Feeling lonely while traveling – Long term traveler’s recommendations
Feeling lonely while traveling
I have been traveling for more than 8 months now and recently I have realized that I have been feeling lonely while traveling. I am sure if you were to settle down for a period it would not be as lonely. My travel style is a little different. I am only ever somewhere for a few days then move on. Sometimes I will revisit places. For a while, I really craved to meet someone I could continue my journey on. I knew someone I thought there was potential and we would talk every single day. Upon meeting I realized how much I just want to do my journey alone. How much I value my solitude. These are a few of my observations over time though.
No one wants to meet up with the person who is never around
Because you are constantly moving you value your connections. A few people will really hit you on the spot and you will value them as a person. Your interaction with them may have been so brief and you sometimes forget they have different shoes on and value people who are around more. At times I will go to a city I have already been and try to arrange to meet up with people I already know. They are busy and you aren’t a priority. This is a fact. You are never around so it is not their priority to nurture that relationship. You may come across as interesting and they enjoy having a connection with you. For me, this is a big reason I have been feeling lonely while traveling.
This does not mean that you will be a priority in their life.
Learning to understand how social interactions work
There have been a few times now I will try to make plans to see someone if I am in the area (meaning the country). Naturally, you assume that they will see you and make time for you but experience has been to the contrary. I am still trying to work this one out. Sometimes people will organize something. For example 10 years ago I made a friend from Copenhagen and we made sure to meet for a coffee in my 24 hours there. I have learned though that there is this thing called having a life and someone who comes and goes as a whirlwind also only gets a whirlwind visit. So do not expect you will see them more than once. People have a job, social obligations, relationships and for them to see you they are taking time out of their already busy schedule. Time is one of our most valuable commodities. That means if someone gives you their time it is important you give them your attention. You do not sit on your phone and be rude when in conversation. They gave you their time and for that reason, you give them your attention.
The world does not revolve around you
Just because everyone immediately starts querying you about your travels it does not mean they do not have a story to share. Ask them about their lives and even their previous travels. You are not the only person who travels. Everyone loves to travel and I am sure most people have had at least one journey that was remarkable to them. You also never know what little additional items you will find to add to your ever-growing bucket list. Over time I have noticed how easily you can become self-absorbed. If you only speak about yourself you will miss the point of interacting and increase feeling lonely while traveling.
You are not President Trump so do not act like him since pushing another Prime Minister out of the way is considered rude. You will not be getting any compliments and a good reputation for acting that way.
Saying goodbye gets easier
When I first started traveling I made the more meaningful connections. For me at least and I would cry when it was time to say goodbye. But after enough practice, you realize that this is your life now. Honestly, it still sucks but you know by now there are tons of little surprises around the corner. The bonus of meeting people who touch you is a new friend in a different country and someone to potentially show you around their home city and host you. Making new friends will help so you will not be feeling lonely while traveling.
You have a pocket friend
I really despise my mobile phone but it is the connection to the world. Whatsapp and Messenger are your two best friends. It is how you keep in touch with your family and friends back home. Having relocated to a new country at 11 with just my parents and my sisters I had no extended family. For me, my friends were like extended family. Even so much that I would crash their Christmas and Easter holidays. You even become an addition to their family. For this reason, I really value the friends I made over the years.
I hope one day that I will get to share some of my adventures with them. But for now, I have a small little device that I get to talk to them all hours of the day. Being close to people all across the globe means there is always someone awake when you can’t sleep on your overnight bus ride.
Be careful though with your phone and not miss this beautiful world around you that you have come so far to see.
Often people are sharing their entire day on Instagram and Snapchat. I have noticed when you record these moments you are staring at the screen of your phone and not the scenery. For this reason, I will do it less since if I wanted to see something on a tiny screen I may as well have stayed home. Using social media too much may increase the risk of feeling lonely while traveling.
Once again people have lives
I used to only plan a day in advance. I never know where I will be. So arranging to meet up with people is difficult. It has to be left up to in the moment. Now I am trialing planning my transport and accommodation a month in advance. That alone is hectic enough in itself. Adding social meetings in the mix can get even more confusing. I am not very organized with this so when I do get to meet up with people it tends to be a roll of the dice. Right, this minute I asked someone if they would like to meet up later tonight but to be expected they already have plans. Don’t take it to heart though. You still have lots of amazing friends and an exciting journey ahead of you.
Some tips when feeling lonely while traveling:
- Use Tinder – Hey why not. If you want to use it for extracurricular activities that is your prerogative. I, however, have actually made real friends from it who I still talk to on a regular basis. Plus you can get a local experience from the place you are visiting.
- Couchsurfing – Even if you are not comfortable staying at someone’s house there is an option to meet up with people. You can look at the different activities posted for your current location and join in. Alternatively, you can post your own activity and potentially meet either a local or another traveler. This can definitely curb feeling lonely while traveling.
- Hostels – This is a great place to make some new friends. Chances are there will be a few solo travelers. You may find people to go out exploring with, continue traveling with or just to have a fun night out.
- Talk to people – No really. This one has been the best one so far. If you are catching a ferry and there is someone else sitting alone or even a group strike up a conversation. You never know they may turn out to be a Bollywood actress and an amazing person that happened to me. Another instance I started talking to a couple at the traffic lights. We ended up going out for dinner and staying up talking till 3 am. In fact, that coincidental meeting was the reason I was reunited with my phone I left in a taxi in Dubai. My new friend collected it for me from the taxi company and then couriered it to my new country. Talking to people turns strangers into friends. It is like turning water into wine…
Now have fun and enjoy your travels. It is your adventure and your journey so don’t have any regrets.
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