This blog post was updated on March 11, 2020.
Now that you’ve planned, packed and prepared to the best of your ability, boy do you have a lot of expectations from your upcoming solo trip! As you get set to jet set, all you can think about is the nonstop adventure, the exhilarating new experiences, and, of course, that Eat, Pray, Love kind of self-discovery waiting ahead. But what you may not be prepared for, is potential loneliness.
Yep, even the most seasoned solo traveler encounters the occasional case of the blues, and we don’t blame you! Traveling alone with only your own company as your companion can sometimes be challenging or emotionally difficult. But there’s no reason to fret! We’ve got six terrific tips on how to not feel lonely when you’re traveling alone.
Plan to Grab a Cup O’ Joe in Advance
Friends, friends of friends, acquaintances, distant relatives…chances are you’re connected (or can easily be connected) to these people with a simple outreach through social media. Before you go, ask your social media community, friends and family to link you up with anyone they might know that is in or around where you’re traveling to. If you find someone you think you can hit it off with, go ahead and reach out to that person and set up a coffee, lunch or drink date for your first day or two at your destination.
This is a great preemptive step to take, for those times when your own company (and even that scrumptious gelato) is just not enough and you really need some human interaction. Now that you’ve made contact, it’s a lot easier for you to reach back out and set up a time to hang out again!
Stay at Hostels or Guesthouses
Not only will this choice be good for your wallet, but it’ll also be great to find fellow vagabonds who are willing to hang out or chat. If you’re a solo traveler that also loves sharing good conversation and likes to stay social on your trips, hostels and guesthouses are going to be the best places for you to make friends (or at least small talk) and meet new people. Most of these places have large common areas and shared spaces. Some even have planned excursions that either come free with your stay or at a small cost, so you’re bound to have a chance to befriend someone during your stay. If you’re someone who’s a bit more introverted, you don’t even have to necessarily interact too much with those around you. But being surrounded by other travelers like you might just be the key to keep you from feeling alone.
Not a fan of the hostel life? From hostel bars to couch-surfing, there are still tons of choices you have to meet and stay with people through your travels! Hang out at a hostel (even if you’re not staying there). Many hostels have bars open to the public, meaning you can grab a drink and chat up another traveler without having to stay in shared housing. If you’re a little more willing to stay in a shared space, but would rather crash with a local instead of other travelers, try looking up local homestays through different forums or websites.
Determine Your Best Pick-Me-Up Activity… and Then Do More of That
It goes without saying, you know yourself best. More specifically, you know exactly what can turn your frown upside down. Do you crave the energy of a bustling nightclub or do you prefer the tranquility of early morning yoga poses on a quiet beach? All too often on solo trips, we set out with a concrete idea of the kind of trip we think want to have and forget to leave enough wiggle room for mishaps and hiccups. If that plan of yours is no longer working for you, it’s time to rip it up, drop everything to figure out what to do that will make you do a happy dance – and do just that.
Your pick-me-up could be as simple as a bowl of that delicious gelato around the corner, or slightly more out of the way like backtracking to meet up with that fun group you hung out within the last town you were in. Whatever it is, if you’re feeling down don’t be afraid of adjusting your itinerary in order get yourself back in a more enjoyable environment. Once you’re back in your happy place and feeling like your old awesome self, you can pick up right where you left off on those original plans if you still want to!
Join a Pub Crawl or Take Part in a Tour
Getting familiar with a new place and also trying to make new friends isn’t an easy set of tasks to juggle. Luckily for you, there are tons of ways to do just that: enter pub crawls and walking tours. If going out alone seems a bit too nerve-racking, join a pub crawl. These usually last a minimum of 2-3 hours, with a typical group size of 10–15. Meaning, you have tons of time and opportunity to make friends, get your booze on and also get to know a new city! Group leaders are usually locals that have their fingers on the pulse of the party scene and will take you to several different bars, pubs and/or clubs.
Best early in a trip, many cities offer free or low-cost walking or biking tours. Not only do these give you the lay of the land you’re in, but thee added bonus here is that while you’re learning about the area, you also can chat up your fellow travelers and the guide taking you around. Planned excursions and experiences are also a great way to do something novel and exciting while also surrounding yourself with others who are likely to have similar interests as you!
Take a Class or Volunteer
This one is for all you solo travelers out there that intend on staying somewhere for a longer period of time. If you’re looking to learn a new, unique skill while also joining a small classroom community, take a class or course on something. From cooking to Cambodian dance, you’ll have many choices wherever you go. You’re guaranteed to meet new people and chances are you’ll get familiar and friendly with a few, as you see the same faces consistently.
While classes cost money, if you’re on a budget and have time and/or valuable skills to put to use, hop on a volunteer opportunity! Not only is this option is typically free, but it provides you a chance to give back to the community you’re surrounded by while also being able to meet and work closely with great people, locals and travelers alike!
Refuel & Rest Up!
Hunger, thirst and fatigue…oh my! These common things seem to hit at all at once at the worst times, don’t they? Besides causing some serious eye rolls, when they do hit they have a lot to answer for if you’re also feeling low-spirited. Ever felt hangry (hungry and angry at the same time)? Think about how much more unflustered you felt after you had a full stomach and a satisfying meal. It’s totally natural to sometimes confuse your physical needs with your emotional ones on solo trips. After all, you’re here for the adventure, so pushing yourself too far and forgetting to nourish your body properly is easy to do. Just remember to eat, drink and sleep properly and take all the necessary breaks you need to regroup. Chances are that when you’re not feeling exhausted and burnt out, your that temporary feeling of loneliness might disappear too.