(Last Updated On: June 17, 2018)

Long-term solo traveling – feeling lonely, is Part 7 of the traveling realism’s series.

Do you feel lonely Long-term solo traveling? It's the question I get asked most as a long-term solo traveler...My answer is...

Don’t you get lonely long-term solo traveling?

I wonder how many times this age-old question has been put to solo travelers over the years? Speaking for myself, I’ve been asked it more than I can remember.

I also know it’s a topic that’s been covered thousands of times before and there’s a plethora of information through blogs, articles, interviews, and opinions about it. So why am I writing about it?… Because of the confusion of feeling lonely when long-term solo traveling.

As a long-term solo and budget traveler myself (6 Years+), I’ll be honest with you, Yes, of course, there will be times when you will feel lonely. It’s natural to feel lonely and sometimes it’s even good for us (wait, what? Read on and I’ll explain why). However, you’re not going to be lonely just because you’re traveling solo! Confused?

You’re not the only solo traveler in the world!

There seems to be this perception that when you’re long-term solo traveling, there’s nobody else going to around, that you’ll be the only solo traveler and in-turn be lonely. Well as somebody who’s been long-term solo traveling since 2010, let me assure you that’s not true.

Here’s the thing, when you solo travel, you are very rarely alone. Whatever destination you have chosen, no matter how off the beaten track you think it is, there’s more than likely going to be other travelers there too.

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The first time you solo travel, it will surprise you at just how many other solo travelers are around you. Put it this way, if you were to make a heat map of solo travelers around the world right now, most of the globe would be covered.

Solo travelers come together.

Something that I learned very quickly about solo travelers is that we might travel to countries alone, but once we’re there we’re like magnets and come together. It’s like a solo traveler can sniff out another solo traveler.

You’ll see and experience this for yourself, especially if you’re staying in a hostel (different types of hostels), or go on excursions or tours with other solo travelers. You might start the day as strangers but by the end of it, you’ll be friends. Trust me there will be times when you’re desperate to have some actual time alone. This post shows you the different types of friends you’ll likely take on your travels. 

Do you feel lonely Long-term solo traveling? It's the question I get asked most as a long-term solo traveler...My answer is...

In saying that, you might come across solo travelers who actually do want to travel alone, they might find it difficult to make friends, have anxiety or are introverts and they do keep to themselves. However, that doesn’t automatically make them lonely.

Loneliness can hit you anytime long-term solo traveling.

A number of things can trigger to make you feel lonely, it could even be long-term traveling just grinding you down. You have to bear in mind long-term (I mean months and years not just a couple of weeks) solo and, or budget travel is a whole different ball game to short-term traveling. You have to deal with and cope with a wider range of emotions and feelings, you will get homesick, miss certain things and people from your life. And, you don’t have home comforts or a safety net and that can make you feel lonely.

Do you feel lonely Long-term solo traveling? It's the question I get asked most as a long-term solo traveler...My answer is...

With long-term solo traveling, you’ll have incredible highs but you’ll also have to endure a lot of lows along the way, so be prepared to face some tough and testing times. It’s during these times when you have to deal with situations alone that you will feel loneliest. Sometimes it will not matter how many people are around you, it just doesn’t help. There will be times when you feel so lonely that you just want to pack up and go home but just remember these feelings will pass.

Here are some reasons why you may feel lonely solo traveling:

  • *You detach and segregate yourself from others.
  • *You feel like you don’t fit in (possibly in a hostel, or with a group on an activity or tour.)
  • *After you’ve made friends with a person(s) and have to say goodbye to them.
  • *Breakups (Seen a lot of couples break up over the years.)
  • *Arriving in a new country/destination/environment – You have to start from scratch to make friends, sometimes it can be daunting and can make you feel lonely.
  • *Trying to make friends with a tight-knit group.
  • *Becoming homesick/missing out on things from back home – Birthday, Christmas, wedding, funeral.
  • *Feeling detached from the people you’re with.
  • *Sitting in a cafe, seeing others around you in groups can make you miss your friends.
  • *Choosing the wrong hostel or accommodation type to suit you.
  • *Leaving friends you’ve made behind when you have to go to your next destination.
  • *Just having a shit or downer day.
  • *Hungover or on a comedown.
  • *Sitting on an overnight bus alone with just your thoughts.
  • *Having to eat alone.
  • *When you want to take a picture but there’s nobody to take it with you and you have to take a selfie.
  • *Coming home – Sounds stupid but I feel most alone when I’m back home in my own town in my own house. I’ve traveled for so long that I feel like a stranger in my own town, and I know other long-term solo travelers who feel the same.

When loneliness has hit me.

I solo travel because it suits me (Solo traveling – Why it suits me) I love solo traveling and I wouldn’t change it for a second, however, there have been times when I’ve been incredibly lonely. I’ve had to endure some really testing times, things have happened, situations have occurred and I have a somewhat complicated personality and loneliness can hit me at the strangest of times.

Do you feel lonely Long-term solo traveling? It's the question I get asked most as a long-term solo traveler...My answer is...

Sometimes I’ve been happy as can be one minute but the next have this overwhelming feeling of loneliness just hit me out of nowhere. There have been times when I had no reason to feel lonely but I did. For example, I remember a time when I was within a group dynamic having a conversation and be deeply involved with what’s going all but then all of a sudden I  just felt incredibly lonely.

To me it doesn’t matter if I’m alone or not, it just hits me at times. Over the years there have been times when I’ve felt so lonely and low I’ve questioned why I even travel, why do I solo travel solo. But when I get those feelings I know they will pass.

When feeling lonely is good for you.

So I mentioned at the top of this post, sometimes feeling lonely is actually good for you. Before you think I’m actually crazy hear me out.

There are different levels of loneliness and sometimes when you’re feeling lonely it’s your mind and body saying “Hey we miss some interaction or even physical contact here” – When you feel lonely it normally forces you to interact with people (unless you’re complicated like me).

Do you feel lonely Long-term solo traveling? It's the question I get asked most as a long-term solo traveler...My answer is...

And, sometimes you just need to get it out your system, it’s alright to stay in bed all day and just feel sorry for yourself and have a downer day. And once it’s out your system you’ll be right as rain again.

This post by Terri Trespicio I read in the Huffington post explains why it’s ok to feel lonely sometimes.

How I combat feeling lonely while long-term solo traveling.

However, sometimes the levels can be much deeper than just riding it out and it’s those times it can really get to you and start eating at you. If you let it manifest, the worst thing you can do is shut yourself off from others. I’ve been there, I’ve felt so lonely and although I knew it would pass, I let it eat at me and I let it ruin my trip for a while.

So what do you do to combat it? Well, everybody has their own coping mechanisms here’s what works for me:

  • *Force myself to be social – go hang out in social areas, share a drink, play a game.
  • *Remind myself why I’m there, what inspired me to travel to that country.
  • *Binge watch my favorite movies/TV series/comedy stand-ups.
  • *Talk to friends and family back home (sometimes a simple phone call makes it all better)
  • *Pre-occupy my mind by doing an activity.
  • *Sometimes I just ride it out.

Feelings pass.

Remember we all feel lonely at some point during our travels, and it’s ok when you do, normally the feeling will come and pass by. However, if it becomes more deep-rooted and you feel yourself sinking, then force yourself to interact and be sociable, trust me it will help you.

If you’re heading out on your first solo travel trip and have concerns or not sure about things My solo traveling FAQ will come in handy – It answers pretty much every question I’ve been asked about long-term solo traveling over the years.

***

Did you find this post on feeling lonely while solo traveling helpful? Let me know in the comments below if there is anything else you would like to know.

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Do you get lonely solo traveling? I get asked this question so much but I also know it's a topic that's been covered thousands of times before and there's a plethora of information through blogs, articles, interviews, and opinions about it. So why am I writing about it?... Because of the confusion of feeling lonely when long-term solo traveling. #travel #solotravel #solo_traveling

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  1. I think the biggest challenge for me starting out in another country was going out alone, be it eating out alone or going to a movie by myself. It was daunting at first – felt like everyone was watching me – and that’s when I felt loneliest! Also, when you experience something unbelievable and all you want to do is share what you saw, what you did, and how you felt, only to realize there’s nobody to share it with!

    Your advice on how to combat the loneliness is spot on – that’s how I made most of my friends! Forced myself into (sometimes awkward) situations! Reading this makes me feel less lonely – even though I like my solitude.

  2. Great perspective on solo travel! I travel with my husband so loneliness doesn’t necessarily apply but we do deal with isolation in a way since we travel together so some of your tips like get social or join an activity still apply. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I think I’m opposite to you, mostly because I really, really love to travel with my husband. We have so much fun together that when I have to travel solo I feel like there’s something amiss. Yet you’re absolutely right when you say that there are so many people around us, and other solo travelers: most of the times beautiful friendships begin on the road!
    Dany recently posted…Naples Christmas Alley – Via San Gregorio ArmenoMy Profile

  4. I’ve never done any long-term solo travel, but I can certainly see how it wouldn’t be lonely most of the time. It definitely makes sense that people come together at hostels and it’s always nice to make friends on the road! Great tips to combat feeling lonely too—even good tips if you are traveling with others too! It’s nice to have a bigger crew sometimes and meet other people!

    Jenna recently posted…A Photo Essay: Budapest, HungaryMy Profile

  5. I love traveling Solo. But I am not a full time nomad, so for me when solo travels are an escape from the busy life in LA. I love to get away clear my mind and make my own decisions. I realize a full time solo travel life could be very lonely but i’m glad you seem to always make so many friends.

  6. Solo travel really forces me to enjoy time with myself, which is why I love it so much. I appreciate that you positively spun this idea that when you feel lonely, its more of a mental alert that you should be seeking something that is absent. It’s incredibly important to validate this idea of loneliness as some travelers tend to fear this feeling when they first encounter it!

    Izzy recently posted…The 2017 Traveler’s Holiday Gift Guide Part TwoMy Profile

  7. It is just a matter of individual personality traits. Some people are loners, and they like it solo. I do it solo and I am not dying to team up with other solos. On the other hand, some people are social animals who can’t be alone for 5 minutes. But somehow solo travel has been made a trend by the internet and even those who can’t do it are trying it.

  8. Maybe I am just lucky, but every time I try to travel solo, someone or the other has always teamed up with me. Four times, this has happened to me, and on the fifth time, a group teamed up with me and today, one of them from the group is my travel and life partner. Never know what life and solo travel have in store for you.

  9. I’ve only traveled solo on short trips. Surprisingly, I wasn’t as lonely as I thought I would be. I now travel with a toddler in tow, so sometimes wish I was traveling solo. Haha!

  10. I’ve never traveled solo before, I aways meet up with friends at the destination. Even though I’m more vulnerable as a female, I’d love to try it, even if it’s just to a neighbouring location.

  11. The point about solo travellers coming together is so true! I recently went to Iceland on a solo travel trip, and I stayed in a hostel for the first too – here there were 2 other solo travellers that I made friends with. We hung out for the day, finding another solo traveller while wandering around the city. The four of us all headed out on Saturday night and had a wild time, before the two from the hostel headed off (both to Prague, though neither of them knew it before they met at the hostel ha). Me and the solo traveller we found in the city then hung out for a few days, visiting the penis museum haha! Honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever been lonely when travelling solo – but maybe I will feel that one day… x

  12. Those are some great points. Forcing yourself to be social is quite a challenge but really can get you out of the loneliness stage. Some how talking to friends and family when I used to travel solo made me miss home even more. Love how honest this post is. Every one at some point has gone through this.

  13. I think this is such an important post because it’s so honest and something every solo traveler has to deal with at some point. And it’s true that you’re not always going to feel lonely just because you’re traveling alone. Solo traveling can be a great experience but you have to have the right expectations!

  14. I usually travel solo, but my solo trips are usually short. I can see how it could get lonely on long trips. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I will keep in mind your tips and tricks.

  15. Such an honest post!! I travel solo sometimes (not for a long time) but I can totally understand the lonely part being shy myself!! At first I had such a difficult time eating alone…..but year by year it got better.

  16. I don’t travel long term but I can get the lonely part especially at night time when you have dining situations by yourself….I always try to keep my schedule busy and if I do eat, tends to be in the bar so its easier to be more social.

  17. Up until August I had never traveled solo! I was a bit nervous about it, but I love meeting new people and rapidly realized how many solo travelers are out there. Because of that, I didn’t ever feel alone. I made friends in my hostel, and we fell into this rhythm of including one another in our plans. That said, I realized how many goodbyes arise and those were the hardest times for me. I learned a lot about myself from the experience so I’m thankful for it.

    Really enjoyed this post about your experience with solo traveling and how to combat the loneliness when it comes up!

  18. I think it is good to feel lonely sometimes. I know when I travel I might be having a great day on my own, and then see a friend’s birthday party at home and feel lonely. It’s true that it does force you to want to be around other people and meet new friends (and people to potentially travel with).

    Marissa recently posted…Top Instagrammable Spots in SeattleMy Profile

  19. I dread traveling solo for these very reasons and have never tried it out. I like what you have shared out of your experience. This should help those who travel solo for long.

  20. Another very honest and straight to the point post, and I enjoyed reading it! I agree that loneliness is a part of solo travelling, and sometimes the challenge can be trying to do all the things you mentioned. For introverts this can be hugely difficult, and you definitely don’t strike me as that type! You write some very helpful tips that will surely come in handy for other lone travellers.

  21. I have never traveled solo but this is an interesting and thought provoking insight into the life! Even traveling as a couple can be lonely without family and friends so I can agree solo long term travel would present its own unique challenges!

  22. Vey well done Amit! As always, a very good and thoughtful view on an issue that solo travelers face. I used to travel alone before. Then, I felt lonely when was going through whole Norway by myself, and I hardly travel alone since. Somehow in last few years, I started to value closer relations and do traveling with ones who I really enjoy beeing with.

  23. It’s so nice to read about the not-so-perfect sides of travel sometimes. We all go through it, but it doesn’t always get talked about! I’ve definitely had my bouts of loneliness, and I agree that staying busy is key. Sometimes you have to force yourself to be social or get outside, and once you do you’re glad you did!

  24. I’ve been travelling by myself forever and love it: I can do what I please, nobody disturbs me and when I’m in the mood for company, I can go out and communicate with people. Alone doesn’t mean necessarily lonely. But this of course depends on what you like to do: I spend entire days running around, visiting places and attractions so in the evening I’m exhausted and am happy to stay in bed reading a book. If I was a party animal, things might be a little different, since the only disadvantage is going out for dinner and going out for drinks. Although I do it also by myself, it’s not the same: Eating is just eating and not dining with another person or a group of friends and having a drink by yourself is often a bit sad. Over the years I’ve learned to enjoy it just the same, but…there is a small but here.
    Otherwise: solo travel rocks!

  25. You made some great points here. Have done some short term solo travel which was fun! But it makes sense that more long term, certain things can become difficult and you can get lonely. But as you said, other solo travelers kind of come together like magnets. So true! Good post here and I think everyone should try solo travel at least once in their life!
    steph dorworth recently posted…Dallas ArboretumMy Profile

  26. I enjoyed reading this. I reminisced about solo travel years ago as a college student and had so many amazing experiences. With a husband and three kids, it’s just not an option anymore, unfortunately.

  27. always a delight to read ur articles. ? i think i luv a good mix of both..i cant go solo for evry trip..also i make sure i take afew solo trips every year..it works our for me well…thanks for sharing your experience with so much honestly…

  28. I know long term travel is a very different ball game altogether Amit and that’s why I love reading your posts because it gives me insights into a very different lifestyle as compared to mine. Even on short trips, although it is true that there are many other solo travelers around you, there are times you see only couples and families around you and it has made me feel a bit lonely too. But I can only imagine how much harder it must be when you’re travelling long term. I love your honesty and the way you describe your own experiences and what you’ve learned from them ?

    Medha recently posted…Malaysia on a cruise – DIY shore excursionsMy Profile

  29. I have had a shot of lonliness a couple of times during thanksgiving of all holidays. I used to always travel on that holiday week because my family never really celebrated it and i figured what better time to explore a foreign country.
    Then the day comes and I see on social media all my friends and some family having the epic dinner and whammo, I feel totally alone! Even while kiteboarding around 20 people in Trinidad or Tooling around a thousand people at the Lantern festival in Chiang Mai Thailand, I feel alone in the world.
    But you are right, it just reminds me that i have people I love back home and I need to get more interactive with the world I am in.

    Eric Gamble recently posted…Around The World: A Suggested RouteMy Profile

  30. I can’t wait to share this post with my Mom! My parents have always done a lot of traveling, but my Dad recently passed away. I know my Mom is nervous about going out on her own, but it always makes her so happy to be in new places! It is so encouraging to hear that once you’re traveling solo, you find other people doing the same thing!

    • Thanks angela for the comment,one of the main reasons I started this blog was to relay honest accounts of what term traveling is really like …yes it’s an amazing experience and a real eye opener but it also has the other side to it and line you said traveling isn’t all amazing Instagram pics all the time. Glad you enjoyed the post ?

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