Solo Travel is not always Lonely

Alone in Silent Contemplation (Photo: You Me @ Flickr)

Alone in Silent Contemplation (Photo: You Me @ Flickr)

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!!

Hey stranger, shall we talk?

Hey stranger, shall we talk? (Photo: Anna Levinzon @ Flickr)

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.

Photo: Wkipedia

Photo: Wkipedia

Have you ever felt lonely when you travel solo? What do you do to overcome it? I would love to hear your stories. 🙂

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27 thoughts on “Solo Travel is not always Lonely

  1. Great post, and I so agree with your attitude. I have had most of my best and most interesting holidays alone…. at least starting out alone, then making friends along the way. Some of them became life-long friends.
    Whenever I have felt lonely travelling alone, I find a lovely looking pavement cafe, order a giant cake or some other treat, and stare at everyone going by. I try to imagine what their lives are like and I usually end up making myself laugh!

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    • Haha! I do the same thing!! Sitting outside cafes and watching people, I like to make up stories about them too!! haha…thanks for reading!!! 🙂

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  2. My first trip ever was to Istanbul. I spent most of the time exploring the city on my own which turned out to be quite a nice experience 🙂
    However, I think good company beats being alone any given day.

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  3. Solo travel is the best! You get to be as spontaneous as you want. The best opportunity to push out of your comfort circle. I have made some of my best friends in life from solo travelling. Plus you don’t have to deal with making sure your plans suit everyone. A solo holiday is all about you!!!

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  4. I’ve only been traveling for a little while and that is with a friend, but there have been a few occasions when I have gone solo and I can relate to this, talking to strangers is the best thing for me, every time I have traveled anywhere alone it’s the conversations that I have with strangers that are the highlights, not the sights themselves.

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      • Thanks!! I like reading stories about people who teach overseas as well so please do continue posting.

        I’ve been to Hong Kong before but I felt that it was too much like Singapore so I think I will give myself some time before I visit again.

        I certainly look forward to reading more about adventures in HK though!! 🙂

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      • Yeah HK is intense, I’ve never been to Singapore. I don’t think there will be many more about HK for a while. I’m living in mainland China, so there are plenty about that and many more to come about teaching.

        I look forward to browsing through your posts too. I love the idea of solo travel!

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      • Btw..I noticed that you are teaching in china? Yes? Have always been curious about how do you find the change in culture…is it as what you had expected?

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      • Yes China. Honestly, its less than I anticipated. a lot of the places are really “westernised”. Certain things crop up when you delve deeper in to the culture, especially with the one child policy. Chinese family life is very interesting. Theres also the fact that I have random people just come and ask to have a photo taken with me because I’m a foreigner, which I never expected. But all in all, China is a really nice place and the culture is very interesting.

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      • Haha…I expect they don’t see much westerners there I suppose. That’s interesting.

        I was just wondering because I picked up mandarin in school so was thinking about travelling around china as a way to keep practising it. Although I’m asian, I was still thinking whether I will have a culture “shock” because singapore chinese is way different from mainland chinese.

        But it’s good food for thought. Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

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      • Oh cool, I’m learning mandarin at the moment, unsuccessfully I may add. Yeah it would definitely be the place to practice. I haven’t really experienced that much culture shock, but I suppose that may come when I make friends with Chinese people, my mandarin isn’t good enough yet. You’re welcome 🙂

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  5. Ah I love this! I will be traveling around Central Europe mostly by myself in December and I’m alternately pumped and terrified for the whole experience. Thanks for sharing your experience, nice to hear from veteran solo travellers!

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    • Thanks for reading…..it’s definitely an adventure that you need to experience at least once…not sure whether I’m qualified to be a veteran though. I still get scared travelling alone sometimes!! Haha….I would love to visit europe…I’m really hoping I can make it there next year too….:)

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