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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I have always found dinner to be the lonely hour. As a result, I would eat my main meal at lunch (this is a good budget strategy as well–lunch menus are cheaper than dinner menus), and have something light and informal for dinner. I would try to do something, as well–go to a concert, go dancing.
I also talk to strangers. I’ve invited people to join my table at crowded cafés and ended up in amazing conversations with them.
Clever strategy re eating your main meal at lunch from a budget standpoint. If I’m eating alone I do like to use dinner as an excuse to people watch, and try to choose a window table if they have one. But love the approach of using dinner as the time to organize evening activities and connect with people that way.
Talking to strangers is the best, and I think many people find it very intimidating so are always impressed by those with the courage to start a conversation with them :)
Meg these tips are awesome. I have met so many awesome travelers and fellow bloggers out there. At last count I know it’s about 10 bloggers who I’ve known online for years, when I visited their native lands. I also met a few expats around the globe I knew for many years online. Going out solo helps me connect with folks and smiling does wonders for opening doors and striking up conversations.
Thanks Ryan, I totally agree that something as simple as a smile is a huge help when it comes to meeting people – the nice thing I’ve found about travel is that people tend to be in the same positive mindset – they’re exploring the world, they’re happy and relaxed, and genuinely interested in meeting and hanging out with new people. It’s so much easier making friends traveling than it often is at home, where neighborhoods and groups are already in established cliques :)
I think this is such an important topic. Loneliness is hard. And for Millenial Travellers, who are used to constantly being connected, setting out solo into the world is incredibly daunting. It’s not getting easier, in fact it’s getting harder. I’m glad Travello can help in some small way, shape or form.
Thanks Ryan, yes I agree, social skills seem to be really lacking nowadays where everyone’s so used to communicating via text or online, and I think millennial travelers have lost a lot of the confidence that perhaps older generation travelers have when it comes to the courage or willingness to approach a stranger and say hi.
I’m glad Travello can help too! Such a fabulous app :)
I’m an introvert opposite to what people think and I’m lucky that people come naturally talk to me – sometimes I even feel too much lol.
My most powerful tip to make people talk to me is my attitude. Since I’ve realised that when I don’t feel comfortable somewhere people don’t come, I always make sure to look confident and smile. It seems this attitude both attracts the good people and repels the bad ones.
Really great insight Stephanie, thanks for sharing your experience! I agree, I really do think it’s all about attitude; if you look approachable and appear to be friendly, people are likely to do the work of striking up a conversation for you!
Whats your best tip for traveling on your own? I need to try myself!
For your first trip, pick a country where English is the language, or is widely spoken. Consider staying in a hostel – most have private rooms these days. You’ll find great community in the hostels, people willing to share and help.
Barbara’s advice is great, I second what both she said :) And we really love the Travello app for when you’re out there trying to meet people to hang out with :)
NOT having to talk to strangers is why I travel alone! ?
haha fair call … That’s why we live rurally too :D
Very interesting topic and an important one. I found that when you travel alone you go to people more easily than somebody who travels with a spouse or a friend.
Although you travel alone it doesn’t mean you don’t like to talk to people.
I enjoy travelling alone depending on where I go.
Thanks Gaetane, I’m glad that you enjoyed the article :) I agree, I find when I’m traveling solo, I’m really motivated to go out and meet people, where-as when I’m traveling with someone else and already have company, it can be less of an incentive to meet people.
But absolutely, not every solo traveler is going to like talking to people, and perhaps they prefer being alone. Will always be a personal preference, but hopefully we can at least let people know that it doesn’t have to be that way if they do want to meet people.
Happy travels and thankyou for your comment :)
Thank you for this post! As a travel blogger, I often think I’m supposed to be positive when talking about travel, focusing on all of the wonderful benefits to inspire others. But the truth is, sometimes it is frustrating when all kinds of crazy things happen at the same time (like missing bags and rough tuk tuk rides!) and having someone there can help. But your tips are great reminders of why I keep traveling. I’m going to sign up for Travelo now!
You’re welcome April, I’m glad you enjoyed it, and glad we could introduce you to Travello!
You’re right, I think there’s definitely a pressure, or maybe a want to present the glossy side of travel, but I do think people appreciate when we talk about the balance, and talking about the realities is something I think people can really relate to.
You’re right, I think there’s definitely a pressure, or maybe a want to present the glossy side of travel
Hopefully we can raise awareness that it’s OK to present a more well balanced reality, and in doing so it makes it easier and more acceptable to talk about when you are experiencing a travel low.
I would try to do something, as well–go to a concert, go dancing. heeee
Great ideas! I agree, I think being proactive in attending events is a great way to meet people and beat that feeling of being lonely :)
This is such a wonderful post, thankyou for your honesty. I really do think we need to lift the stigma on mental health, and the myth that travel is a magic fix that will solve all your problems. These are great tips for being able to be social even if you’ve decided to go it alone. Sounds like a fabulous app.
Thanks Racheal, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Travello really is fab, I can highly recommend downloading it :)
Traveling solo was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me because it really did force me to stop being so damn anti social!! It’s pretty tough when you’re introverted but to be honest, anyone who says they have trouble meeting people can try harder (and that’s coming from a place of experience because I know just how hard and petrifying it can be). You really do thank yourself for it later.
So glad to hear that you actively pushed yourself out of your comfort zone to meet people Keith. That’s the perfect attitude!
Getting on Travello. Haha don’t laugh at me but I’ve used Tinder for meeting locals overseas and it’s been great, a bit hit or miss, especially as girls don’t really seem to ever believe that you’re legit just looking to meet friends, but you just put in your profile that you’re looking for friends and not a hook up. Love that this one is specifically for meeting other travelers though. I’ll usually go to hostels for that even though I stay in hotels nowdays. Cheers.
Totally never thought of using Tinder before! Do check out Travello then, it’s much more platonic :D
Great tips! Thanks!
You’re welcome Sharon, glad you enjoyed the post :)
We are never a lone I try reading my Bible and God will provide u company in time of loneliness.
Thankyou for sharing your experiences, I’m glad to hear your faith is a great support :)
shall give the app a try for my next 3 month trip but curious if the company has any demographics on who is using the app?
Hi Lee :) In terms of the audiences, it an 18-35 primary audience, but actually some of the more active ones are more mature travelers, so they might not be as large but they do tend to be quite active. And you can also simply filter the People search in Explore to more mature age, find some interesting people and follow them, and the feed will then throw in more posts from those people when they are active.
First: I am so impressed that you can personally answer EVERY post! I am still having problems writing and traveling full time!
I expected the demographics for this app would be used by a younger population. The travel market is changing. More solo travelers are women and ‘mature’. Most likely because we have time and money.
I shall try this on my next trip ……..you never know who you will meet…………
Thanks Lee – I appreciate the time people take to read our content and leave a content, so I figure it’s the least I can do to reply :)
Definitely give the app a go – as you said, you never know who you might meet, and it’s free, so there’s nothing to lose really :)
Thank you very much!
You’re welcome Jacky, glad the post was helpful :)
If you are travelling in group tours, meeting other travelers with the groups is a great idea. As a travelers I always find myself making friends easily, people are always interested to hear your story and where you are from.
Totally agree with you Henry, I loved joining group tours, we do it less so now that Mike and I travel as a couple, but I do take the odd trip by myself still, and in those instances usually opt to join a group. Everyone’s on the same wavelength and typically has the same interests which makes it so easy to get on with each other and make friends :)
Thank you very much!I loved joining group tours.
You’re welcome, I’m glad you enjoyed the post :) Yes, group tours are great aren’t they!
Hi i found your website i dont have any friend i feel lonely so how to travel with loneliness?
Hopefully the above tips and advice in our post can help :)
Well said! I wish more people would dare to take the plunge once in a while, since traveling alone can be such a rewarding experience.
Thanks Reine, so glad you enjoyed the post :) Absolutely, for all the fear of loneliness before traveling alone, I think most people forget about this once they actually get out there and realize what the experience of travel is truly like :)
Thanks for reading!