Surrounded by more than 10 other people on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I have never felt more awkward and lonely than that 3 hour climb up the bridge. I was alone among couples and families, even the solo travelers had paired up with each other, except for me.
I plodded on, determined to enjoy myself on my climb even if I was not able to share the experience with the people around me.
Such is the joy of solo travel. You are more often than not left to your own. Does this make me lonely? Sometimes.
I miss being able to share the moment on the spot, that feeling of being included as part of a group. Sometimes I miss being able to talk to people who can understand me and my jokes and laugh or gossip about things that we all understand. When I see families around me, I sometimes miss home and you feel worse when you are sick in a foreign country all by yourself.
Have I said enough?
So what do you do when you feel this way?
You go out, socialise! Talk to strangers sitting next to you, smile at everyone!
I once struck up a conversation with a little girl sitting right across me for breakfast. She was adorable. I learnt that she was visiting from England and loved pancakes.
Make the first move and talk to people. I find that people are always shy to make the first move. In the 2 weeks that I stayed in Sydney, there were so many changes of people in my room that I had to introduce myself over and over again. I lost track how many times I had to do that.
Sometimes our fear hold us back but you should always try it first. I once came back at night to find new occupants in my room and dead silence when I introduced myself to everyone. AWKWARD!!
Offer to share or help others. Sometimes you make friends in the least likely situations. I made friends in the kitchen when I had made too much and wanted to share my food instead. We exchanged stories over dinner and continued to meet up for our “kitchen sessions” when we were there.
There can also be times when I purposely seek out some alone time. I don’t really like to be around people all the time, I need some time to myself to balance my inner self.
Essentially, solo travel does not always have to be lonely unless you make it that way. It all depends on yourself. You will get to recharge yourself when you wish to, socialise as much as you want to and make new friends along the way (if you wish to, of course).
My advice? If you feel lonely during your travels (and there definitely will be), just put up a brave front – hide behind your camera and take lots and lots of photos or bring along books to get over it.
Have you ever felt lonely when you travel solo? What do you do to overcome it? I would love to hear your stories. 🙂