Everyone gets lonely at some point in their life, don’t they? Maybe just a little bit at least. When you go travelling by yourself this can be something you feel very much, especially on a longer trip.
Personally I’m a very social person, I enjoy being around people and having good times. I fucking love to party.
If any of you were friends on my private Facebook page then you would know from my regular updates about some party here or there.
Having said that I do need time to myself every now and then. Most people do. I would say I’m 80-90% social animal, and the rest needing some private time to chill.
What’s your ratio you think? Let me know in the comments at the end. First read the article.
There is a massive difference from needing some alone time to actually feeling lonely.
I’ve felt very lonely over certain periods in my life, stretching all the way back to when I was 16. Some more personal shit coming up…
I used to do quite a bit of LSD and magic mushrooms. In fact the latter is what got me expelled from my second school when I was 15.
When I hit 16 I was a little withdrawn, lost in my artwork, at art college, smoking lots of hashish. I eventually quit art college due to the sheer tediousness of being taught absolutely fuck all that I wanted.
I did have a good group of friends around, but was still quite alone a lot. Lost in myself a bit. Going to lots of indie concerts, Radioheads creep song came out around that time (yeah feels weird thinking that was 22 years ago now).
The lyrics from that song “I’m a weirdo” rang very true to me.
But then I’ve always enjoyed being a bit strange. It’s just that the level of strangeness evolves over time as you change to life’s circumstances.
Anyway the scene around me changed and I ended up hitting the London club scene of the early to mid-nineties.
Partying at different clubs all weekend, techno, house, drum’n’bass, mixed with chill out sessions. Partied hard, came out of myself more, things started going nuts. In a fun way.
With that group of friends I opened up much more. Crazy times in London.
You tend to fluctuate in life depending on the people you meet, and your own mood. But that’s just natural.
Different levels of strangeness as I said.
Feeling lonely when travelling
I’ve felt lonely when not travelling since that time when I was 16 that didn’t involve me being on the road. That was for a few months after I had a major medical incident and got depressed for a while, due to the circumstances after.
Apart from that though I haven’t had any other time where I was withdrawn as such.
But then there are the times when you get lonely when travelling, and these can take different forms.
It’s funny that some of the loneliest times I’ve had were when I was actually surrounded by other people.
How the fuck can that be?
When you travel so much you meet a hell of a lot of people, and that’s great.
But can you imagine meeting other travellers and having an amazing time together for a week, experiencing things that will bond you to that moment in time forever.
After a week, 2 weeks, or whatever, you leave that group of people and you’re alone again, but most of the time not for long. Other travellers will be met, new friends made, and more adventures had.
I look back on some of my favourite moments travelling and the main thing that stands out was the people I was with.
I could be in one of the most beautiful places on earth, but like I said it’s the memories of being with others that made it so great.
Then they go, and you repeat the pattern of more new people, over and over.
Can you imagine doing that for a long time?
Eventually it gets very tiring.
You will end up in a hostel or travellers hangout somewhere and just can’t be fucked with meeting others, thinking of all the friends made before that and the good times had.
That’s how you can end up feeling lonely in the midst of so many others.
I’ve had times when out in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Africa by myself and didn’t feel lonely at all, getting lost in the local culture.
Then came back to a city and stayed in a hostel full of travellers and yet felt more lonely there than in the middle of nowhere.
It’s a strange feeling.
Sometimes after being away from it all it can be hard to relate to some of the other travellers and the easy way of life you find yourself in.
It’s all strange.
Then there are those similar moments when by yourself for weeks at at a time where you don’t meet another traveller, and although initially loved it, started missing the company to share all the experiences with.
That’s a different kind of loneliness.
And it’s the kind of loneliness that you can’t really get around because there is simply no-one to meet.
How to deal with loneliness when travelling
So how the fuck can you get around these feelings?
It’s easy enough for me to tell you to just go with the flow, something that along with saying “Fuck it” is also a life philosophy.
If you can’t control things then just go with the flow.
But easier said than done for some people. Everyone is different and will have their own ways of dealing with things.
I’ve travelled with genuine hardcore introverts into the middle of nowhere before and it was funny as shit to me. The fact that I did have another traveller with me yet it still didn’t feel like it sometimes!
One way to handle loneliness is to embrace it. Don’t look at it as a bad thing, but a way to meditate with your own thoughts.
When surrounded by people all the time, lost in the fast paced rat race of life, take those moments alone as the perfect escape.
Forget about not being with others to experience all these new things and feelings that you will be going through, and experience them just for yourself.
Take them as a treasured memory, to share with others as stories later in life.
Just change your attitude for a while, and it will make it easier for you.
Eventually you will meet some travellers, and the travellers you meet in far out destinations are often absolutely awesome.
Trust me anyone who takes the fucking effort to get to the border with Afghanistan by riding a crappy second hand bicycle from China across the Pamir Highway, the second highest motorway in the world, is someone you will want to meet.
In fact that particular persons name is Koki, an intrepid young traveller from Japan who I became good friends with. Unfortunately he didn’t bring any spare parts for the bicycle and he ended up having to push it a lot of the way. Oops.
He ended up selling it to an Afghani trader at a border market. Best quality bicycle hahaha.
Oooops a digression has been made, back to being lonely.
What a lovely happy subject I have chosen to write about, huh?
Well why not make it happy?
Seriously there’s a huge difference between depressed lonely in life, to feeling alone on the road.
But that’s relatively obvious.
Like I said take the time feeling lonely on the road to go into yourself a bit, discover your deeper thoughts.
Watch life going on around you, observe it all, learn.
When with others it can be distracting to do that. Revel in your loneliness.
Or at the end of the day just know that you will come across others eventually and have awesome stories to tell. Often they will be quite unique, as if you were so alone out there then not many others will have experienced what you did.
Lonely in life
This is the hard one.
All I can say is that if you just stay at home and don’t make the effort to get out and socialise then it won’t get better.
I told you I’ve been lost in loneliness and depression before. Seriously I know how fucking awfully bad it can be.
If you know me well you will know that I bring a positive energy wherever I go. I instigate partying, adventures, escaping, saying “Fuck it” and having good times.
I learned to say “Fuck it” a long time ago. It helps. A lot.
Hell I’ve done 12 days of partying with an average of 3 hours sleep a night and still kept on smiling and having fun.
Although I eventually did crash into a 15 hour sleep.
When you learn to stop worrying so much, things get a lot easier.
Why am I like this, so full of energy for life?
Because I know what it’s like to have the opposite of that. That’s the truth. Once you’ve felt the fun that life can be, then fucking go for it full speed ahead, and bring that to others.
You only live once.
I sometimes go out these days and wake up with 20 or so new contacts. Random people I met on the streets for 1 minute at 5 in the morning partying. Funny thing is I’ve met up later with some of them and had fun times.
Fuck you never know right?
Go for it.
It may seem easier said than done for some. But you never know about anything in life if you don’t try.
I still get lonely these days sometimes, even though I’m so social.
It’s mostly from when I meet someone that I really enjoy the company of and have such fun times together, then they continue on their direction in life, and I go mine.
I must admit that now at the age of 38 I’m getting a little tired of the travelling lifestyle and have started looking for somewhere to semi-settle, even if just for a few months.
I’m currently exploring around Eastern Europe for such a place. Kiev, Krakow, and Budapest are places that I have fallen in love with.
To be around people that know me. To meet women longer than just a few weeks on the road.
Trying to have a relationship when travelling sucks. I’m really tired of meeting someone I really get on with and in a normal situation would date, but on the road you always say goodbye eventually.
I sometimes wish I had slowed down before.
I love travelling, but there are sacrifices.
Sacrifices that I don’t feel like doing anymore.
It’s not all easy this travel lifestyle that I chose.
The most alone I have felt on the road has been when leaving someone I have had a great connection with and gone separate ways.
But everyone will miss someone, somewhere, at some point. That’s life.
The thing is to always get up and keep going.
Not being lonely
What I hope you will get out of this is that everyone goes through the same thing in life, to varying degrees.
I’ve started to write a lot more very personal articles.
Sharing feelings and experiences that I would not have imagined sharing online to strangers just 2 years ago.
So why am I doing this?
Because with 18 years of travelling and living away from home I’ve experienced, seen, and felt so many things.
Being on the road is one of the best life experiences.
It teaches you so much. You run the entire gauntlet of emotions.
But also because I have this blog to get my voice out there. People message asking for advice. So why don’t I start putting some of that out there for everyone.
Of course my advice won’t ring true for everyone. But if I can reach some people who might have these kind of questions or thoughts in life then that makes it all worthwhile.
If you are planning to travel alone then these are 50 good travel tips for a solo traveler.