Is solo travel lonely? 6 surprising reasons why it isn’t.

Reasons why solo travel is not lonely. (Watch this video!)

I wouldn’t call myself “outgoing” or “the life of a party”.

As personable as I might have seemed to others growing up, there was always an intrinsically quiet and shy person inside, who longed to be a social butterfly, but felt like a failure at it. Awkward at parties,  my inability to connect with small talk chit-chat, weather, politics, business, verbal jousting… all enhanced my flailing confidence. I felt alone, horrible as a social warrior, a wall-flower… and lonely.

That all changed, when I began traveling alone.

Solo travel boosted my social life!

And as bullshit and counterintuitive as it sounds, it actually happened.

Is solo travel lonely?

For a while, I believed this myth about solo travel being lonely.  The mere thought of it reminded me of the pain of my social awkwardness.  As a result, I put off solo travel for a long time. We assume  that “Solo” equals “Alone” and “Alone” must mean “Lonely”.

Um, wrong.

A woman standing alone in the world can appear lonely… or independent, adventurous, curious, emboldened, pioneering, meeting challenges headon. 

Is traveling alone lonely,  
Is traveling alone lonely?  Nope. Solo travel will give you a better social life.


There are a handful of challenges solo travelers face but loneliness is very low on the totem. Having been a solo traveler for over six years, I find traveling alone is actually seldom lonely. It’s actually quite opposite.

Of course, I’d be lying if I said that I never encountered occasional bouts of loneliness… as a human being, how can you not? But it would happen when:

  • I looked on the other side of the fence at what I didn’t have in a companion to share an activity that required more than one to do…
  • I did not have a friendly smile to welcome my arrival into a strange new city.
  • I felt like I was vulnerable and in a dicey situation like having an angry Indian taxi drop me in the middle of a dark street at 11pm …or arriving at a bus station in a small town at 3am when everyone else’s family picked them up …or having a Bangkok taxi try to pull a scam on me on the highway. (yep, times like that you wish you had a friend)
  • I was traveling months on end feeling like I was always saying goodbye to friends I’d make along the way and whose companionship grew on me.

My travel loneliness was not like the loneliness of being single.

And it did not only happen because I was alone..  it could happen when I was traveling with friends too!

Solo travel changed how I saw myself

My first solo trip to India (and Nepal) showed me that I am quite social, well-adjusted to meeting people, adaptable to changing cultures and conversational.

I didn’t have to be a successful camera woman earning six figures or knowledgeable about sports teams.. I didn’t need social acceptance.

Solo travel showed me that if I can travel across the world and converse with locals from another countries, but if I couldn’t do so in a party in my home country,… then it meant that I was successful at living and connecting with another human being in the moment, with little pretense, social construct or ulterior motive.

I was not lacking. I’m not broken. I was complete and enough.

 Traveling alone, I’ve learned… I’m just fine. It’s society’s need for ego that’s broken.

But i digress…

Read 15 Reasons why you’ll love solo travel

Why do travelers choose solo travel?

Solo travel isn’t always a traveler’s first choice. In fact, travelers are often driven to it out of necessity. The most common reasons tend to be:

–  Difficulty aligning travel plans with friends.
–  No one is interested in the countries you’re interested in.
–  You can’t find friends with the same travel style or budget as you…
–  You’re tired of waiting on other people to start your dream to travel.
– Freedom to do and go as you please

These were all of my reasons when I first started. But likewise I had many fears and self-doubts too, such as:

  • Will I be able to get around by myself?”
  • How will I eat alone? “
  • What if I get into a bad situation and have no one to help me out?”

Loneliness was never my fear. My fear was my self doubt of whether I’d be able to surmount challenge.

6 Surprising Reasons Why Solo Travel is Not Lonely

These days, I meet more and more women traveling alone. I also meet many first-timers and when I ask them if they feel lonely, a majority of them deny the myth of loneliness.  Many tend to say the same thing– I feel I’m almost never alone.

Of course, there’s always exceptions to the rule.  Admittedly, I have my winces of loneliness, but they’re nowhere near the loneliness of being at a party among people I had no shared interests with or I’m traveling with someone, whose travel style is not a good match.  Solo travel has opened me to a larger and more vibrant social life.  It’s better and more active than my social life at home.  How can this be?

1. Solo travel enables you to make friends with more people.

Alone, I have the potential to meet more people than I do when I’m traveling with a partner. Alone, I’m forced to chat with others and make friends.  If you’re shy you might feel like this doesn’t pertain to you, but the truth is living in society, being a wallflower at a party or the quiet one amongst co-workers is different from being on the open road.  On the road, travelers are living in the moment and excited to share, meet, explore the adventure around them… which is travel. Travel is the conversational piece that binds and you’ll share trip itinerary ideas, tips on getting around, cultural insights, etc.. You won’t find much small talk or struggling to find things to talk about here ~ you’ll be helping travelers by sharing your experiences and they’ll be helping you back.

Read How to Make Friends from Solo Travel (Part 1) and Part 2

2.  Being alone makes you approachable.

Locals and travelers are more inclined to offer you aid when you look lost, if you’re alone.  Being alone makes you less intimidating. Of course, it can also make you more approachable to undesirable people. Read my Safety Tips for Solo Travelers and How to deal with touts, scams, beggars.

3.  People feel protective towards women traveling alone.

I always find people soften towards me because I am a woman and then because i’m alone. Fellow travelers, local mothers, men.. many have offered protective shelter at some point and have been watchful eyes looking out for my safety.  I’ve gotten this type of help a lot in India where female safety is a concern for families. I’ve had local families offer assistance or take me under their wing to tell me what to watch out for, if they see danger headed in my direction.

4. You adapt to your environment quicker

Travelers often carry a little fear or reluctance, when entering “foreign” environments. It’s natural to be cautious when you’re stepping outside your comfort zone. As I don’t have a partner to buffer my fear, I have to be-friend my foreign surroundings quickly and find resource in it.   I have to seek trustworthy locals for friendship or advice for getting around or finding great local restaurants. Like moving into a new apartment,  I have to adapt and blend quickly in order to make “foreign” feel like home.

5. Survival instinct forces you to talk to people and be direct with your intentions.

If you’re shy, solo travel is a perfect cure to break you out of your shell.  Based on the innate will to survive and the fact I’ll need help to get around, I’m forced to talk to strangers to get crucial information.  On my first solo trip to Nepal, night had fallen fast when on a country bus returning to my guesthouse and I couldn’t see my bus stop (sometimes, I go by visual direction). I pretty much went down the aisle asking strangers if they knew where my stop was. This is something my embarrassment keeps me from doing, but it was dire. Some locals banded together to figure it out and let the bus attendant know where to stop.  The greater your need, the less self-conscious you feel asking for it and the success will make you more confident. Developing solo travel confidence is like learning to ride a bike~  the more you do it, the more natural it will feel.

6. With solo travel, you have the power to create your travel experience.

Solo travel freedom can empower your travels and life. It shows me that the world is a buffet and I can pick and choose my experiences and who I want to travel with, dine with, share a ride with, etc…  Being on the road makes me open-minded to experiencing new things. Many travelers I meet are open to making friends and in activities; thus, for me, being alone is a choice.

Read the Top Challenges of Solo Travel


Ever experienced solo travel? What are your fears and concerns?  What did you discover when you traveled alone? Was your solo travel lonely?
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Is traveling alone lonely?  Nope. Solo travel will give you a better social life.


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