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How To Overcome Loneliness When Traveling Solo
Many solo backpackers tend to rush from one city to another, trying to fit in as much as possible in the time they have. Unfortunately, this tactic doesn't give you much opportunity to meet other travelers, interact with locals and form an attachment to the city. You'll end up constantly feeling like a confused, lonely outsider in every city you arrive in. However, if you travel slowly, you'll be able to form relationships with the people, places and things around you. Your hotel will begin to feel like home, the barista at the nearby coffee shop will know your name, you'll find a favorite park or cafe to hang out in and you'll form friendships with other travelers and locals. Additionally, a slower pace makes you less likely to come down with a problematic case of travel fatigue.
If you're not already, stay at a hostel for a few nights. Not only will you save money, you'll be putting yourself in one of the friendliest atmospheres for travelers. In fact, it's almost impossible not to meet others when staying at a hostel. When searching for the perfect property, make sure there are commons rooms, shared kitchens and social spaces.
Attend Or Set Up A Meetup On CouchSurfing
CouchSurfing is a great tool for when you're feeling lonely. Simply log on, search for a group related to the city you're in, join and check the message board to see what meetups people are hosting. If nothing interests you, you can post a message yourself asking if anyone wants to join you on a hike or to meet for dinner.
Sit Alone At A Bar
I know what you're thinking. "But, isn't that counterproductive?"
Sitting along at a bar is actually one of the best ways to meet other travelers, as you seem more approachable. Not to mention, once you've had a drink or two you'll feel much more comfortable sparking up a conversation with a stranger. If anything, you'll at least have the bartender to make conversation with. Furthermore, just getting out of your room and surrounding yourself with people can help to make you feel less alone.
Do An Activity You'd Rather Do Alone
Personally, there are certain things I would rather do alone, like hiking, exploring a town or going for a run. I like being able to lose myself without any distractions. Think about things you enjoy doing on your own, and spend time doing them.
Give Yourself A Mission
Immersing yourself in a goal can help keep you occupied on the task at hand and not thinking about being lonely. There are a few ways you can do this. First of all, you can research the area and plan an itinerary of sights and excursions you think are interesting. Another way to give yourself a mission is to choose a theme or focus for the city and make discoveries based on that. Find the best taco place, the most bizarre piece of art, the cheapest spa or an authentic souvenir. When I was in Denver, Colorado, I made it my mission to find the best artisanal shops in the city. It allowed me to see Denver in a new way and unearth some lesser-known but worthwhile venues.
Connect With Family And Friends
Sometimes loneliness on the road is connected to homesickness. Call your mom, Skype with your best boyfriend or girlfriend or start an email thread where your friends write messages to each other. It'll be comforting to know there are people at home who miss you and are excited to hear about your trip.
Sign Up For A Group Tour Or Pub Crawl
This is an almost-guaranteed way to meet other people. At the very least, it will give you the sense of doing an activity with others. Group activities are great ways to meet people with similar interests who you can have interesting conversations with, as well as plan other sightseeing excursions with.
Meditation can help you focus on the positives of your journey. Instead of dwelling on how lonely and sad you feel, you'll be able to focus on why you're feeling the way you are and realize it can be fixed. Once your positive thoughts begin flowing, you can think about how lucky you are to be having the experience of travel. Moreover, solo travel often leads to a positive internal change, and meditating can help you uncover this.
Go For A Run
Whenever you're feeling sad, you should exercise. It's the best natural drug for curing negative feelings, because it releases endorphins. Also, it can help you clear your head, feel good about your health and appreciate the quality time you get to spend with yourself.
Get Inspired By Other Solo Travelers
When you're feeling down about traveling alone, look at some solo travel blogs and videos and remind yourself of all the great experiences you can have. Doing this will remind you you're not the first person to travel alone, and while some days may be a bit tougher than others, you shouldn't let negative feelings ruin the life-enriching opportunity you've made for yourself.
Put Away The Technology
Hiding behind a computer screen or standing in the corner texting will make you feel like an outsider. Instead of immersing yourself in technology and complaining about how alone you feel, put your gadgets away and immerse yourself in local culture. You're going to want the memories of your trip to be about connecting with people and places, not computers and cellphones.
Remember The Benefits Of Solo Travel
If you're feeling blue about being on your own, grab a pen and write down the benefits of solo travel. Getting to make your own itinerary, learning more about yourself, being more open to meeting new people and having an internal journey are just a few of the perks. You should also make a list of the reasons you enjoy spending time with yourself, and what you've learned about yourself so far on the solo journey.
[Images via Shutterstock]