As a solo traveler, feeling lonely at times often comes with the territory. You’re out in the world and want to experience local sights, sounds, foods and culture. But what happens when loneliness sets in? How can you manage your feelings and carry on? We show you how to handle loneliness while you’re on the road.
Loneliness can hit solo travelers in many different ways. Maybe it will hit the hardest when you lack entertainment in the after-dinner, before bedtime lull. Maybe it’s when you’re watching an incredible sunset, longing for someone to witness it with you. Or maybe it’s the occasions you’re faced with eating dinner alone in a fancy restaurant.
Whenever it is, know that you’re not alone.
Most solo travelers experience loneliness at some point during their journey, but thankfully there are ways to mitigate it. In fact, now more than ever help is at hand. Our modern, connected, social world is a source of high-value when it comes to overcoming feelings of loneliness.
Let’s talk technology. If you’re lucky enough to be a solo female traveler in the 21st century then – thanks to apps and technology – you’re lucky to have the world at your fingertips, too. Alongside instant travel information, tips, and tricks, there are many apps and tools to help you overcome feelings of loneliness while you’re on-the-go.
First things first. Make sure you, your friends and your family download the apps needed to stay in touch; this may be dependent on your location. For much of the world Skype, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger will do the job well but usage rules vary country to country, so be sure to research your destination and download the apps that are permitted in your location. If you’re visiting China, for example, make sure you have WeChat installed on your phone before you travel.
A quick call back home can work wonders for overcoming loneliness.
Facebook groups. Once you’re set up to contact those back home, there are a few more apps and tools you can install to help navigate your new destination while making friends along the way. Facebook groups are a good place to start. Join groups relevant to your interests and destination to find out about local activities – at which there will be new people to meet. The Solo Female Traveler Facebook group is also a great place to look for other travelers in your area; members of our/this group have often met up abroad and become life-long friends!
CoolCousin. To find out more about your destination and to chat with locals, download CoolCousin. This is essentially a mapped out list of recommendations from locals to help you find the best restaurants, bars, activities, accommodation, and more. But the great thing about CoolCousin is that you can connect with the local content creator, ask questions, and on occasion actually meet up with them too.
Meetup. The Meetup app is a fantastic places to, well, do what the name suggests and meet up with others in your area. This app has many, many meet up groups covering a really diverse range of interests. And we mean diverse. A quick search in Mexico City at the time of writing brought up groups dedicated to yoga, wine tasting, board games, coding, and butterfly-spotting! Sign up, set your preferences and go meet like-minded people in your location.
Eatwith. Eatwith is the app to install if you’re looking for people to enjoy some good food with. Here you’ll find varying dining groups to join, ranging from supper clubs at a locals’s home to cooking classes, themed dinners, and food-specific tours. We love the sound of London’s Chicken Wing Crawl and the Night of White Truffles hosted in Berlin, for example.
Translation apps. With all those new people you’re going to meet, the chances are you may need a translation tool to help you interact with new friends. Choose Google Translate as an all-rounder, TextGrabber to translate written words, or TripLingo to translate both formal language and slang. TripLingo also allows you to connect with a live translator, at an additional cost.
Many people around the world swear by meditation sessions to maintain good mental health (which yes, includes feelings of loneliness). If you can’t find a group to join locally, download some self-care apps on your cellphone and take time each morning to practice meditation and mindfulness. Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer are all great options.
Speaking of self-care, solo travel is a wonderful chance to step back and make the most of some ‘you time’. If you’re feeling down and lonely, think about things you can do with the time, that you couldn’t otherwise do in your day-to-day life. Take a long lazy bubble bath, get stuck into a good book, or pound the streets with just your own thoughts for company.
Taking the time to enjoy your own company can work wonders in overcoming lonely feelings.
As you begin to lean into the time alone and the means to do as you please, your rhythm will change. You’ll start to notice the things that make you happy. Perhaps you’ll discover new passions. Perhaps you’ll start to realise how capable you are. Perhaps you’ll begin to distance yourself from negativity. Perhaps you’ll learn to forgive yourself.
The wonderful thing about solo travel is the time it gives us to check in with our internal voice, discovering and reminding ourselves of who we really are.
Group activities are such a great way for the solo traveler to meet other people. If you’re new at your destination join a walking tour of the closest city – this will not only help you meet people, but also help you get your bearings and navigate the location better in the days to follow. But it’s not just city tours that are good for overcoming loneliness – look for any group activity that sparks your interest; participate in an art class, find a hiking expedition, or join yoga class.
Find your tribe and get stuck in!
If you want the company of people but don’t feel up to actually making conversation with strangers, head for a busy area. Go food-tasting at a street market, spectate at a sporting event, or find a concert to attend. Sometimes just being in the presence of large groups of people will help quash lonely feelings.
Above everything else, remember why you chose to travel in the first place. Think about your alternative; staying at home and missing out on all the rich experiences the world has to offer.
The life experiences you’re gaining as you travel will almost certainly more than make up for a few bad moments.
– Loneliness and anxiety can sometimes go hand in hand. If you’re struggling with anxiety about travel read our tips on how to overcome anxiety as a solo female traveler.