Solo travel can be daunting. But is solo travel lonely? A long way from home, all by yourself, nobody who knows you. It is a scary thing this solo travel thing. But also exhilarating. But if you are a first time solo traveller, the former usually applies. And I was in your position two years ago. So I’ll be honest with you.
The First Solo Travel Lonely Episode
It is completely overwhelming. Not only do you have to do all the travel planning by yourself, board the plane alone and check into a place with all these strangers but there is no one by your side to entertain you all the while and live through this rush emotion together with you. You are excited, confused, unsure, scared and the next minute you smile to yourself. And at the end of the day you cannot share all this with someone.
I can be tough. When I first landed in Auckland, I realised it was the first country I travelled to without knowing a soul. Usually I would visit friends or travel with family. No longer was that the case. And you know what, I was fine. The first two days I spent in bed coping with the climate shock and a weird sensation of being unable to leave my bed anyway (skipping from 30°C to 5°C is a terrible idea).
And when I opened my eyes on the third day, the sun was shining, I felt good and saw a friendly face smiling at me. She told me she was from China and travelled alone. No one else was in the room and she felt very lonely, that is until she realised there was someone lying in my bed and five minutes later (ok 30 minutes, I had to make myself not look like a scarecrow) we were off exploring the city for a day.
Neither of us had a specific plan in mind but we had a blast and ended up roaming the casino with a guy she found on couchsurfing that night and watching a random person wash their clothes in fountain that night. The next day we parted ways and I met a lovely Korean girl with whom I would whom roam Seoul dressed in hanboks months later. And the day after I was fed spicy Korean sushi by yet another new traveller friend. Try to not meet people in hostels. It is rather hard.
Where to Meet People
But then again you might not stay in hostels. That’s ok, it’s not for everyone. If you stay at hotels, you could hang out in the lobby or restaurant and just start talking to other people.You could practice your small talking skills or just dig right into the travel questions. People love being asked about their travels! Trust me and try it.
It’s even better if you are on a cruise ship. On my latest (and very first) cruise to the Caribbean, I found it hard to sit all by myself in a restaurant. And I loved it. While I was waiting for amazing dishes to be served, a nearby couple would always be intrigued enough to ask me whether I was solo on this ship and from there the conversations just flowed. Or I sat at a big group table. You see, on cruise ships people are super relaxed and happy. It makes for an entirely different travel experience.
Count on the Unexpected
And when you least expect it, you might end up being invited to a Japanese ceremony where you’ll get to carry a holy shrine for a local deity while everyone else is trying hard to be in your place. And all that because I asked a nice woman with a bike for the way.
She consulted a small group of business men and we spent a good half hour roaming the neighbourhoods and ending up in front of a brothel. Turns out that the hostel was opposite. (No, nobody went inside the brothel.) And this is how I met this lovely lady and we are still facebook friends.