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

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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. Always awkward at parties,  my inability to connect with small talk chit-chat, weather, politics, business, verbal jousting (all totally not my thing)… all enhanced my flailing confidence. Those pinches of social loneliness haunted me into my adult years.

But then that all changed, when I began traveling alone. Solo travel boosted my social life!

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.

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. This was something my first solo trip to India revealed to me and has continued since. Traveling alone made me realize I am quite social, well-adjusted to meeting people, adaptable to changing cultures and conversational. If you can travel the world and converse with people from all corners of the globe, but can’t do so in a party at home,… then what gauge will you trust?

No, I’m not broken. Traveling alone, I’ve learned that… I’m just fine.

Read 15 Reasons why you’ll love solo travel

Why travelers choose traveling alone

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…
–  And you’re tired of waiting on other people to start your dream to travel.
– Freedom to do 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?” “Will I have to eat alone? “”What if I get into a bad situation and have no one to help me out?”

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 be direct and outgoing.

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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25 Comments. Leave new

[…] 4 – Grrrltraveler – por Christine Ka’aloa, sobre aventuras imperfeitas e ótimas dicas. […]

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[…] much of my confidence, life and personality transformation to traveling solo.  It’s made a monumental difference in my life!  While it would be easy for me to list all my reasons, I thought it would be more interesting to […]

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I agree, i just came back from NYC and it was exactly that….
I love your blog
Thanks!
Christi

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[…] have no option but to make my trip amazing.  …No option other than survive or to make things happen for myself, as if my life […]

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[…] okay, back to my post~  as I’ve said before, solo travel is not lonely nor doesn’t have to […]

Reply

Your blog played a major role in my taking a solo trip. I “stalked” your blog for a few months before I decided to take the leap. I just wanted to say THANK YOU. I am sure I am not the only one who has been inspired by your boldness and courage. I am coming to the end of my first 3 week solo trip and it was anything but lonely. Days of panic, I ran to your blog to see what you may have advised about situations. Thank you again for being an inspiration to a complete stranger.

I look forward to my next trip.

Reply
    Avatar
    Christine Kaaloa
    September 14, 2014 8:41 pm

    @Ada: Apologies for the delayed response. Thank you for your comment and stalking!!! I’m so glad you’re rocking your first solo trip. 3 weeks alone in a foreign country is very impressive and I’m glad I was able to help. I feel like a lot of folks don’t understand how much easier it is to make friends as a soloist and that solo doesn’t have to mean alone. Comments like yours makes me glad I write these posts!

    Reply

The last reason was what started me off in my solo travel but I started off in some place safer, a place I’d been to before. But it’s amazing how my senses open up when I’m revelling solo. Now when I travel with friends, I always feel I need to go for another solo trip to recover from that! I yearned for the freedom of travelling to a place where I don’t have to speak if I don’t want to. My job means I need to talk everyday and I treasured my solo travel as a gift, a period of time which I can do whatever I want where ever I want whenever I want.

Reply

I travel alone all of the time and agree with all of the aforementioned points. The first time I traveled solo was to the Philippines. I had booked a room in Manila with a Couchsurfer for a couple of nights before I was off on my own; and you know what, I did just fine. It came like second nature, and now three years later I travel alone all of the time, and love it!

Reply
    Avatar
    Christine Kaaloa
    July 11, 2014 12:10 pm

    @Chanel: Very brave for you to choose Manila for your first solo trip. Depending on who you talk to, that can be a challenging city for a first time soloist, but my first solo entry point was India, which was crazy but good journey! I think we always think it will be harder than we imagined and are surprised when we find, it’s the opposite. =D

    Reply

These are precisely all my reasons for traveling alone. When I was younger, a lot of people would also feel protective of me. Solo travel rocks!

Reply
    Avatar
    Christine Kaaloa
    July 9, 2014 4:29 pm

    @Aleah: So now that you’re older, people don’t feel as protective of you? That I’d find hard to believe- you’re so cute and tiny. 😉

    Reply

[…] king bed in a hotel to yourself, when you’re in a hotel like this. Nothing.  It’s a definite perk to solo travel. Freedom to walk around in my undies… is the second sexy […]

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Avatar
HannahontheMap
July 7, 2014 2:58 am

I’m about to solo travel again in just a few days, so these tips are good reminders for me! I’ve traveled alone before, but I always get a little nervous every time I visit a new country.

Reply
    Avatar
    Christine Kaaloa
    July 9, 2014 4:28 pm

    @Hannah: I think many of us go through nerves despite how often we travel alone. I feel the same. It’s that initial doubt, until you’re on the road and it reminds you that you’re capable.

    Reply

Excellent post, all so damn true. I may have felt a vague sense of loneliness once or twice over the last five years, but overall I’m too busy absorbing in everything and learning/seeing as much as possible to feel lonely.

My travels are about 95% solo, 5% with new friends randomly for a few days or maybe a week every so often. I enjoy those group adventures for the first day or two but then all I’m thinking is “damn can’t wait to get back out on my own” 😉

Reply
    Avatar
    Christine Kaaloa
    July 9, 2014 4:27 pm

    @Derek: Yes, I feel like solo travel keeps you really busy. It’s interesting to hear your feedback because you’ve been on the road for a while. If anything, I would’ve thought being nomadic and slow travel, would be a place loneliness might occasionally arise more.

    Reply
Avatar
cubiclethrowdown
July 2, 2014 3:57 pm

This is awesome, and very true!! The first time I traveled solo, I did it because I wanted some time to myself… and I barely got any, since so many people were interested in saying ‘hi’ and chatting since I was alone!

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Avatar
Karisa - My Hot Pink Passport
July 2, 2014 3:50 pm

Great video & I love your message 🙂 I was terrified of traveling solo until I actually did it! Turns out I love being in charge of my schedule and creating a nice mix of alone time and social time 🙂

Reply
    Avatar
    Christine Kaaloa
    July 2, 2014 9:59 pm

    Yay! I remember your first jaunt to Myanmar, @Karisa! But you didn’t seem too nervous to me. Good for you for crossing that threshold.

    Reply

I made a lot of friends travelling solo. It really forces you out of your shell. I never used to be the girl who chatted up random strangers, but when you’re a solo traveller, that’s what it’s all about!

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