRIP
↠ Feed Yourself
↠ Get Rest During Your Solo Trip
↠ Write It Down
LONELINESS, SOLO TRAVEL, AND YOU
There is something truly special about a solo trip: the time freedom, the joy of aimless wandering, and the unique friendships created along the way. Whether you are embarking on a weekend away in New York City, or are determined to take a solo backpacking trip across Spain, one thing remains true: a solo trip can be a profound way to get to know yourself, but it can also be a lonely experience.
Solo travelers come in all shapes and sizes, from the self-proclaimed introvert to the life of the party. The good news is that no matter where you fall on this spectrum, there are ways to proactively combat loneliness when it starts to bubble up. The bad news? It will bubble up. Humans are social creatures (whether we like to admit it or not!) and being away from a routine, and oftentimes, away from the culture and language that we are comfortable with can leave even the most well-traveled individual with pangs of homesickness.
Keep these tips and tricks in mind when you find yourself on the road and nostalgic for home or are in need of a little social connection. Not only can they help ease loneliness, but they can also help you make the most of your solo trip, wherever in the world you may be.
Signs Of Loneliness During Solo Travel
Before we dive into overcoming the solitary blues, it can be beneficial to understand what loneliness looks like in your solo travel experience. Because let’s face it, homesickness doesn’t always look like tearful phone calls or sad songs on shuffle. When symptoms pop up putting a damper on your travel plans, keep in mind that it could be loneliness showing up on your hostel doorstep. Look out for these signs of loneliness during solo travel:
Irritability Or Frustration
Feeling frazzled by the language barrier? Overwhelmed by the food selection at the grocery store? Angry at the weather forecast? If you feel you are a generally positive person and these feelings start to seep in, don’t panic! Feeling grumpy can be a sign of loneliness, and being aware of why your mood is shifting can help you find an effective solution.
Not Wanting To Leave Your Hostel Or Hotel Room
As counterintuitive as it may sound, feeling like a homebody with no motivation to leave your room can actually be a sign of loneliness! If you don’t have someone to enjoy your travels with, it can manifest as locking yourself away. (In reality, there is a whole world of solo travelers and adventurers who are dying to connect, if you know where to look! More on this later.)
A tried and true sign of depression and loneliness is excessive sleeping. Oftentimes, sleep seems like the logical answer when we have nowhere to go or no one to talk to. Identifying this habit early on can help ensure that you don’t sleep away your once-in-a-lifetime experience, and put safeguards in place so you can make the most out of your solo trip experience.
Get The Latest
You can’t plan for every wild card that may get thrown your way when embarking on your solo trip, but you sure can plan for a lot! Before you set sail (or board your flight, bus, or train!) make sure you come equipped with these resources to make your travel experience as peaceful as possible (no matter what your trip throws your way!)
A Cell Phone Plan For Your Solo Trip
Oh, technology. Whether you love it or hate it, one thing is for sure, traveling and loneliness are a lot easier to navigate with a cell phone that works in whatever country you are planning to visit! A phone plan that works in the area you will be traveling not only allows you to call home when necessary, but also allows you to connect with other travelers abroad, make use of the maps feature, and call for taxis when necessary. (Pro tip: download WhatsApp for all of your international calling and texting needs! The app is available in most countries, and allows you to easily communicate both with cellular data and WiFi.)
Do you have a favorite pillowcase that will make any hostel dorm room feel like home? Does a book from your favorite series make solo dining sound more appealing? Is there a teddy to help you sleep at night? If it’s going to stave off loneliness and bring a bit of home to your journey and can fit in your backpack, then go for it!
Schedule Time To Connect During Your Solo Trip
For some, the prospect of not being around friends and family for an extended period can feel daunting. Scheduling a time to FaceTime or call family and friends can put your mind at ease, and allow you to make plans (without worrying that you are going to miss a call from home!)
Minimize Time On Social Media
Most of us have heard of doomscrolling, the compulsion to scroll through social media with no clear boundaries or intentions. But the negative effect of doomscrolling on our mental health can be especially impactful during a solo trip! No matter how tempting it may be, stay away from scrolling social media when you are feeling the pull of loneliness. Social media increases FOMO (fear of missing out) on activities families and friends are participating in, and can often leave us feeling more lonely than before.
A rousing game of solitaire? Your Taylor Swift playlist? The ice cream shop down the street you have been dying to go to? Plan a list of distractions that are easily accessible before the feelings of loneliness sets in. Keep in mind that holidays, birthdays, and special events may evoke even more feelings of homesickness, and pay special care to planning activities around these days.
Did you know that 20% of Americans say they met their spouse while traveling? If that’s not enough motivation to build up the courage to step out of your comfort zone and enjoy your solo travel experience, then I don’t know what is! Consider the following when looking for ways to meet others on your solo trip, but remember safety is key.
When you are ready to be social, make sure someone you trust knows where you are going, and don’t share where you are staying unless necessary. (Are you a female planning on traveling alone? Check out our additional recs for safe solo travel).
Join Day Trips
Solo travelers unite! Day trips are a great way to see a region or city while keeping your plans open and flexible, not to mention a great place to meet other solo travelers who are wanting a similar experience as you. (Not sure which day trip to choose? Self-guided travel programs often have excellent recommendations for day trips near you!)
Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Sometimes overcoming loneliness consists of making the first move to start a conversation. (Yes, introverts, this includes you, too!) Introduce yourself to the guy at the hostel bar, ask your dorm mate what she is reading, and find out where others on the day trip are headed next. More likely than not, the person you strike up a conversation with will be glad you chose to start a conversation!!
Reach Out To Friends Who May Be Local
Stop the mindless scrolling and put your social media to good use! Let your friends and followers know that you will be traveling in a certain region (remember, #SafetyFirst, so no names of places you are staying or addresses!) See if you have any friends or colleagues in the region. Perhaps you don’t know anyone yourself in the area you’re traveling to, but there is a good chance that your college roommate’s sister lives in Cusco now and would love to meet up!
Accept That Loneliness Happens On A Solo Trip
The fact is this: lonely days are going to happen on a solo trip, no matter how many friends you meet along the way or how well-prepared you may be. Remember, loneliness is not a reflection of you or your solo-traveling abilities, nor is it an internal commentary of the place you are visiting. Instead, view the lonely days as a chance to be human, and embrace the feelings as they come. When the blues hit, take a deep breath and try out these tips for getting out of your funk:
Laughter may be the best medicine, but exercise is easily the second best. Take a brisk walk or jog, jump in the ocean, or even try a YouTube yoga class from the comfort of your hotel room. Getting the blood flowing can help boost your mood on hard days.
One of the best parts of traveling alone is the ability to eat whatever you want (whenever you want!) If you are finding it difficult to get up and get going, do a quick scan and see if it could be some level of hangry you are feeling. It is easy to forget to eat during the excitement of travel, and taking a moment to fuel your body can make a big difference in your mood. (Hint: TripAdvisor’s Best Restaurants Near Me is a great way to figure out the latest and greatest food discovery in whatever region you are traveling.)
Get Rest During Your Solo Trip
We get it, travel has a way of encouraging us to yell “YOLO!” and ditch the nighttime routine. But if you find yourself feeling irritable or lonely, consider taking a day or two of intentional rest. (We promise, epic adventures are even more epic with a solid eight hours of sleep under your belt.) Having a hard time getting the sleep you need? Consider adding earplugs, a sleep mask, and Melatonin to your packing list.
Write It Down
Whether it’s the note section of your phone or a personalized journal, getting your thoughts and emotions out of your brain can be incredibly beneficial on lonely days. Not only does journaling help you untangle complicated feelings, but writing can be a powerful way for you to reflect on how much you have grown or changed throughout your journey.
Loneliness, Solo Travel, And You
No matter your age or travel experience, a solo trip is a unique way to get to know yourself on a deeper level and challenge your problem-solving and social skills. People who have completed a solo trip or two will tell you, experiencing a new culture on your own is a catalyst for big growth, (and big challenges!) no matter where in the world you may be.
Preparing for the inevitable surge of loneliness on your solo trip will not only prevent you from getting caught off guard by big emotions (hello, homesickness!) It can also help you have a thoroughly enjoyable solo adventure, even on the hard days. You may just find that these moments of loneliness make new friendships and connections even more special.
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