There’s a common myth that traveling alone means that you have to be lonely.
Honestly, I’m not sure where that came from. Maybe people assume we travel alone because we have to, and not by choice. Or maybe it’s because they stick with their group when they travel.
I’m not sure. But somehow this myth has become so pervasive in the solo travel world that it puts people off trying solo travel.
Well, I’m not having it!
I’m going to debunk the myth that solo travel is lonely to help us put this myth to rest.
I’ll even show you how to overcome any loneliness you might feel as a solo traveler.
Read on for more helpful tips about solo travel loneliness!
Isn’t it Lonely to Travel Alone?
Solo travel typically means you’re traveling alone. It can be for a day, a week, or even years.
Because you’re on your own, there’s this idea that you have to stay on your own while you travel.
If you’ve read any solo travel blogs, you’ll know that’s not the case. Solo travelers may leave home on their own, but they rarely stay that way!
10 Reasons People Think Solo Travel Is Lonely
- They’ve never tried it before
- They’ve only stayed in hotels or places with no other people
- They are repeating the same myth they’ve heard before
- They hear “solo” and think it means you have to be alone
- They haven’t met people while traveling before, so they don’t understand how others could
- They’re shy and worried about speaking to new people
- They don’t enjoy their own company
- They mostly see photos of people completely on their own
- They’re scared of it/for you to try it
- They think it’s for braver people than them.
How to Avoid Loneliness as a Solo Traveler
How did I change from being a lonely solo traveler to making friends everywhere I go?
Simple: I chose to.
Honestly, that’s all you have to do. Once you shift your mindset, the actions follow with it.
Once I discovered the fun of traveling with new friends on tour buses like Contiki, I started finding ways to meet people off buses.
I wanted the freedom to travel the world, but still have people to talk to.
With my new travel mindset, I was more open to speaking to new people. I’d chat with other people on my day tours, stay in accommodations with communal areas, find local clubs or activities, and do some tourist activities to meet other travelers.
But I’m an Introvert
Don’t worry! I am, too.
I love solo travel because I get to be on my own. But that doesn’t mean I always want to be on my own.
Most introverts recharge by being by themselves.
But we aren’t hermits. We don’t need to spend a year or more on our own, completely secluded from society. That’d probably hurt us.
The key is balance.
Solo travel means that you can meet new people (it’s one of the best pros of solo travel). But you also get to choose when you want to go back to being alone.
If you’re an introvert who likes time to yourself, maybe you need a room to yourself. But that doesn’t rule out hostels.
Most hostels have
Can’t I Just Call Home?
Short answer: no.
Friends and family at home are great support networks. Mine have gotten me through some tough times abroad: like when I was insanely lonely in Amsterdam.
But they didn’t stop the lonely feeling.
Because they’re thousands of miles away.
I had to plan to speak to them. With the time difference, that meant that I felt stranded for the first half of the day until they were awake and available.
And it meant I was constantly tied to my phone.
None of those things help you feel less lonely when you’re traveling solo. They probably amplify the feeling by reminding you how far away you are from the people you love.
Instead, try to find people in your area. You don’t need to make the best friends in the world the first few times. Just having a conversation with the front desk person or a server each day can be a great start.
Eventually, you’ll build your confidence and start finding ways to make long-term connections. Then, you’ll never need to feel lonely when you solo travel ever again.
What If I Want to Be Alone?
Then go for it!
Solo travel is meant to be whatever you want it to be. It’s all about freedom of choice.
You get to choose your itinerary. You get to choose the budget. Even the choice of when you want to be entirely alone is up to you!
You can do whole trips by yourself and never feel lonely.
It’s all up to your comfort level.
So how do you avoid loneliness when you’re alone?
Being happy being alone takes work. You need to enjoy your own company so you don’t feel like something is missing or that you need other people.
For me, that meant therapy and self-care.
I got comfortable being alone by doing small hikes and day trips by myself. First, I used podcasts to cure my travel anxiety. Then, I started being able to do it on my own.
I took the time to get to know myself and get comfortable with who I am.
That doesn’t mean I was 100% in love with myself. But I was ok sitting with my thoughts. I was able to eat alone at restaurants or wander a city without crippling doubt or the need to talk to fill the silence. I didn’t need someone else to make decisions or lean on.
When I needed to socialize, I could do so with a server or a tour guide. Or I could send texts to a variety of friends without needing to hear back from them.
I didn’t feel lonely because I was happy to be alone. It was something I chose to do and knew that I could stop doing at any time.
I didn’t feel like I was stuck on my own. I felt like I was embracing me-time.
So, to avoid feeling lonely when you’re alone, start practicing being by yourself. Ensure you take the proper time to decompress after busy days (overly full schedules don’t mean you won’t be lonely!) so you can let your mind relax. Take the time you need.
And remember, this is a choice, not a life sentence.
25 Tips to Avoid Feeling Lonely While Traveling Alone
1. Join Meetup Groups
Meetup is a website and app that helps you connect with other people who share your interests. There is likely a Meetup group for every interest imaginable, so do some research and find one that appeals to you.
Meeting like-minded people can make solo travel feel less lonely.
I used Meetup groups during my year in Europe and while living as an expat in New Zealand. I met amazing people, some of whom became long-term friends.
Whether you drop in on a single Meetup or plan to return again and again, you’re sure to feel less lonely surrounded by your peers!
2. Stay in Communal Accommodations
Another way to feel less lonely is to find communal accommodation.
This is especially helpful for solo women travelers but is not exclusive to them.
In low season, you may even get a private room in a hostel at a cheaper rate than a hotel or guesthouse.
Hostels and Couchsurfing can help you meet people that you can travel locally with. I’ve even used Airbnbs and Vrbos where you have a room in a local’s house to make new friends and feel less alone.
It’s always nice to have someone to chat with about your day after seeing so much on your own.
3. Accept that Loneliness Happens Sometimes
Don’t beat yourself up if you feel lonely sometimes.
The first time I felt lonely abroad, I thought I was a failure.
Surely those professionals on Instagram never get lonely, right?
Everyone gets lonely sometimes! And it’s totally ok!
If you don’t pressure yourself to never feel lonely, you’re less likely to break down when it does strike.
4. Join a Day Tour
If you’re traveling solo and want to meet new people but don’t want to join a group tour, take a day tour.
They are very popular throughout Asia and South America. Depending on the type of tour you go on, they can be anything from hiking trips in New Zealand to cooking classes in Italy.
I’ve used Get Your Guide to find amazing day tours for years. I often meet someone to spend the day with and never see them again.
5. Ensure You’re Taking Care of Yourself
Loneliness can be a symptom of poor health. It’s easier to get blue when you’re not sleeping, eating, or exercising.
Check-in with yourself and ensure that you are taking proper care of your health.
6. Indulge in Homesickness (Occasionally)
I know the advice is ‘Don’t feel lonely.’ But sometimes it’s ok to have a little homesickness.
If you miss your family and friends, go ahead and think about them. Then set your mind back on your adventure!
Sometimes calling my mom is all I need to reset and get back to enjoying my time. Or maybe I need to eat some poutine to remind me of Canada so I can just stop thinking about it!
7. Have a Travel Plan
If you don’t know where you’re going next, your loneliness might feel paralyzing.
You can help alleviate some of this by choosing a destination and planning what you want to see when!
It’s also good on a day when you feel stuck from the loneliness to have something preplanned or a list of things you could potentially do. It’s easier to get out there once you know where to go!
8. Schedule Relaxation Time
I get lonely when I’m surrounded by other people and going at 100% all the time.
So I took some time to relax and not be around everyone.
Even though I’m more alone, I feel less lonely. Plus it lets me recharge so I can actually be social when I am with others.
9. Learn Another Language
Learning another language, even just how to say hello, can go a long way toward helping you feel less lonely.
It gives you a connection.
During COVID, I found just smiling at my Starbucks barista was enough to make me feel like I had some human connection (yes, through my mask!). The same is true for chatting with a server or waving to the concierge.
10. Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts are like having portable friends.
I love that I can pop in my headphones and instantly be in a conversation with my besties as they chat about travel or murder (my favorite topics!).
There are so many different types of podcasts out there, you’re sure to find one that suits your interests and will make you feel less alone.
11. Bring a Safety Blanket
It doesn’t have to be an actual blanket!
But having something from home can be so helpful to make you feel more comfortable.
Some people travel with a teddy bear. Others might have a piece of jewelry or a scarf.
Whatever it is, make sure you have something that makes you feel more comfortable and safe in your new surroundings.
12. Avoid Social Media
Don’t look at Instagram or Facebook!
It can make you feel like you need to live up to some unrealistic expectations of the world.
It’s not worth it!
Focus on enjoying your time and living in the moment.
13. Volunteer Abroad
If you’re feeling lonely and want to make a difference in the world, volunteer abroad.
There are so many organizations that need help. You can find short or long-term placements all over the world.
I used Workaway to solo travel across Europe for free while making amazing new friends!
14. Document it All in Your Travel Journal
You might feel lonely when you travel, but it’s nothing a little journaling can’t fix.
Jot down your thoughts and feelings about what is going on around you.
After cooking classes in Italy or horseback riding through the Mongolian mountains, you’ll be glad to have some memories of your time alone!
Plus it can fulfill your urge to tell someone about everything you did when you don’t have someone next to you.
15. Use Bumble BFF
The popular dating app Bumble has a BFF setting.
This is perfect for when you’re looking for someone to do an activity with.
I’ve used it in the past to find people to go hiking with and explore new cities.
It can be a great way to meet new friends, especially if you’re feeling lonely!
16. Learn How to Talk to Strangers
This is relevant, even if you’re not traveling solo!
I know it sounds scary. But we all do it.
However, forcing yourself to talk to strangers can be terrifying!
The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
And who knows, you might make a new friend in the process!
I’ve started using icebreakers to always have something to say.
17. Have an Ice Breaker at the Ready
Having an icebreaker is a good way to start a conversation.
It gives you something to talk about and helps you ease into things.
You can use it whenever you meet people and have no idea what to say. Plus it helps you learn more about them and make a connection, which will make you feel less lonely.
My go-to icebreaker questions are:
- Describe your dream menu (Based on the Off Menu Podcast)
- What’s a weird fact you know?
- What is your favorite color? What is your favorite animal? What’s your favorite type of water? (It’s a social psychology experiment that helps you learn a ton about a person)
18. Go on Group Tours
If you’re still nervous about traveling by yourself, try going on a group tour.
There is safety in numbers!
You’ll feel more comfortable and safe and there is always someone to hang out with if you need it.
Plus you’ll have people to talk to.
I will warn you that it’s possible to feel lonely on a group tour, especially if you are more often confronted by friend groups. So be sure to use those icebreakers to meet people!
<h3″>19. Dine at Communal Tables
Sometimes it is too daunting to eat alone in public.
But there is a way around that!
There is an entire movement dedicated to communal dining!
Whether you join a group dinner or go out with strangers, it is actually really fun and not awkward at all.
It allows you to chat with others and make new friends.
Check out local restaurants with communal tables that will allow you to meet people. Or eat in your hostel kitchen!
20. Join a Pub Crawl
Everyone is friendly with a pint in their hand!
Try joining a pub crawl.
It is easy to meet other travelers and locals because you’ll all be intoxicated!
You can find them literally everywhere. And they’re usually very inexpensive. They’re also a safe way for women to go to bars if they are traveling alone.
21. Join a Facebook Group
I’m a part of so many travel Facebook groups. People often make calls for meet-ups around the world or to create group trips.
Post a call in a travel Facebook group and you’ll likely find someone down to have a coffee with you.
22. Remember to Tell Yourself You’re Awesome
This is one that I have to constantly remind myself of.
When we are feeling lonely, it is easy to forget our accomplishments and suck up our self-esteem.
Remind yourself that you’re awesome!
Write down your top 5 accomplishments or things you’re proud of.
And when you’re feeling down, read them to yourself.
Or just stand in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re awesome!
23. Ask a Friend to Write You a Letter
Sometimes we need to hear that we’re great from someone else.
So ask a friend to write you a letter before you go that can buoy you up.
Remind yourself that your friend is behind you every step of the way with this letter!
24. Embrace Some Me Time
Allow yourself some alone time.
Take a day to wander around a new city by yourself.
Sit in a park and read a book by yourself.
Take a bath by yourself.
Allow yourself to just exist without anyone else.
This is an important part of traveling solo. You need to be okay with being alone before you can really enjoy the experience.
It also helps you re-focus yourself so you’re not busy thinking about how you should be with others.
25. Remember: It Won’t Last Forever
One of the best things is knowing that you only have to be yourself for a finite amount of time.
This is your vacation from being you! You can let go and stop worrying about all the little things.
So don’t feel guilty for wanting to do things alone. It is okay to want some me time!
And honestly, loneliness isn’t a permanent state.
Wrap Up: Is Solo Travel Lonely?
So, is solo travel lonely?
It can be if you isolate yourself and refuse to speak to new people.
But it doesn’t have to be.
If you open yourself up to meeting people, take steps towards being around others, and change your mindset, you can make travel friends that will last a lifetime.
Remember: “solo” doesn’t have to mean “alone”. You get to choose that.
So choose to join groups, stay in places with other travelers, or go out of your way to meet locals. Having connections with other people will help you feel less lonely.
Have you tried any of my tips to beat solo travel loneliness? Share them in the comments!
Does solo travel get lonely?
It is common to feel lonely when traveling alone.
Your desire is to make connections with other people, but you might not know how to get them.
People tend to stay in their own social circles, often without even realizing it.
The best way to prevent this is by taking action and proactively meeting new people during your travel experience.
How do you not feel lonely on a solo trip?
Join Meetup groups
Go on day tours
Say hi to at least one person every day
Write in a travel journal
Remember: it’ll pass
Is solo travel good for introverts?
Yes! Everyone can solo travel.
Introverts may actually enjoy it more as you get more time for yourself and don’t have to carve out “me” time.
However, be sure to try to speak to others. It can be more challenging for introverts but it will enrich your solo trip.
Is solo traveling fun?
It is very easy to have a lot of fun on your solo trip. You can choose what you want to do, where you want to go, and how you want to explore it.
Ultimately, you’re in charge of making your own fun.
A great way to do that is by meeting people and engaging with local experiences!