I’m trying to settle an internal debate right now. Is it freeing and thrilling to travel solo? Or lonely? I’d ask someone else but there’s no one else around at the moment that speaks my language.
And, does having constant access with my phone (now even turned ON most of the time now that I can “roam like home” and not just when I’m reliant on decent wifi) make the potential loneliness less, or more?
Frankly none of this makes any sense at all, as by all accounts I am living a charmed life that would be the envy of many. But I still find myself sitting in my room in a country eight time zones away from my own and I realize this is a question that’s been niggling at me for a while.
Again to be frank, I don’t really know what I’m even trying to get at, or get out, with this particular post, so maybe what I’ll do is just list a few methods I use to keep the blues at bay until I figure out the core of this feeling. And for those of you out there, please feel free to comment – let me know if you’ve done any of these things or if you have other better ways to stay grounded and connected while still flying away.
Anti-reclusiveness tactics, told as they come to mind and no other particular order:
- Do not obsessively scroll through your regular social media feeds. This comes with a caveat, as I think that un-obsessively socializing this way is very much a helpful tool. But what I mean here is that fine line difference; like when I’ve stopped being curious about what’s going on with everyone else, and when I don’t have anything new to add or say or check on specifically, but am instead clicking open my feed for the hundredth time to see if there was something for me and then feeling dumb because of course there’s not anything of interest since the last moment I checked. Like opening the refrigerator door a hundred times wanting something but not wanting anything in there.
- Create content. Seems obvious, right – if there’s nothing catching my eye then maybe I should upload something that I like, something that would make me smile myself the next time I see it. Again, though, this is a delicate balance because I absolutely try to be genuine with everything I put out there, but I don’t want to be overly negative too often nor falsely effusive.
- Go for a walk. Explore even a little just around the next corner. More often than not its the simple one-foot-in-front-of-the-other that take me to a literal place where I figuratively notice something to feel better about.
- And on the flip side again (Because I always seem to be about balance and contrasts); know when it’s time to just lean in and curl up with a book. There are times when I know I’d like to see more, but the Travel FOMO* sometimes is overpowered by the need to just be still and rest, and to let my mind switch off with an escapist novel along the way. Even an extrovert needs some time to decompress without others around, but be careful not to let this continue past what feels healthy and helpful.
- Find someone else to be nice to. This could be as simple as a moment of eye contact and small smile to someone passing by, giving up a seat on a crowded bus, or offering to share your meal with another traveller at the hostel. Obviously chose something that suits your situation and personality, but the point is to push yourself just a little to stop thinking of your own feelings and focus on others’ instead.
- Be a little silly. It’s hard to be mopey if you’re giggling. The other day I posted this to my Instagram story, knowing full well I was being a giant dweeb but really quite having fun laughing at myself.
- Or, if you prefer not to draw faces in your ice cream, you could just simply savour it and enjoy the treat of eating something delicious. That works too!
- Remind yourself out loud that life like this is a privilege and travelling alone can be one of the most marvellous things to experience. There’s no one else to wait for or to appease, no other person’s travel style to adapt to.
- Reach out to someone at home and call/text/meme/message for a little while. Intentionally connect and recharge with someone that knows you.
- Remember that more than likely, there’s another solo traveller who’s felt this same feeling at one time or another who will be happy to connect. Say hi and see what happens!
*Travel FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out on that one great experience that’s been all over instagram and everyone else’s blogs. We travellers can get really overly caught up in trying to see everything and do everything that everyone else is talking about, while still also trying to be the one person to find something new in these same places. It can be EXHAUSTING.
Well. I guess I have one more item I should add to the list: Making a list of how not to wallow in loneliness has been a good tactic for me. I feel better already and ready to tackle another tour! I’d love to hear about what you would do when these feelings set in