Solo travel is an incredible, life changing experience, and I look back on my experiences as a solo traveler with extreme fondness. But like anything in life, travel has its ups and downs, and one particular experience that you’re also likely to encounter is loneliness.
Each of us is likely to experience loneliness in everyday life, but we rarely expect it when we’re traveling. Or for those of us who do expect it, the terrifying thought is what keeps you from getting on the plane.
And when the feeling inevitably creeps in, we feel uncomfortable talking about it, almost like it’s ungrateful to feel lonely while you’re on the trip of a lifetime.
I’ve heard travelers say things like they shouldn’t feel lonely because they’re in Paris. Or who wants to hear from a friend who is struggling with depression while vacationing on a gorgeous beach?
But it’s time to put an end to the notion that exciting cities or lovely scenery act as a magical force-field to loneliness, because it’s not true. Acknowledging that you’re allowed to feel lonely when you’re traveling is extremely important, because it then empowers you to beat it.
And you can beat it. There’s even an app!
How to Beat Loneliness When Traveling Alone
‘Alone’ Doesn’t Always Mean ‘Lonely’
90% of the time I truly enjoy traveling alone, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from 10 years of solo travel, it’s that being alone is not the same thing as being lonely.
I love having the freedom to make my own decisions, enjoy the challenge of only having myself to rely on, and being able to detox from being ‘on’ around people.
But sometimes not having anyone to share those moments with hits you hard. Or after delayed flights, lost bags, and a terrible tuk tuk ride you just want someone, anyone, to throw back a drink with, and tell you that sucks.
My message to anyone who has felt this is that it’s normal. Everyone, at some point, feels the same. My message to anyone truly terrified of this is to not let your fear of being lonely prevent you from experiencing the spectacular journey that is solo travel.
Because you can overcome loneliness. Even if you’re an introvert who has trouble making friends, in my very first year of solo travel, I quickly learned that when traveling solo, you’re hardly ever alone.
Tips For Overcoming Loneliness
As a solo traveler I found a lot of success in beating loneliness by joining walking tours and day trips. Or joining organized group tours – I’ve been the third wheel on many group tours, but there’s such a spirit of friendship among travelers that you’re instantly adopted by other pairs.
Calling your family and friends when you’re experiencing loneliness can also be a huge form of relief, as sometimes it only takes a familiar voice to put your anxiety at ease. We’re incredibly lucky in this day and age that technology makes it so easy to stay connected, and a short video chat might be exactly what you need.
Hanging out in common areas like parks or coffee shops where there are a lot of people around also really helps me. Even if you’re not there with anyone, sometimes just being around other people can be a huge help. And it might encourage you to be more social.
As can keeping yourself busy with new and exciting adventures. Stepping outside your comfort zone and trying new things can be extremely liberating, and packing your itinerary with enough activities can often act as a sort of bandaid for loneliness – being so busy that you forget that you’re alone!
Other ideas include eating at restaurants with communal tables, joining a class (there are so many classes for travelers, from cooking to yoga), traveling by train (it’s a lot more social than by plane), and learning how to talk to strangers. But my biggest tip is to go out of your way to meet other travelers.
Meeting Other Travelers
One of the best ways I found to overcome loneliness when traveling alone was to meet other travelers. Even if we only stayed together for the day, the people I met were, in that moment, some of the best and most supportive friends I have ever made.
I equate the experience of meeting travellers along the road to what it’s like making friends in kindergarten. “Do you remember in kindergarten, how you’d meet a kid, and know nothing about them, then 10 seconds later you’re playing like you’re best friends, because you didn’t have to be anything but yourself?”
Yes, you just caught me quoting High School Musical, but that’s what it’s like meeting other travellers when you’re traveling solo.
But how do you actually meet them? It’s easy. Here’s how.
Finding a Community on Travello
Staying in hostels, joining walking tours, hitting up local bars, these are all fantastic ways to meet other travelers abroad. And in my day (I feel ridiculously old saying that) that’s how we would do it.
Though nowadays it’s becoming easier and easier to connect with all travellers around you, and you can find and interact with like-minded travellers before you even arrive. If only apps like Travello had been around back then!
A social network set up exclusively for travellers, Travello is a free app which has absolutely blown up on the travel scene. It’s used in 180+ countries, and every solo traveler I know has it on their phone. It’s the most mainstream app where travellers connect.
The app is a huge global community of travellers, and you can find travellers around you, match travel plans, find travel meetups and deals, and browse other travellers’ adventures around the world.
It’s different to other social networks because it’s travel focussed, so everyone in there has a passion for travelling, and has the same goal as you. It’s more than an app – it’s a community. A community of travellers helping and meeting other travellers, just on a digital platform.
Key App Features
Travello has been around since 2015, so whether you first used it when it was called Outbound, or more recently after they re-branded to Travello, the app has evolved in response to traveler feedback, and there are some fabulous new features.
Connect With a Community of Like Minded Travelers
Perhaps the best feature of Travello is that it doesn’t matter what type of traveller you are, you can tailor the app to create the community you want, and curate the list of travellers around you.
If you only want to meet other solo, female travellers interested in photography you simply add those characteristics into the filter and Travello will show you who’s around. It’s so easy!
Or if you want to connect with a specific type of group like SoloTravellers, Travel Bloggers, Female Travellers, Travel Photographers and also a group for LGBT travellers then you can find it there too.
This makes it super easy to connect with like-minded travellers, you can even set up actual Meetups in your destination as another way to physically meet in person.
See Content From Travelers Around You
The feed uses a unique algorithm to pull in content from other travellers around you. So you can automatically see what other travellers are doing in your city and what you might be missing out on!
If you add an upcoming trip to your profile the Travello algorithm will start bringing in user generated content from where ever it is you are going. So you can explore your next destination through the eyes (or lens) of travellers that are actually there!
The feed also has a ‘Map View” so you can quickly explore the other side of the world via pictures taken by travellers who are there right now. And you can also search by hashtags and locations.
Find Out Who’ll Be There
Add a trip and Travello will show you other travellers heading to the same destination at the same time. So you can connect, make plans or just ask for tips and advice in advance.
This one’s really great for solo travellers looking to connect before you arrive. The ‘Explore’ tab automatically shows you other travellers and meetups around you. This makes it really easy to meet other travellers once you’re there.
Other Cool Features
The Explore Map is super handy to locate everything you need nearby on your travels too, from locating hostels, nightlife, campgrounds & medical as well.
You’ll also find a heap of great travel brands in the app offering all sorts of exclusive discounts, and the app is free with no annoying advertising or in-app purchases.
And Travello automatically creates a really neat travel map, displaying the countries you’ve visited, which is shareable on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A nice way to brag about all the places you’ve been to your friends back home!
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