Let’s Be Honest, Sometimes Solo Travel Sucks

Updated November 12, 2016

Solo Travel Loneliness

The explosion of travel blogs in recent years has helped to take away a lot of the stigma of travelling solo, especially female solo travel. People have become empowered to travel in a way that they might never have before, and it’s amazing.

It’s no secret that solo travel has its benefits; being able to do what you want, when you want, not having to wait for someone to travel with, but going out on your own and facing your fears. Solo travel can help you to become more independent, to find out more about yourself, push you out of your comfort zone and help you decide your direction in life.

But.

Sometimes, solo travel sucks.

Sometimes it’s not the having-the-time-of-your-life-finding-yourself experience that we read about so often. Dare I say it, sometimes solo travel is overrated. For a few reasons…

It sucks when things go wrong and you’re left to handle them on your own

Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself to be pretty strong and independent, and I can handle the hurdles that come my way. Much in part thanks to travel. But sometimes it’d be nice to turn to someone else and say “what shall we do now?”, or to reminisce about how you got out of one scrape or another with somebody who was there and gets it.

It sucks when you don’t feel like being social

I’ve come to realise that having no one to travel with should never be a reason to stay home because the truth is that solo travel is rarely solo. There are so many opportunities to meet people when you travel and make friends on the road, from the good old-fashioned face-to-face way or through websites and apps like Couchsurfing and Meetup.

I’m more introvert than extrovert, and I’m not the only traveler who is. Travelling can be an assault on the senses and sometimes I need to be on my own and recoup. There are times when I don’t feel like being social and meeting new people, but then I don’t always want to be on my own either. When you travel solo you often make your friends on the road, but it can take effort making those friends over and over again, and it’s an effort that sometimes I just don’t have.

I have to be in the mood for social solo travel, which almost sounds like it shouldn’t exist, but it does.  If I’m headed away somewhere for a long weekend by myself I want to see a lot in a short time and I rarely want to compromise with people I’ve just met. In that case, I’m completely fine going about by myself and not meeting anyone, but sometimes at the end of the day when I’m back at my accommodation, I find myself feeling a little lonely. If I’m backpacking or

Backpacking or travelling long term makes it much easier to meet people, because of the luxury of time. I don’t need to worry that spending time hanging out with people and getting to know them will mean that I miss out on something else I really wanted to do. Plus, usually I’ve gotten into the groove of meeting people everywhere I go and it’s much easier to start up a conversation!

It sucks when you want to be social but it’s not happening

Sometimes the hostel you’re staying at sucks. Maybe it’s off season and there’s no one around, or no one seems approachable. One of the most difficult things I find about solo travel is when I want to meet people to do things with or go out with in the evening and something about the situation prevents that from happening. That’s when solo travel can really feel lonely. As much as I and many other travel bloggers will tell you that solo travel doesn’t have to be solo, sometimes it just is.

It sucks when you don’t feel like making all the decisions on your own

Sure it’s nice to have the freedom that solo travel can bring but sometimes it’s nice to bounce ideas off someone else and have them help with the decision making, or even make suggestions of what to see and do. If you choose your travel partner wisely they might even enhance your trip by having you do things that you normally wouldn’t. Travel is all about stepping out of your comfort zone, but sometimes when you travel solo it’s easier to stay within it.

It sucks when you’re homesick

People ask me if I miss New Zealand all the time. What I do miss is the people. I miss my friends I’ve known for years, and my family I grew up with. And when some big event is happening in their lives and I can’t go because I can’t afford to get to the other side of the world and back? Then yes, I get homesick. And if I’m travelling solo at the time then it can make it worse. Even if I’m in some beautiful place, I’ll have a twinge of sadness and a speck of guilt that I’m missing yet another milestone in the life of someone I care about.

It sucks when you wish that a certain someone was by your side

When I first started travelling solo I was single, and I definitely found it easier. Sure I’d miss my friends and family but I was happy exploring new places and having all these amazing new experiences on my own.

Until I met someone. Now when I travel solo I often find myself wishing they were there with me, and I’m constantly talking about us visiting places I’ve already been to so that I can show him what I love about them.

Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you can’t travel solo, and sometimes it’s actually a great idea to get out on your own. But it’s when you find yourself travelling alone because they can’t come for whatever reason and you just wish they were there that travelling solo isn’t so much fun. It doesn’t mean the experience isn’t enjoyable, but there’s a little something (or someone) on your mind!

Solo Travel Loneliness

But I didn’t write this article to be all “woe is me, I’m so lucky to travel and yet I’m complaining about it”. The point is that travel is an amazing adventure, but just like anything in life, it can have it’s up and down moments. If you’re living your travel dreams but you find yourself getting a little lonely and just wishing you could have found someone to travel with, don’t give up.

So what do you do when you’re not enjoying travelling solo?

If you’re struggling to meet people when you’re travelling solo, don’t let it make you stop travelling. There are plenty of things you can do to overcome loneliness when you’re travelling solo.

Put yourself in social situations

Try to give yourself the best possible opportunities to meet people. Stay in a social hostel, or join a tour that’s aimed at your age group so that you can meet other solo travellers. Use something like Meetup or Couchsurfing to meet people while you’re travelling.

If you’re not in the mood to be social, but you know that you’ll feel lonely if you’re not, then push yourself out of your comfort zone and speak with people anyway. Once you get past the inital stage of having to start a conversation you’ll find you relax more and you’ll be thankful for it later!

Find things that you enjoy doing alone

If you really don’t feel like meeting people or it’s seriously not working, then do little things to make yourself comfortable being alone. If there are things you enjoy doing but don’t have time for at home then now is a great time to do it. Read a book, laze at the beach or sit in the park and enjoy your lunch while people watching. Have a coffee in a cafe where other people are dining solo too, so you don’t feel alone. Wander through a museum at the exact pace you want to, without having to worry if you’re moving too fast or too quickly for your travel mates.

Read a book, laze at the beach or sit in the park and enjoy your lunch while people watching. Have a coffee in a cafe where other people are dining solo too, so you don’t feel alone. Wander through a museum at the exact pace you want to, without having to worry if you’re moving too fast or too quickly for your travel mates.

Call friends or family

Sometimes a quick Skype or FaceTime with family or friends can boost you up for a day of sightseeing or relaxing on your own, or help you to unload about something that went wrong in with your travels. It can help you to feel less lonely and remind you why you’re embarking on this solo travel adventure. It can sometimes be hard to admit you’re not having the time of your life like everything thinks or expects you are. After all, doesn’t everyone tell us that if we quit our jobs and travel the world we’ll be happy?

Plan your next adventure

It might sound weird to be planning your next adventure while you’re in the middle of another one, but when I’ve been missing a certain someone on my travels in the past it’s helped me to be able to think and say, “next time we’re going to go to ___ together”, or “enjoy doing whatever you want on this solo trip and next time you’ll be with ___”.

Solo Travel Loneliness

I strongly believe that solo travel is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself, but it’d be dishonest of me to say it’s great all the time. However, that’s why travel is amazing, it teaches us how to deal with all sorts of different situations and a lot about ourselves. When solo travel is hard, that’s when it’s the most rewarding.

Have you ever experienced loneliness as a solo traveller, or found a trip less enjoyable because you were alone?

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How to Deal with Loneliness When You Travel Solo How to Deal with Loneliness When You Travel Solo

 

 

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14 Comments

  • Reply Chiera McLaughlin November 12, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Amazing post! I’ve not done much solo travel myself but it’s coming up soon and it worries me that I am going to stuggle with the social side of it! I’m an introvert to and even the thought of staying at a hostel and having no alone time exhausts me! I’m sure it’s just an adaption and I would get used to it. It’s a nice push in the right direction to read about others who have the same thoughts as me! Thanks for your words 🙂 x

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 12, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      Thank you! You’ll definitely get more used to it the more often/longer you do it! Maybe go to a cafe or a park or beach or something like that to get some alone time, even if it is a public place 🙂 Good luck!

  • Reply Amanda Williams November 12, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    On the whole I love travelling on my own, but at times you’re right it can suck! We’ve all been there, when something goes wrong and your tired and just wish somebody else was there to sort it for you!! I agree that if you need some company for a bit joining a group activity of some kind is a good shout.

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 12, 2016 at 5:42 pm

      Exactly! I love it too but every now and then it doesn’t feel so amazing haha. I find that even if I don’t end up meeting too many people in a group and continuing to travel or do things with them after I feel good for having had a little social time.

  • Reply Danielle Lindblom November 13, 2016 at 2:34 am

    Spot on and so honest. I really loved it. I travel solo all the time. 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 13, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      Thanks Danielle! It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one :). I travel solo most of the time at the moment too, and I do love it and think it’s amazing… but not all the time haha.

  • Reply Jaimee Nicole Bell November 13, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I LOVE how real this post is. Especially the part about missing a certain someone while traveling solo. Everyone always talks about how you can still travel solo even while you’re in a relationship and that’s true, you can, but sometimes you really, really don’t want to. There’s no shame in wanting to spend time and make memories with that special someone. As someone who never solo traveled until I met someone, I get a lot of grief about always wanting to travel with my boyfriend instead of venturing out on my own and yeah – I’d rather have him with me because it’s nice to make memories with the person I love! I feel almost like the stigma has gone too far the other way now, where if you DON’T travel solo and are always traveling with your S/O or a group, then people judge you. It’s more “noble” to travel solo these days, I find, and especially if you’re a woman, it’s like “why aren’t you doing it, everyone else is?”

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 13, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Thanks Jaimee! I totally agree with you. While solo travel is great, you don’t have to do it ALL the time, and if you choose to never do it because you have someone to travel with then that’s awesome. I really hate stigma around any kind of travel, since most of the time if someone is making then effort to get out and see the world then good on them! Before I had an SO it didn’t bother me so much, but now I totally feel you on the really wanting to make memories and share the experience thing. 🙂

  • Reply Travelling Tom November 15, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Virtually all of my travelling has been solo. I’ve made really good friends along the way, some that it was really difficult to say goodbye to! There’s no doubt travelling solo is good for you, but it also has its downsides as you state.

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 16, 2016 at 11:34 am

      I love making friends when I travel solo, and some of the friends I’ve made I still keep in contact with and have seen countless times since! I almost think having had such good experiences makes it harder when things don’t work out so well with solo travel. I’d never stop, sometimes it’s just easier than others I think! 🙂

  • Reply Lena November 26, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    I never thought that traveling solo was easy. Man, the only part where you have to keep an eye on your stuff ALL THE TIME is quite frustrating. You can’t even go to the bathroom like a normal person, haha.

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 27, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      Haha that’s so true I forgot to mention that! Having to take everything into the bathroom is such a pain!

  • Reply Erin July 18, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    I know this is an old Post, but I just wanted to add my observation that traveling as a solo female seems much easier than traveling solo as a male, at least if you’re the type who needs interaction. As a female alone, both men and women will approach you, say hi, and generally be social. I literally just have to sit at a bar for a few minutes and someone will introduce themselves. Sure, some of this is flirting, but that’s still world’s better than loneliness. My guy friends, however, could sit alone all night with not a word said to them. They always have to be the ones to approach strangers and often people don’t want to talk to a guy alone — especially women, who tend to assume they’re getting hit on even if the guy just wants to hear another human voice. Not fun sometimes!

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 24, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Hi Erin! Very interesting observations indeed! I definitely agree it can be easier to travel as a solo female as people may be more likely to befriend you. I do also feel as a solo female that solo male travellers have it easier when it comes to safety. I’ve met solo male traveller who will just pitch a tent anywhere, or sleep in an abandoned building or park. And they hitchhike frequently alone. These aren’t things I would be particularly comfortable doing. So I guess it goes both ways!!!

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