Eric, the editor of TravelBlogs.com recently posed the following prompt to a group of travel bloggers. If you’re interested, you can find the other answers in his article on, “Dealing with Loneliness on the Road.”
Here was my answer:
How do you deal with loneliness on the road?
I remember wondering about this question myself; once. And then I noticed the guy sitting next to me on the plane was reading, “The Alchemist” and I said, “Hey! That’s my favorite book!” and he said, “Yea? It inspired me to make this solo adventure to Latin America, which I’m now kind of nervous about….”
And that’s the thing about “loneliness” on the road; it dissipates as fast as you can write, “me too!” in the fog of your breath on the window plexiglas. The community of solo travellers is strong and sticky; we are like beads of mercury, ever rolling faster, and with a curiously strong drive for cohesion, towards each other. Being an introvert and independent, I actually have to concentrate on keeping my eyes low and my pace quick to find my (treasured) time alone.
In seven years of travelling, the only time I remember wishing for a little more community was in Thailand, where as a “single” it’s easy to get lost in the boat loads of honeymooners and bratpacks of recent college graduates. But if you avoid the strongholds of Club Med, you’ll quickly find the other solo traveller(s) looking for you. And this might sound strangely like dating advice, but it’s true: just follow your whim and interests; joining a language school, dropping in on a dance class or volunteering with an NGO are all INSTANT “ins” into already established communities of both locals and travellers. All you have to do is drop by the closest internet cafe and look for the board with all the activity fliers and jot down the location and time. While you’re there, ask the internet cafe if they are hiring, because a quick local job (bartending, teaching english, etc.) is another instant door to close community. And if you haven’t joined, www.CouchSurfing.com yet, you should register and build up your profile, as I’ve found some of my BEST friends in the world via this global network established JUST for the purpose of fostering intimate community and authentic connections between locals and international travellers.
And finally, “loneliness” and being “alone” are not the same; don’t come home without figuring out the difference!